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Vox Sentences: Angela Merkel is tired of this shit

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Merkel doesn’t mince words; a racially motivated attack in Portland; the Kushner plot thickens.


Trans-Nahtlanticism

Germany And India Sign New Cooperation Agreements Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel doesn’t usually make sweeping declarations about policy. So when she declared during a speech on Sunday in Munich that “The times in which we could completely depend on others are, to a certain extent, over. [...] We Europeans truly have to take our fate into our own hands,” observers sat up and took notice. [The Guardian / Jon Henley]
  • Merkel didn’t mention Donald Trump by name. But her speech was clearly a reaction to having dealt with Trump at the NATO and G7 summits last week, as well as dealing with British Prime Minister Theresa May (as Britain prepares for Brexit negotiations). [Politico.eu / Paul Taylor]
  • Merkel’s foreign minister was even more pointed on Monday: “The short-sighted policies of the American government stand against the interests of the European Union.” [CNN / James Masters]
  • It’s worth noting that these are statements being made by politicians during a campaign season (Germany has parliamentary elections in September). In particular, Merkel’s call for Europe to start standing up for its own defense is a jab at her rivals on the left, who object to her belief that Germany should move toward the NATO guideline of spending 2 percent of its GDP on defense. [The Economist / J.C.]
  • But Merkel is also bolstering her pro-European cred — she and newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron (who’s facing parliamentary elections of his own this summer) are leaning into a Franco-German alliance to bolster both Europe and their own political viability. [Politico / Paul Taylor]
  • The Trump administration appears entirely pleased with these developments. The president tweeted some angry things about Germany after returning to the US over the weekend, but press secretary Sean Spicer spent Tuesday making it sound like Germany was now doing exactly what the US wanted. [NYT / Alison Smale and Steven Erlanger]
  • And while after previous Trump contretemps with allies, the State Department has stepped in to smooth things over, Rex Tillerson appears to be contentedly silent on the matter. [Washington Post / Dan Drezner]
  • To be sure, you don’t have to be a Trump supporter to believe it would be a good thing for the US to spend less money defending some of the world’s richest countries. [Reason / Matt Welch]
  • But the political message here is arguably more important — and worrisome for Trump. As Seth Masket points out, Merkel appears to believe that maintaining a close alliance with the US is a political liability for her. If other allies start to conclude the same, that’s an extremely bad sign. [Pacific Standard / Seth Masket​]

American heroes

Planned KKK Rally In Lancaster County Sparks Counter Protest Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images
  • Two men were murdered Friday on a Portland train in a stabbing attack. The perpetrator of the attack had been harassing two teenage girls with Islamophobic and racist slurs; the victims had stepped in to intervene. [The Oregonian / Maxine Bernstein]
  • “He told us to go back to Saudi Arabia and he told us we shouldn't be here, to get out of his country,” said 16-year-old Destinee Mangum, one of the girls targeted. [KPTV / Haley Rush]
  • One of the men killed in the attack, Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, was a 23-year-old recent graduate of Reed College... [The Oregonian / Allan Brettman]
  • ...while the other, Rick Best, was a 53-year-old Army veteran who’d run for county office as a Republican. [The Oregonian / Elliot Njus]
  • (A third man who intervened is currently hospitalized, and is trying to pay his medical expenses via GoFundMe.) [GoFundMe]
  • The suspected perpetrator, Jeremy Christian, was known to law enforcement as an active white supremacist (he’d brought a baseball bat to an antifa rally several weeks ago as a threatening gesture). But they attributed his behavior to mental instability and didn’t regard him as a safety risk. [Portland Mercury / Doug Brown]
  • (Christian’s beliefs didn’t align perfectly with white nationalism, but it seems accurate to conclude that his ideology is primarily motivated by hate.) [J.J. MacNab via Twitter]
  • The attack renews questions about whether the election of Donald Trump has emboldened white supremacist violence — with the Southern Poverty Law Center, for example, pointing out that Trump is being explicitly evoked in a substantial number of hate crimes. [Southern Poverty Law Center / Mark Potok]
  • But it’s always worth pointing out that “hate crimes” are tricky to define and even trickier to measure (and that the extent to which Trump is motivating attacks that wouldn’t otherwise happen, versus providing a convenient slogan for the attacks already happening, is tough to suss out). [Vox / German Lopez]
  • Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler isn’t taking any chances. In the wake of the attack, he’s trying to shut down permits for two “alt-right” rallies in town over the next month while the city continues to mourn. The ACLU is not pleased. [Willamette Week / Aaron Mesh]
  • A local Republican official, meanwhile, has decided the real problem is that some people think Republicans are Nazis ... and that the right answer might be to start organizing Republican militias. Because that would definitely clear up the Nazi comparison. [The Guardian / Jason Wilson​]

