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Vox Sentences: Trump vs. the NFL

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North Korea says Trump's tweets constitute an act of war; an expanded travel ban will go into effect next month; why NFL players protested during Sunday night football.

To the brink

Amir Levy/Getty Images
  • The rhetoric between North Korea and the United States hit a scary new point today, as North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho equated President Trump’s recent tweets to a “declaration of war.” [Washington Post / Carol Morello]
  • Ri suggested that since the US was threatening his country, North Korea could conceivably shoot down US planes, even ones outside its airspace. [NYT / Rick Gladstone and David Sanger]
  • That comment seemed to be in response to US planes and bombers that flew along North Korea’s coast in an apparent show of force. Though the planes were technically in international airspace, they went as far north from the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea as any US planes have so far gone. [Reuters]
  • In the past week, the personal attacks between Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un have gotten ever nastier, with Kim calling the president a “dotard." Trump, on the other hand, called Kim a “madman” and — repeatedly — “little rocket man.” Russia, clearly sick of this nonsense, likened both leaders to small children. [BBC]
  • The White House rejected the notion that Trump’s tweets amounted to a declaration of war, with White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders calling the idea “absurd.” [NBC News / Alexander Smith and Abigail Williams]
  • This mean the US and North Korea currently appear to be engaged in a dangerous game of brinksmanship; essentially, each country is telling the other one not to mess with it, while pushing each other a little further toward the brink of a conflict. [Vox / Zack Beauchamp]
  • North Korean experts have often said that even though the US is fond of painting Kim Jong Un as a madman, he’s actually very calculated and rational in the way he provokes the international community. The wild card here is actually Trump. [Vox / Zeeshan Aleem]
  • Right now things are escalating very quickly, and while that does not mean that the US and North Korea are actually going to war, it does mean there is a clearer path by which war could start. [Vox / Zack Beauchamp]

No one knows why Chad is on Trump’s travel ban list

Keith Bedford/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
  • There is a new, indefinite Trump travel ban, after the president signed an executive order this weekend. [Vox / Tara Golshan]
  • The new ban is a slightly expanded version of the old ones — it bans nearly all travel from a total of eight countries, including Chad, Iran, Libya, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen, Somalia, and North Korea. [Vox / Tara Golshan]
  • The inclusion of North Korea and Venezuela could also make it more difficult to fight in court. Previous bans targeted Muslim-majority countries, and lawyers who opposed the bans were successfully able to argue this was unconstitutional. [NYT / Michael Shear]
  • The fact that Chad is on the new list of countries is baffling to many people. Chad is an African country that is relatively stable and peaceful, and it receives counterterrorism money from the US government. [NBC News / Rachel Elbaum]
  • This ban is focused mostly on travel, rather than refugees, which are already limited from coming to the US after other action by the Trump administration. [Washington Post / Devlin Barrett]
  • Unlike the previous ban, this one permanently restricts travel from these countries, rather than the 90-day pause the administration initially sought. [NYT / Michael Shear]
  • The US Supreme Court was supposed to consider the constitutionality of the old travel ban during its upcoming session, but in light of the expanded ban, it has removed the cases from its calendar and asked lawyers to file new briefs. [NPR / Bill Chappell]

The NFL gets political

Patrick Smith/Getty Images
  • This weekend saw a rare display of activism in national sports, with multiple NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem to protest the oppression of black people and President Trump’s recent comments about it. [Washington Post / Liz Clarke and Abby Phillip]
  • The most recent controversy started — like most things do these days — with an off-the-cuff comment Trump made at a political rally on Friday night, during which he referred to a protesting NFL player as a “son of a bitch,” and saying team owners should fire protesting players for the displays. [CNN / Sophie Tatum]
  • Trump’s comments on Friday had an immediate ripple effect. Many players across the NFL took a knee on Sunday night, while other teammates stood and linked arms in solidarity. [The Ringer / Robert Mays]
  • The crux of Trump’s argument was that players were disrespecting America, the flag, and the national anthem. But as the only member of the MLB to protest this weekend pointed out, he wasn’t protesting America so much as speaking out “for the people who don’t have a voice.” [San Francisco Chronicle / Susan Slusser]
  • The "take a knee" protest has been around longer than Trump; it started with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sitting and kneeling when the national anthem was played at games, rather than standing. Kaepernick was doing so to protest systemic racism, and he received backlash from members of the NFL. [ / Steve Wyche]
  • Kaepernick’s protest was largely solo, until he was joined by a few other NFL players. The former quarterback has been out of a job this year, and some speculate that’s in large part to do with his activism. Kaepernick himself has remained quiet on the issue. [Sports Illustrated / Michael Rosenberg]
  • Some are finding the newfound activism of NFL coaches and team owners ironic, given their response to Kaepernick last year, and the fact that he still isn’t on the field. [SBNation / Zito Madu]


  • Until he decides whether to run for president in 2020, Joe Biden is apparently getting into podcasting. [CNN Money / Kaya Yurieff]
  • London’s Royal Shakespeare Company had a costume sale this weekend, where everything from fat suits to breastplates to pharaoh hats was up for grabs. [NYT / Holly Williams]
  • Steve Bannon reportedly tried to plant a spy from Breitbart at Facebook, to see how the tech giant was hiring employees. [BuzzFeed / Joseph Bernstein]
  • To understand Amazon’s rapid growth and return to retail stores, look to Sears, Roebuck & Company, the company that revolutionized retail 100 years ago with the catalogue. [CityLab / Derek Thompson]
  • As it struggles to find workers, Target is raising its minimum wage to $11 per hour, with an eye on $15 an hour in three years. [WSJ / Khadeeja Safdar]


Watch this: The “ethnic cleansing” of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims, explained

The Rohingya have been systematically driven out of Myanmar by the government, leading to the fastest-growing humanitarian crisis in recent years. [YouTube / Sam Ellis, Kimberly Mas, Carlos Waters, and Valerie Lapinski]

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