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Vox Sentences: The end is in sight

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.

The third debate (which historically does not matter); Ethiopia's human rights emergency; should Peter Thiel be purged?

It's over before it begins

Setup for final presidential debate Xinhua/Yin Bogu via Getty Images
  • At 9 pm Eastern time, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will face each other in person for the last time in the 2016 presidential campaign (and, if we had to guess, either of their lives). [Vox / Tara Golshan]
  • Everybody has suggestions for moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News, knowing that this is the last chance to get the candidates to actually tell Americans what they'd do as president. [Slate]
  • Trump, you will be shocked to learn, has not been preparing answers about what he would do as president. He has been preparing sick burns about Hillary Clinton's largely imaginary health issues... [NYT / Maggie Haberman and Jeremy W. Peters]
  • ...and designing the trolliest possible slate of invited guests, from the latest woman to accuse Bill Clinton of sexual assault to President Obama's own half-brother (who's become a darling of the far right). [Vox / Dara Lind]
  • Trump isn't even bothering to broaden his appeal. He's engaging in narrowcasting: tightening his bond with his already loyal audience. It's an approach that works for, say, TV networks, even if it doesn't win elections. [Vox / Jason Mittell]
  • It barely matters anyway. Historically, third debates don't have much of an impact on public opinion, which means Trump — barring some major development in the next 20 days — is toast. [Washington Post / Philip Bump]
  • Whether he will accept his toastness remains an open question. As of Wednesday, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said that Trump would concede if he lost, absent massive voter fraud on Election Day; but pro-Trump pundit Jeffrey Lord was hinting that voting machines would enable, well, massive voter fraud on Election Day. [Washington Post / Erik Wemple]

8 days. 1 town. 1,000 arrests.

Truck destroyed in Ethiopia Zacharias Abubeker/AFP/Getty Images
  • Since October 8, Ethiopia has been under a "state of emergency" that severely restricts travel (for Ethiopians, media and diplomats), grants broad search powers to security forces, and restricts social media. [Humanosphere / Tom Murphy]
  • It's the government's latest attempt to contain a protest movement that started in November, with protests in the Oromia region. Other groups of protesters throughout the country have started to come forward and unite — calling attention to the secrecy and repression of Ethiopia's de facto one-party government. [BBC]
  • In early October, a stampede killed more than 50 people at an Oromo religious festival (opposition leaders claim the stampede started when police fired tear gas into the crowd). The stampede led to a new surge in protests. [Deutsche Welle]
  • Protesters have often targeted businesses — a sore spot for the regime, which has promoted itself successfully to investors. Attacks on Turkish textile factories on October 5 may have spurred the government to institute the state of emergency. [The Economist]
  • Human rights groups are deeply concerned about the situation. On Wednesday, Amnesty International warned that 800 people had already been killed since protests began (600 of them in Oromia) and that the death toll was likely to increase under the new restrictions. [Bloomberg / Eric Ombok and William Davidson]
  • In a single town in Oromia, the mayor says, 1,000 people have been arrested since the state of emergency began (although some have since been released). [AP]
  • The United States and other major countries have often given Ethiopia something of a pass on political freedoms, because it's succeeded in economic development. It appears the current crackdown might inspire a reassessment. [The Washington Post]

Do unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures?

