clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Vox Sentences: Wanted: blue sky in China

Vox Sentences is your daily digest for what's happening in the world, curated by Ella Nilsen. Sign up for the Vox Sentences newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday, or view the Vox Sentences archive for past editions.

A Gold Star widow speaks out about Trump's infamous phone call; Japan's Shinzo Abe is reelected to another term; China is getting serious about cracking down on air pollution.

“It made me cry even worse”

Joe Raedle/Getty Images
  • This morning saw the latest installment of a smoldering, week-long political controversy involving President Trump, a phone call, and the family of an American soldier killed in Niger. [Vox / Dylan Matthews]
  • In an interview with Good Morning America today, Myeshia Johnson said that a phone call she received from Trump after her husband, Sgt. La David Johnson, was killed was upsetting. Johnson said the president couldn’t remember her husband’s name and told her that her husband knew what he was signing up for. [ABC News / M.L. Nestel]
  • Soon after, Trump took to Twitter to dispute Johnson’s account of the phone call, insisting that he knew Sgt. Johnson's name. [Donald Trump via Twitter]
  • If the fact that the president of the United States is suggesting a wife of a fallen service member was lying about him seems strange, it’s just the latest in an ever-expanding controversy. [Politico / Louis Nelson]
  • It started after Johnson and three other US Special Forces members were killed in an ambush in Niger earlier this month and it took Trump 12 days to make a statement or comment on their deaths. [The Guardian / Jason Burke]
  • That might not have made a lot of news, except that when Trump finally was asked about his public silence, he made the obviously false statement that his predecessors had not called military families. [Vox / Matthew Yglesias]
  • Then Florida Rep. Frederica Wilson said she had overheard Trump making insensitive comments to Myeshia Johnson in a phone call, which the White House vehemently denied. White House officials tried to smear Wilson’s reputation in the process. [Sun-Sentinel / Larry Barszewski]
  • Trump also bragged that he has called the families of every single fallen service member under his tenure; this was contradicted by some of the families as well as an internal memo leaked to the press, which showed Pentagon officials scrambling to find contact information for family members to have Trump make the remaining calls as fast as possible. [Roll Call / John Donnelly]
  • In her interview with Good Morning America, Johnson said Trump’s comments upset her, and added she has “nothing to say” to the president. [Washington Post / Kristine Phillips and J. Freedom du Lac]

Japan’s Shinzo Abe cruises to reelection

Drew Angerer/Getty Images
  • Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe won reelection by a landslide in a snap election this weekend, and his ruling Liberal Democratic Party also claimed a supermajority in parliament. [NYT / Motoko Rich]
  • Abe is entering his third term, and will become Japan’s longest-serving prime minister if he finishes it. [CNN / Yoko Wakatsuki, James Griffiths, and Joshua Berlinger]
  • He actually isn’t all that popular in Japan, having been dogged by corruption scandals that tanked his approval ratings this summer. [The Guardian / Justin McCurry]
  • But his tenure has been marked by strong economic growth. Already, markets have spiked in response to the news that the country will have stable leadership. [The Diplomat / Anthony Fensom]
  • There’s also not a lot of appetite for a new leader in the face of provocations from North Korea, which Abe has promised to meet with increased pressure after Kim Jong Un's regime launched two missiles over Japan. [BBC]
  • Abe may use his reelection as a chance to revise Japan’s pacifist constitution, which hasn’t been amended since the end of World War II. In particular, Abe could potentially get rid of Article 9, the clause that renounces war and says that Japan’s army is a self-defense force. [Washington Post / Adam Taylor]

China is closing factories to curb pollution

Tao Zhang/Getty Images
  • Across China, entire factories are going dark as the Chinese government is sending environmental inspectors to determine who is emitting pollution and how much. [NPR / Rob Schmitz]
  • Factory shutdowns aren’t the only thing that’s happening. People who are being caught polluting too much are getting slapped with fines or, in some cases, being sent to jail. [NPR / Rob Schmitz]
  • China has some of the world’s worst air pollution. The country is famous for its thick smog; residents often wear face masks when they walk outside. And all the pollution has a serious impact: China has the highest number of death worldwide from air pollution, and the government declared it a national disaster. [The Diplomat / K.S. Venkatachalam]
  • The government started a multi-pronged approach to curb pollution three years ago. Besides the push on industry to stop emitting so much pollution, the Chinese have also adopted new standards for cars and tried to get rid of coal-burning stoves. [National Geographic / Beth Gardiner]
  • China wants to embrace clean energies like wind and solar, but it needs to get rid of pollution before it can do those things in earnest. That’s because the pollution is so bad, it blocks the sun’s rays from reaching solar panels. [Axios / Shannon Vavra]
  • The crackdown has been too much for some companies, which have moved operations to India or Bangladesh in order to get their businesses up and running. [Bloomberg]
  • China's efforts to clean up its air could have a serious impact on the country’s economy and could extend a ripple effect around the world, since China is such a big player on the world stage. [NYT / Keith Bradsher]


  • Expat Parisians are increasingly moving to French-speaking Montreal, where they’re finding no love lost between them and native Quebecois. [CityLab / Sarah Treleaven]
  • The rise of online shopping is infusing America’s declining manufacturing cities with new life, as old factories are being turned into warehouses for companies like Amazon. [NYT / Natalie Kitroeff]
  • As people in the Pacific Northwest were hit with a particularly bad wildfire season, they got more creative on how to prevent future fires. One way? Unleash the goats. [Earther / Renee Lewis]
  • The amount of affordable housing in America is shrinking rapidly; it decreased by more than 60 percent in just six years, from 2010 to 2016. [Washington Post / Tracy Jan]
  • Beyond pivoting to video, BuzzFeed is also becoming a motion picture company, adapting its reporting into original movies and TV shows. [NYT / Sydney Ember]


Read this: Darkness: life in Puerto Rico without electricity

Angel Valentin for Vox

Puerto Rico's misery won't end without power. The problem is that it isn't getting any. [Vox / Yochi Dreazen]

Watch this: 39 water terms, mapped

What do all those bodies of water really mean? [YouTube / Phil Edwards]

Read more

The case that humans are creating new species despite driving many to extinction

How a change in hospital policy saved thousands of lives

President Trump still thinks tax reform will pay for itself

The Walking Dead's 100th episode shambles along like the walking corpse the show has become

London is trying an innovative new strategy to stop air pollution: taxing old cars