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Vox Sentences: “A textbook example of ethnic cleansing”

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The UN levels new, watered-down sanctions on North Korea; the US Census posts promising income numbers; Myanmar's Rohingya crisis sparks an international outcry.

South Korea’s “decapitation unit” is exactly what it sounds like

Drew Angerer/Getty Images
  • The United Nations Security Council further tightened economic sanctions on North Korea after its latest nuclear test, but the new measures don’t come close to what the United States wanted. [CNN / Zachary Cohen and Richard Roth]
  • The UN settled on sanctions that would cut off North Korea’s textile exports and cut down on refined and crude oil imports into the country. All in all, the sanctions will account for a $1.3 billion hit to the North Korean economy. [Reuters / Roberta Rampton]
  • The US had lobbied hard for sanctions that called for a total oil embargo and would have allowed countries to intercept ships suspected of carrying fuel or materials to build weapons into North Korea. US officials also proposed a travel ban and financial penalties on North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. [NYT / Somini Sengupta]
  • The sanctions were weakened after China and Russia objected. That’s because the two countries want to keep a US presence in the region as minimal as possible and instead focus on talks between North Korea and the US. [Vox / Zeeshan Aleem]
  • China, in particular, is trying to prevent escalation between the US and North Korea because it doesn’t want military conflict to destabilize the country and cause North Korean refugees to come streaming across the border. [Vox / Zeeshan Aleem]
  • Meanwhile, South Korea recently announced plans for a “decapitation unit” for Kim Jong Un. And yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like — a unit that’s focused on assassinating the North Korean leader. They’re being so public about it to try to scare North Korea, but US officials have said they don’t support taking out the dictator. [NYT / Choe Sang-Hun]

What's left of the middle class just got a raise

Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images
  • America’s shrinking middle class got some good news today: The median household income in 2016 set a new record, according to new census data. [Associated Press / Christopher Rugaber]
  • The median household income in 2016 was $59,039, which beats the record of $58,655 set in 1999. [US Census Bureau]
  • Economists often use this data point as an indication of how strong the middle class is, and the latest numbers show that job growth in particular is on a steady upward climb (recent economic reports show wages are still lagging). [CNN Money / Tami Luhby]
  • The new numbers are being driven by a healthy job market, which is on a steady uptick after a slump during the 2008 recession and the years following it. [WSJ / Ben Leubsdorf]
  • Economists credit the numbers to the economic recovery under former President Barack Obama, and are looking to see whether President Trump can continue the upswing. The numbers could become a political point for Democrats to argue Trump should not change economic policy if the numbers show it’s working. [NYT / Binyamin Appelbaum]
  • But as many can attest to, the new numbers aren’t so rosy for everyone. America’s poorest citizens did not get the same financial bump; things are actually worse for them than in 1999. The same goes for African Americans, who have a median income of $39,490, compared with $65,041 for whites and $81,431 for Asian Americans. [Washington Post / Heather Long]

Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims have nowhere to go

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
  • Myanmar’s Rohingya crisis is only getting worse.
  • For the past few weeks, around 370,000 of the country’s Rohingya Muslim sect have been fleeing increasing violence from government forces in the country’s southwestern Rakhine state. [Vox / Sarah Wildman]
  • Today, the United Nations' top human rights official called the violence “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.” The UN Security Council is gathering on Wednesday to discuss the situation in the country. [Washington Post / Annie Gowen]
  • Rohingya refugees are streaming into neighboring countries including Bangladesh and India, whose governments have expressed sympathy with their plight but also made clear they cannot stay. [The Sydney Morning Herald / Amrit Dhillon]
  • Bangladesh's prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, was clear that Myanmar’s government started the crisis and would have to resolve it themselves. [The Guardian / Michael Safi]
  • The Rohingya have been persecuted in Myanmar for years; the government doesn’t recognize them as citizens and has designated them as illegal immigrants. [Reuters / Ruma Paul and Nurul Islam]
  • But the current situation in the country is especially troubling, given that Myanmar’s top official is Nobel Peace Prize winner and democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi, who spent years under house arrest under the country’s military junta. So far, Suu Kyi has characterized the violence against the Rohingya as fake news. [Vox / Sarah Wildman]
  • Rohingya Muslims in other countries are blasting majority-Muslim countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan for not doing more to take in the refugees. [NYT / Mehreen Zahra-Malik]


  • Camps set up by Nigerian mega-churches are becoming so big and sprawling that they're turning into cities. [The Guardian / Ruth Maclean]
  • The bizarre monkey selfie court case has come to an end with a settlement, a nice payment to monkeys in general, and no real consensus on whether animals can own their own copyrights. [Associated Press / Sudhin Thanawala]
  • Former FBI official Mark Felt (a.k.a. "Deep Throat") helped take down the Nixon presidency by leaking to Washington Post reporters. But there’s a case to be made that Felt’s leaks were motivated more by self-interest than public service. [Politico / Max Holland]
  • A Trump resort in Florida is asking the government to hire more temporary foreign workers, saying it can’t find enough locals who want to fill the jobs. [BuzzFeed / Jessica Garrison, Jeremy Singer-Vine, and Ken Bensinger]
  • There’s now a chatbot that will help you take Equifax to small claims court without a lawyer if you were part of the company’s recent hack. [The Verge / Shannon Liao]


  • “This was Lord of the Flies. They wanted us to turn on each other.” [MIT student Cory Johnson to Wired / Emily Dreyfuss]
  • "I don’t know if it’s universal or distinctly American, but the vulgarity of the language of powerful men: It all comes down to penises and pissing and cocks. They talk like out-of-control 6-year-olds." [John Cleese to Vulture / David Marchese]
  • "Vermont, you have a very strong community tradition, a belief in sort of the community informally or the government more formally as something that's available to help solve problems... And in New Hampshire, you have much more of a sense that, you know, things maybe at the town level should be solved, but really government should be minimal and that shouldn't be something that we look to for a source of solutions.” [Farmer Chuck Wooster to VPR / Angela Evancie and Henry Epp]
  • “I feel stalled, I guess you’d say. We’re all supposed to be married and in a committed relationship and buy a house and achieve professional success, and that all sort of happens during the seven-year span I’ve been in treatment." [Lisa Geller to Stat / Bod Tedeschi]
  • "Last year at a Halloween party, I got plenty of compliments on my Martin Shkreli costume, which is to say I was wearing a sweater and hadn’t showered." [NYU Local / Graham Dunn]

Watch this: What Hillary Clinton really thinks

Hillary Clinton’s theory of politics is unfashionable, but she doesn’t care. [Vox / Ezra Klein]

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