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Vox Sentences: Today's Trump Cabinet nominees, ranked by normality

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Donald Trump's Cabinet is coming into full view, as is how it will demolish President Obama's legacy; an Ohio bill would ban abortion as soon as the fetus's heartbeat is detected; the white supremacist responsible for last year's South Carolina church massacre goes to trial.

Today's Trump nominees, ranked by normality

Trump DHS pick, retired Gen. John F. Kelly Joe Raedle/Getty Images
  • Wednesday was a banner day for the Trump administration-in-waiting, with three appointments announced and one all but announced.
  • The most orthodox, from a Republican standpoint, is Trump's nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency: Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who hates pretty much everything the EPA has done for the past eight years. [Vox / Brad Plumer]
  • Trump's pick for the Small Business Administration, likewise, is a big GOP donor and former Senate candidate. Of course, she's also the co-founder and former CEO of the pro wrestling association WWE, which Trump was affiliated with for a long time, so it seems a little weird. [Reuters / Steve Holland]
  • Conversely, it seems totally reasonable that Trump would nominate Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad to serve as his ambassador to China ... until you realize Branstad wants closer ties with China and Trump has all but promised them a trade war. [Vox / Zack Beauchamp]
  • (The conflict will presumably be up to Trump's as-yet-unnamed secretary of state to resolve — and, yeah, naming ambassadors before a secretary of state is kind of weird in its own right.) [Politico / Louis Nelson]
  • And then there's retired Gen. John F. Kelly, former head of US Southern Command, who has not officially been confirmed as Trump's secretary of the Department of Homeland Security but has been reported as the pick so widely that it's basically official. [Military Times / Andrew deGrandpre]
  • Kelly, like the other ex-generals in Trump's Cabinet, has a reputation as a tough talker. But he doesn't appear to see the problems facing the US as the sort of thing that can be, ahem, walled off — which could create conflicts within Trumpworld. [Vox / Dara Lind]
  • (Trump's rumored deputy homeland security secretary, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, is a much more orthodox immigration hawk.) [Washington Examiner / Gabby Morrongiello]
  • And in case you're wondering, picking three ex-generals for Cabinet-levels positions where they're supposed to represent the civilian face of national security is definitely not normal. [TPM / Josh Marshall]

Abortion bill not viable, may brought to term anyway

Ohio Gov. John Kasich Andrew Burton/Getty Images
  • The Ohio state legislature has passed a bill that would ban abortion as soon as the fetus's heartbeat is detected — something that usually happens within six weeks of conception. [Vox / Emily Crockett]
  • Gov. John Kasich has 10 days to decide whether to sign the bill, or roughly a quarter of the time the bill gives women to decide whether to keep their pregnancies.
  • Ohio legislators had rejected the bill before, since they assumed it wouldn't withstand a court challenge. The Supreme Court has pretty much rejected "heartbeat bills" before. [Mother Jones / Hannah Levintova]
  • But with a new president — and that new president's promise to nominate a Supreme Court justice who's opposed to Roe v. Wade — Republicans in Ohio felt the winds were blowing in their direction. [CNN / Max Blau, Dominique Debucquoy-Dodley, and Jason Hanna]
  • But they might be alone in that assessment. Even Ohio Right to Life doesn't think the bill has a chance. [ / Jackie Borchardt]
  • That's because there are still five votes on the Court for striking down state abortion restrictions, as articulated in June in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt — a case that some pro-choice advocates think could be used to strike down even more moderate state restrictions. [Vox / Emily Crockett]
  • That's not to say that the Supreme Court won't have a five-vote majority against Roe before Trump leaves office. But it will take at least two nominations from Trump (or even three), not just the one he'll be able to make when he's inaugurated in 2017. [FiveThirtyEight / Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux]

The trial of Dylann Roof has begun

Mourners at Emanuel AME Church Eric Thayer/Getty Images
  • The trial of Dylann Roof has begun. The 22-year-old gunned down nine black parishioners at a Charleston, South Carolina, church last spring in an attempt to set off a "race war." He's now facing the death penalty. [Vox / Germany Lopez]
  • The defense isn't denying Roof's guilt. It's instead resting its case on the premise that the state should not meet violence with violence. "We do not behave like the person who committed this crime," Roof's attorney said Wednesday in court. "We err in favor of life." [New York Times / Kevin Slack and Alan Blinder]
  • Witnesses have begun recounting the wrenching details of the massacre. In court Wednesday, hairstylist and church usher Felicia Sanders recalled watching her son beg and plead unsuccessfully with Roof to stop. "He put my five bullets in my son," she said. [The Los Angeles Times / Jenny Jarvie]
  • The desire for vengeance after the horrific bloodshed is intense. But as the Atlantic's Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote this spring, killing Roof "does absolutely nothing to ameliorate the conditions that brought him into being in the first place." Rooting out the white supremacy that fired Roof's imagination, Coates argued, is a much more worthy fight. [The Atlantic / Ta-Nehisi Coates]
  • That's a history the judge overseeing the case happens be unusually aware of. Federal Judge Richard Gergel has a long history in South Carolina's civil rights movement and has been intimately connected with the state's black activists. [The State / John Monk]
  • It's worth rewatching President Obama's now-famous "Amazing Grace" speech in the aftermath of the shooting. Though his attorney general is leading the charge for the death penalty, Obama's plea was for one of mercy and forgiveness. [YouTube]
  • His speech was hopeful, expressing faith that Roof's vision of a country riven along racial lines is one America would firmly reject — even as the Confederate flag still flew over South Carolina's statehouse. [The New Yorker / David Remnick]


  • What if the reason we haven't found dark matter yet isn't because we're failing, but because dark matter doesn't exist? [Quanta / Natalie Wolchover]
  • The story of a State Department diplomat and Pakistan expert who got investigated by the FBI for being "too close" to the country. [WSJ / Adam Entous and Devlin Barrett]
  • Anti-Semitism on college campuses appears to be on the rise. Telling the Department of Education to include criticism of Israel in its definition of anti-Semitism for civil rights investigations is a terrible way to solve that problem. [New York / Jesse Singal]
  • Bad things in lakes: Thousands of migrating geese made a forced landing on a lake in Montana that was, in fact, the lethally acidic remains of an abandoned open-pit mine. [AP]
  • Good things in lakes: One for the annals of successful medical treatments — fishing a virus out of a lake and implanting 100 million copies of it into an 80-year-old man's chest. [Stat News / Carl Zimmer]


  • "This is a story about how the FBI came to investigate a joke I tweeted about fake news." [Huffington Post / Nick Baumann]
  • "Out of those 200 scripts, there were probably 30 or 40 of them that opened with a rape or had a pretty savage rape at some point.” [Jeremy Slater to Variety / Maureen Ryan]
  • "Even as Pursglove was repacking her suitcase for the flight home, her family’s fortune was vanishing into an almost impenetrable array of shell companies, bank accounts and trusts, part of a worldwide financial system catering exclusively to the very wealthy." [NYT / Nicholas Confessore]
  • "Think of self-control as a kind of temporal selflessness. It’s Present You taking a hit to help out Future You." [The Atlantic / Ed Yong]
  • "When I wrote a novel about the London I grew up in, I further did not realize that by describing an environment in which people from different places lived relatively peaceably side by side, I was 'championing' a situation that was in fact on trial and whose conditions could suddenly be revoked." [New York Review of Books / Zadie Smith]

Watch this: Fuel is cheap. So why are we still paying to check bags?

Fuel prices are lower than ever. So why do we still have to pay to check bags on airlines? [YouTube / Vox]

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