FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
August 16, 2012

5
Percent of Americans who identify as atheists, according to a new poll by the Global Index of Religiosity and Atheism

1
Percent of Americans who identified as atheists in the 2005 poll

13
Percent of people worldwide who identify as atheists 

Source: Slate The Week Staff

4:43 p.m. ET
ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

Former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, of Arizona's Maricopa County, has had a lot more time on his hands since he lost re-election in November. While catching up with The New York Times in an interview published Tuesday, Arpaio — who once called himself "America's toughest sheriff" — said he now likes to spend his time driving his red Cadillac or googling himself. "I average six Googles a day," Arpaio said, noting the number of new mentions that pop up each time he enters his name in Google.

Arpaio enjoyed a stint in the national spotlight last year for his tough views on immigration and his strong support of now-President Trump. That all came to a screeching halt when his bid for a seventh consecutive term was unsuccessful, ending his 24-year career and leaving his once 14-hour workdays empty.

But Arpaio still has his mentions: The New York Times reported that, "by his own tally, which he was typewritten on loose sheets of paper, he has been profiled in more than 4,000 national and foreign newspapers, magazines, and TV programs."

Read more of Arpaio's thoughts on his career — which he still talks about "in the present tense" — at The New York Times. Becca Stanek

4:17 p.m. ET

It only comes once a year, but World Turtle Day has brought out the testudinate-loving members of Congress — and their adorable photos.

Here is Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) helping a turtle cross a street:

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), in typical fashion, used the opportunity to call for action:

And last but not least, tender-hearted Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) recalled a visit to the Turtle Hospital with his family, proving that #WorldTurtleDay can bring together both sides of the aisle and perhaps achieve world peace:

While he remained conspicuously silent on what surely must be his favorite day of the year, it would be negligent not to add former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's own throwback to the mix. Jeva Lange

3:14 p.m. ET
FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images

The World Health Organization has elected former Ethiopian health minister Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to serve as its next director-general, the United Nations agency announced Tuesday after three rounds of voting. Tedros, who goes by his first name, will be the first African to head WHO.

Tedros ran against Britain's David Nabarro, who headed up the U.N.'s response to the Ebola outbreak in 2014, and Sania Nishtar, Pakistan's first female cardiologist. The New York Times reported that during Tedros' tenure as Ethiopia's health minister, he "drastically cut deaths" from malaria, AIDS, tuberculosis, and neonatal problems; trained 40,000 women to be health workers; and greatly increased the number of graduates from medical school. During the election, however, Tedros faced accusations of covering up cholera outbreaks in Ethiopia, as well of being complicit in his home country's human rights violations.

Tedros will take over for Margaret Chan, who has headed the agency since 2006, on July 1. Becca Stanek

2:47 p.m. ET
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Fox News on Tuesday officially retracted its conspiracy theory about murdered Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich. In a statement, Fox News admitted that its "scoop" published May 16, alleging that Rich was in touch with WikiLeaks just before being "mysteriously" murdered, was "not initially subjected to the high degree of editorial scrutiny" usually required.

"Upon appropriate review, the article was found not to meet those standards and has since been removed," the statement said.

Rich's family has been ardently denying the story since its publication, saying such conspiracy theories are harmful to "the memory and reputation of Seth Rich." Washington, D.C., police have reported Rich was killed in what was likely a botched attempted robbery. Moreover, Fox News' source, private investigator Rod Wheeler, admitted nearly a week ago that his only source for the story was a reporter at Fox News and that he had no actual evidence to back the conspiracy.

Fox News host Sean Hannity was still pushing the story as recently as Tuesday morning, enraging even his fellow anchors. Just over an hour before the retraction was published, Hannity was tweeting about Rich.

Fox News vowed in its statement that it would "continue to investigate this story" and "provide updates as warranted." Becca Stanek

1:52 p.m. ET

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) has a famous sense of humor, one that, in a previous life, served him as a Saturday Night Live comedian. Now Franken has become one of the most merciless Democrats in the Senate, holding President Trump and his appointees accountable — even when they're friends.

As Franken writes in his new book, jokingly titled Al Franken: Giant of the Senate, he has made an effort to extend a hand across the aisle. "Behind the scenes, he tried to cultivate friendships, including with conservative Republican senators who wouldn't be among his natural allies," USA Today writes.

That includes former Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and former Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). It does not, however, include Sen. Ted Cuz (R-Texas):

While the book provides a glimpse at some surprising friendships among senators across ideological lines, there are no kind words in it for Ted Cruz. The Texas senator gets an entire chapter of his own, titled "Sophistry," that describes him as "singularly dishonest" and "exceptionally smarmy." (Cruz's office didn't respond to a request for comment.)

"You have to understand that I like Ted Cruz probably more than my colleagues like Ted Cruz," Franken said in the interview, "and I hate Ted Cruz." [USA Today]

Read more about Franken and his new book at USA Today. Jeva Lange

12:51 p.m. ET

When asked to explain why the American people should care that Russia tried to influence the 2016 presidential election, former CIA Director John Brennan was not shy. "Our ability to choose our elected leaders as we see fit is an inalienable right we must protect with all of our resources and all of our authority and power," he told the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday.

"For the last 241 years, this nation and its citizens have cherished the freedom and liberty that this country was founded upon," Brennan said. "Many, many brave Americans over the years have lost their lives to be able to protect that freedom and liberty."

Brennan added: "The fact that the Russians tried to influence that election so that the will of the American people was not going to be realized … I find outrageous and something that we need to, with every last ounce of devotion to this country, resist." Watch Brennan's stirring speech below and read more about his testimony here at The Week. Jeva Lange

12:13 p.m. ET

In a press briefing Tuesday unveiling President Trump's full budget, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney defended the plan's steep cuts. The $4.1 trillion plan proposes slashing funding for Medicaid, social services for the low-income and disabled, and the Children's Health Insurance Program, while increasing spending on defense, the Veterans Affairs Department, and a new plan for parental leave.

"We're no longer going to measure compassion by the number of programs or the number of people on those programs, but by the number of people we help get off of those programs," Mulvaney said Tuesday. "We're not going to measure compassion by the amount of money that we spend, but by the number of people that we help."

Mulvaney said that this approach would enable the Trump administration to achieve a balanced budget and economic growth. "That is how you can help people take charge of their own lives again," Mulvaney said.

Watch a snippet of Mulvaney's remarks below. Becca Stanek

See More Speed Reads