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Vox Sentences: How to keep bears out of schools, explained for Trump’s ed secretary

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The first disastrous confirmation hearing performance by a Trump nominee (one of five confirmation hearings in the past 24 hours); 2016 shattered climate records, again.

Does she have any IDEA what she's getting into?

Betsy DeVos Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images
  • If you weren't watching the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee's confirmation hearing for secretary of education nominee Betsy DeVos — and the Trump administration-in-waiting sure hopes you weren't — you missed one of the more disastrous confirmation hearings in recent memory. [New Republic / Graham Vyse]
  • DeVos flubbed questions that were not supposed to be gotcha questions. Asked where she stood on a basic question in education policy — whether students should be tested for proficiency (hitting benchmarks) or for growth (improvement over time) — she ... revealed she didn't understand there was a difference between the two. [Vox / Libby Nelson]
  • She said that compliance with the Individuals With Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) should be left to the states (which makes no sense because it's a federal law), horrifying parents of students with disabilities. [The Daily Beast / Elizabeth Picciuto]
  • And when trying to argue against a federal ban on guns in schools, she said schools might need guns to protect against grizzly bears. Which is ridiculous because, as everyone knows, schools threatened by bears can protect themselves with fences. (We here at Sentences assume you know a lot about bear defenses.) [Mic / Tom McKay]
  • Progressives had their doubts about DeVos going into Tuesday's hearing for ideological reasons: DeVos has called the public school system a "dead end," and has no experience (professional or personal) with it. [Politico / Benjamin Wermund]
  • If she had been prepared, though, the question from Bernie Sanders — asking whether she'd just been nominated because she and her family were major Republican donors — would have seemed a bit petty. As it was, it seemed like a very good question. [Vox / Jeff Stein]
  • Ultimately, this is a problem for Republicans. DeVos can't achieve her policy goals (or those of her party) if she's not competent at running her department. [Vox / Matt Yglesias]

Lightning round, oh-it's-okay-these-are-just-the-people-running-our-government edition

Wilbur Ross Stephen J. Boitano/LightRocket via Getty Images
  • It's unlikely that Democrats will be able to muster the momentum to stop DeVos's nomination, though — or the nomination of any of the four other Trump administration nominees who've had their confirmation hearings in the past 24 hours. (This is deliberate; it's a "flood the zone" strategy.) [CNBC / Eamon Javers]
  • So here's your breakneck-speed roundup: Nikki Haley (nominee, US ambassador to the UN): firm, definite opinions that bore very little resemblance to the firm, definite opinions of the man who nominated her. [Vox / Jennifer Williams]
  • (Also: an apparent lack of familiarity with some important UN things, like why abstaining from votes is sometimes necessary.) [Hayes Brown via Twitter]
  • Scott Pruitt (nominee, EPA director): admitted that climate change was not a Chinese hoax, which is apparently all we require in EPA nominees these days. [Vox / Brad Plumer]
  • Rep. Tom Price (nominee, secretary of health and human services): hit hard over his apparent buying and selling of stocks relevant to bills he pushed in Congress... [Politico / Dan Diamond]
  • ...and offered thoughts on Trumpcare that give some insight into the ongoing GOP fight over health care reform. [Vox / Sarah Kliff]

And Wilbur Ross (nominee, secretary of commerce): pretty gung-ho about trade war with China, turns out. [FT / Shawn Donnan]

No surprise

Chart showing planetary temperatures trending upward NASA
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Wednesday that 2016 was the hottest year on record, breaking a record previously set by 2015 and, before that, 2014. [PBS / Jessica Yarvin]
  • If you've been following trends in climate change, this is not surprising. (But if you're more of a visual learner, these graphics are great.) [NYT / Jugal K. Patel]
  • Indeed, some scientists are (somewhat perversely) glad about the record, because it should hammer the last nail in the coffin of the myth that there's been some sort of pause in global climate change. [Popular Science / Kendra Pierre-Louis]
  • But while scientists have been able to predict temperature trends, predicting their effects is another thing entirely. And in that regard, scientists agree, we're in uncharted territory now. [Washington Post / Jason Samenow]
  • Here's a taste of what's coming: Sea ice around the world is at terrifyingly low levels. Like, really low. [Vox / Brad Plumer]


  • A lot of people (Dylan included) were very excited for Finland's experiment testing basic income. The actual test that wound up happening, however, is kind of a letdown. [Jacobin / Matt Bruenig, Antti Jauhiainen, and Joona-Hermanni Mäkinen]
  • 38 colleges, including Princeton, Yale, Tufts, Middlebury, and Brown, enroll more students from the top 1 percent of the income distribution than from the bottom 60 percent. [NYT / Upshot]
  • Mike Enoch is a prominent neo-Nazi, who pioneered the use of (((triple parentheses))) to target Jews. So his followers were more than a little surprised to discover that his wife is Jewish and he's a rich Manhattan tech worker. [Mic / Tom McKay]
  • A new, smartly designed study by the leading economist studying the press suggests that fake news matters less than you might think. [NYT / Neil Irwin]
  • Like any sane famous person, Mark Zuckerberg doesn't actually run his own Facebook account. That's what staff is for. [Bloomberg / Sarah Frier]


  • "[Octopuses] are probably the closest we will come to meeting an intelligent alien." [Scientific American / Peter Godfrey-Smith]
  • "I have been treated with acupuncture by perhaps the greatest acupuncturist in the state of Florida, if not the United States." [Roger Stone to Infowars]
  • "I don't think she's deserving of more than other kids. I just don't. I think that we can't say 'This school is not good enough for my child' and then sustain that system. I think that that's just morally wrong. If it's not good enough for my child, then why are we putting any children in those schools?" [Nikole Hannah-Jones to NPR / Terry Gross]
  • "Overnight their world had shifted, and now the students at Barack Obama Elementary had a pressing question for principal Megan Ashworth: Would the name of their school change? Would they, the Maryland kids wondered, attend Donald Trump Elementary School?" [Washington Post / Theresa Vargas]
  • "Had a dream that McDonald’s had a big ad campaign that just said 'WE HAVE IT' in black cryptic writing. So I went to a drive thru and said 'I saw the sign. Can I have it' and the speaker was silent for a solid ten seconds before saying 'do you think you’re ready' in my voice and I screamed and drove away." [Blake Roark]

Watch this: Before organizing the Women’s March on Washington, Linda Sarsour fought for Muslim holidays in NYC

Linda Sarsour is a co-chair of the Women's March on Washington. But before that, she managed to win recognition of Muslim holidays from New York City public schools. [YouTube / Joshua Seftel]

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