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Vox Sentences: “This is bigger than Larry Nassar”

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Larry Nassar is sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison; President Trump lands in Switzerland.

160-plus victims, 175 years in prison

Jeff Kowalsky/Getty Images
  • On Wednesday, Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics doctor and Michigan State University sports medicine physician, was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison for sexual abuse (in addition to a 60-year sentence for child pornography issued in December 2017). [Washington Post / Will Hobson]
  • The conviction came after more than 150 survivors spoke over the course of a week about how Nassar’s abuse had affected their lives. [Vox / Anna North]
  • During the proceedings, Circuit Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina read portions of a letter that Nassar had given her a couple of months after entering his plea, but refrained from reading it in its entirety. “There is some information here which troubles me in regards to the victims,” she said. “I don’t want them re-victimized by the words in the letter.” [NPR / Laurel Wamsley]
  • Aquilina was considered a hero by many witnesses of the proceedings; she made time for any victim to speak who wanted to, and minced no words in her conviction: “I just signed your death warrant.” [USA Today / Josh Hafner]
  • But to others, Judge Aquilina overstepped her bounds as an impartial arbiter of justice and instead took on the role of victim advocate. [Vox / Rachel Marshall]
  • The enduring words from the trial, though, will belong not to the judge but to the survivors of Nassar’s abuse. Here are some of their testimonies. [NYT]
  • For many, sentencing Nassar is just the beginning. Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman told NBC’s Today show Thursday: “We need to hold these organizations accountable — USA Gymnastics, United States Olympic Committee, MSU. They need an independent investigation. This is bigger than Larry Nassar.” [NBC News / Tracy Connor]
  • One aspect of the fallout has already been felt: the president of Michigan State University, Lou Anna Simon, resigned amid scrutiny over how the university handled allegations against the doctor. Still, she’ll get a lifetime of perks, including free tickets to MSU football games and a 12-month paid research leave if she returns to the faculty. [Vox / Jen Kirby]

President Trump goes to Davos

  • The annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Switzerland is centered on the organization’s “global first” mission. But that hasn’t stopped Trump’s plan to use the summit as an opportunity to push his America First agenda. (He’s also, notably, the first US president to attend since Bill Clinton in 2000.) [USA Today / Kim Hjelmgaard]
  • At a morning press conference, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin explained that “America first does mean working with the rest of the world.” In the eyes of the Trump administration, this entails selling a global audience on the idea of investing in American businesses. [Washington Post / Heather Long]
  • Trump has also used the first day of the summit as a chance to try to repair a strained relationship with Great Britain. He could be seen Thursday meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May on the sidelines. [NYT / Peter Baker]
  • On Friday, he will deliver a speech to the gathered leaders. The speech is expected to emphasize his economic agenda of tax cuts and deregulation. [NPR / Scott Horsley]


  • Trump doesn’t want to pay for the International Space Station. This could ground American astronauts on Earth for years. [The Verge / Loren Grush]
  • A new exhibit in the National Museum of the American Indian has ventured outside the realm of a traditional history museum. It features packaging of butter, sunscreen, and even motor oil plastered with pictures of American Indians — forcing museumgoers to question the appropriation of Native American imagery. [Washington Post / Sadie Dingfelder]
  • In Puerto Rico, artists have survived decades of economic hardship through their creation of a “sharing economy.” Now, as Puerto Rico begins to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Maria, these artists are teaching the rest of the island how it’s done. [NYT / Klaus Biesenbach, Christopher Gregory, and Ariana McLaughlin]
  • In case you thought you knew about all the bizarre creatures that live under the sea, here’s another one for you: the aptly named “red handfish,” which moves around by walking on its hands (yes, really). A new population of the extremely rare creatures was just found off the coast of Tasmania. [Atlas Obscura / Vittoria Traverso]


“Because of the extraordinary danger of the current moment, the Science and Security Board today moves the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock 30 seconds closer to catastrophe.” [Rachel Bronson, president of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, announcing the association’s decision to move the clock’s hands the closest they’ve been to midnight since the Cold War / USA Today]

Watch this: Why Puerto Rico is not a US state

Nearly half of Americans don’t know that Puerto Ricans are US citizens. But they are, and have been since 1917. [YouTube / Christina Thornell]

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