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Vox Sentences: Remembering Carrie Fisher, an iconically tough woman

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Carrie Fisher, iconically tough woman, 1956-2016; bitter fallout from a UN resolution (and a US abstention) over Israel; political crisis in Congo.

We have no time for sorrows, Commander

Carrie Fisher and her dog, Gary Araya Diaz/WireImage
  • Carrie Fisher died Tuesday, four days after suffering a heart attack on a plane flight. She was 60 years old. [Vox / Todd VanDerWerff]
  • Fisher wouldn't be leading Vox Sentences today if she hadn't played one of the most iconic characters in 20th-century pop culture: Star Wars' Princess (later General) Leia Organa, the heart of the Rebel Alliance. [Anne Theriault via Twitter]
  • But she wouldn't be leading Vox Sentences if she were just Princess Leia, either. Fisher's work as a writer is influential and underrated — from her work as a script doctor in movies like The Empire Strikes Back and The Wedding Singer... [The Mary Sue / Maddy Myers]
  • her autobiographical work of the past decade, which highlighted her struggles with mental illness — and turned her into an advocate for mental health awareness who managed to skip past "spokesperson" straight to "role model." [Vox / Caroline Framke]
  • Fisher never apologized for herself or her issues. Nor did she depict them as misunderstood virtues. As she told Rolling Stone in an interview a month before she died, "You don't have to always be comfortable. You don't have to like everything you do." [Rolling Stone / Andy Greene]
  • Her toughness and funniness didn't just allow her to come to terms with her own fame (and Leia's). It made her an inspiration to generations of women (famous and less famous alike). [Interview / Carrie Fisher and Daisy Ridley]
  • It would be inappropriate, then, given Fisher's insistence on speaking for herself, not to let her fix the script on her own obit. So here goes: Carrie Fisher died Tuesday, bathed in moonlight, strangled by her own bra. She was 60. [Vox / Alex Abad-Santos]

When abstaining from a vote is the controversial move

United Nations meeting Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
  • On Friday, the United Nations passed a resolution declaring that Israel is violating international law by continuing to support the building of settlements in Palestinian territory, and demanding that it stop all settlement activity immediately. [Vox / Yochi Dreazen]
  • The resolution doesn't include any way to punish Israel if it doesn't stop building settlements. But Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is still very upset — and vowing retaliation. [CNN / Oren Liebermann]
  • Israeli officials are worried that last week's resolution will usher in an era of new UN restrictions on Israel's negotiations with Palestine. [Washington Post / Ruth Eglash]
  • Previously, the United States could be relied on to veto any UN resolution too critical of Israel. But the US conspicuously abstained from the resolution last week — allowing it to pass 14-0. [Vox / Jennifer Williams]
  • The Obama administration is downplaying the abstention. As far as they're concerned, they're on the record supporting a two-state solution, and they're on the record saying settlements are an obstacle to that — so there's no reason for anyone to be upset with them. [PBS NewsHour / Judy Woodruff]
  • But allowing the UN to declare the settlements illegal is a step too far for many American politicians — including not only President-elect Donald Trump but also Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who'll be the most influential Democrat in the federal government once Trump is inaugurated. [The Intercept / Zaid Jilani]
  • Netanyahu isn't just waiting for a change of government, though. He's temporarily "reducing" diplomatic ties with countries that voted for the resolution... [NYT / Isabel Kershner]
  • ...and vowing to approve new settlements in East Jerusalem. So if the UN wants its resolution to be more than symbolic, it may have to figure out, soon, how to punish a violation. [USA Today / Jim Michaels]

Kabila clings to power

Police in Democratic Republic of the Congo Jc Wenga/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
  • The Democratic Republic of Congo is in crisis. President Joseph Kabila's second term ended on December 19 (he is constitutionally prohibited from running for a third term). But he refused to step down. [Washington Post / Kevin Sieff]
  • Street protests against Kabila last week (just like earlier waves of anti-Kabila protests) were violently suppressed, with dozens of protesters killed. [NPR / Merrit Kennedy]
  • The government appears to have succeeded in suppressing unrest (thanks to cutting off social media and rounding up protesters). But talks between Kabila and the opposition had stalled before being halted for the Christmas holiday. [The Guardian / Jason Burke]
  • Meanwhile, on Sunday, 22 Congolese civilians were massacred in the eastern province of North Kivu — the victims, according to the government, of a Ugandan Muslim militia called the ADF. [AFP]
  • The ADF has been terrorizing residents of the region for years — with the tacit assistance (according to some reports) of the Congolese military. Citizens suspect Kabila is using the ADF as a distraction from his own problems. [Newsweek / Tommy Trenchard]
  • It's enough to make some Congolese long for a good old-fashioned strongman like Mobutu Sese Seko, who ruled the country (with the US's Cold War blessing) from 1965 to 1997. [The Guardian / Jason Burke]


  • As Dave Adox was dying of ALS, he started looking into ways to donate his organs to patients in need. The medical system makes that preposterously difficult. [NPR / Karen Shakerdge]
  • In defense of centipede trains. [Slate / Henry Grabar]
  • What's the matter with Canada? Like, in a good way — why aren't they screwing up like everyone else? [Duck of Minerva / Kindred Winecoff]
  • The labor movement got extremely serious about large-scale organizing in the mid-2000s. It didn't stop decline. What now? [New Labor Forum / Shaun Richman]
  • A study in Sweden compared women who narrowly won seats in parliament with women who narrowly lost. The former group saw divorce rates double — a sign that even in gender-egalitarian countries, society punishes women for ambition. [Slate / Ray Fisman]


  • "I want to watch Mischa Barton actually fix a vintage Cadillac." [The Ringer / Allison Davis]
  • "Oddly, the most immediately devastating consequence of the modern car — the carnage it leaves in its wake — seems to generate the least public outcry and attention." [The Atlantic / Edward Humes]
  • "Every time I got a new cellmate I would warn him, 'Don’t be alarmed. I have a cardboard piano that I play.'" [New Yorker / Demetrius Cunningham]
  • "The 21st-century story of successful electoral politics on the left turns out to be the same as the 19th-century story in Europe that finally, haltingly became the 20th-century story in America in the New Deal: trade unions allied with political parties, working hard, person to person, all year round, to educate and mobilize the electorate." [n+1 / Daniel Schlozman]
  • "I had multiple journalistic aims. 'Giving voice to the voiceless' — that creepy phrase — was never one of them. Even people who can’t speak have their own voices, and they have them whether or not we reporters pull near." [Pulitzer / Katherine Boo]

Watch this: The US nuclear arsenal is a gigantic accident waiting to happen

Most systems and machines people design break from time to time. That also applies to the United States' nuclear weapons. [YouTube / Eric Schlosser, Estelle Caswell, and Joe Posner]

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