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Vox Sentences: South Sudan is at serious risk of genocide

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Genocide warning alarms in South Sudan; Donald Trump's labor offensive; a banner day for depressing data about America.

We need to talk about South Sudan

Soldiers in South Sudan AFP / Charles Atiki Lomodong via Getty
  • According to a delegation from the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, ethnic cleansing and killing in South Sudan sets the stage for "a repeat of what happened in Rwanda." ("What happened in Rwanda" is a longer way to say "genocide.") [United States Mission in South Sudan]
  • South Sudan's civil war, and concurrent ethnic violence between the Nuer and Dinka ethnic groups, has been ongoing since 2013. But as Vox's Jennifer Williams explains, the seeds for the conflict were planted when South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011 — as ethnic conflicts, which had been set aside, were reinflamed by "the liberation curse." [Vox / Jennifer Williams]
  • As early as this spring, it looked like the country was groping toward peace. Vice President Riek Machar (of the Nuer) was returning to the capital to serve in the government of his on-again-off-again rival Salva Kiir (of the Dinka). [LAT / Robyn Dixon]
  • But by June, the peace had collapsed and fighting had reignited in the capital of Juba. In August, Machar fled the country. By then, abuses by both South Sudanese and rebel soldiers had again become endemic — including widespread rape. And ethnic cleansing and displacement have resurged. [AP / Justin Lynch]
  • The UN Mission in South Sudan hasn't exactly covered itself in glory. In August, it came under criticism for failing to protect South Sudanese when fighting resumed this summer (including failing to intervene during a raid of a nearby compound by government troops). [World Politics Review / Andrew Green]
  • On Wednesday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appointed New Zealand legislator David Shearer as the new head of the UN mission — in a move that will hopefully restore the effectiveness of the peacekeepers. [Reuters / Michelle Nichols]
  • But it might be too late. The delegation from the Commission on Human Rights said some South Sudanese told them the violence was already beyond "the point of no return." And the last foreign reporter in the country (the AP's Justin Lynch) was deported this week for reporting unflattering things about the government (such as its involvement in ethnic cleansing). [Quartz / Yomi Kazeem]
  • The US has been trying to get the UN Security Council to pass an embargo on arms sales to both sides, and sanctions on leaders. But it's having trouble mustering the votes — both African countries and Russia and China have interests in South Sudan (including in selling arms to them). [NYT / Somini Sengupta]
  • The horrible irony is that the US's current ambassador to the UN is Samantha Power — who, before joining the government, was an academic studying the failures of international institutions to prevent genocides. [The Atlantic / Samantha Power]

Does this mean Donald Trump actually likes Carl's Jr.?

Andrew Puzder LAT / Al Seib via Getty
  • President-elect Donald Trump is expected to name Andrew Puzder — the CEO of the company that owns fast-food chains Carl's Jr. and Hardee's — as his nominee for secretary of labor. [Washington Post / Greg Sargent]
  • Puzder is not exactly pro-labor, in the sense of organized labor. He's an outspoken critic of the growing movement within his industry to raise the minimum wage; in a sense, naming him to head the Department of Labor is a rude gesture to the Fight for $15 campaign. [ThinkProgress / Ned Resnikoff]
  • Interestingly, Puzder's pro-business leanings also made him one of the GOP's more outspoken supporters of immigration reform — and an outspoken opponent of the approach to immigration taken by, say, Donald Trump. [Vox / Dara Lind]
  • (Puzder has also been accused, on more than one occasion, of beating his wife — something that's come up in the past when he's been named to government positions and so could get dredged up in a nomination fight.) [Riverfront Times / Sarah Fenske]
  • The president-elect himself, of course, believes that he's the only protector American workers need. At least, that's what he told Chuck Jones, the leader of the union at the Carrier furnace plant in Indiana Trump "saved" — when the president-elect attacked Jones on Twitter Wednesday night. [Washington Post / Chuck Jones]
  • Shockingly, when the president-elect of the US goes after an obscure civilian, things go badly for the obscure civilian. Jones has already received death threats. [Washington Post / Danielle Paquette]

CDC data has bad news for the health of the American dream

Graph showing average life expectancy in US Sarah Frostenson/Vox
  • The life expectancy of the average American declined from 2014 to 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — the first time the CDC has recorded a drop in average life expectancy since 1993. [Vox / Julia Belluz and Sarah Frostenson]
  • There's no single cause for the mortality spike (though researchers suspect the obesity crisis is a factor in many of the various causes of death that are on the rise). To the contrary, mortality rates for nine of the 10 leading causes of death in America all increased; the exception was cancer. [WSJ / Betsy McKay and Ron Winslow]
  • Deaths from opioid overdoses continue to be a growing problem. In 2015, for the first time, heroin-related deaths killed more Americans than gun homicides. [Washington Post / Christopher Ingraham]
  • The same day the CDC report came out, Stanford economist Raj Chetty released his latest study on mobility. The news there is ... also bad. According to Chetty, in 1970, nine in 10 30-year-olds in America earned more than their parents had at 30; in 2014, only half of 30-year-olds' incomes outpace their parents'. [FiveThirtyEight / Ben Casselman]
  • It is tempting to conclude that we have empirical data showing that the American dream is dying. But without getting too speculative about what this says about the current era in US politics (as the Times's David Leonhardt does, a bit), it's clear that there is something very wrong. [NYT / David Leonhardt]


  • It's the most wonderful time of the year: the annual Hater's Guide to the Williams-Sonoma Catalog is out. [Deadspin / Drew Magary]
  • A preserved dinosaur tail! Feathers and all! [National Geographic / Kristin Romey]
  • What if the narrowness of socially acceptable "masculinity" is keeping men unemployed? [Bloomberg View / Betsey Stevenson]
  • Deporting unauthorized immigrants leads to increased foreclosure rates in Latino communities — which might have been why the housing crisis of the past decade (which came at the same time as immigration enforcement was ramping up) hit Latinos particularly hard. [NYT / Emily Badger]
  • This article about the NSA's brain-drain problem really does not make the NSA seem like a great place to spend your career. [Cyberscoop / Chris Bing]


  • "Bias incidents on both sides have been reported. A student walking near campus was threatened with being lit on fire because she wore a hijab. Other students were accused of being racist for supporting Mr. Trump." [NYT / Anemona Hartocollis]
  • "It was pretty much obvious at the outset of Liz Spayd’s tenure as New York Times public editor that the paper had elevated a dangerous simpleton into a position of influence." [The Baffler / Chris Lehmann]
  • "Conservatives have their own, nationalist version of PC, their own set of rules regulating speech, behavior and acceptable opinions. I call it 'patriotic correctness.'" [Washington Post / Alex Nowrasteh]
  • "If you have not slept seven or more hours in a given 24-hour period, you really shouldn’t be behind the wheel of a car." [Jake Nelson to NPR / Allison Aubrey]
  • "Mitt had a broken collarbone, but for two hours traipsed between our home and the truck, carrying out whatever he could manage with his one good arm." [Clayton Christensen via the Atlantic / Gabriel Rossman]

Watch this: How the Mona Lisa became so overrated

It involves a surprisingly influential critic — and a theft. [YouTube / Phil Edwards]