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Vox Sentences: Martial law and government-sanctioned murder in the Philippines

Vox Sentences is your daily digest for what's happening in the world, curated by German Lopez. Sign up for the Vox Sentences newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday, or view the Vox Sentences archive for past editions.

Trump’s terrifying ally in the Philippines; an unsatisfying victory for Republicans in Montana; the nation’s deadliest drug overdose crisis.


Trump praises Philippine president who encourages mass murder

George Calvelo/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
  • You may have heard that President Donald Trump recently praised Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, saying, “I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem.” [Washington Post / David Nakamura and Barton Gellman]
  • Duterte’s actual drug policy, however, is not so praiseworthy: He’s encouraged the extrajudicial killings of drug dealers — leading to more than 7,000 estimated murders so far. [The Guardian / Kate Lamb]
  • This has led human rights groups to criticize Trump, who essentially praised an anti-drug policy of mass murder, and of course Duterte himself. [Vox / Zeeshan Aleem]
  • But the Philippine president has shown no sign of correcting course. After declaring regional martial law in response to terror attacks, Duterte on Friday “joked” about his soldiers raping women. “For this martial law and the consequences of martial law and the ramifications of martial law, I and I alone would be responsible. Just do your work. I will handle the rest,” he said. “I will be imprisoned for you. If you rape three [women], I will say that I did it.” [AFP]
  • Duterte declared martial law earlier this week due to what appears to be a serious threat: In the southern region of Mindanao, militants have been attacking people and flying ISIS’s flag. [CNN / Jason Hanna and Euan McKirdy]
  • But some of his reasoning for martial law doesn’t make much sense. For example, he cited the decapitation of a police chief — but it turns out this police chief is still very much alive. [Washington Post / Emily Rauhala]
  • It wouldn’t be unusual for the US to get involved in these kinds of situations to try to stop some of the human rights abuses. President Barack Obama, for one, called on Duterte to fight crime and drugs “the right way.” [Reuters / Roberta Rampton and Manuel Mogato]
  • Yet Trump seems intent on cozying up to Duterte and other ruthless leaders like him, such as Russian President Vladimir Putin. [Vox / Yochi Dreazen]

A troubling victory for Republicans in Montana

GOP Candidate Greg Gianforte Attends Election Night Gathering In Bozeman Janie Osborne/Getty Images
  • Republican Greg Gianforte won a special election for Montana’s US House seat on Thursday night — a day after he was charged for “body-slamming” a reporter. [ABC News / Ryan Struyk and Riley Beggin]
  • This isn’t much of a victory, though. Gianforte only won by 6 to 7 points — in a state that President Donald Trump had won by 20 points. [CNN / Lauren Fox]
  • This is yet another special election in which results were much tighter than they were just a few months prior during the presidential election. As Matthew Yglesias argues for Vox, this suggests that Republicans are possibly in a lot of trouble in the upcoming congressional elections — in large part due to Trump. [Vox / Matthew Yglesias]
  • By some estimates, the recent special elections suggest Democrats have a 14-point advantage in the current political climate. That’s more than they had in 2006 and 2008, when they swept the House and Senate races. [Twitter / Nate Silver]
  • Even before Gianforte attacked a reporter, there were signs the election was getting closer. So Republicans can’t just blame the close race on the altercation. [The Guardian / Ben Jacobs]
  • So while it’s way too early to speculate about the 2018 midterm elections, Democrats are getting excited about their prospects. [Vox / Andrew Prokop]

The deadliest drug overdose epidemic in US history

The nightstand of one of the counselors at the Freedom Ridge Recovery Lodge who recently overdosed. Chester County District Attorney’s Office
  • The past couple of weeks have been filled with all sorts of shocking stories in the opioid epidemic. In Ohio, for example, the Montgomery County coroner ran out of room for dead bodies due to the crisis — for the second time this year. [Tribune-Review / Megan Guza]
  • In another case, two counselors at a drug treatment facility in Pennsylvania overdosed on heroin and fentanyl. As Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan put it, “If anybody is wondering how bad the opioid epidemic has become, this case is a frightening example. The staff members in charge of supervising recovering addicts succumbed to their own addiction and died of opioid overdoses. Opioids are a monster that is slowly consuming our population.” [Washington Post / Cleve R. Wootson Jr.]
  • Then, earlier this month, an Ohio police officer apparently overdosed on fentanyl after wiping some of the powder off his shirt. It’s unclear if he absorbed the drug via inhalation or his skin. But he was thankfully saved by the overdose antidote naloxone. [Morning Journal / Jo Ann Bobby-Gilbert]
  • Here’s a primer on fentanyl, in case you’re not familiar with it. The short version: It’s a very potent opioid that’s traditionally used for medical purposes, but it’s increasingly being made in clandestine labs for illicit purposes. And it’s often laced into heroin without drug users’ knowledge, making it more potent but also more dangerous. [Vox / German Lopez]
  • So what’s going on here? This is the result of the deadliest drug overdose crisis in US history. In 2015, more than 52,000 people died of drug overdoses, nearly two-thirds of which were linked to opioids. That’s more than died annually from the crack epidemic, from gun violence or car crashes in the US in the typical year, and from HIV/AIDS during that epidemic’s peak in 1995. [Vox / German Lopez]
  • In some places, the epidemic has inspired a public health response — such as efforts in Ithaca, New York, to build up treatment and allow supervised injection facilities. This is the kind of response experts widely agree we need. [CNN / Afeef Nessouli]
  • But in other places, it’s leading to the same “tough on crime” policies that failed to prevent the opioid epidemic in the first place — such as in Clay County, Florida, where the boyfriend and friend of an 18-year-old who overdosed and died were slapped with manslaughter charges after helping her obtain drugs. [Jacksonville.com / Dan Scanlan]
  • Trump’s budget plan, by the way, suggests he wants to do little to nothing about the opioid epidemic — and may in fact make it worse. [Vox / German Lopez]
  • For more on the opioid epidemic, check out Vox’s full explainer. [Vox / German Lopez]

Miscellaneous


Verbatim

  • “Lashbrook, who first attended a Ku Klux Klan rally at the age of 8, says Odinism really clicked for him after he came to believe that the Holocaust was a lie.” [Reveal / Will Carless]
  • “Society seemed a significantly safer place to white males than it did to all other groups, including nonwhite men. What on first inspection seemed like a sex difference was actually a difference between white males and everyone else.” [Nautilus / Cordelia Fine]
  • “I don’t want to be president. I drink red wine. I smoke cigarettes. I golf. I cut my own grass. I iron my own clothes. And I’m not willing to give all that up to be president.” [John Boehner via Rigzone / Valerie Jones]
  • “Tragically, Shaurn has spent 24 years imprisoned for another man’s crime.” [Marissa Bluestine via Philly.com / Will Bunch]
  • “Thirty years ago, the televangelist [Jim Bakker] — who rose to fame in the ’70s with his wife Tammy Faye — had a very public fall from grace with fraud charges and a sex scandal. Now he’s back to shill food for the apocalypse and preach about God’s choice to lead America: Donald Trump.” [BuzzFeed / Kelsey McKinney]

Watch this: Japan’s rising right-wing nationalism

Meet the people trying to make Japan great again. [Vox / Johnny Harris]


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