FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
January 18, 2017

Donald Trump's nominee for education secretary, Betsy DeVos, faced vocal skepticism from Democrats in her rare nighttime confirmation hearing before the Senate education committee on Tuesday, even as Republican senators hailed the advocate for taxpayer-funded vouchers and school choice as a needed reformer at the Education Department. DeVos, who conceded that her billionaire family had donated about $200 million to the Republican Party, parried questions about her family's prominent role in killing oversight of Michigan charter schools, her past disparaging remarks about public education and government, and her family's support for so-called gay conversion therapy, suggesting she herself never supported such therapy and believes every school should be "a safe and discrimination-free place to become educated."

DeVos declined to support Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) call for free college tuition, conceded to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) that nobody in her family has ever taken out a student loan and said she would "review" rules requiring career colleges (like Trump University) to offer salable skills to students, and would not commit to keeping in place rules that require colleges and universities to more actively crack down on sexual assaults.

When Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) asked her if she believed guns belong in school, DeVos noted a story from rural Wyoming, saying, "I would imagine there's probably a gun in the school to protect from potential grizzlies." When Murphy pressed her on if she supported Trump's proposal to ban gun-free zones around schools, DeVos said she would support "what the president-elect does," but assured him: "My heart bleeds and is broken for those families that have lost any individual due to gun violence." Murphy invited her to visit Sandy Hook Elementary School in his state, the site of an infamous mass shooting of young children in 2012.

DeVos also seemed unsure about some of the big discussions in public education — she and all her children attended only private schools. You can watch Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) explain to her the difference between proficiency testing and measuring student growth below. Peter Weber

April 29, 2017
Jason Kempin/Getty Images

President Trump announced last weekend he would "be holding a BIG rally in Pennsylvania" to mark his first 100 days in office, an event scheduled for Saturday that also gives the president alternative plans to the White House Correspondents' Dinner he has declined to attend.

The host of this year's dinner is The Daily Show's Hasan Minhaj, whom Reuters' Jeff Mason, president of the White House Correspondents' Association, asked to focus on "the importance of a free press" instead of simply taking the opportunity to "roast the president in absentia." Mason added, "That doesn't mean there can't be some jokes about the president, but just that there should be some jokes on the press."

The dinner in Washington, D.C., and the rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, both begin at 7:30 p.m. and will be streamed live online. Watch the dinner via C-SPAN and the rally via CBS News. Bonnie Kristian

April 29, 2017
Thierry Charlier/Getty Images

Leaders of the 27 nations remaining in the European Union after the United Kingdom's forthcoming Brexit on Saturday agreed unanimously to the terms of the exit process. "We are ready," said Michel Barnier, the EU27's chief negotiator. "We are together."

Formal negotiations will begin this summer, and the guidelines approved Saturday set March 29, 2019 as an end date. Among other requirements, the terms specify negotiations must address the U.K.'s financial obligations — Brussels seeks tens of billions of euros from London on its way out — as well as creation of an EU-U.K. border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The guidelines are available online here, and for context, check out The Week's breakdown of what Brexit means and how it will work. Bonnie Kristian

April 29, 2017
Andreas Solaro/Getty Images

Pope Francis on Saturday celebrated Mass with a crowd of about 15,000 in Cairo, Egypt, a visit made at the invitation of Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of al-Azhar and a leading moderate cleric and academic of Sunni Islam. The trip follows the Palm Sunday bombings of two Coptic Orthodox churches in Egypt that claimed at least 45 lives.

"God is pleased only by a faith that is proclaimed by our lives, for the only fanaticism believers can have is that of charity!" Francis said in his homily. "Any other fanaticism does not come from God and is not pleasing to him."

Francis will visit the Egyptian Catholic community later Saturday. His has used his visit to Egypt to urge peaceful coexistence between Christians and Muslims. Bonnie Kristian

April 29, 2017
Lionel Bonaventure/Getty Images

The Turkish government has blocked access to Wikipedia, watchdog organizations said Saturday.

"After technical analysis and legal consideration based on the Law Nr. 5651 [governing the internet], an administrative measure has been taken for this website," said a statement from the Turkish Information and Communication Technologies Authority, which did not provide an official reason for the block. The law the statement cited permits the government to ban websites deemed obscene or threatening to national security.

Turkish media reported authorities took issue with Wikipedia content "supporting terror" (or perhaps suggesting ties between Turkey and terrorist groups). When Wikipedia refused to remove the content in question, local stories said, the ban was Ankara's retaliation.

This move comes two weeks after a referendum vote gave Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expansive new powers. Bonnie Kristian

April 29, 2017
Jim Watson/Getty Images

President Trump hit the 100-day mark of his presidency Saturday, a milestone he enthusiastically hailed in his weekly address the afternoon before.

"I truly believe that the first 100 days of my administration has been just about the most successful in our country's history," Trump said in the brief video. "Our country is going up, and it's going up fast. Our companies are doing better. They just announced fantastic profits all because of what's happened in this rather short period of time, and that's just the beginning."

While other assessments of Trump's first 100 days have been rather more mixed, Trump is indisputably leading by one metric: He has signed more executive orders so far than any president since Harry Truman. Trump will spend his 100th day signing yet another order, this one ordering a study of the effects of current U.S. trade agreements, including the World Trade Organization. Bonnie Kristian

April 29, 2017
Saul Loeb/Getty Images

President Trump signed a one-week spending bill Friday night after both houses of Congress voted to approve the measure just hours before the midnight deadline to avert a government shutdown.

"I'm disappointed that it doesn't go quicker," Trump said of working with Congress earlier Friday. "It is a very tough system." The stopgap measure had been put in jeopardy by a White House push to pass health-care reform before the administration's 100th day Saturday, but House leadership chose to delay a health-care vote until at least next week, paving the way for the bipartisan spending bill.

The federal government is now funded through May 5, by which point lawmakers expect to pass a $1 trillion spending bill financing Washington through the end of September. Bonnie Kristian

April 28, 2017
Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Thousands are expected to gather Saturday in Washington, D.C., on President Trump's 100th day in office for the 2017 People's Climate March. Activists are hailing the event as an opportunity to fight for climate protections the Trump administration has threatened to roll back and to push the promise of clean energy. "The climate movement will convene in D.C. to show that the election didn't cancel physics," said climate activist and author Bill McKibben, who helped organize the first iteration of the People's Climate March, which took place in New York in 2014.

The march — which happens to fall on what could be a record-breakingly hot day in D.C. — will begin in front of the Capitol at 12:30 p.m. ET. Protesters are expected to make their way to the White House by 2 p.m. ET.

This will be the second science-related march in two weeks in D.C., following last weekend's March for Science, which coincided with Earth Day. Becca Stanek

See More Speed Reads