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Vox Sentences: A Saudi crackdown on women’s rights

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The US added 196,000 jobs in March; Saudi Arabia detains women’s rights activists for speaking with journalists and human rights organizations.

What the jobs numbers said

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  • The United States added 196,000 jobs in March, rebounding from last month’s sluggish growth of 33,000. [NYT / Peter Eavis]
  • This data shows that despite the growing global turmoil, the economy remains fairly stable. Jobs have been added to the market for 102 months in a row, which is the longest period on record. [WSJ / Eric Morath and Sarah Chaney]
  • Trends also indicate that while the economy is strong, it’s losing steam from 2018, which saw a dramatic boost following President Trump’s massive tax cuts. A trade war with China has also contributed to the slowing pace of growth. [Reuters / Lucia Mutikani]
  • Concerns also loom over the stagnant wage growth, which has barely been able to keep up with the cost of living. Workers across the country have already protested their low wages, leading to minimum wage increases in 19 states in January. [Vox / Alexia Fernández Campbell]
  • The labor shortage also continues as businesses struggle to fill in blue-collar positions. This means laborers have the rare opportunity to demand better wages and work environments. It also means immigration reform is needed ASAP so that less skilled immigrants can legally fill these positions. [Vox / Alexia Fernández Campbell]
  • There’s always a big caveat with jobs numbers, though: They can be revised up or down as more accurate data arrives. So March might actually be anywhere between a blockbuster month and a tiny gain. [FiveThirtyEight / Julia Wolfe]

Activists detained in Saudi Arabia

  • Saudi Arabia has detained women’s rights activists, two of whom have dual citizenship in the US, in a clear crackdown on supporters of rights groups in the kingdom. [CBS News / AP]
  • The two dual nationals detained are journalist Salah al-Haidar and Bader al-Ibrahim, a doctor and author of a book on Shia Muslim politics. They were pushing for rights that include the end of the male guardianship system. [Al Jazeera]
  • This is the first round of “arbitrary arrests” targeting critics of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman since the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October. The people arrested were all writers or advocates of reform who had ties to a women’s rights group facing trial. [AP]
  • The charges against the female activists fall under the cybercrime laws, including the sharing of information on women’s rights with journalists and human rights organizations, like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, according to a human rights group in Saudi Arabia called ALQST. They did not have access to a lawyer. [Human Rights Watch]
  • Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s director of research for the Middle East, said on Friday that the government targeted them to send a message to their people that any form of criticism is intolerable in Saudi Arabia. [NYT / Vivian Yee and David D. Kirkpatrick]


  • A man said he was the missing child from a puzzling case eight years ago. Turns out he was lying. [NBC News / Elisha Fieldstadt]
  • The last thing a family expected to find in their Airbnb was a camera live-streaming their every move. [CNN / Emily Dixon]
  • The Mormon Church will now allow same-sex couples to baptize their children to “to show more understanding, compassion and love.” [BuzzFeed News / Brianna Sacks]
  • The latest in Apple Music and Spotify’s feud: Apple Music now has more paid US subscribers than its competitor, although Spotify still has more global listeners. [WSJ / Anne Steele and Tripp Mickle]
  • For some migrants in Paris, a new wardrobe also symbolizes a new start. [New Yorker / Coralie Kraft]


“After nearly a year of accusations in Saudi government media that these brave champions of women’s rights are ‘foreign agents,’ the actual charges against them appear to be simply a list of their efforts to promote women’s rights.” [Human Rights Watch deputy Middle East director Michael Page on the arrests of women’s rights activists in Saudi Arabia]

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Cereal companies have perpetuated a big myth about breakfast: that the first meal of the day is crucial to good health. Turns out a closer look at the science suggests that may not be the case. We trace the origins of this myth, and the long history of breakfast companies making dubious health claims. [YouTube / Ranjani Chakraborty]

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