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Vox Sentences: Saudi Arabia and Iran are playing a game of nuclear chicken

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A pedestrian bridge over a Florida highway collapses, killing several people and crushing multiple vehicles; Saudi Arabia and Iran heat up their nuclear arms race.


Several people feared dead in Florida pedestrian bridge collapse

Joe Raedle/Getty Images
  • A pedestrian bridge at Florida International University in the Miami area collapsed Thursday; police say several people may have been killed, and an unknown number of vehicles and people were trapped on the roadway underneath. [Miami Herald / Andres Viglucci, Monique Madan, and Daniel Chang]
  • The exact number of casualties is yet to be confirmed, and search and rescue is still underway. Officials said at least eight vehicles were crushed underneath. [Associated Press]
  • The bridge was installed Saturday as part of an initiative to increase student safety and give pedestrians access over the Tamiami Trail, a busy stretch of Florida highway that claimed an undergraduate student’s life last August. [Vox / Tara Golshan]
  • Funded by the US Department of Transportation, the bridge cost around $14.2 million and was installed using a method called “accelerated bridge construction,” or “instant bridge.” The method was hailed as an innovative construction method, and engineers said it would reduce risk to workers and pedestrians, and prevent traffic in the area. [Tampa Bay Times]
  • Over the past several months, the bridge was assembled on the side of the trail while support towers were put in place on either side of the highway; then it was picked up and positioned over the road in a matter of hours last Saturday. [ABC News / Julia Jacobo]
  • The project was expected to be finished and opened to the public in early 2019 — part of a bigger downtown revitalization project for the neighboring town of Sweetwater, where upward of 4,000 students live. [NYT / Nick Madigan, Christine Hauser, and Anemona Hartocollis]
  • The tragic incident has gained attention in Congress, where lawmakers have yet to prioritize infrastructure reform. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted that he had spoken with DOT Secretary Elaine Chao and is en route to Florida. [Marco Rubio via Twitter]

Saudi Arabia threatens to go nuclear if Iran does

  • The crown prince of Saudia Arabia made a comment about nuclear weapons that has the international community worried, to put it mildly. [Reuters]
  • In a conversation with 60 Minutes, Prince Mohammad bin Salman said that the nuclear future of his country depends on Iran: “Without a doubt, if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we would follow suit as soon as possible.” [BBC]
  • Although MBS, as he’s known, emphasized that he didn’t want to acquire nuclear weapons, his comment intensified the rhetoric in the increasingly volatile rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which has fueled sectarianism and war across the Middle East. [NYT / Ben Hubbard]
  • MBS, who also serves as Saudi defense minister, said last year that the kingdom would make sure any future struggle between the two countries “is waged in Iran,” prompting Iranian threats to hit back at most of Saudi Arabia, save the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. [Reuters]
  • The Saudi prince arrives in the United States next week for “a tour of the pillars of the US economy.” His trip will include meetings with Silicon Valley leaders, LA entertainment executives, oil industry executives in Houston, and Wall Street leaders in New York. [Washington Post / Steven Mufson]

Miscellaneous

  • A new study has found that most brands of bottled water contain tiny plastic particles, which is as good an excuse as any to switch to refillable bottles. [BBC / David Shukman]
  • Because we always know less than we thought we did: Archaeologists in Kenya have discovered evidence that humans were engaging in trade 100,000 years before previously believed. [Smithsonian / Lorraine Boissoneault]
  • The desk lunch salad might not be going anywhere, but competition over where you’ll buy it is heating up as Sweetgreen, Tender Greens, Chopt, and other rivals expand. [Eater / Lisa Elaine Held]
  • If you think you’re having a bad day, be thankful you weren’t on the plane that lost part of its $368 million worth of precious cargo when a loading hatch broke off. [Siberian Times]

Verbatim

“He ran on a campaign that said very nice things about me. I said, ‘Is he a Republican? He sounds like a Republican to me.’” [President Trump commenting on PA-18 winner Conor Lamb, a Democrat, in audio obtained by the Atlantic / Elaina Plott]


Watch this: The guidebook that helped black Americans travel during segregation

Until the Civil Rights Act passed in 1964, the Green Book was critical for black Americans wanting to travel across the country. [YouTube / Coleman Lowndes]


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