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Vox Sentences: The politics of Mexico’s deadly pipeline explosion

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Trump’s transgender military ban gets a boost from the Supreme Court; a deadly explosion in Mexico raises troubling questions.

Supreme Court revives Trump’s ban on transgender troops

The US Supreme Court on a snowy day. Al Drago/Getty Images
  • The Supreme Court ruled in favor of President Trump’s ban on transgender troops, putting several lower-court injunctions on the ban on hold as the case works through appeals. The ban won’t take effect immediately, because one other injunction against the ban remains in place for now. [Vox / German Lopez]
  • The Court only ruled on the injunctions, which are preventing the ban from going into effect — not the constitutionality of the ban itself. [Vox / German Lopez]
  • Trump first tweeted his intent to ban transgender service members in 2017, one year after the Pentagon decided that allowing transgender service members to enlist wouldn’t have negative effects on military operations. [Slate / Mark Joseph Stern]
  • Trump ordered then-Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis to develop the ban. Mattis’s policy rejects individuals who identify as a different gender than they were assigned at birth or anyone seeking coverage for gender-affirming surgery. Federal district courts immediately rejected this policy. [Washington Post / Robert Barnes and Dan Lamothe]
  • Supporters of the ban claim it isn’t discriminatory because the policy avoids directly referring to transgender people. It merely states all service members must serve “in their biological sex.” [Slate / Mark Joseph Stern]
  • The ban also allows openly transgender members of the military to continue serving. A RAND Corporation survey found that up to 10,000 transgender individuals are currently serving in the armed forces, although not all are open about their identity. [Smithsonian Magazine / Jennie Rothenberg Gritz]
  • The Supreme Court’s ruling interrupted a trend of federal district courts issuing injunctions on national decisions. So far, federal district courts in states like California and Washington have placed injunctions on 25 national rulings. [NYT / Adam Liptak]
  • Trump says his biggest concern is the military paying for transition surgery and hormone treatment, which could reportedly cost $2 million to $8 million a year — a minuscule fraction of the massive Department of Defense budget. [Smithsonian Magazine / Jennie Rothenberg Gritz]

A deadly pipeline explosion in Mexico

  • At least 94 people were killed Friday when a gasoline pipeline exploded near Mexico City. [NYT / Kirk Semple]
  • The victims were stealing fuel from the leaking pipe before the explosion occurred. In his response, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador blamed poverty and unemployment. [NYT / Kirk Semple]
  • The country’s outdated pipeline system is vulnerable to thousands of illegal taps, López Obrador said. He is investing in military trucks to transport fuel instead of pipes and recruiting thousands of troops to guard pipelines to combat frequent tapping. [Washington Post / Mark Stevenson via AP]
  • Fuel shortages have been widespread this month since the government’s crackdown on gasoline theft. As many as 800 people had headed to the pipeline before the explosion, seeking fuel to run cars or farms. [CBC / Reuters]
  • Obrador has provided a new sense of accountability in Mexico; however, the state-run oil company’s delay in shutting down the leaking pipeline has been criticized. Mexico’s attorney general is conducting a long-term investigation into the security response. [NYT / Kirk Semple]


  • A Huawei employee was arrested in Poland and charged with espionage. But how did the Chinese telecommunications company get so big in Europe in the first place? [NYT / Adam Satariano and Raymond Zhong]
  • A photographer and video journalist for the AP was killed in Libya on Saturday. Mohamed Ben Khalifa, 35, covered war and humanitarian issues in the North African country. Here is some of his work. [AP]
  • A video of Catholic students seemingly taunting a Native American leader went viral. The true story of what actually happened is harder to tell. [Atlantic / Ian Bogost]
  • Kamala Harris is the eighth Democrat to join the race for the 2020 presidential nomination. Here’s a look at who else is running. [NYT / Alexander Burns, Matt Flegenheimer, Jasmine C. Lee, Lisa Lerer, and Jonathan Martin]
  • French regulators are exercising the EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rules on privacy for the first time with a $5.7 million fine on Google, claiming the company hasn’t been transparent with user data. [Axios / David McCabe]


“It’s just something you never expect to happen. It’s like a distant dream that actors have and hope for to some degree. But it’s never really felt in the realm of possibilities — it’s a pretty joyous occasion to say the least.” [Rami Malek on his Oscar nomination for Best Actor today via Entertainment Weekly]

Watch this: How Trump wins press conferences

Trump has turned press conferences into a ritual of hate — is it still worth watching? [YouTube / Carlos Maza]

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