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Vox Sentences: The head of Trump's voting commission won't honor his own request for state data

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Germany legalizes gay marriage; the revised travel ban goes into effect; Trump's voter fraud commission trips itself up almost immediately.

Love wins again

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  • On Thursday, Germany joined the ranks of most of the rest of Western Europe in legalizing gay marriage after Chancellor Angela Merkel signaled she would be open to the change. [NYT / Alison Smale]
  • When it came time for a vote on gay marriage, Merkel cast her own ballot against it, saying she believes marriage is strictly between a man and a woman. [NYT / Alison Smale]
  • But the chancellor also cleared a path to the vote earlier in the week when she said that she would not work to oppose members of her own party, the Christian Democratic Union, who wanted to vote for it. [CNN / Judith Vonberg and Laura Smith-Spark]
  • To those outside of Germany, Merkel’s vote may come as a surprise, since she is seen as a leading liberal influence in the Western world (especially during the latest wave of right-wing populism). But on this issue, the devout Merkel has remained firm for many years. [Washington Post / Rick Noak]
  • Same-sex couples have been allowed to have domestic partnerships in Germany since 2001. That designation gives civil couples many of the same rights as married ones, with one notable exception: being able to adopt a child at the same time. [Washington Post / Isaac Stanley-Becker and Stephanie Kirchner]
  • Over the years, the national mood has shifted in Germany, with a recent poll showing 83 percent of the public supported gay marriage. Even among Merkel’s own conservative party, 73 percent supported the change. [Quartz / Aamna Mohdin]
  • At a recent political debate, Merkel told audience members her own stance had softened after she met a lesbian couple who were raising eight foster children together. She added that her previous concern about marriage equality was how it could impact the children of gay couples. [The Guardian / Kate Connolly]
  • But there was also growing political pressure on Merkel to do so, with rival parties saying they planned to put the issue to a vote in the fall. [Vox / Sarah Wildman]
  • Even with Germany joining the ranks of countries where gay marriage is legal, there are plenty of countries in Europe where civil partnership is still the law of the land, including Italy, Austria, and Greece. [International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association]
  • It was a personal decision for many in Germany, including the country’s Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks. Hendricks, a Social Democrat, told members of her party gathered outside German Parliament on Friday that she was considering asking her longtime partner to become her wife. [Der Speigel]

Travel ban 2.0

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  • After getting the all-clear from the US Supreme Court earlier this week, President Trump’s partial travel ban went into effect at 8 pm Thursday and was swiftly met with a new challenge from Hawaii Attorney General Douglas Chin. [Politico / Josh Gerstein]
  • Unlike Trump’s first travel ban signed in January, yesterday’s revised order did not cause chaos or mass detainments at US airports, in part because it is much more in line with immigrations laws that are already on the books. [Vox / Dara Lind]
  • On Monday, the court announced it would hear arguments on the ban, which bars travelers and refugees from six Muslim-majority nations — including Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen — for 90 and 120 days, respectively. [Washington Post / Robert Barnes and Matt Zapotosky]
  • Until the Supreme Court hears the case in the fall, the justices decided to allow a less restrictive version of the ban to go into effect. [BuzzFeed / Chris Geidner]
  • The one they approved allows students, workers, and some family members of US residents to enter the country. However, the Trump administration clarified exactly which family members would be allowed in; while in-laws and step-siblings and half-siblings were permitted, the buck stopped at grandparents, nieces, and nephews. [NYT / Gardiner Harris, Michael Shear and Ron Nixon]
  • That’s what the state of Hawaii seized on when it filed a motion seeking to clarify what the Trump administration’s definition of close family relationships meant. Soon after the motion went through, the US State Department said it would broaden the definition to include fiancés. [Politico / Josh Gerstein]
  • What remains to be seen is whether officials at the border will detain people who try to enter, and what reasons — if any — they will use for denying refugees or travelers visas. [Vox / Dara Lind]
  • Despite what President Trump says, many national security experts agree that the travel ban won’t actually keep America safer; especially since none of the terrorist attacks in the US from 9/11 onward were perpetrated by people from the six nations the ban targets. [Washington Post / Mark Berman]
  • But perhaps even more important for Trump is keeping the promise to his supporters to get the ban done, and starting the process of reviewing US vetting procedures for refugees with an eye toward something more permanent. [Vox / Dara Lind]

