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Vox Sentences: “The Crocodile” could lead Zimbabwe

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.

Tonight’s Sentences is written by Jen Kirby and Emily Stewart.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s 37-year rule ends; the FCC moves on net neutrality; sexual harassment allegations rock Washington. (Note: Sentences will be taking a break starting Wednesday and will be back on Monday.)

Mugabe out

Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
  • Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe abruptly resigned Tuesday, ending nearly four decades of rule. [NYT / Norimitsu Onishi and Jeffrey Moyo]
  • Mugabe submitted a letter of resignation, which the parliament speaker, Jacob Mudenda, read. In it, the 93-year-old Mugabe said his decision was “voluntary” and arose from his “desires to see a smooth, peaceful and non-violent transfer of power.” [BuzzFeed / Tamerra Griffin]
  • The stunning news ended impeachment proceedings that lawmakers had taken up against Mugabe. The now-former Zimbabwean president, who had been the world’s longest-serving ruler, had previously refused to step down, even after citizens protested and the military seized control in a bloodless coup. [BBC]
  • Zimbabweans swarmed the streets in celebration, cheering the end of Mugabe’s grip on power. [Robyn Dixon / LA Times]
  • Next in line is Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is expected to be sworn in as early as Wednesday. He had served as the longtime vice president until Mugabe fired him earlier this month, setting off the crisis. [NYT / Norimitsu Onishi and Jeffrey Moyo]
  • Mnangagwa, 75, has support among the military and the political elites, but it’s unlikely that a man nicknamed “the Crocodile” will represent a new democratic path forward for Zimbabwe. Mnangagwa, as head of Zimbabwe’s secret police, was known as Mugabe’s “enforcer.” [CNN /James Griffiths]

FCC moves to nix net neutrality rules

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
  • The Federal Communications Commission said Tuesday that it is taking steps to end Obama-era net neutrality rules. [Reuters / David Shepardson]
  • To refresh, "net neutrality" is a concept that says all internet service providers — Verizon or AT&T, for example — should treat all web traffic equally and can’t block access to, or favor, particular internet content. [Vox / Timothy B. Lee]
  • Under the new proposal, ISPs would instead get the power to potentially block content or charge higher fees for faster delivery of content — what’s known as “online fast lanes.” [Recode / Tony Romm]
  • The proposal will go up for a vote December 14, which is likely to split along party lines. Which means it is expected to pass, as Republicans outnumber Democrats on the commission 3 to 2. [NYT / Cecilia Kang]
  • FCC Chair Ajit Pai had made it no secret that he wanted to nix the Obama-era regulations, calling the rules “burdensome” and an example of government overreach. Critics say this will make broadband internet access more expensive and discriminatory — or as one Democratic FCC chair put it: “a cornucopia full of rotten fruit, stale grains, and wilted flowers topped off with a plate full of burnt turkey.” [US News and World Report / Andrew Soergel]
  • Needless to say, the universally beloved cable and wireless companies are pretty psyched about this proposed change. [Washington Post / Brian Fung]
  • But other powerful tech giants, such as Amazon and Google, aren’t thrilled by the decision. They fear ISPs could start to charge more for services or pick favorites, and will likely oppose this change. Expect some lawsuits. [NYT / Cecilia Kang]

Washington's reckoning with sexual harassment continues

Alex Wong/Getty Images
  • Washington is reeling as it faces fallout from sexual harassment allegations against lawmakers — which are likely just the start. [Atlantic / David A. Graham]
  • The latest: A report revealed that Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) settled a $27,000 sexual misconduct complaint in 2015. [BuzzFeed / Paul McLeod and Lissandra Villa]
  • Conyers acknowledged the settlement in a statement, but denied the allegation — that a woman was fired because she “would not succumb to [his] sexual advances.” [Associated Press/ Corey Williams]
  • Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has now demanded a formal ethics investigation into Conyers. [Washington Post / Elise Viebeck, Michelle Ye Hee Lee, and Mike DeBonis]
  • Conyers allegedly paid his accuser from his taxpayer-funded office budget. But it turns out taxpayers often end up footing the bill for lawmakers’ misdeeds through another avenue: Congress has paid at least $15 million since 1997 to settle complaints over sexual harassment, racial discrimination, and more through a little-known section of the Treasury Department. [Vox / Jane Coaston]
  • Trump also finally weighed in on Roy Moore, saying that the Alabama Senate candidate “totally denies” the allegations of sexual misconduct against him. He broke with members of his party and gave a tacit endorsement of Moore, saying “we don’t need a liberal person in there.” [NPR / Jessica Taylor]
  • The president, who himself has been accused of sexual assault by multiple women, also managed to strike a remarkably tone-deaf note when asked if he had a message for women coming forward. “I think it’s very, very good for women,” he said, “and I’m very happy a lot of these things are coming out. I'm very happy it's being exposed.” [Vox / Dara Lind]


  • The Trump administration is leaning toward naming Texas political science professor Thomas Brunell to head the US Census Bureau. Brunell, who has no government experience, is the author of a 2008 book titled Redistricting and Representation: Why Competitive Elections Are Bad for America. [Politico / Danny Vinik and Andrew Restuccia]
  • The moment we've all been waiting for finally happened today: President Trump pardoned a turkey (and mostly stuck to the script). [Vox / Jen Kirby]
  • Retired NBA star Ray Allen asked a Florida court on Tuesday to throw out a case in which he is accused of stalking. He says he is a victim of catfishing by a man who pretended to be a number of attractive women online. [ESPN]
  • The cryptocurrency startup Confido raised nearly $375,000 through an initial coin offering. Then it disappeared with the funds. [CNBC / Arjun Kharpal]
  • A missing Argentine navy submarine may soon be out of oxygen, the country’s navy said. The ARA San Juan, with 44 crew members aboard, hasn’t been heard from since November 15. [Reuters / Walter Bianchi]


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