clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Vox Sentences: Mar-a-Lag-Oh-No

Vox Sentences is your daily digest for what’s happening in the world. Sign up for the Vox Sentences newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday, or view the Vox Sentences archive for past editions.

A recent arrest at Mar-a-Lago suggests a possible national security threat; gay sex is now punishable by death in Brunei.

A spy caper at Mar-a-Lago?

Bo Rader/Wichita Eagle/MCT via Getty Images
  • A Chinese woman, Yujing Zhang, was arrested on Saturday for trespassing at Mar-a-Lago while carrying a thumb drive infected with malware. Some are worried that the lack of oversight of President Trump’s Florida club could lead to a national security crisis. [Vox / Emily Stewart]
  • The incident sheds light on the complications that follow when the president prefers to stay at a crowded resort over the more isolated Camp David, a remote lodge in Maryland designed for presidential retreats. [CNN / Jeremy Diamond and Jim Acosta]
  • Although the Secret Service amps up the resort security when Trump is present by closing roads and screening incoming cars, they do not have total control over the club. The resort staff has ultimate power over the guest list, and the gaps in communication can lead to intruders, such as Zhang, on the property. [NYT / Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Katie Rogers, and Alexandra Stevenson]
  • The FBI is investigating Zhang to determine if she is a Chinese spy. At the time of her arrest, she said she was attending an event advertised on Chinese social media by Cindy Yang, a Republican donor who owned the spa where Patriots owner Robert Kraft was arrested on solicitation charges. [Miami Herald / Jay Weaver, Nicholas Nehamas, Sarah Blaskey, Caitlin Ostroff, and Alex Daugherty]
  • Yang has already been accused of taking advantage of Mar-a-Lago’s semi-public nature by selling access to the resort — which Trump owns — to Chinese business executives, touting a visit to the club as an opportunity to interact with the president and his aides. [Vox / Ella Nilsen]
  • Although Trump dismissed the incident as a “fluke situation,” some are wondering if the resort is fit to house sensitive intelligence. Democrats have called for an investigation into the site’s vulnerability to hostile foreign governments. [AP / Jonathan Lemire, Colleen Long, and Terry Spencer]

A horrific new law in Brunei

  • A new criminal law in Brunei, a monarchy in Southeast Asia, has made sex between men and adultery punishable by stoning. Other punishments in the penal code law include amputating limbs as punishment for theft. [NYT / Iliana Magra]
  • This law mostly applies to Muslims, while other aspects apply to non-Muslims too. The law has sparked international outrage, leading figures including Ellen DeGeneres and George Clooney to call for the boycott of luxury hotels that are owned by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah. [BBC News / Yvette Tan]
  • The Sultan of Brunei’s son Prince Azim has no problem socializing with the LGBTQ community, throwing lavish parties to which he’s invited Caitlyn Jenner and openly gay skier Gus Kenworthy. [Newsweek / Dory Jackson]
  • There are multiple theories as to why this decision was implemented now. Matthew Wolfe, founder of the Brunei Project, a human rights group, told the BBC that “connected to this is [Brunei’s] interest in attracting more investment from the Muslim world, along with more Islamic tourists … this could be seen as one way of appealing to this market.” [BBC News / Yvette Tan]
  • UN Human Rights Chief Michelle Bachelet urged Brunei to stop the new penal code because it is a breach of international human rights laws. [UN News]


  • Millions of years ago, whales had legs. [CNN / Jen Christensen]
  • WhatsApp Business is launching on the iPhone today. The app allows small businesses to communicate with their customers on WhatsApp for orders. [TechCrunch / Sarah Perez]
  • The Australian Parliament passed a law that criminalizes social media platforms for failing to remove violent videos and audios. This decision comes after the deadly New Zealand mosque shootings in which the gunman live-streamed his attacks. [NPR / Francesca Paris]
  • An unidentified burned body was found in a storage facility on Thursday while police were searching for lost teacher Jeanine Cammarata since Saturday. NYPD assistant chief William Aubry said the teacher’s husband is a “primary suspect” in the case. [ABC News / Mark Osborne and Bill Hutchinson]
  • Dairy farmers in Northern Ireland may be left with a disastrous surplus of milk if they can’t sell their products to the Irish Republic following a no-deal Brexit. [Guardian / Lisa O’Carroll and Jennifer Rankin]


“I’ve learned over years of dealing with murderous regimes that you can’t shame them. But you can shame the banks, the financiers and the institutions that do business with them and choose to look the other way.” [Actor George Clooney’s column for Deadline Hollywood addressing the implementation of the new criminal law against homosexuality and adultery in Brunei]

Watch this: How dead is the Great Barrier Reef?

Climate change is not a friend of the Great Barrier Reef. [YouTube / Joss Fong and Dion Lee]

Read more

A brief history of the ball pit

Game of Thrones tourism is wildly popular — and not just because the show is a hit

The Biden allegations are a reminder of the small invasions women deal with every day

The NRA tried to block an updated Violence Against Women Act in the House — and failed

The AI breakthrough that won the “Nobel Prize of computing”

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.