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Vox Sentences: President Obama steps in to block the Dakota Access Pipeline

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A huge surprise win for the Dakota pipeline protesters; North Korea tests its biggest bomb yet (still not at US circa-1945 levels); how did Donald Trump not know he was going on Russian state TV?

Land, oil, blood, and clay

Dakota Access Pipeline protesters Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images
  • The Obama administration issued an order late Friday blocking construction work for the Dakota Access Pipeline on federal land (and asking the company building the pipeline to suspend work on nearby land as well). [Reuters / Ruthy Munoz]
  • The move follows several weeks of protests over the proposed pipeline, led by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe — whose reservation is a half-mile south of the proposed pipeline route. [Vox / Brad Plumer]
  • The protests are driven both by concerns about climate change (not to mention potential pollution) and its disparate impact on native peoples, and by objections that the pipeline's construction violated the US government's obligation to deal with the Standing Rock Sioux as a sovereign government. [Vox / Victoria M. Massie and Aura Bogado]
  • Earlier Friday, a federal judge denied the request of the Standing Rock tribe — and 200 other native groups — to judicially halt construction, so the executive branch's order was both well-timed and surprising. [CNN / Ray Sanchez and Holly Yan]
  • On the merits, the Standing Rock Sioux have a strong case that the federal government didn't consult them as equals in approving the pipeline. But as the case grinds through the courts, the archaeological sites the tribe is trying to protect — directly in the pipeline's path — might already be in the midst of destruction. [The Atlantic / Robinson Meyer]
  • Meanwhile, protesters haven't always been treated gently. Private security guards were so aggressive in their use of dogs on protesters that a state accreditation board is now looking into the firm. [Bismarck Tribune / Caroline Grueskin]

North Korea set us up the bomb (again)

North Korea nuclear test map Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images
  • North Korea conducted its biggest nuclear test to date early Friday, in the latest evidence yet that Kim Jong Un is ramping up its nuke program. [CNN / Katie Hunt, K.J. Kwon, and Jason Hanna]
  • "Biggest" means the equivalent of 10 kilotons of TNT — twice as big as the first test it conducted in 2016, but still smaller than the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. [Vox / Javier Zarracina]
  • The test spurred an emergency UN Security Council meeting to discuss new sanctions — something the US has been calling for even before now. [Reuters / Michelle Nichols]
  • China, however, is not necessarily on board. [Reuters / Jack Kim and Michelle Nichols]
  • This is crucial. China accounts for 80 percent of trade with North Korea, and is in a position to violate sanctions if it chooses to (though there's evidence that the economic relationship could be fraying). [Nikkei Asian Review / Atsushi Ijuin]
  • China's hoping to preserve the balance of power in the region — keeping South Korea, and, by the extension, the US, from getting too comfortable. [WSJ / Jeremy Page and Alastair Gale]
  • Of course, the fact that the sanctions so far don't appear to be working might be a reason not to tighten them but to get rid of them entirely. [The Guardian / Simon Jenkins]

The brovolution will be televised

Putin and Trump (Suzanne Cordeiro/AFP/Getty Images and Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images)
  • On Thursday night, Donald Trump conducted an interview with Larry King on the Russia Today network, which is owned by the Russian government. [TPM / Caitlin Macneal]
  • The Trump campaign claims they thought he was appearing on King's non-RT podcast but were "tricked."
  • Russia Today is widely regarded (despite its own denials) to be a mouthpiece for the Putin administration. And it loves Trump. [Politico / Michael Crowley]
  • And Trump, in turn, is much closer to Russia — and Putin — than most presidential candidates tend to be comfortable with. [Vox / Zack Beauchamp]
  • Some of these are official ties. Former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, for example, has shady ties to the pro-Russian political party in Ukraine. [Washington Post / Amber Phillips]
  • But more broadly, Putin embodies the kind of heavy-handed leadership Trump (and some other conservatives) admire — especially in contrast to Obama, who doesn't do a lot of threatening at all. [The Daily Beast / John Avlon]
  • Indeed, Republicans now rate Vladimir Putin more favorably than Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. [Vox / Andrew Prokop]
  • (They are wrong. If your definition of "good leader" is "gets things done for his people," rather than "shouts a lot," Putin is not a good leader.) [Slate / Joshua Keating]
  • Democrats are having a lot of fun with some Cold War–era Russkie bashing over all this. But President Obama is trying to expand diplomatic channels with Russia and is hampered by his own party's taunts. [Politico / Michael Crowley]


  • Everyone knows there is only one species of giraffe. What a new theory presupposes is: What if there are actually four? [NYT / Nicholas St. Fleur]
  • In January, Washington state prosecutors revealed they had busted a large-scale sex trafficking ring. Except it turns out it wasn't sex trafficking at all. [Reason / Elizabeth Nolan Brown]
  • What it's like to get owned on Twitter by the Merriam-Webster account. [Slate / Gabriel Roth]
  • Blind people use the same language-specific gestures as sighted people. [NY Mag / Drake Baer]
  • On trying to diet when you're a professional food critic and literally live to eat. [NY Mag / Adam Platt]


  • "Detroit has become the capital of American horror." [The American Conservative / Eve Tushnet]
  • "In the past sixteen years, 94 percent of the net jobs created were in education, healthcare, social assistance, bars, restaurants, and retail, even though those sectors only employed 36 percent of America’s workforce at the start of the millennium. Average hourly pay in these sectors, weighted by their relative sizes, has consistently been about 30 percent lower than in the rest of the economy." [FT / Matthew Klein]
  • "Reading this book felt like clawing my way through snowdrifts of saccharine. My brain felt gooey afterward. An hour of ESPN would have been like a power cleanse." [Slate / Laura Kipnis]
  • "It was a question I’d heard over and over during the tour: Women who were larger than a size 12 always wanted to know, How can I look good, and why do designers ignore me?" [Washington Post / Tim Gunn]
  • "The Rev. Sheryl Ruthven and a few dozen followers left Washington state three years ago, hoping to find a place where they could live in peace and quietly wait out the apocalypse. Along the way, they hoped to rescue as many cats as possible. Those cats, according to Ruthven’s writings and interviews with former followers, are divine creatures that will carry the 144,000 souls mentioned in the book of Revelation." [Nashville Scene / Bob Smietana]

Watch this: The real secret to sushi isn't fish

Here's how it rolled from rice paddies into your burrito. [YouTube / Gina Barton]

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