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Vox Sentences: Drought-stricken Cape Town faces “Day Zero” for drinkable water

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One person is dead after a train carrying GOP lawmakers collided with a garbage truck in Virginia; Cape Town is dramatically rationing its water amid a severe drought.

A deadly Amtrak crash

  • An Amtrak train carrying members of the House and Senate to an annual GOP retreat accidentally hit a garbage truck on Wednesday afternoon, causing at least one fatality and other injuries. [Vox / Tara Golshan]
  • The story is still developing, but the White House issued a statement confirming that one person in the truck died and at least one other person driving in it was seriously injured. There were minor injuries among the lawmakers on the train. [CBS News]
  • News updates came from many GOP lawmakers themselves, who shared photos and tweets of the scene on social media and gave them to political reporters. [Rachael Bade via Twitter]
  • Describing the impact of the crash, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) told reporters that it looked like the truck had been “cut in half.” [Washington Post / Martine Powers, Faiz Siddiqui, Ed O’Keefe, and Hawes Spencer]
  • Former combat medic Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) tended to crash victims at the scene. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who helped Wenstrup and fellow Sen. Bill Cassidy (D-LA) carry victims to an ambulance, told reporters that Wenstrup had done the same thing this past summer, when a shooter opened fire on a congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia. [Phil Mattingly via Twitter]
  • The crash happened around 11:30 am in Crozet, Virginia, as the train was traveling toward West Virginia, where the GOP retreat is being held. [NBC News / Daniella Silva and Tom Costello]
  • The cause of the crash is still being investigated by local authorities and the National Transportation Safety Board. The GOP retreat will continue, although many lawmakers said they were shaken up by the incident. [USA Today / Jessica Estepa and Michael Collins]

Cape Town is trying to ration what little water it has left

  • South Africa is experiencing a severe drought that’s pushing water levels in Cape Town to their breaking point, causing dramatic rationing. [Sunday Times / Joseph Chirume]
  • Soon, the city could reach “Day Zero,” or the point at which water would no longer flow through the taps in Cape Town. Right now residents are only allowed to use 87 liters per day, which will go down to 50 liters in February unless water levels at local dams improve. [Associated Press]
  • Some people in Cape Town are saving water from their showers and washing machines to flush the toilet and brush their teeth. If the water stops flowing through the taps, the city will have to set up ration sites where people can stand in line to get water each day. [NBC News / Catie Monteiro]
  • Cape Town is historically very good at conserving water and being environmentally conscious, but it is dealing with a warmer, drier future. Some people are criticizing the city government for not doing more to tap groundwater sources to mitigate the drought. [NYT / Norimitsu Onishi and Somini Sengupta]


  • In a city known for partying, will street cameras be an impediment to fun? New Orleans could be about to find out, as officials consider a plan to install 1,500 of them. [NYT / Richard Fausset]
  • If you have any antique furniture, you might want to check it for government secrets: Thousands of pages of top-secret documents from the Australian government were locked in two file cabinets that somehow ended up at a used furniture shop in the country’s capital. [Australian Broadcasting Company / Ashlynne McGhee and Michael McKinnon]
  • Our current way to assess countries’ well-being, through its gross domestic product, might not be working well enough. Critics say its failure to take negative aspects of the economy into account is “like looking exclusively at a company’s income statements without considering the assets.” [Quartz / Eshe Nelson and Dan Kopf]
  • Think finding the right shade of foundation is tricky? That’s nothing compared to designing makeup for astronauts. [Racked / Annemarie Dooling]


“This animal did not meet guidelines for a number of reasons, including its weight and size. ... We explained this to the customers on three separate occasions before they arrived at the airport.” [United Airlines to Fox News, in response to a customer’s attempt to bring her emotional support peacock on her flight / Janine Puhak]

Watch this: The State of the Union in 4 minutes

Highlights from President Trump’s 2018 State of the Union speech. [Elizabeth Philip and Tian Wang / YouTube]

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