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Vox Sentences: Things are still a mess in Syria

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.

President Trump mulls action after Syria’s latest chemical weapons attack; Florida Gov. Rick Scott jumps into a competitive US Senate race.

Assad isn’t afraid of Trump

Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool/Getty Images
  • The United States is contemplating how to respond after yet another chemical weapons attack by the Syrian regime against its own people. [CNN / Jeremy Diamond and Noah Gray]
  • The apparent chemical attack occurred in Douma, a rebel-held area near the Syrian capital of Damascus. Dozens of people, many of them women and children, have died after an apparent chemical weapons attack. The area has been facing heavy bombardment from Bashar al-Assad’s regime as the government tries to bring it under control. [NPR / Alexis Diao]
  • President Donald Trump has called the actions “heinous” and “atrocious.” He has suggested the US may take action against Syria, as well as the country’s allies Russia and Iran. [NYT / Peter Baker]
  • Although Trump has made it clear that multiple options for dealing with the regime are on the table, he hasn’t specified which one he will take, instead saying he’ll make an announcement soon. [Reuters / Steve Holland and Suleiman Al-Khalidi]
  • This is reminiscent of the threat Trump made when the Syrian regime deployed another chemical attack against civilians in a town called Khan Sheikhoun that left more than 80 people dead. Trump deployed cruise missiles after that attack as a warning to Assad. But the Syrian dictator has clearly continued the provocations, raising the stakes. [Vox / Zack Beauchamp]
  • Complicating the entire situation in Syria is the fact that Syria and Russia are blaming Israel for airstrikes on a Syrian airbase this morning that killed more than 10 people, including Iranian fighters. [NYT / Ben Hubbard]
  • There’s been some speculation that this was coordinated between the US and Israel (the two countries are allies), but there’s evidence that Israel was acting on its own, for reasons that have nothing to do with the chemical attack. [Washington Post / Erin Cunningham and Ruth Eglash]
  • Lawmakers from both parties have been pushing for some sort of military intervention in Syria for years (this was a problem under the Obama administration as well, and Obama decided not to get involved militarily). Some people want the US to draw a so-called “red line” to come down hard on Assad and send a message to the rest of the world about chemical weapons. But as Vox’s Zack Beauchamp writes, with Syria already so devastated by civil war, a US intervention at this point would be unlikely to change the course of the conflict. [Vox / Zack Beauchamp]

A $100 million snoozefest in Florida

  • Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) formally announced his candidacy for US Senate today, after months of speculation. Scott will square off against Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson. [NPR / Greg Allen and Jessica Taylor]
  • It’s going to be a hugely important race in the 2018 midterms, with a lot of cash spent. In fact, it could be one of the most expensive races of the year, estimated at a cost of $100 million. [NYT / Patricia Mazzei]
  • When it comes to approval ratings, Nelson and Scott are pretty evenly matched (both have approval ratings in the 50s). On the other hand, neither man is known for his innate charisma, according to Democratic and Republican political consultants alike. [Vox / Dylan Scott]
  • Republicans have been urging Scott to run for years, in part because he has money to run a competitive campaign, and in part because Florida is such a politically important state. [Vox / Dylan Scott]
  • One issue that will make this race interesting is gun control. Scott has faced pressure from both parties in the wake of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting. Survivors have pushed for tighter gun control (some measures of which Scott has conceded to), which has angered the National Rifle Association and some conservative Republicans. [Washington Post / Michael Scherer]


  • Over the past five years, accidents in the US Navy have become 82 percent more frequent. Now the Navy is trying to understand why. [Military Times / Tara Copp]
  • Movie theaters have gotten a facelift in the hopes of getting you off your recliner and into theirs. (But the jury’s still out on whether it’ll work.) [WSJ / Erich Schwartzel]
  • You might be able to take a vacation in space by 2022. Provided you have $10 million lying around, that is. [CNN Travel / Maureen O’Hare]
  • Turns out it’s a lot harder to define what a tree is (and what it ... isn’t) than you might expect. [Atlantic / Rachel Ehrenberg]


“Everyone’s become a treehugger, or, I guess, a cactushugger.” [Carlos Morera, owner of LA’s the Cactus Store, on the sudden proliferation of tiny cactuses and succulents / Curbed]

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Light is flooding into the Arctic. There will be winners and losers.[YouTube / Eli Kintisch and Mallory Brangan]

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