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Vox Sentences: The Trump campaign enlists the world’s sketchiest character witness

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More Trump accusers come forward, and the campaign responds in its own inimitable way; the US is officially involved (militarily) in Yemen; the FBI arrests alleged right-wing terrorists in an apartment bombing plot.


Character witnesses

Trump accuser on CNN CNN
  • Women just keep coming forward accusing Donald Trump of groping or kissing them without their consent. Friday saw two new allegations — one of them from a former contestant on The Apprentice. [Vox / Libby Nelson and Sarah Frostenson]
  • Don't worry, though. The Trump campaign — including running mate Mike Pence, who was appalled by Trump's leaked hot-mic comments about grabbing women but appears to believe Trump would never actually do that — insisted Friday that it had evidence against the accusations. [Chicago Tribune]
  • That evidence, the New York Post revealed late Friday, was the testimony of a British man named Anthony Gilberthorpe — who claims he was also on the flight on which Jessica Leeds claimed Trump groped her in the early 1980s, and that no such groping occurred. (This vastly understates the absurdity of the Post's article.) [New York Post / Daniel Halper]
  • Gilberthorpe is not a reliable character witness. He last made headlines in 2014 for claiming he'd pimped out underage boys to highly placed British politicians. (Those claims were eviscerated.) [Private Eye via Bo News]
  • Trump's own defense against the allegations, meanwhile, appears to be that the women were simply too ugly to molest: a point he's made, jokingly but insistently, in every public appearance since the allegations broke Wednesday. [Slate / Jim Newell]
  • This is how Trump assesses Hillary Clinton, too. It's how he assesses women, generally: Either they're attractive or they're worthless as human beings. [Washington Post / Alyssa Rosenberg]
  • This is not a great trait to have in a president, for plenty of reasons. But as Matt Yglesias points out, most people are not making their decisions about this election based on Donald Trump's treatment of women — or anything else campaign-related, really. [Vox / Matthew Yglesias]

So we're officially involved in Yemen's civil war now

Yemeni soldier Saleh al-Obeidi/AFP/Getty Images
  • The US is now officially involved in Yemen's civil war. On Thursday, it struck three radar installations manned by Houthi rebels, after two failed attempts (attributed to the rebels) to bomb US ships. [CNN / Nicole Gaouette]
  • President Obama sent a notice to Congress under the War Powers Resolution on Friday notifying it of the expansion in US involvement. Obama defends the strikes as a "limited and proportionate" response. [USA Today / Gregory Korte]
  • But the US has a habit of getting dragged into conflicts like this backward (see also: its involvement in the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria). [AP / Matthew Lee and Lolita C. Baldor]
  • Certainly, for the rebels themselves, and others in Yemen, the bombings weren't a discrete incident. They see them as proof that the US, not Saudi Arabia, has been the real "hidden hand" in the air war on the rebels. [NYT / Mark Mazzetti, Ben Hubbard, and Matthew Rosenberg]
  • In reality, Saudi Arabia is leading the campaign, and doing so without a lot of sensitivity to, say, not committing war crimes. But the US is definitely supporting Saudi Arabia — which means it is to some extent implicated in those war crimes. [Vox / Zack Beauchamp]
  • Unsurprisingly, Iran has aligned itself on the opposite side of the conflict from the Saudis — aligning itself with the Houthis. Now Iran's sending warships into Yemen's Gulf of Aden — ostensibly to protect against piracy but also, it's assumed, as a warning to the US not to get in too deep. [Reuters / Parisa Hafezi]

A thwarted terrorist plot

Somali Americans Christopher Smith/The Washington Post via Getty Images
  • The FBI has arrested and charged three men who allegedly plotted to bomb an apartment building in Garden City, Kansas, targeting Somali Americans. [CBS News]
  • This is terrorism. These men (if the allegations are true) are would-be terrorists. [Washington Post / Anthea Butler]
  • Kansas's meatpacking towns have a surprisingly large Somali community, as depicted in this Washington Post feature from earlier this year. (One refugee compared the stench of the meatpacking plant to the smell of goats in the refugee camp he left to settle in the US.) [Washington Post / Chico Harlan]
  • In a shocking development, some people don't like the new arrivals. According to the FBI, the three men arrested are part of a militia group called "the Crusaders" (which law enforcement has been investigating since February). [KAKE]
  • The plot was allegedly scheduled to take place the day after the election — so as not to interfere with it. But one of the perpetrators said that it was intended to wake America up: "The only fucking way this country’s ever going to get turned around is it will be a bloodbath and it will be a nasty, messy motherfucker." [Huffington Post / Ryan J. Reilly and Christopher Mathias]
  • There's a huge asterisk to all this. The US government has a history of sending confidential informants to facilitate, or even encourage, the development of terrorist plots, then giving themselves a big pat on the back when they arrest the so-called perpetrators. [The Intercept / Murtaza Hussain and Razan Ghayalini]
  • But Islamophobic hate crimes really do appear to be on the rise (though it's always hard to distinguish "more hate crimes" from "more people reporting hate crimes"). [Huffington Post / Matt Ferner and Alissa Scheller]
  • The men arrested Friday were posting Islamophobic memes on Facebook before Donald Trump declared his candidacy for president. But there's still evidence that Trump's anti-Muslim rhetoric has encouraged open hatred and violence. That does not, however, mean it is going to go away on November 9 — no matter which way the election goes. [The Atlantic / Claire Foran]

Miscellaneous

  • McDonald's is paring back appearances by Ronald McDonald in late of recent anti-clown prejudice. [AdWeek / Christine Birkner]
  • A Final Fantasy-esque RPG, only for making yourself do chores. [Polygon / Wouter McDutch]
  • Discussion of immigration in the US tends to focus on Mexico. But India and China each send more people to the US now than Mexico. [AP / Josh Boak]
  • Welcome to Asheville, North Carolina, one of America's Best Cities to Live In, somewhat for humans but mostly for bears. [Atlas Obscura / Cara Giaimo]
  • For survivors of sexual assault, the rise of Donald Trump, and particularly the past few weeks, has been one long, extended trigger. [Fusion / Katie McDonough]

Verbatim

  • "I'm a black woman. No one ever assumes I'm Jewish. When I talk about Judaism, people look at me in a way that makes me feel like I'm breaking into my own house. Especially the people inside the house." [NPR / Leah Donnella]
  • "'Beautiful human submarines,' [Ken Bone] wrote on a post about pregnant women in an 18-and-over subreddit called PreggoPorn." [NYT / Katie Rogers]
  • "I got to drink cheap beer and eat chicken wings at a bar while watching women — most of them black and many of them queer — compete in sport on a nationally overrated, I mean broadcast, sports network." [The Hairpin / Maya Goldberg-Safir]
  • "The Great Barrier Reef of Australia passed away in 2016 after a long illness. It was 25 million years old." [National Geographic / Rowan Jacobsen]
  • "The neat divide between 'music' and 'literature' breaks down in the face of, say, Homer or Sappho, or, for my money, any number of black American poets, none of whom are Nobel laureates, whose work drew from the songs slaves sang in the fields as they worked." [The Ringer / K. Austin Collins]

Watch this: Would you use time travel to kill baby Hitler?

Well? Would you? Vox's Phil Edwards asked author James Gleick about the history of this unusual philosophical question. [YouTube / Phil Edwards and Christophe Haubursin]