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Vox Sentences: Sadiq Khan and Carry On

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A terror attack doesn’t shake up Londoners but could shake up the UK election; Qatar faces a sudden blockade; Trump’s big new idea for America is privatizing air traffic control.


London Bridge is staying up, dammit

Vigils Are Held For The Victims Of The London Bridge Terror Attacks Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
  • Seven civilians were killed in a pair of attacks in downtown London on Saturday night, with dozens more injured. The attackers ran over pedestrians on London Bridge, and then stabbed random passersby in the entertainment district of Borough Market. [BBC]
  • All three attackers were killed within minutes of the police’s arrival, thanks to police being unusually free (for the UK) with their bullets. [The Guardian / Vikram Dodd]
  • The relatively contained nature of the attacks is likely part of why Londoners’ reaction to the attacks has been a fairly studied stiff upper lip. (If you would like some anecdotes about charming British fortitude, here are those.) [Rossalyn Warren]
  • UK Prime Minister Theresa May, in a speech Sunday after the attacks, took the opportunity to reopen the idea of a more aggressive “counter-radicalization” agenda that would include regulation of the internet and expanded police powers. [The Atlantic / J. Weston Phippen]
  • If the widespread raids in East London Sunday, intended to find people involved in the attacks, are a harbinger of May’s “counter-radicalization” campaign, that’s not a great sign; all 12 of those arrested were released without charge on Monday. [Washington Examiner / Kyle Feldscher]
  • (The reality, Vox’s Zack Beauchamp writes, is that it’s very hard to stop this sort of small-scale, simple attack.) [Vox / Zack Beauchamp]
  • It’s still totally unknown how Saturday’s attack will affect Thursday’s general election, in which May’s Conservative Party will face off against the surprisingly strong Labour Party of Jeremy Corbyn. [Vox / Zack Beauchamp]
  • Terrorism might be expected to be a Conservative strong point — especially because Corbyn was dogged for a few weeks by allegations that he wasn’t tough enough on Britain’s most familiar and deadly terrorist group, the IRA, during the “Troubles” of the 1970s and ’80s.
  • But Corbyn is trying to use the issue against May — blaming her budget cuts for underfunding police and security. [New Statesman / George Eaton]
  • The real problem for May, however, is Donald Trump — who decided this was a great time to contradict his own acting ambassador and get into a fight with London Mayor Sadiq Khan over a willful misinterpretation of Khan’s address to his city. [Business Insider / Sonam Sheth]
  • The president of the US attacking a mayor whose city was hit by terrorism wouldn’t be a good look for May (who’s tried to forge an alliance with the US Republican Party) under any circumstances. But the US president slamming the first Muslim mayor of London (who also happens to be a Labour politician, but one with an independent streak) is a bad look for a politician whose party has tried to distinguish itself from the brutish nationalism of the populist right. [CNN / Kate Maltby​]

“Qatar? I hardly even know her.” —Saudi Arabia, probably

Emir Of Qatar Visits Germany Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images
  • Seven Middle Eastern nations, led by Saudi Arabia, abruptly cut all ties to the Gulf nation of Qatar on Sunday night, escalating a serious rift in the region that cuts across religious lines. [NYT / Anne Barnard and David D. Kirkpatrick]
  • Relations between Qatar and the “Saudi-dominated” Gulf Cooperation Council have been strained for a few years. The GCC countries believe Qatar is too soft on terrorism — it has close ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, and hasn’t always stepped up on anti-terrorism funding (which Saudi Arabia has tried to do in the past few years). [The Guardian / Ian Black]
  • Recently, though, the Qatari government has stirred the pot by cultivating a warmer relationship with Iran — which Saudi Arabia views as its archrival. [FT / Simeon Kerr]
  • The current break was precipitated by a report a couple of weeks ago that the ruling emir of Qatar had praised Iran as an “Islamic power.” Qatar denounced the report as “fake news” and claimed it had been hacked, but Saudi Arabia didn’t buy it. [AP / Jon Gambrell]
  • (Another apparent sticking point: a recent incident in which the Qatari government paid up to $1 billion in ransom for a falconry party who’d been kidnapped in Iran — which allegedly involved paying off both a Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate and Iranian officials.) [FT / Erika Solomon]
  • The consequences of the blockade for Qatar’s citizens are serious. Forty percent of the country’s food comes from Saudi Arabia. [Joyce Karam via Twitter]
  • That puts Qatar in an extremely weak position. And while it could ask the US to intercede — especially because the US has an airbase in Qatar that’s been useful in Syrian fighting — the US has its own grievances against Qatar, starting with the tone of the Qatari-owned news network Al Jazeera. [BBC / David Roberts]
  • Regardless of how the current situation is resolved, the rift between Qatar and the GCC — and the disagreements among GCC members about how to deal with the situation — makes it clear that the unified Sunni front against terrorism that Donald Trump praised during his foreign visit last month doesn’t actually exist and never did. If anything, Trump’s praise of Saudi Arabia has emboldened it to lash out against its enemies — big and small. [Think Progress / Adrienne Mahsa Varkiani​]

