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Vox Sentences: North Korea is launching missiles again

Vox Sentences is your daily digest for what's happening in the world. Sign up for the Vox Sentences newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday, or view the Vox Sentences archive for past editions. Today’s Vox Sentences is written by Jen Kirby, Emily Stewart, Libby Nelson, and Dara Lind. (Ella Nilsen will return Monday.)

The Senate moves closer to passing its tax bill; North Korea launches a missile; Time Inc. has a new owner.

So the tax bill might actually be a thing

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  • The Republican tax plan took another step forward on Tuesday, when the Senate Budget Committee advanced the tax cut bill along a 12-11 party-line vote, clearing the way for the full Senate to vote on the bill. [Politico / Seung Min Kim, Bernie Becker, and Colin Wilhelm]
  • GOP senators who had previously expressed hesitation about the bill, including Maine’s Susan Collins and Tennessee’s Bob Corker, sounded more optimistic about the legislation. Corker, who sits on the Budget Committee, voted to advance the bill, as did Sen. Ron Johnson from Wisconsin, who has also voiced complaints about it. [Wall Street Journal / Richard Rubin and Kristina Peterson]
  • The bill is still a massive cut for corporations and the wealthy, two policy moves that are overall very unpopular. But Republicans really, really need a political win. [Vox / Dylan Scott]
  • The White House in a statement said that President Trump “applauds” Tuesday’s vote and “looks forward to providing tax cuts for hardworking Americans by the end of the year.” The scenario in the Senate looks brighter than before, but the bill still isn’t guaranteed to pass. [Vox / Dylan Scott and Tara Golshan]
  • Beyond the tax bill, Congress and Trump also have to deal with the tiny matter of funding the government, which runs out of money on December 8. [Vanity Fair / Maya Kosoff]
  • Earlier today, Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi said they would not attend a previously scheduled meeting with Trump after he tweeted Tuesday morning he doesn’t “see a deal” with the pair. Republican leaders Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan showed up for the meeting. [Washington Post / Ed O’Keefe and Sean Sullivan]

Could North Korea hit New York?

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  • North Korea fired another intercontinental ballistic missile Tuesday (early Wednesday morning in Pyongyang). [NYT / Choe Sang-Hun and Motoko Rich]
  • Experts calculated that North Korea’s missiles could now reach the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, including Washington, DC. [Washington Post / Anna Fifield]
  • But the missile likely only carried a mock warhead — and actual nuclear warheads are much heavier and might not be able to travel as far. [Union of Concerned Scientists / David Wright]
  • The launch brings an end to a two-month pause in North Korean missile tests — a pause that experts didn’t find particularly reassuring, since they believed there’s a strong possibility that the North would resume missile tests during the Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, in February. [Vox / Alex Ward]
  • Trump’s reaction: “We will take care of it.” The president said North Korea is a situation that the United States “will handle.” [CNN / Zachary Cohen, Taehoon Lee, and Ryan Browne]

Does Time Inc. have a Koch problem?

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  • The Midwestern-based Meredith Corp. said Sunday that it will buy Time Inc. in a deal valued at $2.8 billion. Meredith, known for titles such as Better Homes & Gardens, got an infusion of $650 million from the Koch brothers. [NYT / Sydney Ember and Andrew Ross Sorkin]
  • This raises questions as to whether the Kochs’ financial backing might translate to editorial influence. A spokesperson for Koch Industries called it a “passive financial investment” from the company’s corporate arm -- not the businessmen themselves. And Meredith Corp. has said the brothers won’t have a seat on the board. [NYT / Sydney Ember]
  • That hasn’t stopped people from speculating on what the Kochs might want out of their first major investment in the news business. [Washington Post / Paul Farhi]
  • Meredith Corp. toyed with purchasing Time Inc. in 2013, but the publisher reportedly didn’t have interest in some of its most iconic titles, including Time, Fortune, Sports Illustrated, and Money. So now everyone is wondering: What changed? [Recode / Peter Kafka]
  • Well, maybe nothing. This acquisition will likely mean serious cost cutting at Time Inc., and Meredith Corp.’s past reluctance to own Time and other titles might mean the company is looking to unload some of its most notable publications on interested buyers. [NBC / Claire Atkinson]
  • And who might be interested? How about David Pecker, whose American Media Inc. publishes the National Enquirer? [Daily Beast / LLoyd Grove and Clive Irving]
  • Whatever happens, Time Inc.’s struggles in recent years, and this impending sale, are a sad endnote for the once-esteemed brand. [NYT]


  • If humanity gets a message from an extraterrestrial intelligence, it will probably be China that hears it first. [Atlantic / Ross Andersen]
  • There's a “police training” course that is training cops in ... philosophy. As in, like, Plato. [Atlantic / David Dagan]
  • After two years(!), Reuters thought it had confirmed that acrobatic rock 'n' roll dancer(!!) Katerina Tikhonova is, in fact, the younger daughter of Vladimir Putin. But then the source who had seemed to confirm it took back his comments. The search continues. [Reuters / Jack Stubbs and Gabrielle Tetrault-Farber]
  • The best way to describe the Trump administration’s actual efforts to build a “border wall,” as of November 2017, is this: a particularly expensive and high-profile architecture exhibition. [Curbed / Ian Volner]
  • It’s the most wonderful time of the year: time to giggle and marvel at the thoroughly absurd “national costumes” worn by the contestants of the Miss Universe pageant. Miss Myanmar’s costume included her own portable stage. [Tom and Lorenzo]


Watch this: How Trump turned Sean Hannity into a conspiracy theorist

Hannity has transformed from a typical right-wing pundit into Fox News's leading conspiracy theorist, and that's making the network's advertisers nervous. [YouTube / Carlos Maza and Coleman Lowndes]

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