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Vox Sentences: It’s tax time

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House Republicans unveil their new tax bill; Robert Mueller's probe ensnares another member of Trump's staff; scientist use some super-cool cosmic rays to unearth a giant secret chamber in the Egyptian pyramids.

Tax cut o’clock

Drew Angerer/Getty Images
  • House Republicans released their long-awaited tax bill today, the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.” It contains steep cuts for corporations as well as a cap on state and local tax deductions. [NYT / Jim Tankersley, Thomas Kaplan, and Alan Rappeport]
  • There’s a ton in this bill. Some of it is aimed at helping middle-class families, including a doubling of the standard deduction and modestly expanding the child tax credit. [WSJ / Richard Rubin]
  • But mostly there are steep cuts for big business, big corporations, and “pass-through” companies like LLCs, partnerships, sole proprietorships, and S corporations. (Donald Trump would benefit directly from them.) [Vox / Dylan Matthews]
  • Many House Republicans are cheering the bill, but not all. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) gave a speech on the Senate floor saying tax reform must be more than just tax cuts, and made it clear he’s not in favor of the House plan. [Vox / Ella Nilsen]
  • And there’s a lot here that lobbying and industry groups don’t like; the small-business lobby has come out against the bill, and the real estate industry is furious about changes to mortgages. [Politico / Brian Faler]
  • Congressional Republicans want to get a bill to President Trump’s desk by the end of the year. The Senate is likely to release its own version of a tax bill in the coming weeks, after which the two sides will have to come to an agreement. [CNN / Lauren Fox, Deirdre Walsh, and Ashley Killough]
  • It’s hard to overstate how much Republicans want to get this done, especially after the failure to repeal and replace Obamacare. [Vox / Tara Golshan]

Trump’s pick for the top USDA science post had no science credentials (but that's not why he's out)

Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
  • Sam Clovis, President Trump’s pick for top scientist at the US Department of Agriculture, has withdrawn his name for consideration amid the Russia probe that’s heating up. He was already a White House adviser to the USDA. [Vox / Andrew Prokop]
  • Clovis, a former Trump campaign official, withdrew on Wednesday, after it was reported that special counsel Robert Mueller’s team interviewed Clovis and that he had testified before a grand jury. [NBC News / Adam Edelman]
  • Clovis reportedly was one of the campaign officials who knew that former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos tried to set up a meeting between Trump and Russian contacts, looking for “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. [Washington Post / Juliet Eilperin]
  • Clovis was Papadopoulos’s direct supervisor, and he also supervised Carter Page, who is also being scrutinized by Russia investigators. Clovis actively encouraged Papadopoulos to seek out meetings with the Russians, which makes him a person of interest for Mueller’s team. [Vox / Andrew Prokop]
  • A former political science professor from Iowa, Clovis was nominated for the position of top USDA scientist even though he had absolutely no scientific background. [USA Today / Brad Heath, Steve Reilly, and David Jackson]
  • Before joining the Trump campaign, Clovis wrote extensively questioning evolution, environmentalism, and whether former President Obama was born in the US. He also once called former Attorney General Eric Holder a “racist black.” [CNN / Andrew Kaczynski]

What ancient void? Oh, this ancient void?

Mohamed El-Shahed/AFP/Getty Images
  • Deep in the Great Pyramid at Giza in Egypt, scientists have uncovered a previously unknown, secret void above the Grand Gallery, a huge room in the pyramid. [Nature / Jo Marchant]
  • They found this space using cosmic rays. As Vox’s Brian Resnick explains, scientists used high-energy subatomic particles to essentially take an X-ray scan of the pyramids and find the space. [Vox / Brian Resnick]
  • This technology has been used to study volcanoes and even another pyramid, but this is the first time scientists have stumbled on such a big discovery using the rays. [Washington Post / Ben Guarino]
  • The important part about cosmic rays is that they allowed researchers to find the void without doing any damage to the pyramid’s structure or materials. [NPR / Nell Greenfieldboyce]
  • Scientists estimate that the space is approximately 98 feet long and about 50 feet high. The pyramid itself was built by the pharaoh Khufu, who ruled from 2509 to 2483 BC. It’s worth noting that Khufu is buried in another room, known as the King’s Chamber. [National Geographic / Michael Greshko]
  • So this finding didn’t so much provide an answer as open up a bunch of other questions. Scientists know the void is there, but they don’t know how to access it or what it was used for. So if anyone is thinking this automatically means unearthing a new mummy, think again. [Vox / Brian Resnick]


  • There is a raging debate in emoji-world right now over whether the poop emoji deserves its own set of emotions. [BuzzFeed / Charlie Warzel]
  • The internet briefly exploded last night when it was announced that Disney would be doing a live-action remake of The Lion King starring Beyoncé as Nala and Donald Glover as Simba (plus more incredibly talented people). 2019, baby! [Variety / Justin Kroll]
  • Just as Teen Vogue was making a comeback, its parent company Condé Nast has decided to shutter the magazine’s print operation and lay off 80 staffers. [Women’s Wear Daily / Alexandra Steigrad]
  • How to untangle two deer: Get some rope and a small saw (for antlers, not the actual deer). [Lincoln Journal-Star / Peter Salter]
  • A new student group at Portland, Oregon's ultra-liberal Reed College is boycotting classes it deems to be participating in cultural appropriation and oppression. The group's members, in turn, are being protested by other Reed students who say they’re overreacting. [The Atlantic / Chris Bodenner]


Watch this: The dollhouses of death that changed forensic science

Frances Glessner Lee created dollhouses with dead dolls. In this episode of Vox Almanac, Vox's Phil Edwards explains why. [Vox / Phil Edwards]

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