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Vox Sentences: The pope wants whistleblowers on sex abuse

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The US and China have limited time to strike a trade deal; Pope Francis takes a radical step toward addressing the Catholic Church’s sex abuse crisis.

Trade talks with China resume

Artyom Ivanov/TASS via Getty Images
  • Trade negotiations between China and the US resume today — and the stakes are high. [Bloomberg / Jennifer Jacobs, Alyza Sebenius, and Shawn Donnan]
  • The two countries had been in talks for months to negotiate a trade deal that would lift tariffs on each other’s goods, and until last week, it seemed like a final deal was imminent. [NYT / Alan Rappeport and Ana Swanson]
  • The relationship began to sour when China suddenly asked for substantial changes to the deal that would water down its commitments. An angered President Trump threatened to raise tariffs on Sunday, and the US filed paperwork on Wednesday to raise tariffs on Chinese goods from 10 percent to 25 percent by Friday. [WSJ / Lingling Wei and Bob Davis]
  • Experts say China’s sudden change in attitude came from its perception that the US economy is weak –– despite growth numbers proving the opposite –– while its own economic situation has been improving. [CNN / James Griffiths]
  • Talks begin today at 5 pm, and the delegates have only a few hours before the tariffs kick in at midnight. Trump suggested earlier today that an agreement could still be made and hinted at a possible phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping. [Financial Times / James Politi and Pan Kwan Yuk]
  • The stakes are high if China and the United States fail to strike a deal. China has vowed to take countermeasures if the tariffs go into effect, and the escalating moves could damage both countries’ economies. [Washington Post / David J. Lynch and Damian Paletta]

New Catholic law to combat sexual abuse

  • Pope Francis issued a groundbreaking decree that would require priests and nuns to report sexual abuse and cover-up by clergy at any level — an effort to curtail the global sexual abuse scandals that have shaken the Catholic community. The new standards will apply retroactively as well. [Al Jazeera]
  • Under the new law, called “You are the Light of the World,” whistleblowers will be provided with protection and churches must set up a system to receive confidential reports within a year. [NYT / Jason Horowitz]
  • As part of an effort to hold the Catholic hierarchy accountable, the law also details preliminary investigation procedures if a senior church authority is accused. [NPR / Merrit Kennedy]
  • The pope had been under immense pressure to provide leadership and a solution to one of the most pressing issues that shadowed the Catholic community. When he was elected in 2013, he had called for “decisive” action against sexual abuse. [BBC]
  • Advocates and victims of abuse say these measures aren’t enough because they don’t involve law enforcement, allowing the old system of church officials failing to report abuse or looking the other way to be upheld. [USA Today / Lindsay Schnell]
  • The law can be applied retroactively, so nuns and priests could report incidents from years ago. The Vatican may experience a dramatic surge of sexual abuse and cover-ups in the near future. [AP / Nicole Winfield]


  • China is testing a risky new treatment for opioid addiction: brain implants. [AP / Erika Kinetz]
  • A Mongolian couple at raw marmot, which is believed to have health benefits. Instead, they contracted the plague — long thought to be a disease of the past. [Washington Post / Allyson Chiu]
  • After a “manufacturing error,” there are now 46 million banknotes in Australia that have misspelled responsibility as “responsibilty” — three times per bill. [USA Today / Ryan W. Miller]
  • Kim Jong Un is known as a die-hard basketball fan. New reports reveal he wanted the US to send famous basketball players to North Korea as part of a cultural exchange deal prior to the Hanoi summit. [ABC News / Tara Palmeri]
  • The name of Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan’s baby, which “unites US and UK”: Archie. [Vanity Fair / Katey Rich]


“People must know that bishops are at the service of the people. They are not above the law, and if they do wrong, they must be reported.” [Archbishop Charles Scicluna, the Vatican’s sex crimes prosecutor, on the new Catholic law that makes reporting sexual abuse mandatory]

Listen to this: Why Washington can’t escape The West Wing

When The West Wing was on the air, during the Clinton and Bush years, a lot of liberal viewers were pining for a Democratic president with a strong sense of right and wrong — someone like President Bartlet. His fictional administration made for great entertainment, an idealistic vision of what politics could be. But the show’s idealism was decidedly white — and mostly male. It also obscured a very real partisan divide.

In the first episode of Primetime, a new Vox podcast, critic-at-large Todd VanDerWerff looks at the show’s lasting, complicated legacy. [Spotify]

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