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Vox Sentences: China and India have stopped playing war games

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 and India are no longer on the brink of war; the FDA approves a new drug that uses gene therapy to fight cancer; the UN chief of human rights blasts Trump's rhetoric against journalists.

The Doklam dilemma

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  • After a tense, 70-day standoff in a remote Himalayan border region, China and India are no longer on the brink of war. [CNN / Jim Griffiths]
  • The two countries mutually agreed to pull back their troops from the Doklam Plateau, located in the tiny neighboring country of Bhutan. Bhutan is geographically situated between China and India, but closely allied with India. [NYT / Jeffrey Gettleman and Javier Hernandez]
  • The standoff first started because Chinese troops began expanding a dirt road through the plateau, which the Bhutanese took as a violation of a treaty. Then, India came to Bhutan’s aid, essentially telling the Chinese to back off. [BuzzFeed / Megha Rajagopalan]
  • So who won the standoff? Indications so far point to India. [The Diplomat / Rajeev Chandrasekhar]
  • That’s because in addition to drawing down troops, China has also pulled out the offending bulldozers that started the whole thing. Throughout the dispute, the Indian government has remained calm but firm, consistently telling China its actions were violating the treaty.[Washington Post / Simon Denyer and Annie Gowen]
  • China’s state-run media, meanwhile, is trying to characterize the resolution as a diplomatic win for all of Asia, but praised India’s government as well. China has also vowed to have its troops continue to patrol the area. [The Indian Express]
  • The standoff is prompting some in Bhutan to rethink their dependent relationship with India, with which it does all of its trading. The Doklam standoff is just the latest example of Bhutan being caught in the middle of a larger political disagreement between India and China. [Washington Post / Annie Gowen]

Scientists are programming the body’s immune system to kill cancer

In Pictures Ltd./Corbis via Getty Images
  • For the first time, the FDA has approved a drug that fights cancer using gene therapy. [Popular Science / Claire Maldarelli]
  • On Wednesday, the government approved a drug called Kymriah, which scientists have developed by genetically modifying a patient’s own immune cells to attack and destroy cancer cells. The treatment is highly individualized, with each patient being treated with their own cells. [Washington Post / Laurie McGinley]
  • Kymriah was specifically developed for a form of leukemia called acute lymphoblastic leukemia, which affects children and young adults. [NPR / Rob Stein]
  • The therapy's most well-known success story is a 12-year-old patient named Emily Whitehead, who was the first leukemia patient to try the therapy at age 6. She is now cancer-free, despite suffering severe side effects. [NYT / Denise Grady]
  • Those side effects are some of the treatment's biggest concerns; because it employs a person’s immune system to fight cancer cells, it can result in dangerously high fevers, inflammation, and seizures. [Popular Science / Claire Maldarelli]
  • Gene therapy is also extremely expensive, with one round costing close to $650,000. However, the drugmaker said it is working with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid on pricing. [Ars Technica / Beth Mole]
  • Trials of the drug have shown a high success rate, with more than 80 percent of the 63 patients who tried the drug getting their cancer into remission. Researchers are hopeful they can test it on other forms of cancers as well, but there is still a lot of work to be done in that area.[St. Louis Post-Dispatch / Blythe Bernhard]

The UN human rights chief thinks Trump’s rhetoric is dangerous

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  • Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the United Nations Human Rights chief, took an unusually strong stance on President Trump’s rhetoric about journalists today. [NYT / Nick Cumming-Bruce]
  • In Geneva, al-Hussein said that other countries outside of the United States could take Trump’s repeated attacks on media outlets he deems “fake news” and use them to delegitimize the press and democratic norms in their own countries. [Washington Post / Max Bearak]
  • He used the example of Cambodia, where government officials have threatened journalists who publish things they don't agree with, citing Trump’s actions of banning certain media outlets from White House briefings earlier this year. [Phnom Penh Post / Andrew Nachemson]
  • Al-Hussein also referenced a recent speech Trump gave in Phoenix, Arizona, in which he characterized reporting on racially charged violence in Charlottesville as “crooked” and deceptive. The UN human rights chief called the rhetoric dangerous. [Time Magazine]
  • Since he became president, Trump has not only repeatedly called media organizations “fake,” but he has also retweeted images and videos of himself beating up a CNN logo and running it over with a train, which some have worried could be seen as an explicit call to violence against journalists. [CNN / Brian Stelter]


  • Asteroid Florence will be making its closest pass at Earth on Friday — but don’t worry, “close” still means 4.4 million miles away. [Cosmos Magazine]
  • Facebook is ramping up its defense against fake news, announcing that pages caught putting out fake news stories will get their advertisements cut off. [The Verge / Shannon Liao]
  • It is still very possible for child marriage to happen in some US states, where kids as young as 13 can legally marry. [NPR / Nurith Aizenman]
  • Legal pot prices are tumbling because the industry is becoming a victim of its own success. Right now, it’s a buyer’s market. [WSJ / Jacob Bunge]
  • A new herbicide was supposed to kill weeds that grow in America’s soybeans and cotton fields. Then it started killing the crops themselves. [Washington Post / Caitlin Dewey]


  • "This isn’t a story about death, not really. I just have to tell you about death so I can tell you about seltzer, because that’s how I can tell you that everyone you love is going to live forever." [Eater / Liam Baranauskas]
  • “I’m so sorry about having a hand in vandalising your mosque. It was wrong and y’all did not deserve to have that done to you. I hurt y’all and I am haunted by it. And even after all this you still forgave me. You are much better people than I.” [Abraham Davis in a letter to the Al Salam mosque shared with NYT / Sabrina Tavernise]
  • “The cat does not need to come on command or do any tricks, but needless to say it should be a cat that is very calm and social, and can both sit still and be held contently.” [Shakespeare Theatre Company]
  • “I always felt like I had to be a little bit better at my job than they were. And then when I started talking to other women, and had that feeling confirmed, it was like, ‘Okay, I’m not imagining this. This really is taking me a lot more effort than it’s taking that guy over there.’” [Tiffany Hendren to The Atlantic / Joy Lanzendorfer]
  • Author Terry Pratchett said “whatever he was working on at the time of his death to be taken out along with his computers, to be put in the middle of a road and for a steamroller to steamroll over them all.” [Friend and fellow author Neil Gaiman to the Times / Alex O’Connell]

Watch this:

Why do Trump’s supporters continue to believe misinformation, even in the face of fact-checking? [Vox / Carlos Maza and Coleman Lowndes]

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