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Vox Sentences: Goodbye, Queen of Soul

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Paying tribute to Aretha Franklin and her rich legacy; China wants Google, but only if it’s censored — and Google employees are not happy.

Aretha Franklin is dead at 76

Alex Wong/Getty Images
  • Aretha Franklin — arguably the greatest singer of all time — died at 76 on Thursday of pancreatic cancer. Franklin was an accomplished singer and activist in the counterculture, civil rights, and feminist movements. [NYT / Jon Pareles]
  • Franklin, also known as the Queen of Soul, was the first woman to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, in 1987. She was also the most-charted female performer on the Billboard Top 100 for 40 years. And during her career, she won 18 Grammy Awards. [Vox / Constance Grady]
  • ”The most distinguished black female artist of all time” was born in Memphis in 1942 to a preacher who exposed her to the music that would help her shape a generation. Franklin “revolutionized black music” and both paved the way for and influenced countless popular artists, including Mary J. Blige and Beyoncé. [Detroit Free Press / Brian McCollum]
  • Franklin was also heavily involved in the civil rights movement. She continued the fight for black rights after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, supported the Black Panthers, and tried to post bail for activist Angela Davis. [Atlantic / Vann R. Newkirk II]
  • Michigan declared her its “precious natural resource” who “always remained modest about her accomplishments” when she was inducted into the Women’s Hall of Fame in 2001. [Michigan Women’s Historical Center & Hall of Fame]
  • Franklin leaves behind a legacy as “the living definition of soul.” [Guardian / Dorian Lynskey]

Google censors itself in secret

  • Google is planning to launch a censored version of its search engine in China to appease the Chinese government and its “strict censorship laws,” according to a whistleblower who leaked confidential documents on August 1. [The Intercept / Ryan Gallagher]
  • Google is building the project, code-named “Dragonfly,” as an Android app that would filter out websites that the Chinese government bans, including the BBC and Wikipedia. The project has been in the works since 2017. [The Verge / James Vincent]
  • Hundreds of Google employees are now protesting the project. They wrote a letter to the company’s leaders explaining that the project and Google’s willingness to placate the Chinese government “raise urgent moral and ethical issues.” [NYT / Kate Conger and Daisuke Wakabayashi]
  • Google had originally shut down its Chinese search engine in 2010 when the government began limiting free speech and simultaneously coordinated cyberattacks against the Gmail accounts of human rights activists. [Google / David Drummond]
  • That Google is even considering censorship is the sign of a “broader tech giant problem”: Its “leadership has no understanding of the sociopolitical environment in which they are operating.” [Worldly / Vox Podcasts]


  • The US lobster industry is seriously hurting since Trump began his trade war with China. (And the EU.) (And Canada.) [Quartz / Heather Timmons]
  • 520,000 packs of ramen noodles, worth nearly $100,000, were stolen off the back of a truck in a grand heist in Georgia on August 1. [11 Alive / Donesha Aldridge]
  • The Colorado baker involved in the Masterpiece Cakeshop Supreme Court case on denying services to a gay couple has now turned away a trans woman. The baker, Jack Phillips, claimed in June that he doesn’t “discriminate against anybody.” [Daily Beast / Samantha Allen]
  • Disney has announced it will not invite James Gunn back to direct the new Guardians of the Galaxy movie. Gunn was fired from the project in mid-July after the alt-right resurfaced old tweets in which he joked about pedophilia. [The Verge / Patricia Hernandez]


“I’ve tried to inject a new, more forgiving idea into my inner monologue: You don’t have to look good. Not: You are beautiful and don’t know it. Not: Fuck the beauty standards. Not: You shouldn’t care how you look. Just: You don’t have to look good.” [Haley Nahman on ignoring the need to find the alternative beauty of one’s appearance altogether / Man Repeller]

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