My Own Private Air Traffic Control

New Communications System Demonstrated At Miami Int'l Airport Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images
  • Ladies and gentlemen, President Trump is ready to tackle infrastructure, and by “infrastructure,” we mean the air traffic control system.
  • Trump is proposing privatization of the air traffic control system, removing it from the Federal Aviation Administration and putting it in the hands of a private nonprofit corporation. It would be funded primarily by passenger fees, as it is today. The fees would just be collected by a different agency. [Reuters / David Shepardson]
  • This is not an obviously crazy idea. Canada handles air traffic control this way, and Al Gore proposed adopting this system as part of his "Reinventing Government" initiative in 1995. Proponents argue that it's important to separate air traffic control from regulators who ensure air travel safety; having them both housed within the FAA arguably creates a conflict of interest. [Brookings / Dorothy Robyn]
  • Opponents, by contrast, argue that the new corporation would be dominated by the airlines themselves, giving them new power to raise fees on consumers and an incentive to deny access to airports to new low-cost competitors. [The Hill / Donald Cohen, Sally Greenberg, Paul Hudson, Linda Sherry]
  • The changes come as the US is carrying out a large-scale modernization effort meant to shift the US from relying on ancient radar-based technology for tracking planes to satellite-based tools, an FAA initiative known as NextGen. [Gizmodo / Adam Clark Estes]
  • Much of the system has already been rolled out, but some improvements are still reaching additional airports. DataComm — a system that lets pilots communicate with control towers via text — is now up and running in at least six airports, with more set to follow. [FCW / Mark Rockwell]
  • There's no guarantee the plan will go forward. While most airlines support it, Delta has been a vocal source of opposition. [ABC News / Jeffrey Cook]
  • The change will require action from Congress, but that didn't stop Trump from "creating the impression of a bill signing" at his event announcing the plan. He signed a "decision memo" explaining the plan, and a letter to Congress outlining it, while flanked by lawmakers. [AP / Ken Thomas]
  • The air traffic control proposal is supposed to be part of a broader push for more spending and investment on national infrastructure, from highways to waterways to electrical systems. [AP / Ken Thomas and Josh Boak]
  • What's weird is that this initiative is blatantly at odds with Trump's budget. While the budget adds money to infrastructure upfront, it cuts it in later years, with $95 billion in cuts to the Highway Trust Fund alone. [David Kamin​]

Miscellaneous


Verbatim

  • “Knowing the truth, which is that nothing matters, can actually save you in those moments. Once you get through that terrifying threshold of accepting that, then every place is the center of the universe, and every moment is the most important moment, and everything is the meaning of life.” [Dan Harmon via A.V. Club / William Hughes]
  • “Increasingly fond of locally grown produce, Californians are far less enthusiastic about locally housed farmworkers.” [LA Times / Geoffrey Mohan]
  • “I want to be buried with my editorial endorsements. I want an open casket and they can all be piled on top of me. You won’t even be able to see my body.” [Hillary Clinton to NY Mag / Rebecca Traister]
  • “He raised both his middle fingers and explained, using colorful language, that anyone criticizing Mylan, including its employees, ought to go copulate with themselves. Critics in Congress and on Wall Street, he said, should do the same. And regulators at the Food and Drug Administration? They, too, deserved a round of anatomically challenging self-fulfillment.” [NYT / Charles Duhigg]
  • “Today, people describe nxivm therapy sessions in which they were convinced that they are ‘reincarnated Nazis’ or ‘responsible for 9/11.’” [Vanity Fair / Suzanna Andrews]

Watch this: Why underdogs do better in hockey than basketball

A statistical analysis of luck versus skill in sports. [Vox / Joss Fong]


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