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Vox Sentences: CRISPR'd bacon

Vox Sentences is your daily digest for what's happening in the world, curated by Ella Nilsen. 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 declares the opioid crisis a national emergency; Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu faces official corruption charges; researchers take an important step toward pig organ transplants.

Trump (finally) declared the opioid crisis a national emergency

Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images
  • After signaling that he would not declare the nation’s opioid crisis a national emergency, President Trump today reversed course, promising to dedicate more time and money to the drug epidemic. [NBC News / Ali Vitali and Corky Siemaszko]
  • The announcement comes almost two weeks after Trump’s presidential commission on opioids released a report of recommendations, chief among them declaring a national emergency. [NYT / Abby Goodnough]
  • Trump had been teasing a “major announcement” on the opioid crisis ever since, first at an event in West Virginia and then again at his vacation home in New Jersey. [Donald Trump via Twitter]
  • Then a few days ago, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said the president wasn’t planning to declare it an emergency, reasoning that the opioid crisis had been going on for a long time and wasn’t a short-term national emergency like Zika or a natural disaster. [Vox / German Lopez]
  • Declaring a national emergency could, in theory, get more money from national funds dedicated to emergency relief and put it toward the drug crisis, especially in states hardest hit by addiction. [Vox / German Lopez]
  • Trump’s remarks today were vague, but he promised to dedicate more time, money, and resources to fighting the opioid crisis. As of yet, it’s not clear what exactly might change now that the declaration has been issued. [Stat / Andrew Joseph]
  • Experts agree that while the declaration is a good first step, it's going to take a lot to really put a dent in an epidemic that killed more than 50,000 people in 2016 alone. [NYT / Josh Katz]

Netanyahu is also complaining about “fake news”

Etienne Oliveau/Pool/Getty Images
  • Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu is embroiled in two corruption scandals that are heating up quickly, and some are speculating they could end his presidency. [NYT / Isabel Kershner]
  • Bribery, breach of trust, and corruption allegations are fast turning into an actual court case against Netanyahu, in which his former chief of staff could testify against him. [Vox / Sarah Wildman]
  • Corruption rumors have swirled around the prime minister for years, but with the court case being filed, these allegations are official. [Vox / Sarah Wildman]
  • In one case, Netanyahu is accused of accepting expensive gifts from an Israeli businessman in return for political favors. [Haaretz / Gidi Weitz]
  • In another, there are allegations that Netanyahu had a deal with an Israeli newspaper publisher to try to weaken the paper’s media competitors in exchange for glowing coverage. [New York Daily News / Terrence Cullen]
  • Netanyahu is pushing back, in a way that makes him sound an awful lot like Donald Trump. At a recent rally, he dismissed the charges and blamed the whole thing on “fake news” perpetrated by the media and leftist parties in Israel. [Jewish Telegraphic Agency]
  • No matter what, it’s going to take a long time for the cases to develop, and it could be years before a decision is reached or Netanyahu steps down. But a once seemingly unshakable politician is now facing a decidedly uncertain future. [CNN / Aaron David Miller]

How to genetically edit a pig

Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images
  • Genetically edited pigs are back in the news, after Harvard researchers teamed up with a private company to successfully eradicate viruses from piglets, using the gene editing technology known as CRISPR. [NYT / Gena Kolata]
  • This advancement has especially big implications for organ donation — and the possibility that pig organs could be successfully transplanted into humans. [Stat / Sharon Begley]
  • The development is important because there’s currently an organ shortage in the United States, leading to many sick people who need a liver or kidney waiting months to get one. [Live Science / Todd Pesavento]
  • Pig organs are sought after because of their similarity to human organs, but there are still significant obstacles to getting a human body to accept an animal organ. [ABC News]
  • Being able to genetically engineer pig organs to rid them of viruses is a big first step, but there's still a very long way to go before a successful transplant could be remotely possible. [NYT / Gena Kolata]
  • Scientists are making such quick advances because of CRISPR, which occurs naturally in bacteria cells to snip out bits of DNA. Scientists can program it to snip out certain kinds of DNA, and the tool is speeding up important scientific advances, especially in the area of eradicating certain diseases. [Vox / Brad Plumer, Javier Zarracina, and Eliza Barclay]


  • A man dressed head to toe in animal skins like Sasquatch and practicing a shamanistic ritual recently came face to face with a bunch of people looking for Sasquatch in the Minnesota woods. He maintains he didn’t throw rocks at them. [McDowell News / Mike Conley]
  • New restrictions on immigrant workers are forcing summer-season employers in Martha’s Vineyard to hire more Americans, but also to cut back their hours and reduce wages to make up the gap. [WSJ / Laura Meckler]
  • As coral reefs around the world decline, there are people trying “coral gardening” to restore them, and they are so far finding success in the Caribbean. [Pacific Standard / Mike Gaworecki]
  • Trump championed a recent Foxconn deal to build a factory in Wisconsin as a major job creator. But with the amount of tax credits to sweeten the deal for Foxconn, it’s going to be a long time before the state sees profits. [Washington Post / Danielle Paquette]
  • A new bus service in California has beds so riders can sleep comfortably. But be warned: On some routes, you’ll actually get there slower, because the company is really committed to you getting your full eight hours. [NPR / Aarti Shahani]


  • “You have a child who is in school, who is throwing chairs in the classroom — it’s important to focus on why is that happening, as opposed to this kid should be punished. It’s important to get people to look at it from that lens.” [Sharra Greer to Politico / Brianna Ehley]
  • “This group of newcomers’ appeal is in part to white voters, and the attention given to Kander, Ossoff, Perriello and Buttigieg in recent months suggests Democrats are, consciously or not, leaning most toward the plan of winning back white voters.” [FiveThirtyEight / Clare Malone]
  • “It was a very shocking thing that I have never dealt with before. He grabbed my ass underneath my skirt. It was underneath my skirt.” [Taylor Swift trial testimony to BuzzFeed / Claudia Rosenbaum]
  • “The closest feeling to having nowhere to stay for the night is that of a broken heart. It is a feeling of abandonment, of rejection and loneliness. When you are homeless you feel rejected by all, not just by another.” [The Guardian / David West]
  • “I was just like, ‘We gotta commit!’ If you half-ass the moment for something like that, it can come across pretty bad. But if you fully commit, you can completely convince yourself that you are a guy who needs a heart transplant who just saw your last hope get eaten by a dog.” [Paul Johansson to the Ringer / Andrew Gruttardaro]

Watch this: DC’s abandoned fire and police call boxes, explained

A massive underground network of cables connected street corners to emergency services long before the telephone was invented. [YouTube / Coleman Lowndes]

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