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Vox Sentences: High drama over Trump's high court nominee

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The nuclear option on Gorsuch looks imminent; a terrorist attack in St. Petersburg leaves 11 dead and more than 30 people injured; Trump hosts Egypt’s Sisi at the White House.


Democrats plan to filibuster Gorsuch this week

Senate Holds Confirmation Hearing For Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch
Judge Neil Gorsuch testifies during the third day of his Supreme Court confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
  • As of this afternoon, Senate Democrats have the numbers to filibuster the Supreme Court nomination of Neil Gorsuch. [Vox / Jeff Stein]
  • Democrats need 41 votes to deny cloture. Today, the last four “no” votes that Democrats needed came from Sens. Dianne Feinstein, Patrick Leahy, Christopher Coons, and Mark Warner. [Washington Post / Elise Viebeck, Ed O’Keefe]
  • That’s not the end of the story, of course. Republicans are expected to try to change the rules so that a simple majority of 51 votes can confirm Gorsuch instead of 60. With 52 Republicans in the Senate, Gorsuch could sail through at that point. [CNN / Ashley Killough, Ted Barrett]
  • This rules change is called the “nuclear option”; it last happened in 2013, when Democrats used it to end the filibuster on executive nominees and judicial nominees for every court but the Supreme Court. Nominations to the Court have, historically, not usually been very controversial, but rising partisanship and ideological polarization have changed that in recent decades, culminating in the Gorsuch fight. [Vox / Andrew Prokop]
  • Just after news broke that Democrats were poised to filibuster, Gorsuch made it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on a party-line 11-9 vote. Now his nomination heads to the full Senate for a vote this week. [New York Times / Matt Flegenheimer]
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that the Senate will approve Gorsuch before the Senate’s April recess, which begins Saturday. That means the vote — and the increasingly likely rules change — will happen this week. [Politico / Nolan D. McCaskill​]

A terrorist attack in St. Petersburg kills 11

A picture shows the damaged train carriage at Technological Institute metro station in Saint Petersburg on April 3, 2017. Around 10 people were feared dead and dozens injured Monday after an explosion rocked the metro system in Russia's second city Saint
The damaged train carriage at Technological Institute metro station in St. Petersburg.
STR/AFP/Getty Images
  • Eleven people were killed and more than 30 were injured in an explosion on the metro in St. Petersburg, Russia, in what authorities are calling a terrorist attack. [CNN / Tim Lister, Emma Burrows, Angela Dewan]
  • The source of the explosion is not yet clear, but it took place at around 2 pm local time on a metro train traveling between Sennaya Square and the Institute of Technology. A bomb was found and deactivated at another station two miles away from the Institute of Technology. [Vox / Lindsay Maizland]
  • So far, Russia’s Interfax news agency reported that a 23-year-old from Central Asia carried out the attack, but no organization has claimed responsibility yet, and the report has not been confirmed. ISIS supporters have, however, called the attack retaliation for Russian involvement in Syria, and Russia state television tried to insinuate a link between the attack and recent anti-corruption protests (which, of course, the government would say). [Foreign Policy / Emily Tamkin, Robbie Gramer]
  • President Vladimir Putin was in St. Petersburg at the time of the attack, but was several miles away. [New York Times / Neil MacFarquhar, Ivan Nechepurenko]
  • According a recent Washington Post analysis of 45 years of terrorist attacks, “more people died in terrorism-related attacks in Russia than [in] any other country in Europe.” Since 1970, more than 3,500 people have died in more than 820 attacks in the country. [Washington Post / Chris Alcantara]
  • Putin has made anti-terrorism efforts a signature initiative of his government, but his reign has seen some of the bloodiest attacks in the nation’s history. [Washington Post / Adam Taylor​]

Trump hosts Egypt’s Sisi in Washington

Trump Hosts Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi At The White House
Trump meets with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in the Oval Office.
Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images
  • President Trump met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi at the White House, praised him for doing “a fantastic job,” and pledged to fight with Egypt against Islamic militants. [Reuters / Steve Holland]
  • Their meeting marks a major shift in US policy. Though Egypt is an ally to the US that receives more than $1 billion in aid each year as part of the Camp David Accords, President Obama never hosted Sisi at White House because the Egyptian president’s regime has committed countless human rights abuses, and journalists and critics of Sisi have been jailed and murdered. [Washington Post / Sudarsan Raghavan, David Nakamura]
  • Sisi came to power in 2013 by forcefully taking power from Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi. Sisi was Morsi’s defense minister, and almost immediately after he arrested Morsi and assumed the presidency, his forces murdered more than 800 peaceful protestors camped out in Rabaa al-Adawiya Square. In the time since, he has continued to crack down on journalists and political opponents and protesters. [Vox / Max Fisher]
  • In spite of Sisi’s history, Trump has praised the strongman over and over. Trump celebrated him on the campaign trail last August, met with him in September, and received his first congratulatory phone call from a foreign leader from Sisi in November. [Washington Post / Ishaan Tharoor]
  • Of course, this is completely in line with Trump’s idolization of dictators — including, of course, the way he’s talked about Putin. [Vox / Jennifer Williams, Zack Beauchamp]
  • But it isn’t just Trump: Several Western leaders have warmed to Sisi in recent years and hosted him, including Britain, Germany, Italy, and France. [The Independent / Amelia Smith​]

Miscellaneous

  • The surprisingly long and gripping tale of two New York Times reporters desperately trying to get an interview with the mayor of Bolingbrook, Illinois. [NYT / Julie Bosman and Monica Davey]
  • Meet “Les Horaces,” the French elites who are quietly lining up behind far-right candidate Marine Le Pen. [WSJ / Stacy Meichtry and William Horobin]
  • Fewer than four in 10 applicants for disability benefits get them, leaving many legitimately disabled people without cash assistance. So why does the press keep caricaturing the disability program as a wasteful mess replete with fraud? [TalkPoverty / Rebecca Vallas]
  • 2016 was a boom year for apartment construction in New York and San Francisco — and in both cities, average rents fell as a result. [Market Urbanism / Emily Hamilton]
  • Over the past four decades, working-class Americans haven't shared equally in economic growth. But you could change the tax code to fix that. [NYT / Neil Irwin]

Verbatim

  • “Part of the meaning of life is that we die.” [Amy Wagers to New Yorker / Tad Friend]
  • “I think it would be difficult to argue that I’m a net-negative for womenkind.” [Ariel Levy to NYT / Penelope Green]
  • “You cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in the republic. If there were [gay people] in Chechnya, the law-enforcement organs wouldn’t need to have anything to do with them because their relatives would send them somewhere from which there is no returning." [Chechen government spokesperson Alvi Karimov to BuzzFeed / Hayes Brown]
  • “Review is unique in just how far it was willing to go to mine genuinely horrifying things for laughs, then refuse to soften the blow with some sort of reset — or even the smallest moment of redemption.” [A.V. Club / Sean O’Neal]
  • "The feminist Ti-Grace Atkinson went so far as to claim that her brand of celibate 'political lesbianism' was morally superior to the sexually active version practiced in her midst. … This argument was never particularly compelling to the lesbians in the movement who were actually gay." [New Yorker / Ariel Levy]

Watch this: Comedians have figured out the trick to covering Trump

While major news networks have struggled to figure out the right way to cover the Trump administration, political satirists like Samantha Bee, John Oliver, Stephen Colbert, and Seth Meyers have demonstrated why comedy can be such a powerful antidote to bullshit. [Vox / Carlos Maza, Coleman Lowndes]