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Vox Sentences: Trump bares Bears Ears

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Trump rolls back federal protections for two national monuments; CVS and Aetna eye a huge merger; Yemen's former president is killed as fighting in the country intensifies.


Trump uses the Antiquities Act, but in reverse

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  • President Donald Trump took a dramatic step to downsize two national monuments in Utah, relaxing federal protections on more than 2 million acres of land of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments. [Washington Post / Josh Dawsey and Juliet Eilperin]
  • Bears Ears could lose more than 1 million acres (about 85 percent of its total land), while Grand Staircase-Escalante could lose 800,000 acres (45 percent) of its total land mass. Bears Ears was created by President Obama in 2016, while Grand Staircase-Escalante was created by President Bill Clinton in 1996. [BuzzFeed / Jim Dalrymple II]
  • The monuments have been controversial in their own right, with some conservative politicians (especially those in Utah) characterizing the creation of national monuments as federal overreach. [NPR / Kirk Siegler and Colin Dwyer]
  • If federal protections are rolled back, these areas could be opened up to commercial development and cattle grazing, which is something Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke have supported. The Trump administration has insisted there are no energy resources that can be extracted from the areas, but opponents of the plan say they contain deposits of oil, coal, and uranium. [WSJ / Jim Carlton]
  • Trump is using the presidential power of the federal Antiquities Act, which allows presidents to create national monuments without congressional approval. [National Parks Service]
  • Ultimately, this fight will likely be decided by the courts. The legal twist for Trump downsizing monuments is that the Antiquities Act only gives presidents the power to create or expand national monuments; it doesn’t say anything about making them smaller. [Vox / Brian Resnick]

CVS wants to be your doctor

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
  • The drugstore giant CVS and the insurance company Aetna want to join forces, and their potential merger could dramatically transform American health care. [Vox / Emily Stewart]
  • The two companies are pursuing a $69 billion deal, which still has to be approved by regulators. Some are concerned that such a large merger could violate antitrust laws. [CNN Money / Julia Horowitz and Danielle Wiener-Bronner]
  • If it goes through, it could be much bigger than an insurance company and a drugstore chain consolidating; Aetna and CVS want to fundamentally change how health care is delivered, using CVS clinics in lieu of patients having to go the emergency room for care. [Vox / Emily Stewart]
  • Other insurance companies are trying to find ways to streamline care, but no one has combined insurance with a pharmacy chain before, using in-pharmacy clinics in place of the doctor’s office. [WSJ / Anna Wilde Mathews and Sharon Terlep]
  • CVS's CEO told reporters he’s considering hiring doctors for the clinics. In the past year, the company has also been trying to move in a health-conscious direction in other ways, phasing out selling cigarettes and some other products. [WSJ / Anna Wilde Mathews and Sharon Terlep]
  • The deal isn’t just about how care is delivered; it’s also about Aetna taking advantage of CVS’s ability to sit down and negotiate with pharmaceutical companies on drug prices. [Vox / Sarah Kliff]
  • So will this be good for consumers? It’s tough to tell right now whether this deal would really result in lower prices. But it certainly could expand choice for patients, especially when it comes to managing less severe illnesses. [NPR / Alison Kodjak]

Fighting intensifies in Yemen as the country’s former president is killed

Mohammed Huwais/AFP/Getty Images
  • Yemen’s former President Ali Abdullah Saleh was killed by the Iran-backed Houthi rebel group in the capital city of Sanaa on Monday. [Independent / Bethan McKernan]
  • Saleh ruled for years, with a reputation as a ruthless strongman. He was reportedly killed for switching sides and turning on the Houthis as he pursued a peace deal with Saudi Arabia. Saleh used to be allied with the Houthis, a group he once conspired with to regain power. [Washington Post / Ali Al-Mujahed and Kareem Fahim]
  • Saleh’s killing spells doom for whatever hope people may have had that the brutal civil war in Yemen could come to an end. The Yemen conflict is a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, two of the biggest superpowers in the Middle East. [NYT / Max Fisher]
  • In the short term, Saleh’s death has also prompted a burst of intense fighting in Sanaa, where residents reported explosions and gunfire that prevented ambulances from getting through to transport wounded people to hospitals. [CNN / Hakim Almasmari, Tamara Qiblawi, Hilary Clarke, and Ruth Hetherington]
  • The conflict has been raging since 2015; it has claimed more than 10,000 lives and inflicted a devastating humanitarian crisis on millions more who are starving and suffering from cholera. [Reuters / Stephanie Nebehay]

Miscellaneous

  • Vermin Supreme (the Free Pony Party presidential candidate with the boot on his head) is suing the city of Concord, New Hampshire, for not letting him bring two actual ponies to Hillary Clinton’s upcoming book signing. No, really. [Concord Monitor / Caitlin Andrews]
  • Researchers have found evidence that besides easing physical pain, Tylenol may also help numb the pain of your FOMO. [NPR / Allison Aubrey]
  • The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments in one of the most high-profile cases of the season: the case of a Colorado baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple, and is arguing that the decision is protected by his right to free speech and expression. [Washington Post / Robert Barnes]
  • Censorship is becoming a key tool in Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s crackdown on dissent in his country. In recent months, Egypt has seen libraries and bookstores close, and journalists and authors must contend with strict standards. [Atlantic / Farid Farid]

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