When the Kushner’s dank and the leaks are grim

President Trump Welcomes President Of Argentina Mauricio Macri To The White House Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images
  • So there was some news Friday night about President Trump's senior adviser (and son-in-law) Jared Kushner and his relationship to the Russian government. [Vox / Matt Yglesias]
  • First, a Washington Post story reported that in December, Kushner met with Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak and discussed setting up a secret, secure backchannel for communications between the Trump transition team and the Russian government. The arrangement would've had Trump's team use Russian diplomatic facilities in the US to keep US intelligence agents from monitoring their discussions. [Washington Post / Ellen Nakashima, Adam Entous, and Greg Miller]
  • Ironically, the whole thing came out in the Post due to leaks from intelligence officials who were monitoring Kislyak’s, and other Russian officials’, communications.
  • The conversation was one of at least three Kushner had with Kislyak that were not properly disclosed. [Reuters / Ned Parker and Jonathan Landay]
  • Then the New York Times reported a more innocuous version of events, in which the backchannel was meant to discuss Syria strategy and ways to cooperate on the issue. [NYT / Maggie Haberman, Mark Mazzetti, Matt Apuzzo]
  • So is the more ominous story right, or the more innocent one? Well, I’ll let the Times itself answer that. A few days after that story, the NYT reported that federal investigators were looking into a meeting between Kushner and a Russian banker with strong Kremlin ties, Sergey Gorkov, in December, which appears to have been held in order to open up a direct line of communications with Vladimir Putin. [NYT / Matthew Rosenberg, Mark Mazzetti, Maggie Haberman]
  • Vnesheconombank, the Russian government owned bank where Gorkov serves as chair, has a history of helping place Russian spies in the United States. One, Evgeny Buryakov, pleaded guilty last year to working for Russian intelligence while posing as a Vnesheconombank employee. [Justice Department]
  • To make matters weirder, Gorkov claims that his meeting with Kushner was not about the Trump administration at all, but Kushner’s real estate business. [NYT / Jo Becker, Matthew Rosenberg, Maggie Haberman]
  • All of these stories specify that Kushner is not a suspect in a criminal investigation. But his activities do appear to be coming under a lot more scrutiny.
  • He's not the only one. Apparently Russian intelligence officials were caught on tape discussing compromising financial information they had about Trump and senior aides to him last year, information they thought they could use as leverage. Of course, the information could be fictitious, and the Russian agents could have been trying to exaggerate their intel. But if the intel is real, that's … pretty bad. [CNN / Pamela Brown, Jim Sciutto, Dana Bash]
  • Outside of Kushner, Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen appears to be a focus of Congress's Russia investigation. Cohen told reporters he declined to participate with the inquiry, saying, "To date, there has not been a single witness, document or piece of evidence linking me to this fake Russian conspiracy." [ABC News / Brian Ross and Matthew Mosk]
  • If all the above seems super-complicated, don’t despair. Alex Ward has a handy explainer on each part. [Vox / Alex Ward​]

Miscellaneous

  • The case for abolishing fraternities and sororities — all of them. [Time / Lisa Wade]
  • DC’s hottest political newsletter is written by a kid who wasn’t even alive on 9/11. [NYT / Stuart Emmrich]
  • Counties of the US that saw more immigration from 1860 to 1920 have less poverty, lower unemployment, and higher incomes today; going from having no immigrants during that period to an average number for the US as a whole meant a 20 percent boost to each resident's income today. [Vox EU / Sandra Sequeira, Nathan Nunn, and Nancy Qian]
  • There's a consistent theme in the Trump budget. From the Department of Labor to the EPA to the Department of Education, offices meant to enforce civil rights laws would be gutted. [Washington Post / Juliet Eilperin, Emma Brown and Darryl Fears]
  • In case you ever find yourself wondering, "Hey, what's Pauly D up to?" Well, this is what Pauly D is up to: making $11 million a year as a DJ. [Complex / Lauren Duca]

Verbatim

  • “Child actors portray children as adults imagine children to be.” [Elena Ferrante to NYT / Jason Horowitz]
  • “Women in this world were treated much like those in The Handmaid’s Tale  —  most, like my mom, didn’t have their own bank accounts, didn’t have their own email addresses, and couldn’t leave the home without permission from their husbands. They were called helpmeets, a word taken from the King James Version of the Bible, which refers to wives as created to meet the needs of their husbands and be helpers to them.” [The Establishment / Hannah Ettinger]
  • “In Napoleon’s time, when they had won some victory, it was some celebratory thing where they take a fucking saber and chop off the goddamn head of these champagne bottles. Because all they drank was champagne. The whole thing is insane. You can just pop the cork. You’re really making alcohol violent.” [T.J. Miller to A.V. Club / Marah Eakin]
  • “Don’t date someone from work. What if you break up? … Don’t date someone who lives in your building. What are you thinking? What if you break up? … So you’re thinking of dating your local bartender, barista, or the person who once served you waffles. My question to you is: Have you lost your goddamn mind? What if you break up?" [McSweeney’s / Chas Gillespie]
  • “Since Karl Marx, we have made a habit of seeking material causes for human progress. But the modern world came from treating more and more people with respect.” [NYT / Deirdre McCloskey]

Watch this: How obsessive artists colorize old photos

Photo colorization artists use a combination of research, physics, and technology to digitally reconstruct history's black-and-white record. [Vox / Coleman Lowndes]


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