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Vox Sentences: Didn’t you get the memo?

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Here’s what you need to know about that memo everyone keeps talking about; Kenya’s government cracks down on the press.


The release of the memo is nigh

Schiff and Nunes Mark Wilson/Getty Images
  • It’s looking increasingly like President Donald Trump will indeed release a four-page memo compiled by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) that alleges the FBI abused its surveillance powers as it investigated certain Trump campaign officials. [WSJ / Rebecca Ballhaus, Kristina Peterson, and Peter Nicholas]
  • For those of you just catching up on this story, Vox’s Zack Beauchamp and Alex Ward do a great job of laying it out in a way that makes sense. But basically, this is the latest big development in the ongoing Trump-Russia saga. It could either be a huge nothingburger or it could be used by Trump to try to discredit the FBI and, by extension, special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into his campaign. [Vox / Zack Beauchamp and Alex Ward]
  • The Nunes memo specifically alleges that the FBI didn’t properly vet its intelligence when it got a FISA court’s approval to surveil former Trump campaign Carter Page, who flew to Russia to meet with Russian officials in summer 2016. [Vox / Zack Beauchamp and Alex Ward]
  • Earlier this week, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee voted to release the memo to the American public as long as Trump approves it, despite warnings from Democrats and the Justice Department. [Washington Post / Karoun Demirjian and Devlin Barrett]
  • There are concerns that classified information in the memo could be dangerous to intelligence sources. The top Democrat on the committee, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), has also accused Nunes of secretly changing the memo, basically cherry-picking information to look more damning. [Vox / Zeeshan Aleem]
  • And according to a report from Axios, there are people in the White House who think the memo could be a “dud” and “not a slam dunk.” [Axios / Jonathan Swan]
  • If Trump does release the memo, it could explode his war with the FBI. Vox’s Sean Illing talked to a number of historians, who said there is no historical precedent for this; there’s never been another president or Congress who has so openly tried to undermine the FBI. We are in new territory, and things are moving fast. [Vox / Sean Illing]

Kenya’s government is cracking down on free press

  • Kenya’s controversial presidential election this summer seemingly won’t end, and the latest casualty is the country’s free press. [Quartz / Abdi Latif Dahir]
  • The country’s opposition party staged a rally and a mock inauguration where party leader Raila Odinga declared himself the “people’s president,” and after television networks broadcast the event, the government shut them down. [Washington Post / Kevin Sieff and Rael Ombuor]
  • A Kenyan court has since ruled that the government should allow the television broadcasts to continue, but that hasn’t happened yet. Other journalists are afraid of arrest. This marks a dark turn in a country where press freedom is constitutionally protected. [NPR / Eyder Peralta]
  • Odinga lost his election last year to incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta, but the country remains deeply divided between the two parties. Longtime Kenyan political observers say there’s no precedent on this press blackout, but there have been increasing government attempts to muscle in on their coverage in the past year. [NYT / Jina Moore]

Miscellaneous

  • Maybe it’s not rocket science after all: An amateur radio astronomer stumbled upon signals from a spacecraft NASA lost contact with 12 years ago. [Smithsonian / Jason Daley]
  • The progressive mayor of Mussolini’s hometown wants to open a museum of fascism in the main square, not to honor the cause but as a way to contain it. [Washington Post / Michael Birnbaum and Stefano Pitrelli]
  • Good news for beer lovers: Craft breweries are actually helping the economy. Between 2008 and 2016, the number of brewery establishments expanded by a factor of six, and the number of brewery workers grew by 120 percent. [Atlantic / Derek Thompson]
  • If you’re looking to learn a new skill, look no further than Switzerland, where one university will soon offer a degree in yodeling. [NPR]

Verbatim

“The men have to stand on apple boxes sometimes while I’m acting with them, especially ’cause they put me in these insane six-inch skyscraper heels. I haven’t yet been asked to stand in a ditch, but I’ve heard that that’s what some very tall women have to do.” [The Good Place actress Jameela Jamil to GQ / Ashley Fetters]


Watch this: What BMI doesn’t tell you about health

The way we define obesity is flawed. [YouTube / Gina Barton]


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Rose McGowan’s interview with Colbert was incredibly uncomfortable. It’s worth watching.