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Vox Sentences: Trump: UNESCO? UNES-no!

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Trump deals a blow to the Affordable Care Act without help from Congress; an American and Canadian couple is freed from Taliban captivity; the US pulls out of UNESCO.

Trump doesn’t need Congress to weaken Obamacare

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  • With Congress so far unable to repeal the Affordable Care Act, President Trump is taking matters into his own hands. [Associated Press]
  • Today, he signed an executive order that is meant to substantially weaken key parts of the health care law. The new order is basically an Obamacare workaround; it will allow consumers to purchase cheaper plans with fewer benefits outside the health insurance exchanges. [NYT / Robert Pear and Reed Abelson]
  • These skimpy plans are called association health plans, and right now they’re typically only available to small businesses. The executive order also lengthens the amount of time someone can have a short-term insurance policy, limited plans that act as a Band-Aid between coverage. [Washington Post / Amy Goldstein]
  • Republicans have argued that this will make insurance cheaper for younger, healthier people who currently have to buy comprehensive health plans in accordance with the law. [Vox / Dylan Scott]
  • But if more young people exit the exchanges for these cheaper plans, that means older, sicker people and people who stay in the exchanges will be stuck with higher costs. [Vox / Dylan Scott]
  • The changes won’t happen with the stroke of a pen; they’ll likely take months to go into effect. [WSJ / Michelle Hackman]
  • There’s already a state where this is the case: Tennessee residents can buy skimpier plans outside the exchanges. The state also has some of the highest Obamacare premiums in the country. [Vox / Sarah Kliff]

An ill-fated hiking trip, a kidnapping, and a dramatic rescue

Saeed Shah/MCT via Getty Images
  • An American woman, her Canadian husband, and their three children who were held captive by the Taliban for five years have been set free. [BBC]
  • Caitlan Coleman, 31, her husband Josh Boyle, 34, and their young children were freed after a successful joint operation by Pakistani forces and US intelligence officials, according to a statement from the two countries. [Washington Post / Shaiq Hussain and Brian Murphy]
  • The couple was kidnapped by a terrorist group known as the Haqqani network as they hiked in Afghanistan in 2012. It was an extremely risky excursion; Coleman was late in her pregnancy with their first child, and they were in terrain where terrorist groups were active. [Vox / Yochi Dreazen]
  • The couple was kept captive for five years, and appeared in videos saying they feared for their lives. At the time, the Taliban told reporters these videos were designed to put pressure on the Afghan government, to convince it not to execute a Taliban leader who was on trial. [Reuters]
  • And over the years, US officials nearly paid ransom money to get the couple back, but a deal never went through. [Vox / Yochi Dreazen]
  • There have been conflicting accounts of exactly what the operation to free the couple and their children was like. Pakistan’s military described a shootout at a vehicle being used to transport the hostages; US officials, meanwhile, described the operation as more of diplomatic one. [NBC News / Courtney Kube, Hans Nichols, Wajahat Khan, and F. Brinley Bruton]
  • President Trump today praised Pakistan’s leaders and called the family’s release a bright spot in US-Pakistan relations, which are typically strained. [CNN / Barbara Starr and Ryan Browne]

The US exit from UNESCO was a long time coming

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  • Today, the US announced that it’s leaving UNESCO, the cultural, scientific, and educational arm of the United Nations. The Trump administration cited the group’s “anti-Israel bias” as the reason for exiting. [Washington Post / Eli Rosenberg]
  • UNESCO is most well known for its job of designating World Heritage Sites, but it does a number of other things, including supporting education about the Holocaust and promoting literacy and women’s issues worldwide. [NYT / Gardiner Harris and Steven Erlanger]
  • The US actually helped found UNESCO after World War II, but its break from the organization was in the works well before Trump. [Foreign Policy / Colum Lynch]
  • UNESCO and the US have had an especially tense relationship since 2011, when UNESCO designated Palestine as an independent member state. The Obama administration pulled $80 million worth of US funding for the UN group (which it was required to do, due a 1990s US law). [Slate / Joshua Keating]
  • And in 2013, the US lost full UNESCO voting rights after missing regular payments to the organization. It hasn’t been active in the organization for a long time; basically, Trump was just making a clean break. [Vox / Zack Beauchamp]
  • With the final departure of the US, this means that non-Western member states will have more of a say and more power to vote on resolutions the US and Israel don’t like. [Vox / Zack Beauchamp]
  • Israel, for one, was a big fan of the Trump administration’s decision, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling it “a brave and moral decision.” [Guardian / Peter Beaumont]


  • Bread and beer have many of the same ingredients, so one British brewery is cutting down on food waste by turning discarded loaves into delicious brews. [Bloomberg / Matthew Kronsberg]
  • Art Robinson wrote an influential scientific review paper that questioned whether climate change was man-made, and helped form conservative ideology around the issue. Now, with the support of powerful Trump allies, he could be in the running to be the new US science adviser. (He’s also building a database of human urine.) [FiveThirtyEight / Daniel Engber]
  • European travelers can fly from London to Berlin for just $17, a distant dream for US travelers. Why the price discrepancy? A lot of airline carrier competition, a lot of customers, and a higher density of cities across the Atlantic. [Washington Post / Rick Noack]
  • The Boy Scouts officially welcomed girls into their ranks this week. But in Cambridge, Massachusetts, one Boy Scout troop has been gender-integrated since 2003. [Boston Globe / Derrick Jackson]
  • Bitcoin value is soaring — the cryptocurrency is now worth more than gold — but investors are worried it's headed for a bubble that could soon burst. [Guardian / Julia Kollewe]


  • “They asked ‘how many passengers,’ and I said ‘none, just one pigeon.’ I bet they thought I was just a mad bird lady but I could not turn my back on an injured animal.” [Jeanette Bowron, who called a taxi to send an injured pigeon to a bird sanctuary, speaking to the Coventry Telegraph / Claire Harrison]
  • “He had the most annoying laugh in the world. Another had a horrible chin. These were characteristics you’d never discount your partner for, because you love them despite their flaws. But in a sperm-donor catalogue, you can come up with a lot of reasons not to pick someone.” [IVF patient and new mom Katie to the Cut]
  • “On Thursday nights, the budding prophets gather to listen for God’s voice, then set off on ‘treasure hunts’ to prophesy for people who match the description God has given them — whole crews of students scouring the local megastore for a man in a yellow shirt one night, a woman with three children and a purple backpack the next.” [BuzzFeed / Molly Hensley-Clancy]
  • “A lot of us are doing our best, but it’s just not enough, it’s not enough. You’re mourning for one particular person who you knew and loved. And really quickly that avalanches into mourning for the state of the city, the state, the country.” [Naloxone volunteer Adriana Pericchi to NYT / Jose Delreal]
  • “But this is a basic and familiar pattern: a powerful man sees you, a woman who is young and who thinks she might be talented, a person who conveniently exists in a female body, and he understands that he can tie your potential to your female body, and threaten the latter, and you will never be quite as sure of the former again.” [New Yorker / Jia Tolentino]

Read this: Everything that's been reported about deaths in Puerto Rico is at odds with the official count

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

We took a look at the numbers, and they didn’t add up. [Vox / Eliza Barclay and Alexia Fernández Campbell]

Watch this: Why Rotten Tomatoes scores don’t mean what they seem

It’s about consensus, not quality. [YouTube / Carlos Waters]

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