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Vox Sentences: A deadly derailment

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An Amtrak train derails in Washington state, killing multiple people and injuring dozens of others; South Africa's ruling party elects a new leader, who is likely to become president after Jacob Zuma's term ends.

There were safety concerns about the train in Washington that just derailed

Washington State Patrol via AP
  • An Amtrak train derailed near Seattle on Monday, plunging cars onto a highway below and killing at least six people so far. The cause of the crash still hasn't been determined. [Vox / Jen Kirby]
  • It appears that the fatalities were passengers on the train, although some motorists driving on the highway were also injured by the incident, according to local authorities. More than 75 people were taken to hospitals to be treated. [Seattle Times / Joseph O'Sullivan, Evan Bush, and Christine Clarridge]
  • It was a major derailment; authorities say a total of 13 cars jumped the tracks, hitting five vehicles and two semitrailers when they landed on the highway. [Associated Press]
  • The train was making its first run as part of a new high-speed service running between Portland, Oregon, and Tacoma, Washington. Officials said testing had been done before this run but didn't go into further detail. [Olympian / Alexis Krell and Craig Hill]
  • But there were serious concerns about the project; the city of Lakewood, Washington, had gone so far as to sue the state in an attempt to stop the project, because of concerns that the crossings over highways didn't have enough protections to keep the train on the tracks. [Seattle Times / Jim Brunner]
  • President Trump weighed in on the derailment, citing the crash as evidence that the country needs to sign on to his infrastructure plan. [Guardian / Daniel Person, Sam Levin, and Amanda Holpuch]
  • The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the crash and is expected to release more information in the coming days. [Washington Post / Dana Hedgpeth, Luz Lazo, and Ashley Halsey III]

Meet South Africa’s likely new president

  • South African billionaire Cyril Ramaphosa has been elected as the new head of the country's ruling party, the African National Congress, and is likely to take the reins when current President Jacob Zuma's term ends in 2019. [NYT / Norimitsu Onishi]
  • Ramaphosa narrowly won over his main challenger, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who is Zuma's ex-wife and the candidate the president supported. Dlamini-Zuma ran on a brand of populist politics, promising "radical" economic reforms to a country with deep income inequality (including land seizures). [Guardian / Jason Burke]
  • Some see Ramaphosa as a symbol of that economic inequality. He worked with Nelson Mandela to help end apartheid in the 1970s, but has since become extremely wealthy. [BBC / Andrew Harding]
  • Nevertheless, Ramaphosa was able to successfully pitch himself as an anti-corruption candidate and alternative to Zuma, who is accused of serious corruption. Whether he can deliver on that promise remains to be seen. [Washington Post / Max Bearak]


  • A Colombian designer nicknamed “Armored Armani” who sells bulletproof clothing is turning his eye to the United States, where there is new interest in clothing that could literally save your life. [Racked / Chelsea Greenwood]
  • If you want to be particularly ambitious this Christmas and build your own life-size gingerbread house, you're going to need 10,250 gingerbread bricks, 3,300 pounds of icing, and 1,650 pounds of candy. [Atlas Obscura / Anne Ewbank]
  • The owner of Steve Bannon's Capitol Hill rowhouse (nicknamed "the Breitbart Embassy") wants to build a wall — or rather, a 3-foot-tall security fence — around the property. Color DC government officials extremely unimpressed. [Washington Post / Perry Stein]
  • At long last, Twitter is starting to tamp down on users affiliated with alt-right and neo-Nazi groups, or who threaten harm or violence on the platform. [Recode / Tony Romm]


"Sometimes it comes up with a desert and it thinks it's an indecent image or pornography. For some reason, lots of people have screen-savers of deserts and it picks it up thinking it is skin colour." [British police officer Mark Stokes on AI's difficulty telling the difference between porn and a desert screensaver, to Gizmodo / Melanie Ehrenkranz]

Watch this: A teenager’s journey through weight loss surgery

Diets and exercise fail most people with severe obesity. So Jewel elected to become one of the few teenage patients to undergo bariatric surgery. [YouTube / Sam Ellis and Julia Belluz]

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