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Vox Sentences: Ebola crosses borders

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Trump thwarts House Democrats’ effort to obtain documents related to the 2020 census citizenship question; the Ebola outbreak spreads from the DRC to Uganda.

Trump blocks another congressional subpoena

Mark Wilson/Getty Images
  • President Donald Trump has asserted executive privilege over documents subpoenaed by Congress that were related to adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census. [CNN / Clare Foran and Lauren Fox]
  • The House Oversight Committee went ahead and voted to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt only hours after. [NBC News / Rebecca Shabad and Alex Moe]
  • A day before, Barr had threatened the committee, saying he would ask Trump to exert his presidential powers to protect the documents. In a letter to the committee announcing the assertion earlier this morning, the Justice Department called the contempt vote “unnecessary and premature.” [Washington Post / Matt Zapotosky and John Wagner]
  • Democrats have been trying to crack down on the citizenship question because of concerns that it will reduce response rates among noncitizens, which could lead to a disproportionate advantage for Republicans when drawing congressional maps. [Politico / Andrew Desiderio]
  • New documents from a now-deceased Republican strategist also suggested that the addition of a citizenship question would “be advantageous to Republicans and non-Hispanic whites” when drawing voting districts. [NYT / Charlie Savage and Julie Hirschfeld Davis]
  • The Supreme Court will rule on the question by the end of this month. [USA Today / Bart Jansen]
  • Trump has already vowed to “fight all subpoenas” issued by Congress, and the standoff suggests further escalation between the legislative and executive branch. [AP / Michael Balsamo and Matthew Daly]

An outbreak crosses borders

  • Ebola, which was spreading rapidly but contained within the Democratic Republic of Congo, has now spread to Uganda. [BBC]
  • A 5-year-old Congolese boy who traveled to Uganda died from the disease on Wednesday. The boy’s younger brother and grandmother have also tested positive for Ebola. [NPR / Bill Chappell]
  • The DRC has been suffering from the second-largest and second-deadliest Ebola outbreak in history since it began in August. More than 1,300 have died. [CNN / Katie Hunt and Brent Swails]
  • Uganda had been preparing itself for this moment: About 4,700 health workers have been vaccinated in 165 health facilities, and Ebola treatment centers have already been set up. [Vox / Julia Belluz]
  • The epidemic still remains dangerous, however, as preventive measures have proved ineffective. Rwanda, which borders both Uganda and the DRC, has announced it will tighten border surveillance. [New Times / James Karuhanga]
  • There’s now more pressure on the World Health Organization to declare the outbreak a global health emergency — something it had avoided doing until now because the disease had not yet spread to other countries. [NYT / Rick Gladstone]
  • An expert committee will meet on Friday to discuss whether to make the emergency declaration for this epidemic, which shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. [Al Jazeera]


  • Is bigger actually better? A recent paper suggests the growing size of houses in the US isn’t making people any happier. [Atlantic / Joe Pinsker]
  • Six American tourists have died mysteriously in the Dominican Republic this year. Now the Caribbean island’s reputation as a tourist destination is taking a hit. [Washington Post / Rachelle Krygier]
  • A blast to the past: This Utah-based company is offering to pay someone $1,000 to downgrade to a flip phone for a week. [UPI / Ben Hooper]
  • Chemical signatures of cannabis were found in a 2,500-year-old Chinese tomb — the earliest clear evidence of humans getting high. [Katie Hunt / CNN]
  • HBO’s miniseries Chernobyl has turned the location of the 1986 nuclear disaster into a hot spot for influencers. The creator of the show implored visitors to “comport yourselves with respect.” [NBC News / Daniel Arkin]


“This begs the question: what is being hidden? This does not appear to be an effort to engage in good faith negotiations or accommodations. Instead, it appears to be another example of the administration’s blanket defiance of Congress’s constitutionally mandated responsibilities.” [House Oversight and Reform Committee Chair Elijah Cummings’s response to Trump’s assertion of executive privilege]

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