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Vox Sentences: Trump trans ban confuses military, everyone

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Trump vows to reinstate a ban on transgender people serving in the military; the European Union is not happy about proposed US sanctions on Russia; the US puts pressure on Venezuela ahead of controversial vote.

Trump’s transgender ban surprised his generals

John Moore/Getty Images
  • President Trump has reinstated a ban on transgender members serving in the military, prompting surprise at the Pentagon and a backlash from members of the LGBTQ community and even one prominent Republican senator. [Vox / Alex Ward]
  • Trump reversed an Obama-era directive allowing transgender people to serve openly. [US Department of Defense]
  • In a tweet this morning, Trump said continuing the policy would be too costly and would create unnecessary "disruption" that would impede American victory. [Donald Trump via Twitter]
  • Trump’s tweet didn't just come out of nowhere; conservative House Republicans are trying to stop the Department of Defense from paying for gender reassignment surgery for transgender troops, saying it's too costly. That effort failed on a recent vote. [NYT / Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Helene Cooper]
  • Trump’s statement is taking things about 10 steps further — mandating out trans military members to either leave or go back into the closet. [Rachael Bade via Twitter]
  • Gender reassignment surgery is costly, but a recent study commissioned by the military shows transgender service members definitely aren’t breaking the bank, in part because there are so few of them. [Vox / German Lopez]
  • Furthermore, men with erectile dysfunction actually cost the military millions of dollars more. [Washington Post / Christopher Ingraham]
  • Trump announcing major policy change in a multi-part tweet reportedly came as a surprise to US defense officials, and at first it stoked fears that the president was getting ready to announce a strike on North Korea. [BuzzFeed / Cora Lewis, Dominic Holden, and Nancy Youseff]
  • But just because the president tweeted about a ban, it doesn't mean changes are happening immediately. [BuzzFeed / Cora Lewis, Dominic Holden, and Nancy Youseff]

Trump, Putin, and the EU all hate the new Russia sanctions

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
  • President Trump and Vladimir Putin aren’t the only ones upset about new sanctions that Congress wants to slap on Russia; European Union leaders are mad too. [Vox / Zeeshan Aleem]
  • EU leaders are worried that US sanctions against Russia could hurt the European energy market and, by extension, their economies. [CNN / Laura Smith-Spark and Yon Pomrenze]
  • In particular, they’re concerned about a section in the bill that would allow the US to sanction companies that help energy-rich Russia build or maintain its energy pipelines that carry oil and natural gas. [Reuters / Dmitry Solovyov]
  • The EU is very dependent on Russian fuel, and that restriction is bad news for a proposed pipeline project between Russia and Germany called the Nord Stream 2, which has European investors. [Reuters / Dmitry Solovyov]
  • The EU is so worried about this that it’s threatening to take action if the US puts sanctions in place, which could include curbing trade with American companies. [BBC]
  • Relations between Europe and the US are already rocky under Trump, and further restricting trade could do more damage to diplomacy and to the economy of each. [Vox / Zeeshan Aleem]

US makes a last-ditch effort to stop Venezuela vote

Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images
  • The US has put sanctions on 13 top Venezuelan officials with ties to that country’s president, Nicolás Maduro, in an effort to stop Maduro from re-drafting the country’s constitution. [Miami Herald / Patricia Mazzei]
  • However, Maduro has shown no signs of backing off the hugely controversial vote to change the country’s constitution, promising it will be held on Sunday. This is despite massive protests and 7 million people voting in a symbolic election against the move. [The Guardian / Virginia López and Sibylla Brodzinsky]
  • Maduro has said a vote is the only way to restore peace to the fracturing country. [Reuters / Matt Spetalnick and Alexandra Ulmer]
  • Opposition party officials and others in the country argue the vote would be the end of democracy in Venezuela. [BBC]
  • US officials have called Sunday’s vote illegitimate and have threatened further economic sanctions if it goes through. [Foreign Policy / Kavitha Surana]
  • Opposition leaders are overseeing a two-day strike in the country, their own attempt to get Maduro to reconsider the vote. If that doesn’t work, they have warned violence could erupt this weekend. [Bloomberg / Nathan Crooks and Fabiola Zerpa]


  • With overdose rates skyrocketing across the US, librarians are increasingly on the front lines of the opioid crisis. [Catapult / Samantha Sanders]
  • When a 16-year-old boy in rural Alaska caught his first whale, his community saw it as an important rite of passage and an accomplishment that would help feed them for months. But internet trolls seized on the incident as animal cruelty and sent him a barrage of threats. [High Country News / Julia O’Malley]
  • The parents of terminally ill baby Charlie Gard have dropped their fight against a British hospital to bring their son to America for experimental treatment. [CNN / Richard Allen Greene and Lauren Said-Moorhouse]
  • The demise of mom-n-pop grocery stores around America is squeezing rural areas and making people travel farther to get basic necessities. [NYT / Julie Turkewitz]
  • An ode to the blueberry — and, even more importantly, the blueberry bush. [Washington Post / Adrian Higgins]


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