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Vox Sentences: A prisoner for a prisoner

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Joe Biden is officially running for president; Iran proposes a prisoner swap with the US.

Third time’s the charm?

Former Vice President Joe Biden Delivers Remarks At IBEW Conference Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
  • After months of speculation, former Vice President Joe Biden has officially announced he is running for president in 2020. [Washington Post / Michael Scherer and John Wagner]
  • Biden announced his bid through a video posted on social media. In the clip, Biden took a jab at President Trump and used the 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville to suggest the “soul” of America is at stake. [CNN / Arlette Saenz]
  • Although he is just announcing his official campaign, Biden has been included in many 2020 polls in which he came out as a frontrunner (though this early in the race, that could have a lot to do with name recognition alone). [FiveThirtyEight / Nate Silver]
  • Biden, 76, is the 20th Democrat to announce a bid for 2020 among a crowd that is being celebrated for its gender and racial diversity. The party has moved significantly to the left since that last time Biden ran for office, and many wonder how he will fare among more progressive candidates such as Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris. [AP / Steve Peoples and Thomas Beaumont]
  • Biden’s run is already off to a rocky start, as several women have accused him of touching them inappropriately. Biden addressed the accusations in a video, saying that he would be more mindful of others’ space, though he stopped short of an apology for his actions. [Guardian / Erin Durkin]
  • There are also controversies stemming from Biden’s time as a senator, such as his support for the war on drugs and mass incarceration, and his mishandling of the Anita Hill hearings. [Vox / German Lopez]
  • Despite these problems, though, it’s hard to deny that Biden is a popular, well-known Democrat who has benefited from his likable persona. And some are hoping this “Uncle Joe” charm will ultimately be enough to defeat Trump. [Vox / Dylan Scott]

Iran’s foreign minister proposes a prisoner exchange

  • Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Wednesday proposed a prisoner swap with the US: freeing Iranians awaiting extradition in exchange for the release of prisoners like British-Iranian mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who was jailed in Iran three years ago on espionage charges. [Time / Hillary Leung]
  • Zarif paralleled this case to that of Negar Ghodskani, an Iranian woman who was arrested in Australia in 2017 and separated from her newborn child. She allegedly sought to buy US digital communications technology while disguising herself as an employee from Malaysia; US prosecutors say she was actually sending the technology to an Iranian company for public broadcasting. [France 24 / AFP]
  • Zarif said he can make a prisoner exchange happen if the US agrees. But planning the exchange, if the US agrees, could take years, especially given that several countries are involved. Still, British officials are encouraged by the possibility that Iran is willing to use Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case for diplomatic leverage (something it previously denied). [BBC]
  • If the prisoner exchange were to happen, it would be the first since the 2016 agreement between six countries that curbed Iranian nuclear activities for economic benefits — the agreement President Trump abandoned a year ago, calling it the “worst deal ever.” [NYT / Rick Gladstone]


  • During a speech at the Time 100 Gala, comedian Hasan Minhaj called on Jared Kushner to use his relationship with the Saudi crown prince to advocate for the release of female Saudi activist Loujain al-Hathloul. It appears his ribbing worked. [Salon / Matthew Rozsa]
  • Three years ago, thousands of emperor penguin chicks disappeared overnight from a colony in Antarctica. Scientists now think they know what caused it — and why the emperors won’t return to the breeding ground. [Fox News / Brie Stimson]
  • A team of international scientists has discovered a fossil of a 95 million-year-old “platypus crab.” The tiny creature (about the size of a quarter) could redefine what we think of crabs as a species. [New Atlas / David Szondy]
  • Taylor Swift made a surprise appearance in Nashville, Tennessee, on Thursday, to tease a “big announcement” about ... something. She’ll reveal the details on April 26. [ET / Desiree Murphy]
  • After India banned the Chinese app TikTok for allegedly exposing children to inappropriate content, a court has ruled the country must reinstate it. [CNN Business / Rishi Iyengar]


“Normally my sense with Iran is nothing is flippant, and so it will have a meaning, but it might not be the obvious meaning.” [Richard Ratcliffe, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband, on Iran’s suggestion of a prisoner swap to free his jailed wife]

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