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September 14, 2013

The Coravin 1000 ($299) removes wine from a bottle without ever opening it. "No, this is not magic or osmosis at work," says Brian Krepshaw at CNET. The Coravin's secret weapon is a long, hollow needle that's inserted through the cork and allows wine to be poured without exposing the rest of the bottle's precious contents to oxidation. The needle pumps in argon — a harmless, tasteless gas — creating pressure that forces the wine up the needle and into the waiting glass. Remove the needle, and the cork "naturally heals itself," preserving the remaining wine indefinitely.
The Week Staff

5:29 a.m. ET
Hussain Radwan/AFP/Getty Images

On Monday, Saudi Arabia announced that it has lifted a ban imposed in the 1980s on commercial movie theaters. "As the industry regulator, the General Commission for Audiovisual Media has started the process for licensing cinemas in the kingdom," Awwad bin Saleh Alawwad, the minister of culture and information, said in a statement. "We expect the first cinemas to open in March 2018." The opening of cinemas is the latest reform attributed to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 32, including allowing women to drive next year and permits for concerts and other types of entertainment.

The move was expected, industry sources tell The Hollywood Reporter, with investors already having built theaters inside new developments. Alawwad celebrated the decision as both an economic and cultural "watershed moment" for the conservative kingdom. "By developing the broader cultural sector, we will create new employment and training opportunities, as well as [enrich] the kingdom's entertainment options," he said. Cinemas were shut down in the first place amid a wave of religious conservatism. Peter Weber

5:04 a.m. ET
Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump makes his final pitch for the Republican tax bill on Wednesday, with Senate and House Republicans aiming to have a final bill by ready Friday. But if Trump plans on touting a tax bill focused on the middle class, as he has been all year, the Republican plan isn't that. In all, The Washington Post says, the bill provides $1 trillion in tax cuts for businesses over 10 years, $100 billion in savings for estates worth $11 million or more, and $300 billion in temporary cuts for all households combined.

If Trump was serious about targeting the middle class and not the rich, he was ill-served by Republicans in Congress, the Post reports, though based on more than 40 public statements and interviews with top White House and congressional officials, "Trump and his top advisers have continuously prioritized corporate cuts." For many reasons — ideological, lobbying, and because Senate Republicans could lose only two votes — Republicans favored corporate tax cuts, too. There were extenuating circumstances, too, as when House Republicans planned to include a $300 "family flexibility credit," the Post reports:

But the night before they would release the bill, when top tax writer Kevin Brady (R-Texas) was trying to sort out the tax changes and monitor the performance of his Houston Astros in the final game of the World Series, they made a major change to this provision, according to a person briefed on the changes. ... Corporations were concerned their tax cut would last only eight years, a limitation that was necessary to keep the bill under the $1.5 trillion limit. Brady agreed. So in a last-minute decision, Republicans cut the duration of the family tax credit in half — ending it after only five years — to make the corporate tax cut permanent. In effect, Republicans handed $200 billion from families to corporations. [The Washington Post]

You can read more about how the stated middle-class goal became the GOP reality at The Washington Post. Peter Weber

2:09 a.m. ET
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On Monday morning, 16 women who have come forward and accused President Trump of sexual misconduct will hold a press conference, calling on Congress to open an investigation into their allegations.

The press conference will start at 10:30 a.m. ET, shortly after three of the women — Jessica Leeds, Samantha Holvey, and Rachel Crooks — are scheduled to appear on Megyn Kelly Today to share their own stories. Leeds said that during a flight in the 1980s, Trump groped her, and Crooks said in 2005, while working as a receptionist for a company with an office in Manhattan's Trump Tower, she introduced herself to Trump while waiting for an elevator and he forcibly kissed her. Holvey said while competing as Miss North Carolina in the 2006 Miss USA pageant, Trump came backstage to ogle the women, telling CNN she felt as though "we were just sexual objects, we were not people."

Crooks told CNN in November it's been tough to watch as men accused of sexual misconduct, like producer Harvey Weinstein, have lost their jobs, while Trump is still in the White House, seemingly untouchable. "I think it's just evidence of sort of the political atmosphere these days, we're forgotten by politicians who think it's more convenient to keep Trump in office, you know, have him just sweeping his indiscretions under the rug." Trump has denied all of the accusations. Catherine Garcia

1:36 a.m. ET

Southern California is burning, just weeks after a sizable part of Northern California's wine country went up in flames. Gov. Jerry Brown (D) cites climate change as a significant contributing factor. "These fires are unprecedented, we've never seen anything like it," and "all hell's breaking loose," Brown said on Sunday night's 60 Minutes. "Scientists are telling us, this is the kind of stuff that's gonna happen," he said, and California is "not waiting for the deniers" to prepare for the new normal.

