March 1, 2024

Between juggling the congressional schedule, trying to avoid a government shutdown and finding child care in a city that delays school when it rains, Washington doesn’t have a lot of time left over for holiday shopping. But never fear: POLITICO Magazine has curated the perfect gift guide for the D.C. dwellers and political obsessives in your life, from your Bernie Bro cousin to that distant relative who just has some “concerns” about the 2020 election. They won’t mend the political divide in your family or the country, but maybe they’ll keep everyone happy until the holiday feast works its soporific magic.

But before we send you on a shopping spree, we have a question for you: How are we doing? Take our POLITICO Weekend survey to let us know what you like about the newsletter — and what’s missing.

Read the gift guide.

“Your dog is fat.”

Can you guess who said this to then-President George W. Bush? Scroll to the bottom for the answer.**

Congress Made Her Testify. Now She’s Getting Sued … In harrowing congressional testimony last year, a woman accused Zia Chishti, the entrepreneur who founded the company behind Invisalign dental braces, of violent sexual abuse. Now, he’s suing — and that could set a dangerous precedent, writes Michael Schaffer in this week’s Capital City column. If it succeeds, the lawsuit could present “an ominous new risk for witnesses who speak out against powerful, deep-pocketed people.”

Fifty African leaders showed up in Washington this week for a summit with President Joe Biden, but it’s not clear what they’re leaving with. Here’s what you need to know:

— Washington sure can fill a room: The three-day summit was the largest gathering of African leaders ever held outside of Africa.

— Side events touted the continent’s exciting business opportunities, but the Biden administration also issued new sanctions against the Zimbabwean president’s son.

— No one fully succeeded this week: African leaders wanted to be treated as partners, not charity cases; Biden wanted to be seen as a better ally than Chinese President Xi Jinping. Biden’s vision statement doesn’t yet compete with Beijing’s infrastructure juggernaut, which has delivered a potent legacy of stadiums, rail lines and broadband connections in sharp contrast to what the West has delivered recently: shuttered embassies, endless visa lines and late vaccine arrivals.

— Did they do anything about climate change? Nada, which annoyed African Union Chairperson Macky Sall enough for him to tell a press conference that Africa is “the least polluting continent, but the most vulnerable.”

The Next Security Threats … In the 21st century, national defense doesn’t just mean military might. Natural resources, advanced technology, global pandemics — the list of defense concerns is getting longer and longer. And the growing tensions between American and Chinese superpowers have reshuffled the global defense calculus. So we decided to look into emerging security threats in a multi-story package: Paul McLeary breaks down the four startling ways China’s growing commercial and military power pose new threats; Lee Hudson investigates nontraditional threats the Pentagon is waking up to, from pandemics to quantum computing and artificial intelligence; and Lara Seligman chronicles the U.S.’s efforts to break China’s grip on rare earth minerals used in commercial and military tech.

59 percent … of Republican men have not read or listened to an audio version of a novel in the past year, compared to 38 percent of Democratic men.

The Merchant of Death Returns … Notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout, who was recently exchanged for American basketball legend Brittney Griner, is known for enabling heinous crimes, from terrorism to the use of child soldiers. Elaine Shannon tells the inside story of how U.S. agents took him down in a 2008 Thailand sting operation — and shares why they’re worried about what Bout will do now that he’s free.

Speaking of Brittney Griner, she isn’t the only American to be arrested in Russia on marijuana charges; Marc Fogel, a 61-year-old history teacher from Pennsylvania, has languished in a series of Russian prisons for a year and a half over a small amount of medical marijuana. His prospects for release are uncertain, writes Ian Ward. But now that Griner has made it home, pressure is mounting on the Biden administration to secure the return of other Americans as well.

The World Cup is a political stage in addition to a sporting event, and world leaders have been jockeying for position at the games since they started. The leaders of Turkey, Jordan and Saudi Arabia showed up for this year’s opening ceremony, and this Wednesday, French President Emmanuel Macron cheered on his country against Morocco from the stands.

The first cup, held in Montevideo, Uruguay, in 1930, was thrilling — the home team defeated Argentina 4-2. The captain of the winning Uruguay side was a formidable defender named José Nasazzi, also known as El Gran Mariscal (“The Great Marshal”). He was named the best player of the tournament. And apparently he smoked like a chimney. This engraved cigarette case and match-holder, available now on eBay, were commissioned for him after the victory. They can be yours for $8,500.

Don’t forget to take our survey!