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Vox Sentences: ISIS is not going quietly in Mosul

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California National Guard to soldiers: That $15,000 bonus we paid you a decade ago? We’d like it back.

The National Guard falls through the cracks again

California National Guard soldier Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
  • Nearly 10,000 soldiers in the California National Guard have been ordered to repay bonuses of $15,000 or more — a decade after they were paid those bonuses for enlisting at the height of the Iraq War. [CNN / Holly Yan and Curt Devine]
  • The soldiers turned out to have been the unwitting beneficiaries of the California National Guard, which, through a combination of carelessness, mismanagement, and strain to meet recruiting goals, accidentally paid bonuses to thousands of soldiers who didn't qualify for them. [LAT / David S. Cloud]
  • Recruitment posed a major problem throughout the military in the mid-2000s, and that included the National Guard (which was more involved in the war in Iraq than any conflict since World War II). Reportedly, overpayment happened to some extent in all 50 states; it's just California where it happened at such scale. [LAT / John Hendren]
  • But that doesn't soften the blow for the soldiers now struggling to cough up checks for tens of thousands of dollars — money they spent long ago — and now forces them to choose between repaying it and buying diapers for their kids. [NYT / Dave Philipps]
  • National Guard soldiers who served in Iraq are already less protected than their active-duty counterparts. They're more likely to suffer from PTSD, according to some research... [ABC News / Kristina Fiore]
  • ...but they also have a harder time finding treatment for it. [NPR / Eileen Pace]
  • Some members of Congress have expressed outrage over the repayment scandal. But the California National Guard says it warned Congress in 2014, and no one followed up — just another indication that National Guard soldiers have slipped through the cracks. [ABC News / Luis Martinez]

A bloody start

Children in Mosul dris Okuducu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
  • A civilian bloodbath may be underway in northern Iraq. Only 10 days into the US-backed military invasion of the city of Mosul, the Islamic State has already slaughtered nearly 200 people as Iraqi coalition forces advance north. [The New York Times / Tim Arango]
  • Many feared this would happen. As the offensive began, United Nations officials warned it would unleash a "human catastrophe" that could cause huge death tolls and force upward of 1 million people from their homes. [Al Jazeera / Zena Tahhan & Salam Khoder]
  • The body count is already mounting. Authorities have found several murdered journalists, the bodies of nearly 50 former police officers, and dozens of dead people thrown into a river nearly 30 miles south of Mosul. The Islamic State has also moved hundreds of civilians to create a "human shields" around the city. [The Guardian / Fazel Hawramy, Emma Graham-Harrison, and Kareem Shaheen]
  • There has been some military progress. As of Monday, Iraqi coalition forces had reached within 10 miles of Mosul and freed multiple Christian towns along the way. Bruised by years of fighting, some are barely occupied shadows of their former selves. [CBS News / Holly Williams]
  • ISIS is weaker than it has been for a long time. The group has lost a lot of territory over the past year. But it still controls fighters and munitions, and the evolving battle for Mosul it may have terrible consequences for those still living under its control. [Vox / Zack Beauchamp]

Is Trump's business brand as done as his overcooked steaks?

Trump steaks on display Stephen Lovekin/WireImage for Hill & Knowlton
  • With two weeks until Election Day, Donald Trump spent precious campaign trail time doing what was essentially a promotional event for his Doral, Florida, golf course. [Washington Post / Sean Sullivan]
  • This underscores a bit of emerging conventional wisdom: that Trump is in the race right now to promote his business interests, not to win. The only problem with that theory: Evidence is beginning to accumulate that Trump's run for president has seriously damaged his business interests.
  • During a recent set of DC meetings for the International Monetary Fund, Trump hotels were way undersold — the equivalent, experts say, of going empty the weekend your city hosts the Super Bowl. [NY Mag / Michelle Celarier]
  • In New York, residents of Trump's apartment buildings are petitioning to get the candidate's name removed — and Trump-branded fixtures are beginning to get replaced with anonymized ones. [NYT / Charles V. Bagli]
  • A new line of Trump hotels will no longer bear the name "Trump"; instead, they'll be called "Scion" in hopes of appealing more to millennials (an important consumer market and one that really does not like Donald Trump). [Bloomberg / Hui-Yong Yu and James Nash]
  • The damage might extend to Ivanka Trump's line of clothing and accessories — an activist who's trying to encourage a boycott of Ivanka's goods says she has 2,000 participants. [The Guardian / Joanna Walters]
  • This is something of a worst-case scenario for Ivanka, whose strength, six months ago, was that she appealed to a set of young working women whodidn't associate her with her father. [Vox / Libby Nelson]
  • It's not clear what the damage to Trump's bottom line is and whether it will outlast the election. Some of the avoidance seems a little bit like elite peacocking, like the couple who worried they wouldn't be able to sell their home if one of their neighbors had a Trump yard sign. [Washington Post / Perry Stein]
  • But, like so many other casualties of the Trump campaign, this was totally foreseeable. Latino groups have been boycotting Donald Trump since the very beginning of his campaign — and while most consumers didn't notice, Trump's corporate partners surely did. [Vox / Dara Lind]


  • The parliament of Kyrgyzstan is working on a referendum to amend the constitution. The only problem: Nobody can find the constitution. [Newsweek / Damien Sharkov]
  • AT&T made a deal to sell consumer info to the DEA for anti-drug operations. It ended up selling it to local police departments, who use it to investigate “everything from murder to Medicaid fraud.” [The Guardian / Nicky Woolf]
  • Donald Trump has stopped putting effort into helping the GOP raise money. [Washington Post / Matea Gold]
  • I (Dara) don’t want to jinx anything, but it looks like 2016 might just be the year when you people came to your senses and realized that most pumpkin beer is actually bad. [Smithsonian / Alastair Bland]
  • Five possible day-after-the-election news stories, from five different futures. [FiveThirtyEight / David Wasserman]


  • "Ten thousand dead – a conservative estimate at best. Three million internally displaced. Twenty million in need of aid. Two hundred thousand besieged for over a year. Thirty-four ballistic missiles fired into Saudi Arabia. More than 140 mourners killed in a double-tap strike on a funeral." [The New Statesman / Iona Craig]
  • "Tucked into this six-minute sketch is a subtle and sophisticated analysis of American politics. It’s not that working blacks and working whites are unable to see the things they have in common; it’s that the material interests of the former—freedom from unfair scrutiny, unfair detention, and unjust killings—are in direct tension with the identity politics of the latter." [Slate / Jamelle Bouie]
  • "Progressive corporations like Google are key pillars of a cosmopolitan liberal culture. This is the world of the Watergate Babies and the libertarian and statist thinkers who shaped their intellectual understanding of it." [The Atlantic / Matt Stoller]
  • "If the written word happens to fall out of favor, or if journalism becomes economically unworkable as a consequence, these results, so far as Facebook is concerned, are unintentional. They’re merely collateral damage from the relentless expansion of the most powerful attention-capture machine ever built." [New York Review of Books / Jacob Weisberg]
  • "Last year, KFC, the fried-chicken chain popular in China, sued three Chinese internet companies over online accusations that it used genetically modified chickens with six wings and eight legs to feed its customers.” [NYT / Amie Tsang and Cao Li]

Watch this: The vicious logic of Bashar al-Assad

The unfolding humanitarian crisis in the Syrian city of Aleppo, explained. [YouTube / Sam Ellis, Zack Beauchamp, and Johnny Harris]