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Vox Sentences: Let me introduce you to a planet named Ross

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.

Police raise the death toll in yesterday's California shooting; Australian voters clear the way for same-sex marriage legalization; scientists may have discovered a planet that can support life ... and it's only 66 trillion miles away.

Police reveal more details about the deadly California shooting

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  • Police have raised the death toll in yesterday's mass shooting in California to six (including the shooter), after they found the body of the shooter's wife in the couple's home. [ABC News / Emily Shapiro, Julia Jacobo, and Marilyn Heck]
  • The shooter, Kevin Neal, began a shooting rampage in his California neighborhood in Northern California on Tuesday. He tried to enter a local school, but the building was on lockdown, so he could not enter. [CNN / Ray Sanchez, Faith Karimi, and Jason Hanna]
  • The shooter’s sister told reporters he had a history of mental illness, and Neal had a restraining order from a neighbor, whom he allegedly stabbed in January (and ultimately ended up fatally shooting on Tuesday). [NPR / Bill Chappell and Colin Dwyer]
  • As part of the January stabbing incident, Neal was charged with five felonies and two misdemeanors. As a condition of the protective order against him, he was not supposed to own guns, but the guns used in Tuesday’s shooting were registered in someone else’s name. [The Hill / Brett Samuels]
  • Neal is like many other mass shooters in one key respect: He had a history of violence toward women. Many of the shooters or perpetrators of other acts of mass violence in the past few years have had run-ins with the police after they assaulted their spouses or family members. [Washington Post / Mark Berman]

Australia takes a big step toward legalizing same-sex marriage

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  • Australian citizens overwhelmingly voted in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage in a nonbinding postal survey yesterday. [Vox / German Lopez]
  • About 62 percent of the nearly 12 million who voted approved the idea. Though the vote won’t trigger an immediate change in the law, the survey results send a clear signal to Australia’s conservative government that citizens are ready for marriage equality. [NYT / Adam Baidawi and Damien Cave]
  • This is already generating movement in the country’s parliament, where a bill for same-sex marriage legalization was introduced today. Lawmakers will soon start debating it. [BBC]
  • Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he’s committed to having a bill passed by the end of the year, and said the mail survey demonstrated that the people have spoken in favor of legalization. [ / Liz Burke, Benedict Brook, and Charis Chang]
  • Australia has moved far on the issue in a short amount of time; the issue was seen as too controversial to merit a vote just four years ago. [Guardian / Ben Raue]

Scientists think they’ve found a new life-friendly planet ... but it's still very far away

QAI Publishing/UIG via Getty Images
  • Scientists have discovered a new Earth-size planet they believe may be able to sustain life, and its name is Ross. Ross 128 b, to be precise. [Gizmodo / Ryan Mandelbaum]
  • Ross 128 b is located outside our solar system and orbits a red dwarf star. This red dwarf star is a bit unusual; while these types of stars are known for solar flares (which make nearby planets unable to sustain life), this particular star seems pretty quiet. [The Verge / Loren Grush]
  • The star is actually not quite as bright as our sun, and scientists think the energy it gives off is pretty comparable to our solar situation. Therefore, they think Ross 128 b and Earth have similar temperatures. [BBC]
  • The other tantalizing thing is that Ross 128 b is one of the closest potentially habitable planets in proximity to Earth (given the fact it’s outside our solar system). [Atlantic / Marina Koren]
  • And when I say "close," I mean it's about 11 light-years away — or about 66 trillion miles. [EarthSky / Bruce McClure]
  • There is still a whole lot we don't know about Ross 128 b, including whether it really is part of a habitable zone that could support life and what the planet's surface or atmosphere looks like. [Washington Post / Sarah Kaplan]
  • Earlier this year, scientist discovered about seven Earth-like planets orbiting a star that is 40 light-years away. Three of them could contain water, but again, these stars are even farther away and would need much more study to determine if they could support life. [Vox / Brian Resnick]


  • India is trying to outlaw unsafe selfies, or the act of selfie-ing too close to cliffs or dangerous animals. There is a term for this: “killfies.” Yikes. [NPR / Kamala Thiagarajan]
  • Kazakhstan police just arrested six fake Borats – Czech tourists dressed in lime green mankinis and wigs. They were fined for “minor hooliganism.” [Associated Press]
  • In light of all the new Roy Moore allegations, a mysterious, overtly anti-Semitic robocall has been making the rounds in Alabama warning of a fictional Washington Post reporter named ... wait for it … "Bernie Bernstein." [WKRG / Bill Riales]
  • British Scrabble champion Allan Simmons has been accused of cheating. No doping here, just an accusation of sneakily grabbing new letters. [NYT / Alan Cowell]
  • The crowdfunding giant Kickstarter has been struggling for the past few years, so it’s undergoing a major rebranding, launching a subscription-based crowdfunding site called "Drip." [The Verge / Ben Popper]


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