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Vox Sentences: Kim Jong Un sends a message

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Despite a healthy economy, the Fed cuts interest rates; North Korea conducts its second missile test in a week.

The Fed cuts interest rates for the first time since 2008

Spencer Platt/Getty Images
  • The Federal Reserve today cut interest rates for the first time since 2008, during the Great Recession. [WSJ / Nick Timiraos]
  • The cut from 2.5 to 2.25 percent is modest and was widely expected in an attempt to combat the slowing global economy and President Trump’s trade wars. It’s more of a safety measure than a reactionary response. [NYT / Jeanna Smialek]
  • At the same time, the cut is a “stunning development,” as Vox’s Matthew Yglesias puts it. Rate cuts are usually implemented during a recession or high unemployment rates — neither of which applies to the current US economy. [Vox / Matthew Yglesias]
  • Fed Chair Jerome Powell said the goal was to keep the economy growing for as long as possible. As of July, the economy has entered its longest expansion period in history. [CNN / Donna Borak]
  • Some, however, say Powell is capitulating to Trump, who has long called for a cut in rates. For the past year, the president has publicly bashed the Fed for raising the rates in 2018 and slowing the economy, and there were reports in June that he had looked into removing Powell from his post. [Washington Post / Heather Long]
  • Cutting rates has historically been an option saved for recessions. The key concern now: What happens during the next recession? [Vox / Matthew Yglesias]

Another missile test

  • North Korea has fired its second missile test in a week, a sign that its displeasure with the US-South Korea relationship is growing. [AP / Hyung-Jin Kim]
  • The missile was launched early Wednesday morning local time near Wonsan, a city on North Korea’s eastern coast. The country had fired two short-range missiles from a similar location last Thursday. [BBC]
  • Thursday was the first time South Korea had officially accused North Korea of testing a ballistic missile since 2017. Though it doesn’t break any pacts with the US, the United Nations forbids the country from firing ballistic missiles of any kind. [NYT / Choe Sang-Hun]
  • The missiles are meant to send a message: Kim Jong Un wants South Korea to cancel its annual joint military exercise with the US next month — and has threatened to scrap negotiations with the US and resume nuclear and long-range missile tests if its wishes aren’t granted. [CNN / Jake Kwon, Barbara Starr, and Ryan Browne]
  • This is bad timing for the Trump administration: The tests came the same day Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he was hopeful of resuming stalled talks with North Korea. However, there’s been little progress in diplomatic efforts beyond photo ops. [NPR / Scott Neuman]
  • Trump is desperate to keep diplomatic channels with North Korea open, which is why he’s seemingly willing to look the other way unless North Korea is testing nuclear weapons or long-range missiles. And some observers say it’s reasonable that the administration remains prudent when reacting to Kim’s provocations. [Atlantic / Uri Friedman]
  • Others, however, are worried that Trump may be sending the wrong message: that Kim can get away with almost anything under Trump’s watch. [Vox / Alex Ward]


  • In 2016, Tony Timpa called 911, saying he suffered from schizophrenia and depression and needed help. By the end of the night, he was dead. Newly revealed police body cam footage shows what happened. [Dallas Morning News / Cary Aspinwall and Dave Boucher]
  • The Jeffrey Epstein case continues to get odder and odder. According to a New York Times report, Epstein spoke to scientists about his dream “to seed the human race with his DNA by impregnating women at his vast New Mexico ranch.” [NYT / James B. Stewart, Matthew Goldstein, and Jessica Silver-Greenberg]
  • Presidential racism may be in the news, but it isn’t new — take this newly released recording of a 1971 phone call between California Gov. Ronald Reagan and President Richard Nixon in which Reagan disparages UN delegates from African nations. [Atlantic / Tim Naftali]
  • A Delta pilot was removed from a full plane. His alleged offense? Potentially flying the plane under the influence of alcohol. [CNN / Christina Maxouris and Marlena Baldacci]
  • CNN’s first night of Democratic debates yesterday drew 8.7 million viewers, which is significantly less than the 15.3 million viewers who watched the first night of the June debates. It might not have helped that the event’s competition was the season finale of The Bachelorette. [The Hill / Joe Concha]


“He goes to the demilitarized zone with the leader of North Korea, gives him a huge photo op, gives him global credibility, because the most powerful person in the world is sitting there meeting with him, and weeks later, he’s lobbing more missiles. That doesn’t make any sense.” [2020 candidate Tim Ryan on Trump’s relationship with North Korea during Tuesday’s Democratic debate]

Watch this: Harry Potter and the translator’s nightmare

Happy birthday to Harry Potter, who was born 39 years ago today. He’s a globally loved character thanks to the work of very diligent translators. [YouTube / Gina Barton]

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