Vox Sentences: California is still burning

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President Trump officially recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital; Al Franken is expected to resign from the Senate tomorrow as his colleagues call for him to step down; four new wildfires are raging across Southern California.


Trump’s Jerusalem speech could have big consequences for the Middle East

 Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
  • President Donald Trump has formally recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and said the US would move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. [NYT / Mark Landler]
  • Trump’s speech today represents a major shift in US foreign policy — previous administrations have opted to stay out of the debate, for fear that it could stir up tensions in the Middle East. [NPR / Camila Domonoske]
  • But Trump entered the fray, in a move that was a huge boost to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu, a key Trump ally, immediately praised the decision. [Washington Post / David Nakamura]
  • Just as quickly, Palestinian officials condemned the move, saying Trump’s declaration should automatically take the United States out of peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians because it is showing clear preference to one side. [CNN / Laura Smith-Spark and Andrew Carey]
  • Part of the reason Trump’s speech is so controversial is that both Israelis and Palestinians lay claim to Jerusalem as their capital; the “Holy City” has many important religious sites for Jews and Muslims alike. [Vox / Sarah Wildman and Jennifer Williams]
  • Palestinian leaders called for protests and action in response to Trump’s declaration, and demonstrations have already started. [Haaretz / Yaniv Kubovich and Jack Khoury]

Franken’s colleagues finally call for him to step down

 Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
  • Democratic Sen. Al Franken’s days on Capitol Hill are looking numbered. [Minnesota Public Radio / Brian Bakst]
  • Franken is expected to resign tomorrow amid allegations of sexual misconduct, after 28 of his Democratic colleagues, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, called on him to step down. [Frank Thorp via Twitter]
  • Since then, the number of women accusing him has grown to eight, but for weeks Franken has given no indication that he’s going to resign, instead letting a Senate ethics investigation take its course. [Vox / Tara Golshan, Jen Kirby, and Andrew Prokop]
  • At the same time, Franken’s fellow Democrats largely stayed silent on the issue, agreeing that the ethics investigation should proceed. Their silence was noted, and criticized, by a number of people, including some of Franken’s latest accusers. [Atlantic / Tina Dupuy]
  • That changed today, when a number of female Democratic senators all called for Franken’s resignation, one after the other. [NYT / Yamiche Alcindor and Nicholas Fandos]
  • The drumbeat continued throughout the afternoon. By the end of the day, Franken’s office said the senator would make an announcement on Thursday, but did not say what that announcement would be. [Washington Post / Elise Viebeck, Ed O’Keefe, and Karen Tumulty]
  • This all comes just a day after powerful Democratic Rep. John Conyers resigned, following a growing number of sexual misconduct allegations being leveled at him by former female staffers. [Vox / Ella Nilsen]
  • It also comes as lawmakers have introduced legislation to fix what many believe is a broken system of reporting and combating sexual harassment in the halls of Congress, where many cases are settled out of the public eye and sometimes with taxpayer money. [NPR / Susan Davis]

Four wildfires are raging across California … in December

 Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
  • It’s December, and wildfires are still raging through Southern California, extending what is already the state’s worst fire season on record. [Vox / Umair Irfan]
  • No deaths have been reported, but four wildfires near Los Angeles have burned tens of thousands of acres and forced at least 120,000 people to evacuate their homes. [CNBC / Michael Sheetz]
  • The fires have burned hundreds of homes and other buildings, and the flames are wreaking havoc on people’s commutes, as they’ve jumped over highways. One even spread all the way to the Pacific Ocean. [LA Times / Ruben Vives, Laura Nelson, Sarah Parvini, Matt Hamilton, and Sonali Kohli]
  • These fires come just a month after devastating blazes in Northern California’s wine region burned homes and wineries to the ground. [Washington Post / Mark Berman and Eli Rosenberg]
  • Fires in December are rare; these ones are being driven by unusually strong Santa Ana winds, which are gusting up to 70 miles per hour and propelling flames over the hilly landscape. The winds are making it especially difficult for firefighters to contain the blaze. [Vox / Umair Irfan]
  • Part of the reason California’s fires are so bad and so much property is being lost is because highly populated areas are also areas where fire danger is bad. And so far, development in these areas shows no signs of stopping. [Vox / Umair Irfan]

Miscellaneous

  • Scientists are homing in on a really, really big black hole in our universe … one that’s a billion times larger than the sun. They hope it contains some secrets about how Earth and space formed. [The Verge / Loren Grush]
  • British intelligence just announced they have thwarted a terrorist plot to assassinate British Prime Minister Theresa May. James Bond was not involved. [NPR / Scott Neuman]
  • A new investigation has found that companies are increasingly trying to quietly pay journalists to mention their brands in articles, heavily blurring the line between advertising and journalism. [The Outline / John Christian]
  • The chocolate wars are getting sticky. The delicious Swiss Toblerone chocolate (you know, that one that looks like a mini mountain) has a cheaper British competitor, and Toblerone is not happy. [NYT / Alan Cowell]

Verbatim


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