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Vox Sentences: Game of Thrones, Saudi Arabia edition

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.

A mass shooting at a small Texas church leaves 26 people dead; President Trump kicks off a tour of Asia; Saudi Arabia starts purging crown princes and businessmen as part of an "anti-corruption" campaign.

A mass shooting wiped out 4 percent of the population in a tiny Texas town

Scott Olson/Getty Images
  • America experienced yet another deadly mass shooting on Sunday, this time at a First Baptist Church in a tiny, rural Texas town. [Vox / German Lopez and Karen Turner]
  • Twenty-six people are dead after a shooting rampage by a man named Devin Patrick Kelley, a former member of the US Air Force. Authorities are still piecing together Kelley’s motive, but it appears the shooting may have stemmed from a domestic dispute. [WSJ / Christopher Matthews]
  • Authorities said today that Kelley had sent threatening text messages to his mother-in-law as part of an ongoing family dispute. The mother-in-law was a member of the church. [NYT / David Montgomery and Jose Delreal]
  • The shooting rampage took the lives of 26 people, including young children. Eight members of the same family were killed, spanning three generations. [Washington Post / Samantha Schmidt]
  • Sutherland Springs, the unincorporated town where the shooting took place, is a tiny community of 600 people. That means the massacre claimed about 4 percent of the town’s total population. [Vox / German Lopez]
  • The death of parishioners has the close-knit community reeling; many people attended the church or knew people who did, and many said they were struggling to process the deaths. [BuzzFeed / Anne Helen Petersen and Charlie Warzel]
  • Even though police haven’t established a clear motive, the revelation about the domestic dispute as well as Kelley’s past assault conviction against his wife and child in 2012 highlight a disturbing trend: Many mass shooters have been accused of domestic violence by partners and family members. [Vox / Hope Reese]
  • This comes just a month after the Las Vegas shooting (the deadliest in modern American history), and Democratic lawmakers including Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy have issued statements calling for Congress to tighten gun laws. Meanwhile, President Trump blamed Kelley’s mental health and said the shooting wasn’t a "guns issue." [Politico / Cristiano Lima]

Trump talks trade and plays koi in Japan

The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images
  • President Trump is on the first leg of a two-week, multi-country tour of Asia, kicking things off in Japan. [NBC News]
  • He is focusing on big issues during his trip, including international trade and how to deal with North Korea, which has so far been the most pressing foreign policy issue during his presidency. [NPR / Ely Ratner and Ashley Feng]
  • On the North Korea issue, Trump put words in Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s mouth when he said Japan would be ready to shoot down North Korea missiles if they flew over Japanese airspace again, provided Japan bought American military equipment. (Abe quickly backtracked on Trump’s claim.) [BBC]
  • Japan is currently deciding whether to buy American arms, but legally the country can only intercept a North Korean missile if it or one of its allies is being attacked. Therefore, the two previous North Korean tests didn’t meet the threshold for being shot down. [NYT / Mark Landler and Julie Hirschfeld Davis]
  • Trump also called US trade deals with Japan into question, saying they were unfair to America, especially when it comes to automobiles. [Associated Press]
  • But experts say the reason Japanese car manufacturers are selling more cars to US consumers is that they’re simply making better cars; the country has a pretty open trade policy and plays by the same rules as everyone else. [Vox / Zeeshan Aleem]
  • At least one completely ridiculous thing has been making headlines: Trump was criticized for dumping a bunch of fish food into a koi pond after people believed he did so before Abe. (Never fear, fish truthers, Abe did the same.) [PolitiFact / Louis Jacobsen]
  • In addition to Japan, Trump will be making stops in China, South Korea, and the Philippines over the next two weeks. He will not be visiting North Korea’s Demilitarized Zone. [CNN / Jeremy Diamond]

A royal shake-up

Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images
  • Saudi Arabia’s young Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman tightened his grip on power this weekend, ordering the arrests of dozens of his fellow Saudi royals, ministers, and businessmen. [Reuters / Stephen Kalin and Reem Shamseddine]
  • It’s a stunning political purge in the oil-rich Middle Eastern nation. Bin Salman is widely seen as next in line for the throne when his father, King Salman, dies. [Associated Press / Hamza Hendawi]
  • The arrests came without warrants, as part of an “anticorruption committee” led by the prince. He’s already an extremely powerful figure in the government; he controls the Saudi defense ministry and the internal security ministry, and he's also charting a new economic course for the country away from oil. [Vox / Sarah Wildman]
  • These purges are significant beyond consolidating political power — they could also signal a shift toward more moderate religious policies in the strict country. [NYT / Ben Hubbard]
  • Bin Salman is having conservative religious clerics arrested and is pushing other reforms aimed at modernizing the country, including taking away the power of religious police to arrest people and greenlighting new policies allowing women to drive in the kingdom. [NYT / Ben Hubbard]
  • Amid the political chaos in Saudi Arabia, oil prices skyrocketed to more than $64 per barrel, but experts said that can’t necessarily be attributed to Saudi Arabia alone. Rather, they pointed to political uncertainty all over the Middle East and the globe. [CNBC / Tom DiChristopher]


A cyclist who flipped the bird to President Trump’s motorcade while biking in Northern Virginia has been fired from her government contracting job. She’s still not sorry. [Washington Post / Petula Dvorak]

  • Remember Threadless? The company known for making T-shirts with bright colors, cool art, and quirky sayings had a big boom in the mid-aughts, followed by a decline. [Racked / Tracy Robey]
  • iPhone users are having a lot of difficulty just trying to type "i" on the updated iOS system, which seems ... problematic. [The Verge / Thuy Ong]
  • As grizzly populations in Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks increase, the bears are increasingly wandering farther from their respective parks and into each other’s territories. [NYT / Jim Robbins]

When you’re thinking about buying a new car in Japan, the dealership comes to you. It’s common for car dealers to show up at your house with a couple of different cars for you to test drive, and this kind of hospitality and convenience is key to car sales in Japan. [The Atlantic / Alana Semuels]


Watch this: How to break the two-party hold on American politics

Replacing our current system with proportional representation would make more room for the wide range of views in US politics. [YouTube / Matthew Yglesias, Liz Scheltens, and Mallory Brangan]

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