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Vox Sentences: The curious case of Trump and ZTE

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The fallout of Trump’s reversal on ZTE; new journalism loses a legend.


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  • President Trump’s weekend tweet about reversing his administration’s policy on ZTE — and saving Chinese jobs — is still causing some bipartisan consternation. [Vox / Zeeshan Aleem]
  • To recap, ZTE (short for Zhongxing Telecommunications Equipment) is a Chinese smartphone manufacturer, but it uses some US parts to make its products. The US Commerce Department cracked down on the tech firm after it found that ZTE was selling its goods to countries under US sanctions — North Korea, for example. [NYT / Paul Mozur]
  • The department came down hard, penalizing ZTE a record $1.9 billion for sanctions violations. But then it found ZTE had lied about punishing senior staff — so last month, it banned US companies from selling equipment to ZTE. [Washington Post / David J. Lynch]
  • Oh, there are also worries that ZTE poses a national security risk. Intel officials have said the Chinese government may be using its telecommunications firms to spy. [NBC News / Ken Dilanian]
  • All of which makes this reversal on the part of Trump — who’s had no shortage of tough talk for China’s trade practices in the past — all the more head-scratching. Trade talks with the Chinese may have something to do with his change of heart. [NPR / Anthony Kuhn]
  • Trump is likely making ZTE a concession in larger negotiations on China over trade. In return, administration officials are lobbying the Chinese to buy more US-made products and lift restrictions on agriculture. [NYT / Ana Swanson, Mark Landler, and Keith Bradsher]
  • Trade talks with China had been at a standstill, and Trump’s new stance on ZTE may create an opening. Plus, he’s likely also realizing he can’t afford to isolate China as his summit with North Korea approaches. [Washington Post / Damian Paletta, David J. Lynch, and Josh Dawsey]
  • But what to make of Trump’s about-face? Maybe he realizes the dangers of a trade war, and he’s finally learning the art of the deal as president. [Slate / Jordan Weissmann]
  • There’s also a less generous explanation: Did Trump change trade policy because it personally benefited him or his businesses? [Vox / Matt Yglesias]

New journalism loses a legend

  • Tom Wolfe, the journalist and novelist, died at age 88 on Monday. [NYT / Deirdre Carmody and William Grimes]
  • Wolfe sharply scrutinized class and social status in his writing, and his byline became one of the most recognizable names of the style known as new journalism. [NYMag / Chris Bonanos]
  • Wolfe’s writing also left a lasting mark on the English language. He named the ‘70s the “Me Decade,” after all. [Atlantic / Ben Zimmer]
  • Wolfe is probably best known for the nonfiction book The Right Stuff and his novel Bonfire of the Vanities. Here’s some required reading. [Esquire / Tyler Coates]
  • Or read some of his legendary features for New York magazine. [NYMag / Tom Wolfe]


  • The US has 169 volcanoes that could erupt at any time, including 50 that are considered “high priority” for monitoring. Sleep tight! [NYT / Alan Blinder]
  • The rise of the victims’ rights movement, and why victim impact statements weren’t included in the sentencing of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. [New Yorker / Jill Lepore]
  • Why America needs a monument dedicated to Ida B. Wells. [The Outline / Ann-Derrick Gaillot]
  • Former Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) will become a lobbyist. Despite the lucrative gig, he says he won’t back the $84,000 in taxpayer money he used to settle a sexual harassment complaint. [ABC News / John Parkinson]


“The public, media, and Congressional reaction to these numbers is going to be huge.” An unnamed White House aide on a study showing that chemicals damage human health even at levels the EPA had called “safe” — a study whose release the EPA and the White House sought to block. [Politico / Annie Snider]

Watch this: The sound that connects Stravinsky to Bruno Mars

It’s a 1980s pop music cliché that dates back to 1910. [YouTube / Estelle Caswell]

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