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Vox Sentences: The eggsplainer you’ve been waiting for

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.

China is under growing pressure over the North Korea situation; Europe faces a massive egg recall; the Trump administration will soon wrap up its review of America's national monuments.

China has the least enviable babysitting job in the world

Kevin Frayer/Getty Images
  • If the events of the past week are any indication, the United States has a big North Korea problem but China has an even bigger one. [Vox / Sean Illing]
  • China historically has functioned as the North’s biggest ally in the region — and, importantly, it serves as an economic lifeline, being one of the few nations that has a trade partnership with Kim Jong Un. [CNN Money / Rishi Iyengar]
  • The war of words between Trump and North Korea this week has put China into the uneasy position of trying to calm things down without getting too involved. [Reuters / Ben Blanchard and Michael Martina]
  • Today, a state-owned newspaper called the Global Times released an editorial saying that China would come to North Korea’s aid if the US preemptively struck the country, but also essentially said North Korea would get no help if it strikes first. [Washington Post / Simon Denyer]
  • It’s in China’s best interest for both sides to deescalate things, especially given its physical proximity to North Korea. If a military conflict were to break out in the region — or, worse, a nuclear attack — China would definitely be affected. [Vox / Sean Illing]
  • China is also worried that military conflict could mean it would potentially have to resettle thousands of North Korean refugees. [CNN / Alexandra Field, Sherisse Pham, Steven Jiang, Brad Lendon, and Janie Octia]
  • The fact that Trump is so unpredictable is also something China can leverage to advance its position as a global superpower, especially if it comes across as more reasonable and measured than the United States. [NYT / Jane Perlez]

What is fipronil? Let me eggsplain.

Fred Tanneau/AFP/Getty Images
  • Thousands of eggs are being pulled from supermarket shelves across the European Union and parts of Asia after investigators discovered contaminated eggs have been sold since spring. [The Independent / Rachel Roberts]
  • The culprit isn’t salmonella but an insecticide called fipronil, which is usually used to kill lice, fleas, and ticks in pets. [Pub Chem]
  • Fipronil’s use is banned on animals that produce meat, eggs, or milk, because it’s harmful (but not fatal) to humans. You would have to ingest a lot of it in order to become sick; it’s especially bad for the kidneys, liver, and thyroid glands. [BBC]
  • Police in the Netherlands have arrested two men and are alleging they used the pesticide illegally on poultry farms in the Netherlands and Belgium. [Deutsche Welle]
  • It took months for investigators to realize the scale of the problem; they initially believed the contamination was an isolated incident. [Associated Press]
  • The contaminated eggs have already spread into 15 states in the European Union, as well as Hong Kong. [NPR / Merrit Kennedy]
  • And a lot of questions are emerging about how much certain EU regulators knew about the contamination, and when they knew about it. In an angry press conference, the Belgian agriculture minister alleged Netherlands officials received a tip about fipronil being used all the way back in November. [The Guardian / Daniel Boffey and Kate Connolly]

Contamination aside, Europeans tend to be a bit less squeamish about natural bacteria and eggs than producers and consumers in the US; as a general rule, they don’t wash or refrigerate eggs. [NPR / Rae Ellen Bichell]

A monumental issue

George Frey/Getty Images
  • The Department of the Interior is preparing to finish up its review of the state of 27 of America’s total 129 national monuments, including areas in the Western US, Maine, and off the coast of Hawaii. [NYT / Lisa Friedman, Nadja Popovich, and Matt McCann]
  • The department announced it was reviewing the status of the monuments back in May, and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke could recommend that some areas be scaled back. [US Department of the Interior]
  • This is important because if the Trump administration rescinded the status of a national monument designated by the previous president, it would be the first to do so. [CNN / Dan Merica]
  • The difference between national monuments and national parks is that national parks must be designated by Congress, whereas presidents can designate and expand national monuments. There is some legal debate about presidential power to abolish them. [Outside Magazine / Ashley Biggers]
  • Throughout the years, presidents declaring large swaths of land a federally protected area has mostly been an exercise in pissing off the locals, who generally believe the decision should be left up to the state. [The Atlantic / Robinson Meyer]
  • This is part of Trump and Zinke’s argument in putting them under review with an eye toward possible abolishment. But the locals don’t like that either. Many people have criticized the move for not being transparent and potentially hurting tourism in their area. [Morning Consult / Iulia Gheorghiu]
  • It also comes amid increasing pushes in the Trump administration for more energy projects on public lands (something national monument designations protect against). [Mother Jones / Tay Wiles]


  • An Eater investigation found ingredients in many of Trader Joe’s products are exactly the same as the ingredients of foods you’ll find at any other supermarket ... only with a Trader Joe’s label and being sold for less money. [Eater / Vince Dixon]
  • The ship piloted by alt-right Europeans trying to intercept refugee ships in the Mediterranean recently issued a distress call and got help from none other than a refugee ship. [BuzzFeed / Francis Whitaker]
  • A bonkers pro-Trump memo recently got a National Security Council staffer fired. It attacks the media, academics, the “Marxist” deep state, and the Republican Party, all in the same document. [Foreign Policy / Jana Winter and Elias Groll]
  • The steps for surviving a nuclear blast are as follows: a decontamination shower with water, soap, and shampoo. No conditioner. I repeat: no conditioner. [Racked / Tracy Robey]
  • Pollution is the suspected culprit behind the mystery of why an entire species of Australian sea snake has gone from striped to completely black. [The Atlantic / Ed Yong]


  • "People always ask what it is that keeps us young. Of course, one part of it is medical science, but the bigger part is that we live worry-free lives; we do not let anything we cannot control bother us in the least." [Alvin Mann to NYT / Vincent Mallozzi]
  • “The smell is said to change throughout the blooming process, mutating from dead animal-esque to trashy to eau de cabbage. Visitors last year described the stink as akin to ‘rotting fish,’ ‘an ode to trash truck, maybe garbage juices,’ and ‘boiled cabbage meets gym socks.’” [DCist / Rachel Sadon]
  • “[With] movies, the director still goes up and gets the award; the producers still get the Best Film award. In videos, that’s not how it works. The people that make the videos, that created the videos, that came up with the ideas for the videos — they barely get a ticket at the award show.” [Dave Meyers to the Atlantic / Catherine Green]
  • “All I did was sell my company, miss the birth of my child and ruin my entire reputation all to be the king of Idiot Mountain for 11 days.” [Bill Hader as Anthony Scaramucci / Saturday Night Live]
  • “So we want to use sports and talent as a source of durable solutions for them. Let somebody go to America on the basis of what he can offer to America, or to England. Not on the basis of sympathy.” [Tom Mboya to SB Nation / Louis Bien]

Watch this: The real reason streetcars are making a comeback

It’s mostly about economic development. [YouTube / Carlos Waters]

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