clock menu more-arrow no yes

Vox Sentences: Elon Musk’s car goes into orbit (literally)

Vox Sentences is your daily digest for what's happening in the world, curated by Ella Nilsen. Sign up for the Vox Sentences newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday, or view the Vox Sentences archive for past editions.

SpaceX blasts off; Poland criminalizes the act of blaming Polish people for Holocaust complicity.


Blast off!

Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images
  • Elon Musk’s SpaceX program launched the Falcon Heavy rocket from Florida today. [BuzzFeed / Dan Vergano]
  • The launch was a success; the rocket, carrying Musk’s red Tesla Roadster, took off and went into orbit. Parts of the rocket later touched back down to Earth. [The Verge / Loren Grush]
  • Falcon Heavy is a very large rocket; it weighs more than 1,500 tons and has the ability to carry more things into space than any other vehicle since Apollo-era rockets. [NPR / Colin Dwyer and Geoff Brumfiel]
  • The rocket’s launch is significant for a few reasons. First, SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy is the world’s most powerful rocket currently in operation, second only to those in NASA’s Apollo era. [Guardian]
  • It also heralds a new era in the private space industry, and it puts Musk ahead of his competitors including Jeff Bezos. [LA Times / Samantha Masunaga]
  • Musk, the South African billionaire and inventor, has a bigger vision for what to launch into space ... most notably, people to live on colonies on the moon and Mars. [NYT / Kenneth Chang]

Poland tries to censor a dark part of its history

  • On Tuesday, Polish President Andrzej Duda signed a bill that makes it a crime — punishable by up to three years in prison — for anyone who blames the Polish people for any complicity in the Holocaust. [Washington Post / Rick Noack]
  • The Polish government is particularly upset about the use of the phrase “Polish death camps” to describe death camps operated by Nazi Germany on Polish soil; President Obama had to apologize after using the phrase in 2012. [Washington Post / editorial board]
  • But the role of Polish citizens in tolerating, or assisting, Nazi extermination of Jews and other groups is still a matter of historical debate. Polish historians have worked to open up a space to discuss complicity in recent years, and they worry that the new law will shut it down. [Chicago Tribune / Anne Applebaum]
  • Poland’s current right-wing government is already raising alarms in Western Europe for its populism and “illiberalism” — it was formally sanctioned by the EU in December after Duda signed a law that effectively put the courts under his party’s control. [NYT / Marc Santora and Joanna Berendt]
  • Anti-Semitism is on the rise as well; an anti-Semitic march in Warsaw in November attracted 60,000 marchers. [JTA / Cnaan Lipshiz]
  • It’s hard to know what’s scarier: that Polish state media defended the bill by claiming an Israeli “Holocaust industry” was trying to squeeze Poland of property, or that a protest in favor of the bill told Duda (a Catholic) to “take off your yarmulke and sign the bill.” [WSJ / Drew Hinshaw]

Miscellaneous

  • On a small Greek island, there’s a small group of people who are the last practitioners of “sfyria,” a language composed entirely of whistling. [The Outline / Sarah Souli]
  • Who is President Trump most afraid of (besides Robert Mueller)? Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the “skilled prosecutor with an acid tongue” who is all up in memo mania these days. [Atlantic / Natasha Bertrand]
  • It might not be a shock for those who live there, but Los Angeles (still) has the worst traffic congestion in the world. [USA Today / Kevin McCoy]
  • One University of Chicago med student is learning his craft by literally knitting cute little organs out of yarn, with the correct scale and color. [Atlas Obscura / Jessica Leigh Hester]

Verbatim

“We’ll do a shutdown and it’s worth it for our country. I’d love to see a shutdown if we don’t get this stuff taken care of.” [President Trump to lawmakers, seemingly forgetting that we had a shutdown a couple of weeks ago / CNN]


Watch this: Why do taxpayers pay billions for football stadiums?

Cities want football teams. Owners want stadiums. [YouTube / Mallory Brangan and Dorotea Sotirovska]


Read more

In defense of Social Security Disability Insurance

Why Democrats probably won’t shut down the government again

Black Panther: 5 things to know about Marvel’s next surefire hit

How to tell a cold from the flu, in 2 great charts

What the hell is happening with the stock market? I asked an expert.