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A government shutdown for the holidays; an election postponed in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Welcome to the last issue of Sentences until 2019! Starting tomorrow, December 23, we’ll be taking a holiday break until January 2. But to tide you over, you can sign up for Vox’s Future Perfect newsletter here, and twice a week, you’ll get a roundup of ideas and solutions for tackling the world’s biggest challenges.
We’re wishing you all a happy and healthy end to 2018. See you next year!
Four nights before Christmas, no deal in the House
- The federal government appears headed for a partial shutdown after President Trump and Congress could not reach a spending deal before a midnight deadline. [NYT / Emily Cochrane]
- At the center of the dispute: Trump wants $5 billion to help build a wall at the US-Mexico border. But Democrats don’t want a wall at all — and at least some of them need to vote for a spending deal for it to pass the Senate. [Washington Post / Erica Werner, Damian Paletta, and Mike DeBonis]
- Trump is promising a “very long” shutdown if he doesn’t get his way on the wall. [NBC News / Liz Johnstone]
- Trump is now trying to blame the looming shutdown on Democrats. But last week, he told Chuck Schumer, the Senate’s top Democrat, “I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck. … I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you for it.” [Vox / German Lopez]
- There actually is one way that Senate Republicans could have passed a budget deal without Democratic votes: the “nuclear option,” which bypasses the Senate filibuster to let legislation pass with a simple majority. Since Republicans control a majority of the Senate, that would have been enough. But enough Senate Republicans rejected the idea after Trump proposed it. [The Hill / Jordain Carney]
- Some Republicans are now working with Democrats on a deal that could maybe pass the House and Senate, which would include more border security funding but not nearly as much as Trump wants. [The Hill / Alexander Bolton]
- This is only a partial shutdown, so some agencies will remain open. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the US Postal Service will also be uninterrupted. But other federal agencies will need to scale down or close their doors completely, including the IRS and national parks. [Vox / Ella Nilsen and Li Zhou]
DRC postpones presidential elections, again
- The Democratic Republic of Congo has pushed back long-awaited elections, scheduled to take place this Sunday, until December 30. This is the latest in a literal years-long delay; Congo has been postponing these elections since 2016. [NPR / Colin Dwyer]
- It deals another blow to democracy advocates and opposition parties in the DRC, a country that has yet to see a peaceful democratic transition of power since independence in 1960. The current president, Joseph Kabila, has ruled since 2001. He maxed out his term as president in 2016, but delayed elections and so remained in power. [NYT / Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura]
- The head of the DRC’s election commission blamed the delay on a bunch of issues, including the ongoing Ebola crisis in war-torn parts of the country and the destruction of thousands of voting machines. [Washington Post / Max Bearak]
- Yes, that’s right. A fire in Kinshasa, the capital, destroyed ballots and more than 7,000 of the city’s 10,000 voting machines. Arson is suspected, and opposition leaders have blamed Kabila’s ruling party. [Guardian / Jason Burke]
- This latest delay will likely increase tensions in the DRC, particularly in Kinshasa. Government security forces frequently cracked down on opposition supporters, who’ve protested past delays in elections. Last week, security forces reportedly killed seven people in the capital. [Al Jazeera]
- If the elections do happen, they will pit Kabila’s handpicked candidate and former minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary against two main opposition figures: Félix Tshisekedi, leader of the largest opposition party, and former Exxon executive Martin Fayulu. [CFR / Claire Felter]
- Many Congolese, however, fear that the elections will be rigged and Shadary will win no matter what. It’s already leading to fears of violence. [Foreign Policy / Kristen Chick]
- The secret to why every brand advertising on Instagram seems eerily ... similar. [Fast Company / Mark Wilson]
- Happy holidays! Here’s glitter, explained. [NYT / Caity Weaver]
- And here’s how eating Chinese food on Christmas became a Jewish tradition. [Vox / Jamie Lauren Keiles]
- On a darker note, “Pandemic Trail” is a new game from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the 1918 flu epidemic. It’s like Oregon Trail, except instead of trying to reach Oregon, you’re trying to get through the day without getting the flu (and likely dying). [CDC]
“He didn’t look like a lion. He looked like a dumb sasquatch.” [Tasha McGhee to Courier-Journal / Thomas Novelly]
Watch this: The World War II battle against STDs
Not all of World War II’s battles were public. Venereal disease was a major front in the war. [YouTube / Phil Edwards]
Facebook’s very bad year, explained
The Women’s March changed the American left. Now anti-Semitism allegations threaten the group’s future.
2018 was a difficult year for cookies
I worked in the Interior Department. Watching Zinke’s tenure was heartbreaking.