Brown said President Trump was wrong to remove the U.S. from the Paris climate change accord, making America the only country in the world that isn't a signatory, and when reporter Bill Whitaker asked if he's scared, Brown got biblical. "I don't think President Trump has a fear of the Lord, the fear of the wrath of God, which leads one to more humility," Brown said. "And this is such a reckless disregard for the truth and for the existential consequences that can be unleashed."

Before running for office, Trump wasn't viewed as particularly religious, though now he is very popular among certain groups of Christians. Brown spent three years studying to be a Catholic priest before leaving the seminary, getting a law degree, and becoming a four-term governor of California. On Sunday, Brown also made the business case for battling climate change.

The 79-year-old governor said this is his last go at politics, and he plans to retire in 2019 and spend time on his ranch. Peter Weber

1:21 a.m. ET
AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt

Journalist Simeon Booker, who covered the civil rights movement for Ebony and Jet magazines and was the first full-time black reporter at The Washington Post, died Sunday in Maryland. He was 99.

His wife, Carol Booker, said he was recently hospitalized with pneumonia. Through his articles, people across the country were able to follow along with the civil rights movement, including the Montgomery bus boycott and the 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery. Booker was with 14-year-old Emmett Till's mother when his mutilated body was returned from the Deep South to Chicago, and he published the photos from his funeral. It was a dangerous time to report on the story, he told The New York Times; one day, he went to Till's great uncle's house "and men in a car with guns forced us to stop." Booker, who often disguised himself as a minister or wore overalls to look like a sharecropper, also once had to hide in the back of a hearse to escape a mob.

When he joined the Post in the early 1950s, it wasn't easy, he said; Booker didn't fit in with his colleagues and "if I went out to a holdup, they thought I was one of the damn holdup men," he told the Post. "I couldn't get any cooperation." He departed for Jet and Ebony in 1954, eventually becoming the Washington bureau chief, but at the time was largely left out of news events because of his race. He ultimately had a long and successful career, covering 10 presidents, before he finally retired around his 90th birthday. He is survived by three children and several grandchildren. Catherine Garcia

12:42 a.m. ET
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A synthetic opioid called fentanyl, which can be 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times more powerful than morphine, is behind tens of thousands of the U.S. deaths last year in the opioid overdose and addiction crisis. Two states, Nevada and Nebraska, have plans to use fentanyl as the key ingredient in a lethal-injection cocktail as soon as January.

Doctors and opponents of capital punishment argue that the states are essentially performing medical experiments on death row inmates. Death penalty supporters blame the critics for the dearth of tested lethal-injection drugs, as pharmaceutical companies have refused to sell those drugs to the 31 states that have capital punishment. Either way, "there's cruel irony that at the same time these state governments are trying to figure out how to stop so many from dying from opioids, that they now want to turn and use them to deliberately kill someone," Austin Sarat, a law professor at Amherst College, tells The Washington Post.

Nevada would pair fentanyl with diazepam (Valium) and cisatracurium, a drug that paralyzes muscles, and Nebraska would use those three drugs plus potassium chloride to stop the heart. If the fentanyl and diazepam don't work or are administered incorrectly, "which has happened in many cases," the cisatracurium would leave the prisoner "awake and conscious, desperate to breathe and terrified but unable to move at all," said Mark Heath, an anesthesiology professor at Columbia. "It would be an agonizing way to die, but the people witnessing wouldn't know anything had gone wrong." And potassium chloride burns, he added, "so if you weren't properly sedated, a highly concentrated dose would feel like someone was taking a blowtorch to your arm and burning you alive." The doctors who came up with the cocktails say the drugs are meant to make the execution humane.

You can read more, plus a brief rundown of America's various tried and discarded execution methods, at The Washington Post. Peter Weber

December 10, 2017
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Every year, the pile of toys Nolan Adams, 11, brings to Sanford Children's Hospital in South Dakota grows.

While driving with his family to visit his grandmother four years ago, Adams heard a radio ad for the hospital. He asked his parents, Trisha and Jason, how many toys the kids there received during the holidays, and when they told him "not really as much as you," he got an idea. The family stopped and bought two presents — a toy truck and a stuffed animal — and dropped them off at the hospital, the beginning of a new family tradition.

Through his Nolan's Project, Adams raises money to buy gifts for the patients, delivering them in December. After his first small donation, Adams came back with 50 gifts, and the next year, 75 gifts. This year, he made his biggest donation yet, for 176 kids. "I want them to forget about what's gonna happen next and I just want them to forget about all that and live a normal happy life," Adams told KSFY. Last week, Adams presented some of the gifts to two patients who will be in the hospital through the holidays and one of their siblings, and his family said they'll support him doing this indefinitely. "It's really heartwarming and it makes me feel good about myself, and me and my grandma say, 'It's better to give than receive,'" Adams said. Catherine Garcia

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