Trump's fraud commission has big problems

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  • During and after the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump released a relentless stream of allegations of widespread voter fraud across the country, with no evidence to back it up. [Politico / Eli Stokols]
  • Shortly after being elected, the president created a commission to investigate alleged election fraud. On Thursday, the commission started its work in earnest, asking states to send in their voter rolls. [NPR / Pam Fessler]
  • The commission is asking for a lot of very detailed and sensitive voter information from each state, including the full names, home addresses, dates of birth, political affiliations, the last four digits of social security numbers, elections they voted in since 2006, and information about voter registration in other states of everyone on their voter rolls. [Washington Post / Christopher Ingraham]
  • Commission Vice Chair Kris Kobach (Kansas secretary of state and avid Trump supporter) has also promised to make some of this information public, although he said the more sensitive information would be kept on a private government server. Nevertheless, it sparked privacy concerns from civil liberties advocates. [Kansas City Star / Bryan Lowry]
  • While voter rolls are technically public information, they contain a lot of sensitive information about individuals and contribute to identity theft. Social security numbers, however, are not public. [Gizmodo / Dell Cameron and Kate Conger]
  • Even more concerning, a new report states the commission was asking states to send this information to an email address that lacks even basic security protocols. [Gizmodo / Dell Cameron and Kate Conger]
  • There’s a lot of ways this could backfire for Trump. His allegations of voter fraud have been debunked numerous times, and the sweeping requests for voter data and any proposed subsequent changes to the country’s voting system based on the commission’s conclusions could alienate people on both the left and the right. [Slate / Richard Hasen]
  • Already, a growing number of states are refusing to provide the commission with sensitive voter information and calling its charge a misguided one. [The Hill / Josh Delk]
  • Ironically, Kobach announced Friday afternoon that Kansas is one of the states that won't comply with the commission's request. [Kansas City Star / Bryan Lowry]


  • There’s a huge barge floating in the middle of New York City’s East River made specifically for people who like to forage for edible plants and herbs. [Atlas Obscura / Kelsey Kennedy]
  • Years ago, two social psychologists distinguished between “benevolent” and “hostile” sexism, where men talk about women’s looks either in flattering or degrading ways to wield power over them. President Trump employs both tactics frequently. [The Atlantic / Peter Beinart]
  • More proof that cats do not give a shit about humans; they started hanging around us because of the mice. [National Geographic / Casey Smith]
  • In the middle of a bunch of blockbuster flops, Hollywood is looking for people to blame. Increasingly, Rotten Tomatoes and the user generated data behind it are getting the brunt. [Adam Rogers / Wired]
  • Why can humans see different colors? The prevailing theory used to be so that we could distinguish fruits, but a new body of research suggests it’s actually so we can understand each other better. [NPR / Alva Noe]


  • “A fast-food hamburger could have meat from a hundred different cows. The eggs in your two-egg omelet were poured out of a carton so it could have come from 50 different chickens.” [Dr. Deborah Fisher to NYT / Kate Murphy]
  • “On the internet, there is a maxim known as Rule 34, which states: If you can imagine it, there is porn of it. No exceptions. And now that we are solidly into the age of internet pornography, I believe we are ready for another maxim: If there is porn of it, people will try it.” [The Cut / Maureen O’Connor]
  • "The idea that addiction leads to crime was always at best partial truth.” [Professor Mark Kleiman to Vice / Maia Szalavitz]
  • “In many ways, (Taylor) Swift resembles the Ivanka Voters who helped tip the election toward Trump: white, upper-middle-class women from the suburbs who describe themselves as “socially moderate,” would never think of themselves as racist, and likely even voted for Obama in previous elections.” [Anne Helen Petersen / BuzzFeed]
  • “It’s a bad place to live, which is why I moved here. I was looking for a place that needed me.” [Karen Kinsell to The New Yorker / Charles Bethea]

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