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Vox Sentences: The shutdown reaches its sell-by date

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FDA food inspections interrupted; Venezuela’s president inaugurated.

Shutdown hits FDA inspections

Scott Olson/Getty Images
  • On day 20 of the government shutdown, the Food and Drug Administration — which oversees about 80 percent of the nation’s food supply, including fruits and vegetables — has limited its regular food safety inspections. [NYT / Sheila Kaplan]
  • Don’t panic yet: Less than half a percent of annual inspections have been disrupted by the shutdown, according to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. Normal checks of low-risk facilities have been paused, but the shutdown has not stopped routine searches of high-risk manufacturers (which include products like baby formula, raw produce, and seafood). [Vox / Julia Belluz]
  • Gottlieb challenged previous FDA guidance to call back furloughed employees and prioritize high-risk inspections. [Washington Post / Laurie McGinley and Joel Achenbach]
  • The US Department of Agriculture — which oversees other parts of the nation’s food supply chain — has maintained regular inspections of meat, poultry, and egg products because it’s required to do so by law. Inspectors are working without pay. [NBC News / Maggie Fox]
  • Even when the government is open, high-risk food facilities sometimes go without regular inspection. The shutdown has brought to light the need for more frequent investigation into the 20,000 high-risk facilities functioning in the US. [Politico / Helena Bottemiller Evich]

Venezuela’s president begins a second term

  • Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro was inaugurated for a second term today in Caracas. The election last May was disputed worldwide, with Russia and China expressing support for the leader while the US and EU refused to recognize his reelection as legitimate. [NYT / Ana Vanessa Herrero and Megan Specia]
  • Venezuela’s economy has collapsed since Maduro’s first term began in 2013. Rather than seek solutions constitutionally via the country’s National Assembly, the president has given the military control of the national oil and food supply. [WSJ / Kejal Vyas]
  • Poor citizens made up most of Maduro’s voting base, many of whom were promised food handouts if he were reelected. However, less than half of the country’s population voted. [NYT / Ana Vanessa Herrero and Megan Specia]
  • Diplomats from Peru and Paraguay were recalled following the inauguration to express the nations’ disapproval of the reelection. The Lima Group, composed of 14 Latin American nations and Canada, urged Maduro to give up his position a few days ago. [Al Jazeera]


  • Why has Italy’s Five Star Movement expressed support for the Yellow Vests in France? Both groups need allies in Europe to push their populist message. [Politico Europe / Hannah Roberts]
  • “We will remember his humanity and his courage”: a memorial for murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi. [New Yorker / Lawrence Wright]
  • 79 million American adults qualify as obese, according to the CDC. Here’s what it’s really like to be fat in the US. [Atlantic / Tommy Tomlinson]
  • Alexa can help children do their homework. Surprisingly, the technology could have some positives. [NPR / Jasmine Garsd]
  • US birthrates are at a 30-year low, with stark variation among the 50 states. [WSJ / Brianna Abbott]


“As a victim of sexual assault myself, I made both the song and the video at a dark time in my life, my intention was to create something extremely defiant and provocative because I was angry and still hadn’t processed the trauma that had occurred in my own life.” [Lady Gaga apologized for her 2013 collaboration with R. Kelly, which she plans to remove from streaming services]

Watch this: Why video games are made of tiny triangles

Inside your favorite games — Red Dead Redemption 2, Fortnite, PUBG, Rocket League — you’ll find millions of tiny triangles. [YouTube / Cleo Abram]

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