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Vox Sentences: India cracks down on “fake news.” Chaos ensues.

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EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is (still) in hot water; India backpedals on legislation attempting to ban “fake news.”


Let’s talk about Scott

Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images
  • Yet another member of the Trump administration is embroiled in scandal, with increasingly bizarre allegations against Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt coming to light. But President Donald Trump isn’t hanging Pruitt out to dry. [Vox / Umair Irfan]
  • Slashing environmental regulations and praising the president, Pruitt has managed to stay in Trump’s good graces. And apparently, even a growing number of ethics scandals — most recently involving a deal to stay at a lobbyist’s condo and a questionable raise adjustment for two of his close aides — aren’t enough for Pruitt to lose the president’s support. [CNN / Dan Merica, Kevin Liptak, and Kaitlan Collins]
  • Why all the fuss over a condo? The lobbyist who owns the Capitol Hill property where Pruitt stayed is part of a firm that represents fossil fuel companies. Although an agency ethics official at the EPA has insisted that Pruitt’s lease didn’t violate federal ethics rules, some people aren’t buying it. [The Hill / Brett Samuels]
  • The embattled EPA chief also used an obscure provision last month to increase the salaries of two staffers by tens of thousands of dollars, after the White House said no to the staffers’ requested raises. [Atlantic / Elaina Plott and Robinson Meyer]
  • The scrutiny began when the Office of Inspector General started investigating Pruitt’s travel expenses in August 2017, after reports that Pruitt spent thousands of dollars on first-class plane tickets and a 24/7 security detail. [NPR / Rebecca Hersher]
  • Trump called Pruitt on Monday to tell him that “we’ve got your back” and urged him to “keep his head up” and “keep fighting,” according to two administration officials. [Associated Press / Jonathan Lemire and Catherine Lucey]
  • In the past year, Pruitt has emerged as a hero to Trump supporters for his role in undoing environmental rules at an agency long disliked by big agriculture and farmers, the fossil fuel industry, and conservative groups. And he has occasionally shocked his employees by criticizing the same agency he heads. [NYT / Coral Davenport]
  • White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has considered firing Pruitt in the coming months as part of a wave of ousters of top officials causing headaches for the president, a senior administration official told Politico. [Politico / Eliana Johnson, Alex Guillén, and Andrew Restuccia]

India backs down on proposed “fake news” legislation after an outcry

  • On Tuesday, the Indian government walked back a new rule that would have punished publishers of so-called “fake news,” after many questioned what exactly would fall into that category. [CNN / Sugam Pokharel and Joshua Berlinger]
  • On Monday, the government announced that journalists who were found to have written “fake news” would lose their official accreditation, in some cases permanently. But the proposal faced such swift and strong backlash that by Tuesday, the government had changed its tune. [NYT / Kai Schultz and Suhasini Raj]
  • Many in the Indian news media saw the new rules as an attack on the press, noting organizations like the Press Council of India and the News Broadcasters Association already exist to ensure press accountability. [Times of India]
  • Indian journalists also pointed out that the amendment was released mere months before campaigning was set to begin for national elections in 2019, and that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party has a history of attacking members of the press who publish criticism of their leadership. [Times of India]
  • India isn’t the only country that has floated such a ban. The government of Malaysia, for one, is putting up radio announcements and billboards warning of “fake news,” which some also believe is an attack on press freedom. [NYT / Hannah Beech]

Miscellaneous

  • Spotify is about to go public. But it’s not doing so in the traditional way, opting out of an initial public offering (IPO) altogether. [Bloomberg / Alex Barinka]
  • The stories we read in history books about how the Inca conquered indigenous Peruvians usually portray a decisive slaughter. Now, genetics and linguistics experts are challenging the winner’s version of history. [Smithsonian / Joshua Rapp Learn]
  • Diapers aren’t usually thought of as the most significant cost that comes with a new baby, but one in three families can’t afford them. [Tampa Bay Times / Kathleen McGrory]
  • The mysterious material known as “dark matter” has always been thought of as a key component of galaxies. So what happens now that scientists know a galaxy 65 million light-years away from Earth contains hardly any of it? [Science News / Emily Conover]

Verbatim

“Some are going to Bermuda, some going to Southern California, some going to Atlanta. And there’s me, who is going to work.” [Allegany College student Antonio Cummings on his spring break working at Wegman’s, to the Washington Post / Petula Dvorak]


Watch this: It’s not you. Claw machines are rigged.

If you’ve played a claw machine, you probably haven’t won many prizes and maybe even thought they’re rigged. Find out what really happened to your allowance. [YouTube / Phil Edwards, Estelle Caswell, and Joss Fong]


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