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March 15, 2012

Michigan moviegoer Joshua Thompson has filed a class action suit against the AMC movie theater chain, in a doomed effort to convince it to lower its concession stand prices. After repeatedly buying candy and soda at AMC for three to four times what the same mundane snacks would cost outside the theater, he simply "got tired of being taken advantage of," says Thompson's lawyer. Sadly, experts expect the case to be summarily dismissed and price-gouging on Goobers to continue apace. The Week Staff

12:50 a.m. ET
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President Trump decided to pull out of his June 12 summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Un while talking with advisers Thursday morning from 7-9 a.m., then dictated his Dear Kim letter — to hawkish National Security Adviser John Bolton, according to Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) — and released it to the public at 9:43 a.m. without warning allies, members of Congress, or North Korea, all of whom seemed blindsided and upset by the sudden cancelation. Trump and his advisers had only started discussing canceling the meeting less than 12 hours earlier, NBC News reports.

What made up his mind? "The president, fearing that the North Koreans might beat him to the punch, wanted to be the one to cancel first," NBC News says, citing "multiple officials." At 10 p.m. Wednesday, Bolton told Trump about North Korea's public pushback against "political dummy" Vice President Mike Pence and threat to cancel, The Washington Post reports. "Bolton advised that the threatening language was a very bad sign, and the president told advisers he was concerned Kim was maneuvering to back out of the summit and make Americans look like desperate suitors, according to a person familiar with the conversations. So Trump called it off first."

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. who met with Kim twice in Pyongyang and was working to set up the meeting, publicly blamed North Korea, telling the Senate Thursday that his negotiators "received no response to our inquiries from them. ... We got a lot of dial tones." Privately, Pompeo "blamed Bolton for torpedoing the progress that had already been made," NBC News reports, citing several administration officials. "One person familiar with the summit preparations said it was Bolton who drove the decision to cancel and that he had convinced Trump to make the move." Bolton's threat of "the Libya model," and Pence's parroting that line on Monday, angered the North Koreans. Peter Weber

May 24, 2018
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On Friday, voters in Ireland will head to the polls for an abortion referendum, deciding whether or not to lift the country's constitutional ban on the procedure.

Abortion was already illegal in the heavily Catholic nation before the constitutional ban was adopted 35 years ago, and in 2013, it was partially repealed, only for instances when the life of the mother is in danger. Deputy Prime Minister Simon Covenay said that more than 3,000 women leave Ireland for Britain every year for abortions, while countless others order pills online.

Polls suggest that there is enough support to repeal the ban, and many Irish expats have returned home because they can't vote by mail or in embassies, and they want to have their voices heard. If the amendment is repealed, the government will then introduce a bill on abortion that would be debated in parliament. Catherine Garcia

May 24, 2018
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David MacNeil, a Chicago-area businessman who has donated more than $1 million to President Trump, told Politico Republican candidates can expect nothing from him until they take action on an immigration bill.

MacNeil owns the WeatherTech automotive company, and employs more than 1,100 people. MacNeil told Politico that if Congress doesn't come up with a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) deal, one of his employees could be deported. "I'm saying this as a political donor who's donated seven figures in the last couple of years: I will not donate any more money to anyone who doesn't support DACA, period," he said. "I'm putting my money where my mouth is."

The "critically important" employee was brought to the United States as a toddler, and "it would be a disaster if I were not able to legally employ her," MacNeil told Politico. "They should not be playing political football, political blackmail with people's lives." Catherine Garcia

May 24, 2018
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If you've ever said something rude, crude, or lewd in front of your Amazon Echo, you'd better hope it wasn't listening.

A woman in Portland named Danielle, who did not want her last name used, told KIRO that an Amazon Echo device inside her home recorded private conversations she had with her husband, and then sent them to one of his phone contacts — an employee in Seattle. Danielle said they only found out when the employee called and said: "Unplug your Alexa devices right now. You're being hacked."

Alexa is the digital assistant built into the Echo, and the family had devices in every room. Danielle said they knew the employee wasn't joking when he told them all about a conversation they just had about hardwood floors. "We said, 'Oh gosh, you really did hear us,'" Danielle said. She called Amazon, and an Alexa engineer said he was able to pinpoint when the conversations were recorded, but didn't say why it happened or if anyone else had the same issue. "I felt invaded," Danielle said. "A total privacy invasion."

An Amazon spokesperson told The Verge that the Echo heard what sounded like "Alexa," and "the subsequent conversation was heard as a 'send message' request. At which point, Alexa said out loud, "To whom?' At which point, the background conversation was interpreted as a name in the customers contact list. Alexa then asked out loud, '[contact name], right?' Alexa then interpreted background conversation as 'right.'" Amazon, the spokesperson added, is now "evaluating options." If you have an Echo, you might want to evaluate the option of throwing it in the garbage. Catherine Garcia

May 24, 2018
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In response to President Trump canceling the historic summit scheduled for next month between the U.S. and North Korea, North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Gye Gwan declared his country is ready to meet with the U.S. "at any time."

In a statement published by North Korean state media on Friday morning, Kim said Trump's decision to pull out of the meeting wasn't "the world's desire," and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un "had focused every effort" on the summit. He also said the U.S. and North Korea must meet in order to take care of the "grave hostilities" between the countries. Catherine Garcia

May 24, 2018
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The Atlantic hurricane season starts June 1, and scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shared their forecast Thursday, saying they expect to see a near-normal season.

The season ends Nov. 30 and hits its peak mid-August through mid-October. The scientists predict a 70 percent likelihood of 10 to 16 named storms with winds of 39 mph or higher, and of those, five to nine could turn into hurricanes, including one to four major ones, ABC News reports. To become a hurricane, winds must reach 74 mph or more.

The average hurricane season has 12 named storms, with six becoming hurricanes. Last year, Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria slammed parts of the Caribbean and the U.S., and Puerto Rico is still trying to recover, with some residents living without power or water, and others waiting for their homes and roads to be rebuilt. Catherine Garcia

May 24, 2018
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Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) is blasting the White House for its decision to let Emmet Flood, President Trump's attorney working on the Russia investigation, attend two classified briefings on Thursday with Justice Department officials.

"Emmet Flood's presence and statement at the outset of both meetings today was completely inappropriate," Schiff said. A Republican-only meeting, attended by House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), was held Thursday morning to discuss information related to an FBI informant who in 2016 talked to Trump campaign advisers linked to Russia. The White House said Flood and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly spoke at the beginning of the meeting to "relay the president's desire for as much openness as possible," and left before it started.

After this meeting took place, Justice Department officials briefed the bipartisan congressional leaders who make up the "Gang of Eight," including Schiff, and Flood attended that meeting, too. Schiff told reporters that "nothing we heard today has changed our view that there is no evidence to support any allegation that the FBI or any intelligence agency placed a spy in the Trump campaign or otherwise failed to follow appropriate procedures or protocols." Catherine Garcia

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