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Vox Sentences: Good news for the physical climate, bad news for the political climate

Vox Sentences is your daily digest for what's happening in the world, curated by Dara Lind and Dylan Matthews. Sign up for the Vox Sentences newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday, or view the Vox Sentences archive for past editions.

We genuinely don't know whether everyone will accept the outcome of this election; ISIS faces what might be its final battle; a huge deal to restrain the fastest-growing source of climate emissions.


Trump tweet Donald J. Trump
  • Donald Trump is continuing a preemptive and sustained attack on the legitimacy of the US presidential election; on Twitter over the weekend and on Monday, he again said the election would be "rigged" via "large scale voter fraud." [AFP]
  • That is not happening. Voter fraud is extremely rare; in-person voter fraud (which Trump and other Republicans are most concerned about) is rare to the tune of 31 out of 1 billion votes cast. [Washington Post / Philip Bump]
  • In general, US elections are extremely hard to rig, as elections lawyer Chris Ashby (a Republican) explains here. [ExtraNewsfeed / Chris Ashby]
  • Trump's claims are baseless, but they are not harmless. Democracy depends on gracious losers, and Trump is showing every indication that he won't be one. [Vox / Shaun Bowler]
  • It's especially alarming that few leaders of his own party are stepping up to rebuke him and assure the public that they're confident the election will be free and fair. [AP / Julie Pace]
  • At best, Trump is undermining faith in American democracy: 41 percent of voters, including nearly three-quarters of Republicans, say the election could be stolen. [Politico / Jake Sherman and Steven Shepard]
  • At worst, he's encouraging his supporters to make plans to intimidate nonwhite voters on Election Day. [Vox / Dara Lind]
  • It's entirely possible that campaign violence has already started. A North Carolina county Republican office was firebombed over the weekend — with graffiti left on an adjacent building that suggested the attack might have been ideologically motivated. [Charlotte News-Observer / Jim Morrill]
  • Usually moments like this inspire pan-ideological unity. But when some Democrats rushed to donate to help rebuild the office, others criticized the fund drive for abetting the "violence" of Republican policies. [Vox / Jeff Stein]
  • And nobody fails at unity like Donald Trump himself, who immediately blamed representatives of Hillary Clinton for the firebombing — and painted it not as a condemnable act but as a response to the Democrats "losing." [Donald Trump via Twitter]

The final countdown?

Soldiers in Mosul Emrah Yorulmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
  • The battle to retake Mosul has begun. Iraqi forces are advancing on the ISIS stronghold, in a fight that could last weeks and take up to 30,000 Iraqi and American troops. [NYT / Michael R. Gordon and Tim Arango]
  • The objective is clear: to crush ISIS once and for all. [ABC News / Luis Martinez]
  • Mosul has been under ISIS control for two years; the Iraqi army's surrender to it, in 2014, marked the first major victory for the so-called caliphate. [BuzzFeed News / Mike Giglio]
  • But 2014 was a long time ago in ISIS time. The group has been on the defensive for months, and has lost a great deal of its territory in 2016. Losing territory makes it harder for it to get money, which makes it weaker, which makes it less capable of holding territory, etc. [Vox / Zack Beauchamp]
  • In fact, ISIS might not be strong enough to fight for every block of Mosul. One commander indicates it will likely cut its losses and retreat quickly from some areas of the city to retrench in other ones. [WSJ / Tamer El-Ghobashy, Ali A. Nabhan, and Ben Kesling]
  • Few people think the whole battle will be over quickly. The timeline tends to be on the order of "weeks or months." [The Guardian / Martin Chulov and Hannah Summers]
  • When it's all over, ISIS may in fact no longer exist as an organization. But its members will still be around (and possibly loosed on Europe and the US). So will the political vacuum that allowed it to take hold. [CNN / Peter Bergen]

