clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Vox Sentences: Guantanamo's inmate population just shrank by 20 percent in one day

Vox Sentences is your daily digest for what's happening in the world, curated by Dara Lind and Dylan Matthews. Sign up for the Vox Sentences newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday, or view the Vox Sentences archive for past editions.

A major insurer pulls out of the Obamacare exchanges; the largest single transfer of Gitmo detainees; a bloody resumption to Yemen's bloody war.

AEek, AEtna

Porter Gifford/Liaison/Getty Images
  • The health insurance company Aetna announced late Monday that it's pulling out of about 70 percent of the Affordable Care Act marketplaces where it currently offers health plans. [ABC News / Paul Blake]
  • A dozen insurers have now partially or wholly pulled out of the exchanges. Vox's Sarah Kliff explains why Aetna's exit is particularly damaging: until recently, it was strongly supportive of the ACA. [Vox / Sarah Kliff]
  • Aetna argues that it's harder to make money on the exchanges than it had anticipated. In particular because with so much of its customer base changing from year to year, it's hard to anticipate whether it's insuring mostly healthy people or mostly sick ones. [CNBC / Dan Mangan]
  • (This doesn't exactly explain why Aetna pulled out when it did — leaving some, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, to speculate that the insurer is retaliating against the federal government after the DOJ blocked its proposed merger.) [Elizabeth Warren via Facebook]
  • Regardless of the reasoning, this is a bad sign for the exchanges. At least one Arizona county now lacks a single health insurance carrier. [WSJ / Anna Wilde Mathews]
  • And as Kliff explains, less competition on the exchanges is bad for Obamacare as a whole. [Vox / Sarah Kliff]
  • How many people sign up during the law's next "open enrollment" period is crucial. If there aren't many signups, it might be hard to maintain the law as is. [NPR / Allison Kodjak]

The slow wasting away of Guantanamo Bay

Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images
  • 15 prisoners were transferred from the Guantanamo Bay prison to the United Arab Emirates over the weekend, the US has confirmed. [Al Jazeera]
  • This is the single biggest transfer of Gitmo prisoners during President Obama's administration — during which a lot of prisoners have been transferred out of the facility, though not as many as Obama might like. [Reuters / Idrees Ali]
  • As of Monday, there are 61 prisoners left at Guantanamo, under 10 percent of its size as of 2003. And 20 of those have already been approved for transfer (in theory). [BBC]
  • It's to the point, writes Benjamin Wittes, that it almost looks "silly" not to do what Obama's wanted to do since he got to office: shut down Guantanamo.[Lawfare / Benjamin Wittes]
  • As Connie Bruck laid out in a feature for the New Yorker earlier this month, Obama's been stymied by Congress — but also by his own administration (although former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was a strong ally). [New Yorker / Connie Bruck]
  • The Department of Defense, for example, was concerned about recidivism: Increasing numbers of Gitmo releasees have reportedly "returned to the field" to fight for terrorist groups. [Vice / Jason Leopold]
  • On Tuesday, the Guantanamo parole board named its 18th "forever prisoner": men who can't be charged but are deemed too dangerous to release. [Miami Herald / Carol Rosenberg]

The worst Middle Eastern war you haven't been following

Saleh al-Obeidi/AFP/Getty Images
  • A coalition led by Saudi Arabia bombed a Doctors Without Borders–supported hospital in Yemen, killing 11 people. [AFP]
  • The strike caps off a week of resumed fighting in Yemen's civil war after three months of ceasefire. [NYT / Shuaib Almosawa and Rob Nordland]
  • In 2015, Yemen's government was seized by the Shia Houthi faction; the Saudi-led coalition has attacked the Houthis and local militias, arguing that they're Iranian puppets. [CFR / Zackary Laub]
  • The Houthis rejected a UN-brokered peace deal this summer, arguing that the terms of the deal were basically what Saudi Arabia wanted all along. [The Intercept / Adam Emmons]
  • To Saudi Arabia, this is one front in a regional battle against Iran and Shiism — one that, after the US/Iran nuclear deal of 2015, it fears it's losing. [Foreign Policy / John Hannah]
  • The US is trying to call for peace in Yemen, but it continues to provide arms to Saudi Arabia; as hostilities resumed in Yemen, it announced another $1.5 million in arms sales. [Washington Post / Max Bearak]
  • Yemeni civilians are the ones caught in the crossfire, and the result is horrific. A UN report accused both the Saudi coalition and the Houthis of violating international law. [Reuters / Michelle Nichols]
  • A Saudi-enforced blockade has caused widespread hunger in the country — as this personal essay from a journalist shows. [IRIN News / Nasser Al-Sakkaf]
  • And, oh, yeah, ISIS has gotten a foothold in the country. [CNN Politics]


  • It may seem like terrorism has been increasing lately. That's true — but only in the West, and the death toll is well below what was typical in the 1970s and '80s. [NYT / Margot Sanger-Katz]
  • Mass incarceration is still appallingly high. But the black incarceration rate is falling, and for men it recently hit a low not seen in more than 20 years. [Washington Post / Keith Humphreys]
  • Dave Carlton analyzed 1,300 pop songs to see what key they're in, what chords they use, and more. [Hooktheory / Dave Carlton]
  • University of Texas Austin alum Jessica Jin started "Cocks Not Glocks" to protect a law allowing concealed carry on campus. Then the misogynistic backlash from gun rights advocates started. [Observer / Brady Dale]
  • Angela Corey wasn't able to get a conviction as George Zimmerman's prosecutor in the Trayvon Martin case. But she's definitely very good at throwing children in prison! [The Nation / Jessica Pishko]


  • "It surely says something about Americans’ disconnect from the source of our food that a movie called Sausage Party, in which the main characters are sausages terrorized by humans, doesn’t even once nod at the fact that sausages actually come from creatures terrorized by humans." [Slate / LV Anderson]
  • "The U.S. Department of Education ruled the Oakland school district discriminated against a 9-year-old autistic boy who was restrained 92 times during one school year, sometimes for up to 90 minutes at a time." [Mercury News / Matthias Gafni]
  • "You decide to share an article about Brexit from The Atlantic, which will somehow shed light to all your friends as to why it happened… Will this be the Facebook post that finally spurns your friends into action? You realize your Facebook friends all agree with your political views and social views already." [Medium / Sunil Rajaraman]
  • "Though I never had trouble getting a respectable amount of romantic attention, at a size 0 it rushed in at such a volume and with such enthusiasm that it was difficult not to be taken aback … Compliments during sexual encounters that were once full of the word 'beautiful' became dominated by mesmerized declarations about me being so 'little' and 'tiny.'" [New Inquiry / Alana Massey]
  • "If they talked about it before and He Zi said something like, 'Yes. I’ve spent my whole life training for this moment, pushing my body to its limits, putting my mental strength to the test, diving a lot, whatever, etc., and I’ve decided that, yes, right after I win a medal for the 3 meter springboard event on August 14 at the Olympics, while I’m taking in this glorious moment, I want you to come up, get on your knee, and propose to me, co-opting the glorious moment and reenforcing the idea that a woman’s ultimate success is found in marriage rather than in personal accomplishment. Yes, please. Oh and also I only want you to do it if I get silver or bronze but not if I get gold, but again, yes, please, in that case please propose to me while I’m on the podium.' — THEN you may propose to your girlfriend immediately after she has accepted her silver medal at the Olympics and isn’t even done having her moment yet." [The Hairpin / Kelly Conaboy]

Watch this: How Stranger Things got its retro title sequence

The Netflix hit went old-school for its opening credits. [YouTube / Christophe Haubursin]