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Vox Sentences: “Fire and fury”

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Trump vows "fire and fury" on North Korea; Google deals with fallout from internal memo disparaging female employees; the US may get involved against ISIS in the Philippines.

Trump just drew his red line on North Korea

Vincenzo Lombardo/Getty Images
  • President Trump delivered a threat to North Korea from his vacation home in Bedminster, New Jersey, today, vowing to meet continued threats from the regime with “fire and fury like the world has never seen.” [CNN / Jim Sciutto, Barbara Starr, and Zachary Cohen]
  • The comments are a response to alarming news coming out of North Korea over the past few days, including a promise from the regime to make the US “pay dearly” for economic sanctions, and new reports that North Korea has managed to make nuclear weapons it can launch on missiles. [Washington Post / Joby Warrick, Ellen Nakashima, and Anna Fifield]
  • Trump didn’t elaborate further on what he meant by “fire and fury,” elevating the uncertainty in the war of words between the US and North Korea. [NYT / Peter Baker and Choe Sang-Hun]
  • But to be clear, right now it is just a war of words. Trump is well known for making brash and inflammatory remarks, but there’s no indication from members of his Cabinet that the US is actually preparing to enter war with North Korea. [Vox / Jennifer Williams]
  • As a matter of fact, last week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters the US does not plan on deposing Kim Jong Un or using military force against him. [Associated Press]
  • And Trump’s own statement today has some truth to it; if North Korea preemptively attacked the US or one of its allies, it would be quickly wiped out. [The Atlantic / Mark Bowden]
  • Kim knows this, and some experts say North Korea’s rhetoric is more a sign that it’s trying to be taken seriously on the world stage with threats. [BBC]
  • But now that Trump has drawn a “red line” over North Korea’s rhetoric, he’s put himself in a bind. Empty threats in the face of an erratic regime with nuclear weapons are also problematic. [Jim Sciutto via Twitter]

Google's "echo chamber" just got a lot louder

Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images
  • Google is at the center of a firestorm about diversity, tech, and free speech after firing an engineer who wrote an internal memo opposing diversity programs that quickly went viral. [NYT / Daisuke Wakabayashi]
  • The memo had a particular focus: women in tech. The engineer who wrote it argued there was a relatively simple explanation for the lack of women in Silicon Valley: They just weren’t biologically or emotionally equipped for it like men were. [Gizmodo / Kate Conger]
  • Unsurprisingly, that pissed off a lot of people. The engineer has since been fired, and it’s reportedly prompted an internal debate at Google over the company’s culture. [Recode / Kara Swisher]
  • It's also led to a backlash against Google for firing the engineer, James Damore. But Google — or any employer — can fire an at-will employee for just about any reason. [Vox / Alexia Fernández-Campbell]
  • The drama at Google speaks to a larger problem in Silicon Valley — a noticeable lack of women and people of color in leadership positions. [Recode / Rani Molla]
  • For women in tech (and in most other sectors of the economy), there’s also a persistent wage gap between them and their male counterparts. [Business Insider / Lauren Lyons Cole]
  • The uproar at Google has already led some to advocate that women take the fight for greater representation and higher wages to the courts, rather than waiting for changes to happen on their own. [NYT / Anita Hill]

The fight against ISIS is still raging in the Philippines

Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images
  • The United States may be taking its fight to ISIS beyond the Middle East.
  • The Pentagon may start drone strikes on the Islamist terror group in strongholds in the Philippines, NBC News reported. [NBC News / Courtney Kube]
  • Soon after the news was reported, top officials in the Philippine government disputed it, saying that they have not discussed airstrikes with US military officials, and that the Mutual Defense Agreement it has with the United States prohibits US airstrikes unless there’s a foreign invasion by another state (ISIS doesn’t meet that definition). [Philippine Star / Mikas Matsuzawa]
  • Having suffered serious setbacks in its former strongholds of Iraq and Syria, ISIS has become more active in Asia in recent months, prompting fears that the group will try to turn the region into a new stronghold. [The Telegraph / Nicola Smith]
  • Philippine security forces have been battling ISIS insurgents in the city of Marawi since late May, when Islamists captured part of the city center. Hundreds of people (mostly ISIS fighters) have died in the ensuing conflict, and thousands of civilians have fled the city. [NPR / Colin Dwyer]
  • The fighters are not Islamists who have come over from the Middle East to Asia; rather, they’re part of a local faction called the Maute group who have been in the Philippines for a long time but only recently radicalized. [Reuters]
  • A small number of US special forces have already joined Philippine forces on the ground in Marawi to “provide technical support” but not actively take part in the fighting. [Australian Broadcasting Corporation]


  • City crows have fewer crow babies and are more intelligent than their suburban-dwelling crow friends. They also love pizza. [CityLab / Ariel Aberg-Riger]
  • Every state has prescription drug monitoring programs so doctors can track how many opioids their patients are using. But they’re not the only ones with the information; the police can see it too. [The Marshall Project / Beth Schwartzapfel]
  • Education Secretary Betsy DeVos first rose to prominence advocating for alternatives to the public schools in her home state of Michigan. But public schools in her hometown are booming, retaining students and improving graduation rates. [NPR / Anya Kamenetz]
  • Officials at the track-and-field world championships want to reinstate a ban on women with naturally high levels of testosterone, arguing they have an unfair advantage over their competitors. [Stat / Catherine Caruso]
  • Forget Venmo and Apple Pay; the physical, handwritten check has carved out a stubborn place for itself in American banking. [Kai Ryssdal and Emily Henderson]


  • “These days, it’s getting harder to separate the large-adult-son meme — one of the few reliably good things on the Internet — from the larger hellscape of adult-male behavior in which we all live.” [New Yorker / Jia Tolentino]
  • “The glacier used to come down to there. Now the snow is gone and we’re running out of water.” [Tomás Rosario to Washington Post / Nick Miroff]
  • “I don’t give a shit, you understand? I just don’t give a shit. If they think because I’m up for election, that I can be wrangled into voting for shit that I don’t like and can’t explain, they’re all crazy.” [West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin to the Charleston Gazette-Mail / Jake Zuckerman]
  • “If you appear to be spending your holiday unsuccessfully attempting to separate your children from Wi-Fi or their digital devices, do not despair. Your poor parenting may be helping them and saving the country.” [Robert Hannigan to Reuters / Emma Rumney]
  • “There are a lot of plus-size women who don’t like their bodies. They have been told not to [like themselves] over and over. We’re trying to simultaneously change the minds of the fashion industry and women who have been brainwashed to believe they are not beautiful and so do not deserve to wear our clothes.” [Gabi Gregg to The Cut / Ashley Ford]

Watch this: The tiny island in New York City that nobody is allowed to visit

There's a tiny island on the East River that you've probably never heard of, and you're not allowed to visit it. [Vox / Dean Peterson]

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