Down (according to a set timetable) with HFC

Climate committee meeting in Rwanda Cyril Ndegeya/AFP/Getty Images
  • On Saturday, nearly 200 countries ratified an agreement to drastically cut down on hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) — the fastest-growing source of climate-warming emissions. [Vox / Brad Plumer]
  • HFCs, which are refrigerants, were developed as an alternative to CFCs (which created the hole in the ozone layer). While the ozone is repairing itself after countries agreed to limit CFCs in 1987, the rush to use HFCs instead has contributed hugely to global warming, which it turns out is also a problem. [WSJ / Daniela Hernandez]
  • The negotiations over the HFC deal (which took place in Kigali, Rwanda) reflected typical international climate politics: More developed nations like the US and European nations were gung-ho about cutting out HFCs (Europe has already banned them), but developing countries like India were seriously concerned about losing access to refrigeration. (They'll have longer to phase out HFCs.) [InsideClimate / Zahra Hirji]
  • The World Bank is stepping in to help bridge the gap; it's promising to help fund initiatives that will develop more eco-friendly alternatives in countries like Vietnam. [World Bank]
  • The global chemical industry, surprisingly, is even more bullish — companies like Honeywell helped lobby for the deal. (They're confident they'll be able to develop alternative refrigerants, which would then sell well as use of HFCs was limited.) [NYT / Hiroko Tabuchi and Danny Hakim]
  • The Kigali deal is unequivocally good news for the climate. It could prevent up to 0.4 degrees Celsius of warming by the end of the century — a huge margin. We're not close to solving the threat of climate change yet, but Vox's Brad Plumer argues the Kigali deal and other recent developments show what a solution might look like. [Vox / Brad Plumer]


  • Derek Black is the son of Don Black (founder of the hate site Stormfront) and the godson of David Duke. He started a kids' white nationalist site at age 10 and was poised to lead the movement. Then he went to college and started rethinking his whole life. [WaPo / Eli Saslow]
  • Bob Dylan isn't replying to any of the Nobel committee's emails or phone calls, because of course he isn't. [The Guardian]
  • Longer school days consistently improve learning outcomes — and they could save millions of parents from having to get child care for kids between the end of school and the end of work. [Slate / Elissa Strauss]
  • Last year, Reagan Airport got 8,760 noise complaints. Nearly four out of five of them came from two people at one residence in a rich neighborhood of DC. [Mercatus Center / Eli Dourado and Raymond Russell]
  • Walmart figured out this one weird trick for making its stores cleaner and boosting its sales. It's called "giving workers a raise." [NYT / Neil Irwin]


  • "Lochte’s publicist decides to come along. 'Work is slow,' she says. 'It’s Yom Kippur.' 'What’s that?' Lochte asks curiously. 'It’s the Jewish Day of Atonement.' 'Wasn’t it their Thanksgiving two days  ago?' 'That was Canadian Thanksgiving.'" [NY Mag / Jessica Pressler]
  • "I told [Justin Trudeau], ‘I hate you.' He said, ‘Let’s take a selfie!’ And I said, ‘You’re doing it on purpose because you’re more handsome.’" [Italian PM Matteo Renzi to Vogue / Jason Horowitz]
  • "He told me once about this recurring fantasy he has where he stands in line at the grocery store and just throws a bottle of wine against the wall and then there’s ten seconds of silence and everyone’s looking around trying to figure out what happens and right when someone starts to speak, that’s when he throws the second bottle. I think about that all the time." [Nick Robinson to NY Mag / Brian Feldman]
  • "The most mind-boggling thing about Westworld is that the 2016 science fiction series’ idea of fun is rooted in the casual chauvinism of 1973. We've seen only a few female guests, at least one of which was vocally bored. Because really, what's a woman, especially a heterosexual woman, supposed to do there? Participate in generic gunfights where the reward is women offering to sleep with you? Walk around a town full of robots programmed for 19th century gender roles and sexual assault?" [The Verge / Adi Robertson]
  • "He beckoned me to an apartment one floor below, where I turned on lights to discover about a dozen people standing in the living room, no longer in the dark because I had flipped a switch. I didn’t have the heart to ask how long they had congregated there in the darkness. Thermostat and kettle checked, I finally made my way out of this building populated with people who depended on the kindness of strangers." [BuzzFeed / Garnette Cadogan]

Watch this: Giving birth costs a lot. Hospitals won't tell you how much.

I tried to find out how much my son’s birth would cost before it happened. I failed. [YouTube / Johnny Harris]