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Vox Sentences: Don’t drink the alcohol in Indonesia

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Paul Ryan makes a big announcement; dozens die in Indonesia from bootleg alcohol.

A thankless job

Mark Wilson/Getty Images
  • The rumor mill was right: House Speaker Paul Ryan announced Wednesday that he won’t seek reelection in November. [NYT / Jonathan Martin and Nicholas Fandos]
  • House Republicans were already in a pretty tough spot for the midterms. By setting up a distracting leadership succession struggle and giving Democrats a better chance at his Wisconsin seat, Ryan’s move makes 2018 look even bleaker for the GOP. [Reuters]
  • In a news conference, Ryan attributed his decision to a desire to spend more time with his children (the youngest of whom is 16, the age at which Ryan’s own father died). “My kids aren’t getting any younger,” Ryan said, “and if I stay, they’ll only know me as a weekend dad.” [NPR / Susan Davis and Domenico Montanaro]
  • But his stated reasoning hasn’t stopped speculation that the move has something to do with President Trump, with whom the speaker has had a notably fraught relationship. (Let’s not forget Ryan’s efforts to distance himself, and the rest of the GOP, from then-nominee Trump before cutting ties entirely with the candidate in October 2016). [CNN / Chris Cillizza]
  • Trump, for his part, seems to have taken the news in stride, tweeting shortly before Ryan was scheduled to hold a news conference announcing his retirement that the speaker is “a truly good man” and leaves “a legacy of achievement that nobody can question.” [Washington Post / Robert Costa, Mike DeBonis, and John Wagner]
  • Ryan’s decision was foreshadowed by Politico in November with a report that the speaker saw his “wild Washington journey coming to an end,” but his final deliberations were followed closely. [Politico / Tim Alberta and Rachael Bade]
  • The takeaway: Nobody is particularly surprised. On top of the personal factors and the fact that Ryan didn’t want the position in the first place, the speakership has always been one of the most difficult jobs in Washington, and was especially a headache during the Trump presidency. [Vox / Tara Golshan]
  • With Ryan gone, the focus will turn to who will replace him as speaker (widely seen as a contest between Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Majority Whip Steve Scalise). [Politico / Rachael Bade and John Bresnehan]
  • It also raises the question of whether Democrats will be able to flip Ryan’s district. His retirement gives them their best opportunity in a decade to do so. [Vox / Ella Nilsen]

People are dying in Indonesia from bootleg liquor

  • Legal alcohol can be hard to come by in Muslim-majority Indonesia, where tens of thousands of convenience stores are banned from selling the substance altogether and other sales are heavily taxed. [Australian Broadcasting Corporation / Adam Harvey]
  • A booming black market has filled the gap, but a lack of federal oversight and regulations has had deadly implications. [Reuters]
  • Just this month, 82 Indonesians have died and many more have been hospitalized after drinking tainted bootleg liquor, police announced Wednesday. At least a dozen men have been detained on suspicion of making and distributing the drink, police said, making good on what they vowed would be a “‘scorched earth’ crackdown” on makers and distributors. [AP via the Washington Post / Niniek Karmini]
  • And this isn’t the first time something like this has happened in the country. In 2016, at least 24 people died after consuming spirits sold illegally and made from ethanol, water, and fruit. In 2014, meanwhile, more than a dozen died after drinking a similar cocktail. [BBC]


  • Former House Speaker John Boehner is down with weed. Boehner said he’s joining the advisory board for one of the country’s largest (legal) marijuana companies, a sharp pivot. [NYT / Daniel Victor]
  • Family reunification for refugees is no longer a guarantee. Here’s why that matters for more than just the families. [Foreign Policy / Vauhini Vara]
  • The secretive, highly subjective admissions processes at elite universities have long been the bane of many high school students’ lives. But now, the Justice Department is getting involved to see if admissions departments are violating federal laws. [Atlantic / Adam Harris]
  • The blow-up musical instruments and plastic fedoras that have become a staple of bar mitzvahs and sweet sixteens parties might not be as innocuous as they appear. [Atlas Obscura / Sonia Weiser]


“We are a nation made strong by people like you.” [Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg presides over a naturalization ceremony at the New York Historical Society, welcoming 200 immigrants from 59 countries / NYT]

Watch this: How the Catholic Church censored Hollywood’s golden age

For decades, Hollywood studios needed to follow a strict set of moral guidelines if they wanted their movies to get made. [YouTube / Dean Peterson]

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