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Vox Sentences: The impeachment of South Korea’s president could destabilize the whole region

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South Korea's president is impeached; the Netherlands' leading right-wing demagogue is convicted of inciting discrimination (and it'll probably increase his lead in the polls); "Drain the Swamp," a Goldman Sachs production.


Park takes a walk

Victorious protester in South Korea AFP / Ed Jones via Getty
  • South Korea's legislature voted overwhelmingly on Friday to impeach President Park Geun-hye, whose administration has utterly collapsed in the past month over revelations about the power and influence (and alleged illegal activity) of adviser Choi Soon-sil. [Reuters / Ju-min Park and Jack Kim]
  • Choi is the daughter of a sect leader whose influence Park has been under since childhood. She was an unelected civilian who had immense power in Park's government — and who has been charged of using her influence to garner $70 million in donations to two of her nonprofits (and embezzling some of the money). [Vox / Jennifer Williams]
  • Thousands of protesters had taken to the streets outside the assembly in Seoul to call for Park's removal; police clashed with farmers who'd driven to the protest on their tractors. [AP / Foster Klug, Kim Tong-hyung, and Hyung-jin Kim]
  • The prime minister of South Korea will take custodial care of the government while the Constitutional Court reviews the impeachment. If the court upholds it (as seems likely), new presidential elections will follow. [Bloomberg / Sam Kim and Sohee Kim]
  • Unsurprisingly, the scandal has damaged Park's party. The leading contenders to replace her (including outgoing UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon) come from the left — and tend to favor a more diplomatic approach to North Korea, with less reliance on the US (and, perhaps, more reliance on China). [Wall Street Journal / Alastair Gale and Jonathan Cheng]
  • At a time when North Korea has been stepping up its own aggression toward the South (and everywhere else) — and when China has been aggressively asserting its own power in the region — this could be a substantial shift. [NYT / Choe Sang-hun]
  • Especially considering that one of the US's other close allies in the region is the Philippines, where President Rodrigo Duterte is as mercurial in his affections as, well, the US's president-elect himself. (For the moment, at least, they appear to be getting along scarily well.) [Washington Post / Philip Bump]

Picking wolves of Wall Street to guard the White House

Gary Cohn AFP / Bryan R. Smith via Getty
  • Donald Trump is proving a bonanza for Goldman Sachs. Despite castigating the bank as part of a “global power structure” throughout the campaign, the president-elect is stuffing his Cabinet with high-ranking Goldman staffers from the past and present. [The Huffington Post / Ben Walsh]
  • The latest is Gary Cohn, 56, who we learn today has been tapped to lead the White House National Economic Council. Cohn isn’t some former Goldman intern — he’s currently the company’s president, just one step down the corporate ladder from CEO Lloyd Blankfein (whose face literally appeared in Trump attack ads against Clinton). Cohn joins Goldman alum Steven Mnuchin, Treasury secretary, and Steve Bannon, Trump’s top adviser, in the new administration. [Vanity Fair / Bess Levin]
  • Even for Trump, it’s a remarkably brazen about-face. He didn’t just go after “Crooked Hillary” for speaking to Goldman. During the Republican primary, Trump accused Sen. Ted Cruz of being “in bed” with Sachs because his wife, Heidi Cruz, worked there. Trump supporters chased after her on the convention floor. [The New Yorker / Sheelah Kolhatkar]
  • The bait and switch underscores the new Trump regime’s affinity for traditionally conservative economic thinking and his full-court press for more deregulation across multiple industries. Trump may have misled you on his thoughts about Goldman, but he's been clear from day one that he wants massive corporate tax cuts for big business. [The Nation / David Dayen]
  • It's not necessarily going to sink Trump. The big push for conservative economic dogma is being coupled with populist job-saving stunts, giving us a sense of Trump's overarching political strategy. It could even be a winning one [Vox / Andrew Prokop]
  • It also confirms the irrationality of Trump’s original critique of money in politics. Trump never understood that the problem with America's campaign finance system was how it elevates the priorities of the wealthy, and so it should be no surprise that he's not prepared to fix it. [Vox / Jeff Stein]

Inciting all the way to the ballot box

Geert Wilders AFP / Robert Michael via Getty
  • A Dutch court has convicted far-right leader Geert Wilders of "inciting discrimination" for comments he made about Moroccans in the Netherlands in 2014. (Wilders will not be fined or imprisoned.) [Vox / Zack Beauchamp]
  • Wilders is one of the founding members of the rising European class of far-right demagogues. He's been around long enough that early in his career he was regarded as something of a quaint racist caricature; the Dutch political press voted him politician of the year in 2007 for his zippy one-liners. [BBC]
  • The charge stems from a rally held shortly after local Dutch elections in 2014 (in which Wilder's PVV, or Dutch Freedom Party, suffered setbacks). He asked the crowd whether they wanted more or fewer Moroccans in the country; the crowd shouted, "Fewer! Fewer!" and Wilders said, "I'll take care of that." 6,400 citizens reported the comments to police. [NYT / Nina Siegal]
  • But the mood in Europe (and the US) is very different now than in 2007, or even 2014. Wilders now gives speeches in Germany in front of the right-wing movement Pegida, and he came to an event outside the Republican National Convention in July to stump for Donald Trump. [Newsweek / Josh Lowe]
  • His homeland appears to be about to reward him, too. The PVV is leading the polls three months before the Netherlands' parliamentary elections — and Wilders's trial only seems to have helped his party. [Dutch News]
  • Other parties have promised not to cooperate with the PVV to form a coalition government. But with a big enough lead, the PVV will be able to write its own ticket. [The Guardian / Gordon Darroch]
  • The thing is that it's still very difficult for anyone (especially a journalist) to find or talk to PVV voters. In a pretty good encapsulation of the weirdness of right-wing politics in 2016, the Netherlands' most popular party is something people only support in private. [BBC / Anna Holligan]

Miscellaneous


Verbatim

  • "A fairy tale. A Christmas tree. There are lots and lots and lots of flowers." [Neural Karaoke (an AI that wrote a Christmas carol) via the A.V. Club / Clayton Purdom]
  • "The new lawsuit argues that the embryos are being deprived of their inheritance from a trust by not being born." [BBC]
  • “Queer anger ... instead of being directed at murderous enemies in the mainstream of American political life, has been turned onto independent film makers within the queer and LGBT communities.” [Bully Bloggers / Jack Halberstam]
  • “Protestors came from Austin or Houston to make their presence known, many toting signs bearing the traditional left messages — '¡No pasarán!' from the Spanish Civil War, 'Nazi Punks Fuck Off,' from the Dead Kennedys, 'Bash the Fash,' and on and on.” [Texas Monthly / Christopher Hooks]
  • "I’ve uncovered a bizarre trend in late 90s and early 2000s: a significant proportion of female characters in these shows chose, as their preferred birth control, to use a diaphragm. But at the time these shows aired, the diaphragm was virtually obsolete in the real world.” [Vice / Kaleigh Rogers]

Watch this: How the screens inside movies build fictional worlds

The computers, televisions, and phones in a movie can be key to building a cinematic world. Here’s how it’s done. [YouTube / Phil Edwards]

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