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Vox Sentences: Angela Merkel is in trouble

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Trump put North Korea back on the state sponsors of terrorism list; Angela Merkel's position is in jeopardy; Kenya erupts into deadly election-related violence.

Trump tries to ratchet up the pressure on North Korea

Kevin Dietsch/UPI
  • President Donald Trump has put North Korea back on the US list of state sponsors of terrorism, as another way to pressure the country over its nuclear program. [Vox / Alex Ward]
  • Former President George W. Bush took North Korea off the list in 2008. It had been on the list since 1988, after the North was involved in a 1987 plan bombing that killed more than 100 South Koreans. [NYT / Michael Shear]
  • In order for a country to be taken off the list, it needs to show that it has fundamentally changed. But there were other factors at play in 2008 — Bush hoped removing North Korea would help fix a breakdown in nuclear talks. [Washington Post / Adam Taylor]
  • So why the change now? Nuclear weapons. As Trump announced the move today, he said it was to combat the North’s missile program, which has been much more active and brazen in recent years. [Vox / Alex Ward]
  • This is largely a symbolic move; North Korea is already under extensive sanctions from the United Nations and other countries, so Trump’s declaration won’t have much of a practical effect. [The Diplomat / Franz Stefan-Gady]
  • And even though North Korea is undoubtedly dangerous, there are questions over whether it is actually participating in sponsoring acts of terrorism. There are also questions over whether this move will really do much to stop it from firing missiles. [Vox / Alex Ward]

Merkel’s misfortunes

Sean Gallup/Getty Images
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s grip on power is suddenly looking less certain. [Foreign Policy / Paul Hockenos]
  • What was supposed to be a routine coalition talk to form Merkel’s new government has turned into a political crisis as talks collapsed, which could trigger another election. [NYT / Melissa Eddy and Katrin Bennhold]
  • Merkel’s party, the center-right Christian Democrats, were unable to put together a coalition after another party walked out of talks and the left-leaning Social Democrats declined to ally themselves with the Christian Democrats, after getting trounced in this year’s elections. [Politico Europe / Janosch Delker]
  • The big reason behind the breakdown of talks was Merkel’s past stance on immigration, agreeing to take in about 1 million migrants in 2015. Europe’s migrant crisis has become a flashpoint in multiple countries and has turned into a rallying cry for populist and right-wing parties in Germany, France, and Austria. [Reuters / Paul Carrel and Gernot Heller]
  • Merkel herself is actually in favor of a new election, saying there’s no clear path forward with the current government. [NPR / Scott Neuman]
  • But a snap election comes with a significant risk for Merkel: that her party could lose more seats and she would have to step down as chancellor. [Foreign Policy / Paul Hockenos]
  • There’s also the chance that the far-right Alternative for Germany party could pick up even more seats in parliament. The AfD now hold 12.6 percent of parliament, 94 seats out of 709. [Bloomberg / Rainer Buergin]
  • It also casts a shadow of uncertainty over the entire European Union, in which Germany has served as a leader for many years. It will mean less certainty around Brexit talks and eurozone negotiations between Germany and France. [Guardian / Philip Oltermann and Dan Roberts]

Kenya’s prolonged election drama turns deadly

Georgina Goodwin/AFP/Getty Images
  • Kenya has erupted into violence, as the country’s supreme court has upheld the election of President Uhuru Kenyatta. Kenyatta won in a second election that was held after the first was successfully contested by the country’s opposition party. [NYT / Jina Moore]
  • Five people have been killed in violent clashes in the country’s capital of Nairobi, as riot police and opposition supporters got into fights, with police using live ammunition to disperse crowds. [Al Jazeera]
  • The presidential race between Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga has been drawn out for months. The original presidential election between the two men happened way back in August, and Kenyatta was declared the winner. [The Guardian / Jason Burke]
  • But Odinga was able to successfully petition the supreme court for another election, complaining of election fraud. There were enough unusual circumstances, including the murder of a top election official whose killers have still not been found. [BuzzFeed / Tamerra Griffin]
  • Even after successfully getting a section election, Odinga refused to take part in the rerun as a protest, maintaining that the system was fraudulent. [NYT / Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura]
  • Kenyatta won the second election, although there was only 39 percent turnout. [BBC]
  • Longstanding tribal tensions underlie the political tensions between Kenyatta and Odinga, whose tribe has complained for years about being pushed aside. [NPR / Eyder Peralta]


  • New Zealand is not messing around when it comes to getting rid of invasive predators (looking at you, rats and possums). It wants to exterminate them in order to protect endangered bird species. [Atlantic / Ed Yong]
  • This is your annual reminder that before the annual White House turkey pardon, the turkeys get to stay at the Willard Hotel, with each getting its own bed. This is, somehow, not a joke. [Axios / Haley Britzky]
  • The 1969 murder of Sharon Tate by followers of Charles Manson was not just a horrific incident that stunned America. It was also the start of victim impact statements being read in California courtrooms and a larger victims' rights movement across the country. [Washington Post / Theresa Vargas]
  • The violent drug war and government corruption in Mexico have prompted some family members to strike out on their own to try to find their missing children or siblings. The searches can take years. [NYT / Azam Ahmed]
  • California’s state legislature is cutting down on after-hours work drinks, as more sexual harassment claims pour in. [Associated Press / Kathleen Ronayne]


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