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Vox Sentences: He’s a McCainiac, McCainiac on the (Senate) floor

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.

John McCain (again) comes out against the latest Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare; Uber gets kicked out of London; new brain scans reveal former NFL star and convicted murderer Aaron Hernandez had severe brain damage.

Third time is not always the charm

Mark Wilson/Getty Images
  • So here we are again. It’s Friday, and Republican Sen. John McCain just came out against the latest iteration of the Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare, which could effectively kill it. [Vox / Dylan Scott]
  • If you feel like you’ve read these exact words before, it's because you have! The last time the Senate voted on health care, in late July, McCain provided the dramatic deciding vote to kill the bill (along with Maine Sen. Susan Collins and Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski). [Washington Post / Ed O’Keefe]
  • Then along came Obamacare repeal 3.0, also known as Graham-Cassidy. One of its authors and namesakes, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, is McCain’s best friend in the Senate, and McCain had initially told reporters he planned to vote for the bill. [The Hill / Peter Sullivan]
  • Graham-Cassidy itself would dramatically change the American health care system by capping Medicaid spending and turning the federal program into a block grant run by the states. It would mean significantly less money going to states. [Vox / Sarah Kliff]
  • The bill had support from President Trump, but some of his most fervent supporters rely on Medicaid for their health care. [The Toronto Star / Daniel Dale]
  • As was the case with past health care votes, McCain wasn’t so much opposed to the contents of Graham-Cassidy as the process (or lack thereof). It’s been a very long time since the Senate has been in regular order — meaning bills get hearings and their effects are analyzed before a vote. McCain was pissed about that, and he let people know. [John McCain via Twitter]
  • The Senate is still supposed to vote on the bill next week, but its chances are now looking mighty slim. Republicans have now effectively killed their own health care bill twice. But never say never. Obamacare repeal has been declared dead multiple times, only to rise again. [Justin Wolfers via Twitter]

London will no longer keep calm and Uber on

Leon Neal/Getty Images
  • London just dealt Uber a stunning blow, as it declined to renew the ride-hailing giant’s license to operate on its roads. [The Guardian / Sarah Butler and Gwyn Topham]
  • City transportation officials said Uber is “not fit and proper” to be licensed in London, citing concerns with how the company has handled background checks for its drivers, as well as allegations that it’s tried to skirt local regulations. [NYT / Prashant Nao]
  • London officials also said they were concerned with the company’s tumultuous and controversial leadership. Longtime Uber CEO Travis Kalanick resigned earlier this year, and the company recently hired Dara Khosrowshahi, who used to run Expedia. [Vanity Fair / Maya Kossoff]
  • Uber can appeal the decision, and its drivers can continue to operate during that time. [Recode / Johana Bhuiyan]
  • It’s a huge financial blow for Uber; London makes up a significant percentage of its overall market. The city alone makes up nearly a third of Uber’s active user base in Europe. [WSJ / Sam Schechner and Wiktor Szary]
  • Many Uber riders in London are freaking out at the prospect of the company's cars disappearing. [CNN Tech / Alanna Petroff]
  • The decision is also being criticized by the city’s many Uber drivers, some of whom are worried about their livelihood if the service goes away. [Financial Times / Peter Campbell]

This is your brain on football

Keith Bedford/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
  • New brain scans on recently deceased football player and convicted murderer Aaron Hernandez showed the 27-year-old had extensive and dramatic levels of brain damage. [Associated Press]
  • Hernandez killed himself in jail earlier this year while serving out a life sentence for the murder of Odin Lloyd. He was 25 when he was convicted, and was a star player for the New England Patriots at the time of his arrest. [NBC News / Erin McClam]
  • Doctors recently took scans of Hernandez's brain and found that he was in advanced stages of the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Doctors said his case was so severe, it had reached a stage normally seen in 67-year-olds. [SB Nation / Jeanna Thomas]
  • The disease is thought to be caused by repetitive head injuries, and researchers say it can cause memory loss, depression, and dementia. [NYT / Joe Ward, Josh Williams, and Sam Manchester]
  • People who suffer from CTE are also thought to have trouble controlling their impulses and aggression, which may lead some to speculate whether Hernandez’s disease influenced his violent behavior (although, it must be said, other people with CTE have not been convicted of murder). [Orlando Sentinel / David Whitley]
  • A recent study found it's also incredibly common to find CTE in deceased pro football players, especially lineman, whose position on the field require them to tackle — and headbutt — other players. [NYT / Joe Ward, Josh Williams, and Sam Manchester]
  • Researchers studying CTE have encountered some roadblocks over the years, because usually they can only scan the brains of people who have died, which makes it really difficult to answer the question of how common the disease is. But new research is also starting to be done on football players who are very much alive. [The Atlantic / Patrick Hruby]
  • Now Hernandez’s family is suing the Patriots, claiming the team knowingly put Hernandez in danger from getting tackled on the field, and didn’t do enough to protect him from brain damage. The NFL has promised to “vigorously” fight the lawsuit. [Washington Post / Rick Maese, Marissa Payne, and Mark Maske]


  • The young Mormons at Brigham Young University can go a little wild — the campus just started allowing caffeinated soda. Coffee and caffeinated tea are still off limits, though. [BBC]
  • It now turns out that Health and Human Services Secretary Price took a super-expensive chartered jet at least 24 times, to the tune of $300,000 in taxpayer dollars. His reasoning? He didn’t want to risk getting stuck in the airport. [Politico / Rachana Pradhan and Dan Diamond]
  • “Watermelon snow” is what scientists call the single-celled green algae that live in glaciers and turn red when they reach the surface. The crimson snow is natural, but it’s also speeding up glacial melt, absorbing rather than reflecting the sun’s rays. [The New Yorker / Alan Burdick]
  • The incredible origin story of the famous Prince’s hot chicken in Nashville involves a man up to no good, a jilted lover, and a bunch of really spicy peppers. (And chicken, of course). [Eater / Zach Stafford]
  • Though many South Koreans don’t think war with the North will break out, there are a few who aren’t taking any chances and are prepping for nuclear war. [WSJ / Min Sun Lee]


  • “Kim Jong Un calls Trump a mentally deranged U.S. dotard. Searches for 'dotard' are high as a kite.” [Merriam-Webster via Twitter]
  • “I have not been warned that [Marilyn] Manson will be hiding behind his hotel room door, from where he will jump out — black-clad, in full slap — pointing a gun at the back of my neck. Not, it transpires, a real gun, but a realistic enough replica for me to greet him with a startled bark of, ‘What the fuck do you think you’re doing?’ rather than the more traditional ‘hello.’” [The Guardian / Alexis Petridis]
  • “You go into the emergency room and you don’t know if you’re going to leave alive. We are dying way too young.” [Sickle cell disease patient Amy Mason to STAT / Sharon Begley]
  • “These women were turning to infidelity not as a way to explode a marriage, but as a way to stay in it.” [The Cut / Kim Brooks]
  • “Since a lot of this stuff is really complicated, nuanced stuff with areas of gray, it requires lengthy and complex explanations. But a lot of the audience, their eyes just tend to glaze over, and it’s just, they don’t want to have to follow all of that. So they just fall back on their preconceptions.” [ publisher David Mikkelson to Wired / Michelle Dean]

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