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Vox Sentences: St. Louis cops chanted, “Whose streets? Our streets!” as they arrested protesters

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The Trump administration recommends sweeping changes to some of America's national monuments; protesters in St. Louis march for four days after police officer acquittal; Iraqi Kurdistan presses ahead with a planned independence referendum.


Monumental changes

Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images
  • Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has proposed potentially major changes to 10 national monuments, including scaling back the borders of at least four, according to a memo that recently leaked to reporters. [The Washington Post / Juliet Eilperin]
  • National monuments are vast swaths of federal land that presidents can protect without approval from Congress. Although Zinke's memo doesn’t specify exactly how much the borders of the monuments could change, it also proposes other ways of managing the protected lands and waters, including opening them up to mining, logging, or commercial fishing. [The Washington Post / Juliet Eilperin]
  • The document has already been met with opposition from conservation groups and tribal associations, who are vowing to take the federal government to court if they pursue the changes. [The Guardian / Oliver Milman]
  • While presidents have broad authority to establish national monuments through the Antiquities Act of 1906, they can't allow commercial enterprises like drilling or mining. This in itself has become controversial, as the size of monuments has expanded over the years, causing protest from the energy industry and some lawmakers. [Vox / Sarah Frostenson]
  • In Maine’s Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, Zinke proposed that President Trump “promote a healthy forest through active timber management.” Currently, the National Park Service can cut trees if they are diseased or infested with invasive insects, but cannot log otherwise. [Portland Press Herald / Kevin Miller]
  • Trump has argued that past presidents, most notably Barack Obama, used that authority too broadly, by designating millions of acres of land as national monuments. Environmental groups are sure to argue that Trump is also overstepping his authority if his administration continues to pursue the recommended changes. [LA Times / Evan Halper]
  • The recommendations are not final; the White House is still deciding which changes to make. Spokespeople for the White House and the Interior Department have refused to comment on the memos until they’re officially released. [BBC]

Four days of protests in St. Louis

Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images
  • The fourth day of demonstrations kicked off in St. Louis this morning, where protesters are marching after a white police officer named Jason Stockley was acquitted on charges that he murdered a black motorist named Anthony Smith in 2011. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch / Ashley Jost]
  • About 100 people marched silently through St. Louis streets this morning, and local high school students staged a walkout at two area schools. [St. Louis Public Radio / Ryan Delaney]
  • The protests started on Friday after a judge acquitted Stockley of a first-degree murder charge, as well as a charge of armed criminal action for fatally shooting Smith after a high-speed chase in 2011. The incident took place before the high-profile shooting of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014. [ABC News / Karma Allen]
  • Demonstrations came to a head on Sunday night, when windows were smashed downtown and police arrested about 80 people. [NPR / Amy Held]
  • Notably, police also chanted the slogan, “Whose streets? Our streets!” as they arrested protesters. The phrase is most often used by the activist group Black Lives Matter. [Washington Post / Susan Hogan]
  • It's just the latest where an officer has been acquitted for killing a black motorist. There are so many of these acquittals in part because police officers have tremendous leeway to shoot; the law says they only have to reasonably perceive a threat in order for a shooting to be justified. [Vox / German Lopez]

Kurdistan is pushing hard for independence

Safin Hamed/AFP/Getty Images
  • Iraq’s prime minister and supreme court are trying to stop a scheduled September 25 referendum that could decide whether Iraqi Kurdistan will become an independent state, questioning the legality of the vote. [BBC / Sebastian Usher]
  • But there’s little reason to think that’s going to stop the vote, since the court can’t actually do much to stop a vote from happening. Kurdish officials have said they plan to hold a referendum regardless. [Agence France-Press]
  • The semi-autonomous region in Northern Iraq wants to split off and form its own independent state. There’s historical precedent here; Kurdistan became autonomous after the end of the Gulf War in 1991, but rejoined Iraq during the US invasion in 2003, in exchange for oil money and the assurance that it could operate separately from Iraq. [BBC]
  • Kurds see themselves as an entirely different people with their own culture, and many say that should be reflected by independent statehood. [Voice of America / Heather Murdock]
  • Now officials in Iraq, the Middle East, and the West are all really nervous about the vote happening, which they fear will destabilize the region and inspire other Kurdish factions in other countries to do the same thing. [Reuters]
  • The United States, Britain, and the United Nations also oppose the Kurdish bid for independence because they want to keep the country unified, especially in the months leading up to Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s campaign for reelection. [The Economist]
  • For his part, Abadi is threatening the Kurds with a possible military intervention if the referendum turns violent. [Associated Press / Susannah George and Qassim Abdul-Zahra]

Miscellaneous

  • Sean Spicer lampooned his most famous lie about inauguration crowd size at the Emmys last night. The crowd thought it was hilarious. Twitter did not. 2017, man. [BuzzFeed / Ariane Lange]
  • Facing a rocky future and financial outlook, Rolling Stone magazine is putting itself up for sale. [Agence France-Presse]
  • South Koreans are loath to leave their huge cities for the suburbs, where they have to commute to huge cultural, academic, and business hubs many would rather not leave in the first place. [CityLab / Rachel Premack]
  • London’s Science Museum and the Natural History Museum are in an all-out nerd war on Twitter, featuring vampire fish, volcanoes, robots, and mermen. Oh, and wellies. [IFLScience!]
  • Celebrities get paid a lot to promote things on their Instagram and social media accounts, but it’s not always the most famous ones who are the most influential advertisers. [Recode / Kurt Wagner and Rani Molla]

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