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Vox Sentences: Irmageddon

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Hurricane Irma wreaks havoc in Florida; Norway reelects its conservative prime minister; Benjamin Netanyahu's son is in hot water for posting an anti-Semitic meme.

A tale of two hurricanes

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  • Hurricane Irma has weakened substantially since it slammed into Florida as a Category 4 hurricane this weekend, but flooding is still a huge concern as it unleashes torrents of rain on southern states. [Washington Post / Jason Samenow]
  • Authorities have confirmed six deaths in the US from the storm so far, including two law enforcement officers who died in Florida. The death toll in the Caribbean is nearing 40. [ABC News / Emily Shapiro and Karma Allen]
  • Irma has been downgraded to a tropical storm, but it still has winds around 60 miles per hour and is dumping rain on Georgia, the Carolinas, and Alabama. It’s also left millions of people in Florida without electricity. [Vox / Brian Resnick]
  • It was difficult to track exactly where Irma was headed in Florida. For a while, the western city of Tampa was preparing for a direct hit, but it ultimately was spared the worst of the storm. Areas in Florida further south and on the state’s eastern coast including Miami, Naples, and Jacksonville were hit much harder. [NYT]
  • The storm was able to stretch across so many parts of Florida because of its sheer size; it made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane with wind speeds of more than 130 miles per hour and a strong storm surge. [Vox / Brian Resnick]
  • It took a perfect combination of factors to strengthen the storm. The Atlantic Ocean is generally warmest in early September, which has helped feed the intensity of both Irma and Harvey. [Vox / Brian Resnick]
  • Such powerful hurricanes happening back to back have prompted many to ask if climate change caused the storms. Short answer — no, climate change didn’t cause these hurricanes, but there’s plenty of evidence to show that climate change made the storms worse. [Vox / David Roberts]

Norway grapples with its ties to the oil industry

Marit Hommedal/AFP/Getty Images
  • Norway’s conservative government is projected to hang on to power after national elections today.
  • The race was close, but ultimately the country's right-wing and populist parties were able to maintain power. Conservative Prime Minister Erna Solberg won reelection over her main challenger, Labour Party leader Jonas Gahr Støre. [Reuters]
  • There will still be a near-equal split in Norwegian parliament; the conservatives picked up 86 of the total 169 seats, while Labour and its political allies were projected to win 83 seats. [Politico Europe / Charlie Duxbury]
  • One of the big issues in the election was Norway’s ties to the oil and gas industry, which is responsible for the country’s thriving economy but has sparked an intense debate about the country’s contributions toward climate change. [NYT / Henrik Pryser Libell]
  • That issue has been brought to the forefront by Norway’s Green Party, which is proposing to drastically limit the country's oil exploration and production in the Arctic. [The Guardian / Jon Henley]
  • Norway has a complicated relationship with the oil industry, which is a bedrock of the country’s economy. The country tries to promote sustainability in other ways, helping its citizens buy electric cars with generous subsidies. Teslas are everywhere in Norway; a third of new cars in the country are either fully electric or hybrids. [Vox / Johnny Harris]
  • Solberg campaigned on a platform to lower taxes and crack down on immigration to Norway. In recent years, the country’s economy was rocked by a drop in crude oil prices, and saw a spike in refugees seeking asylum, leading to some public anti-immigration sentiment. [The Guardian / Jon Henley]

The Israeli prime minister’s son has an anti-Semitic meme problem

Uriel Sinai/Getty Images
  • Israel is up in arms over an anti-Semitic meme that was posted by none other than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s son Yair Netanyahu. [Jerusalem Post / Hagay Hacohen]
  • On Friday, Yair Netanyahu posted on Facebook a cartoon that depicts Jewish American billionaire George Soros dangling a world on a string in front of a reptilian creature and an anti-Semitic drawing of someone in the Illuminati. Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and activist Eldad Yaniv, both of whom are outspoken against Netanyahu, were also featured in the image. [Reuters / Mayaan Lubell]
  • The message meant to imply that Soros and other critics of Netanyahu control the world. But the meme is also a popular on alt-right and anti-Semitic websites. [The Times of Israel / Matt Lebovic]
  • As many commentators in Israel have pointed out, it's pretty remarkable to have the son of the world’s most powerful Jewish politician posting anti-Semitic imagery and reinforcing anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. [Haaretz]
  • That became especially apparent when Yair Netanyahu’s actions were praised by the Nazi website the Daily Stormer and former Ku Klux Klan leader and Holocaust denier David Duke. [Washington Post / Ruth Eglash]
  • Yair Netanyahu is 26 years old, and he’s not an elected official. But he’s also close to his father, well-known for his controversial social media posts, and reportedly involved in the prime minister’s social media team. He removed the Facebook post on Sunday, after the resulting backlash. [NPR / Daniel Estrin]
  • The Israeli prime minister has also encountered his fair share of criticism for taking a long time to condemn anti-Semitic violence in the United States and for refusing to denounce other anti-Semitic imagery of Soros circulating in Hungary earlier this year. [Slate / Joshua Keating]


  • For years, people thought the remains of a Viking warrior buried in the mid-10th century were those of a man. New research proves she was actually a lady, who likely led troops into battle. [American Journal of Physical Anthropology / Charlotte Hedenstierna-Jonson et al.]
  • Your kitchen sponge can host up to 45 billion bacteria per square centimeter, about as much as a toilet bowl or the intestinal tract. (In case you needed any extra incentive to get a new sponge). [NPR / Michaeleen Doucleff]
  • Apple’s latest software update is an attempt to further protect user data, much to the consternation of police departments around the country. [Wired / Andy Greenberg]
  • For decades, Chicago high schools had a strict no-clothes policy for boys' swim teams because officials wanted to keep the pools clean (from bacteria, not nudity). Seriously. [WBEZ / Monica Eng]
  • Chronic kidney disease is affecting a significant number of men in El Salvador, and scientists are starting to think the cause is that people aren’t drinking enough water and instead trying to hydrate with sugary sodas. [JSTOR Daily / Jane Palmer]


  • “I tell them: ‘You can bring your wands, but you can't use them on exams.’” [Prof. Carolyn Hartz to the Associated Press]
  • “On some days, even before she calls their names, Judge Gwen Bender can tell why the defendants are in Courtroom A. Their bones look as if they might poke through their skin. Their eyes are sunken, their hair a tangled mess. Some are unsteady on their feet. Others scratch at sores on their arms.” [Cincinnati Enquirer / Staff]
  • “We get lost in a debate between the Clinton and Sanders voters. I hope sometime in my lifetime the 2016 Democratic primary will be over.” [Neera Tanden to Politico / Susan Glasser]
  • “I'm telling you about Taylor Swift because slightly more people care about her than the current controversies embroiling Medieval Studies. Both the mega pop star and the esoteric field face the same problem: Nazis love us and we're not used to overtly signaling our disdain.” [Pacific Standard / David Perry]
  • “This means that dogs aren’t just learning from being around us that human faces are important — they are born to look at faces.” [Neuroscientist Gregory Burns to NYT / Claudia Dreifus]

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