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Vox Sentences: Be like a New Yorker — don’t freak out about terrorism

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A weekend of nonlethal terrorism; the ceasefire in Syria is kaput; Chris Christie knew about Bridgegate.

3 attacks. Zero civilian deaths. Good work, USA.

Police in New York City following bombing Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
  • On Monday, police apprehended Ahmad Khan Rahami, who is suspected of setting bombs that went off in New Jersey and New York on Saturday. [NYT]
  • No one was killed in either attack (though 29 people were injured in the New York bombing).
  • Rahami was born in Afghanistan and immigrated to the US with his family when he was 7. He spent some time in Pakistan (and possibly Afghanistan) several years ago. [The Daily Beast / Shane Harris, Nancy A. Youssef, and Katie Zavadski]
  • To date, no terrorist organization has taken credit for Rahami's attacks (possibly because he is still alive).
  • By contrast, a mass stabbing attack at a mall in Minnesota on Saturday night (which injured nine) was claimed by an Islamic State–linked news agency after the attacker was killed by police. [NYT / Mitch Smith]
  • The stabber has been identified as Dahir A. Adan, a Somali American — an immigrant community that's struggled with the radicalization of a few of its young men. [AP]
  • But the fact that neither Adan nor Rahami succeeded in killing anyone points out an important truth about terrorism: A radicalized amateur, without training in terrorism, doesn't make a very good terrorist. [Vox / Jennifer Williams]
  • That didn't stop certain media outlets from treating the bombing in New York, in particular, as a threat every bit as serious as if it had killed dozens of people. [Politico / Jack Shafer]
  • Nor did it stop the emergency alert that all New Yorkers got on their smartphones this morning, warning them to be on the lookout for Rahami — but not giving them a picture or description (and therefore encouraging racial profiling). [NY Mag / Brian Feldman]
  • New Yorkers themselves, though, are pretty tough. They took the bomb in stride — going out to bars and restaurants around the bomb site and taking to Twitter to make jokes. [BuzzFeed / Stephanie Macneal]

That did not go well

Map of Syria Vox / Javier Zarracina
  • The week-long ceasefire in Syria officially expired Monday. There's no sign it's going to be reanimated. It's pretty much dead. [ABC News / Elizabeth McLaughlin]
  • The coup de grace arguably was the fault of the US — it launched an airstrike Saturday that was intended to hit ISIS but killed 60 Syrian soldiers instead. [NYT / David E. Sanger, Mark Mazzetti, and Ben Hubbard]
  • Syria has formally declared the ceasefire over, and has resumed bombing of rebel-held areas. [FT / Erika Solomon]
  • Technically, though, you might remember that Syria was never officially a party to the ceasefire to begin with. It was an agreement between the US and Russia. But Russia is extremely upset about the US's botched airstrike, making it unlikely that the two will agree to a renewal. [Washington Post / Liz Sly, Karen DeYoung, and Louisa Loveluck]
  • Arguably, the ceasefire never succeeded to begin with. Castello Road — a route to Aleppo known as the "road of death" — never got secure enough to bring needed supplies to civilians living under siege in Aleppo, even during the ceasefire. [Vox / Yochi Dreazen and Javier Zarracina]
  • But the ceasefire didn't need to succeed as ceasefire to be a political success. Research on ceasefires suggests they can build the political space for resolutions, whether or not they stop violence on their own. [NYT / Max Fisher]

Time for some traffic problems for Chris Christie

Christie Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images
  • Federal prosecutors declared on Monday that they have evidence Chris Christie knew about the closures of traffic lanes in Fort Lee, New Jersey — a political scandal known as "Bridgegate." [Reuters / Karen Freifeld and Joseph Ax]
  • The revelation came during opening arguments in the trial of two Christie aides accused of orchestrating the closures as political retribution for the mayor of Fort Lee not endorsing Christie for reelection. [ / Ted Sherman and Matt Arco]
  • No one's claiming that Christie ordered or even approved the payback maneuver. Allegedly, he heard about them on the third day. But it's still bad news for what remains of his political prospects (attorney general to President Trump, perhaps?).[The Atlantic / Nora Kelly]
  • Of course, he's still running Trump's presidential transition team. And the new revelation probably won't change that: Back when Trump was running against Christie for the GOP nomination, he made clear that he suspected Christie had known about the "traffic problems" the whole time. [Vox / Andrew Prokop]
  • The transition team is no small role! It gives Christie an outsize role in choosing political appointees. And since Christie appears to prefer the sort of people who text, in earnest, "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee," that might say bad things about the character of likely Trump administration appointees. [Vox / Dara Lind]


  • John McPhee has started doing posts for the New Yorker's website, and, uh, well, they're really something. [New Yorker / John McPhee]
  • Fall of 2007 was a crucial moment: the first time in recorded history that the average monthly number of texts sent exceeded the average monthly number of phone calls. [Slate / Timothy Noah]
  • Despite the fact that violent crime is at historic lows, more Americans than ever are buying handguns — and tell researchers the reason is self-defense. [The Trace / Kate Masters]
  • A member of Congress introduced legislation to fight "swatting," a form of harassment wherein the harassers makes a fake emergency call to get a SWAT team sent to their target's home. Then she got swatted herself. [Mother Jones / Hannah Levintova]
  • Isabelle Mège is a medical secretary in Paris. She's also, simply by asking, become the subject of scores of renowned photographers. [New Yorker / Anna Heyward]


  • "New York’s Guggenheim museum unveiled its latest installation on Friday – a solid gold toilet titled America." [The Guardian / Adam Gabbatt]
  • "What you did isn’t funny; they’re just clapping and laughing to be on the right side of history." [Donald Glover to NY Mag / Rembert Browne]
  • "Ideally, I would like to have access to a refrigerator to keep yogurt, milk, ice coffee, eggs, cheese, spinach, carrots, bell peppers, bread and an onion in. I also would like to have cabinet space for granola, potatoes, peanut butter, apples and bananas. It would be nice if I could use the stove to cook eggs and potatoes on. Everything else I can eat without cooking. I assure you, the items listed are the extent of my limited diet. Occasionally I will bring home a jalapeño." [Jack Leahy via NYT / Kim Velsey]
  • "That’s the part of my job that scares me the most: that I’ll miss an opportunity to make a change that would have helped. It’s not whether I win or lose. It’s knowing how much people out there are smashed up against the windshield." [Elizabeth Warren to NYT / Philip Galanes]
  • "Cutting was easier than a lot of things for a woman to get into, because in their quaint way, [Hollywood producers] Mayer and Warner and Zanuck and Zukor all had this idea that editing was like sewing." [Steve Erickson via Masha Tupitsyn]

Watch this: Israeli settlements, explained

The maps that explain the settlers. [YouTube / Johnny Harris]