Peter Thiel Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images
  • Over the weekend, tech mogul and neoreactionary Peter Thiel donated another $1.25 million to Donald Trump's campaign. [NYT / David Streitfeld]
  • The timing was odd, both because Trump is sinking in the polls and because it came after a week of revelations about Trump's mistreatment of women. Thiel was already under fire from progressives (including gay publications) for having insufficient solidarity with other oppressed groups; this seemed like a slap in the face. [The Advocate / Jim Downs]
  • The backlash has resulted in calls to boycott PayPal (which Thiel co-founded) and for Facebook to remove Thiel from its board. [Silicon Beat / Michelle Quinn]
  • Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg (who's been somewhat outspoken against Trump) has rejected the latter suggestion. In a Facebook post Wednesday, he declared that it was important for Facebook to have ideological diversity on its board and honor freedom of speech. [Fortune / Jeff John Roberts]
  • Zuckerberg is trying to resist repeating the saga of Brendan Eich, who was pushed out of Mozilla (which he co-founded) in 2014 after it was discovered that he donated $1,000 to the anti-same-sex marriage initiative Proposition 8 in California. [Re/code / Kara Swisher]
  • The Eich controversy gave pause to a lot of liberals. It seemed to open a slippery slope to banning everyone who expresses illiberal views from employment and public life. [Slate / William Saletan]
  • Of course, the slippery slope is always a fallacy; people determine what is and isn't appropriate case by case. And on that count, Thiel's actions are much less defensible than Eich's — after all, even Thiel's business allies (like Y Combinator founder Paul Graham) describe Trump as an "unprecedented" threat to democracy, yet don't appear willing to put their money where their mouths are. [The Intercept / Sam Biddle]
  • The bigger question is how Facebook, and the rest of Silicon Valley, is still so concerned about "ideological diversity" when its insistence on "workplace fit" — otherwise known as conformity — has made it so undiverse in so many other ways. [WSJ / Vivek Wadhwa]


  • Nevada's $35 billion pension fund is managed by a single person, alone in a room, who by his own account does basically nothing all day. He outperforms many of his peers in other states. [WSJ / Timothy Martin]
  • A group of leading poverty researchers have a simple idea to tackle child poverty: Give every family with kids a child allowance. [NYT / Eduardo Porter]
  • Italy now has a fountain that dispenses free wine 24 hours a day. Matteo Renzi, what a beautiful land you have built. [Eater / Whitney Filloon]
  • I (Dylan) have been working my way through Luke Cage and totally missed that every episode is named after a Gang Starr track. [Boston Globe / James Sullivan]
  • While the Supreme Court overturned sodomy laws in 2003, dozens of gay people in Tennessee are living with criminal records from as recently as 1995. One lawyer is taking it upon himself to get their records expunged. [Slate / Mark Joseph Stern]


  • "While others ran, Hughes surveyed the darkening shit storm and glimpsed something more like opportunity. With calm grace, she did what she could to save her country and preserve her career: She got in front of a camera and started talking." [GQ / Olivia Nuzzi]
  • "All I can do as an old man [is] sit here in a little bungalow in Florida and urge the world to come to its senses. Good luck, world." [Benjamin Ferencz to NPR / Steve Inskeep]
  • "A woman rejected a man who slept with his boss to get a promotion, but a man accepted a woman was abducted by aliens (twice). (Yes.) This disparity also forces one to consider the horrifying prospect that people are actually going on Baggage to find a long-term romantic partner." [The Awl / Jordan Carr]
  • "On Saturday, actress Pamela Anderson visited Mr. Assange at the Ecuadorean embassy in London and brought him food, according to news reports. Asked for comment, a representative for Ms. Anderson inquired as to whether The Wall Street Journal would be willing to pay a fee to speak with her." [WSJ / Damian Paletta and Ryan Dube]
  • "The ends of Mr. Kanigel’s sentences, in this fashion, go back in time, like the Terminator, to assassinate their own beginnings. 'One of Jane’s early assignments took her to the South Pacific,' he writes about her freelance writing career, before adding, 'if only in her head.' At a dark moment, Jacobs 'turned to gambling.' Wait, the author says in the next sentence. She’d simply bought a portion of a lottery ticket. Mentally, you begin to add sad-trombone sounds. (Whomp-whomp-whomp.)" [NYT / Dwight Garner]

Watch this: Consent, explained for Donald Trump

Vox's Emily Crockett explains why Donald Trump's comments aren't just "lewd" — they're predatory. [YouTube / Emily Crockett, Liz Scheltens, and Christophe Haubursin]