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Vox Sentences: The government is now Uruguay’s pot dealer

Vox Sentences is your daily digest for what’s happening in the world, curated by Ella Nilsen. Sign up for the Vox Sentences newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday, or view the Vox Sentences archive for past editions.

Jeff Sessions is in hot water with his boss; Uruguay becomes the first country to start selling legal pot; Poland clashes with the EU over Supreme Court shake-up.


Should I stay or should I go?


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  • US Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s job sounds like it’s on shaky ground.
  • In an interview with the New York Times, President Trump expressed frustration that Sessions recused himself from the Department of Justice’s Russia investigation, and said he never would have hired Sessions if he had known recusal was coming. [NYT / Peter Baker, Michael Schmidt, and Maggie Haberman]
  • But Sessions really had no choice on whether to recuse himself, because as a former Trump campaign adviser, it would have been against the law for him to head up an investigation into the Trump campaign as attorney general. [Rebecca Ballhaus via Twitter]
  • Trump bashing his attorney general is a big deal, because Sessions has been with Trump from the beginning of the billionaire’s long-shot campaign. [ABC News / Nicki Rossoll]
  • More than that, Sessions and his allies have served as the ideological bedrock to some of Trump’s most controversial decisions, including the executive order banning refugees and travelers from six Muslim-majority nations. [Washington Post / Philip Rucker and Robert Costa]
  • Trump’s latest rhetoric suggests that the president either doesn’t fully know about the law or just doesn’t care about it. [Vox / Matt Yglesias]
  • So far, Sessions has said he doesn’t plan to go just yet, and will stay on as AG for however long is “appropriate.” [CNN / Miranda Green]

Uruguay is selling its own weed


Miguel Rojo/AFP/Getty Images

  • Marijuana is now legal in the tiny South American country of Uruguay, the first to legalize the production and sale of weed. [Reuters]
  • Uruguay passed a law legalizing marijuana back in 2013, but the first sales of the drug started yesterday. Individual pharmacies can now sell marijuana, which is grown and regulated by the government. [WSJ / Taos Turner]
  • By controlling the drug’s sale, the Uruguayan government can control which strains of the drug will be grown and how much legal pot people can buy, and can clamp down on any commercial drug sellers. [Washington Post / Nick Miroff]
  • This has drawn some criticism from marijuana activists in the country, but many also see it as a way to curb the illegal drug trade in South America and cut into cartel profits. [Washington Post / Christopher Ingraham]
  • The government is also diverting some of the profits from pot sales into a fund for addiction treatment. [NYT / Ernesto Londono]
  • Residents of the country are the only ones who can purchase the drug, as government officials were reportedly wary of getting a reputation like Amsterdam and all of the pot tourists that come with it. Pot tourism in the Netherlands has led to an uptick in violence and crime in some cities. [NYT / Suzanne Daley]
  • Where Uruguay is leading, other South American countries may follow. Argentina, Chile, and Mexico have been acting on decriminalization and legal possession measures for the past few years. [Mic / Tom McKay]

Poland’s Supreme Court shake-up


Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images

  • Over the past year, Poland’s government has been slowly eroding its democracy, dismantling freedoms of the press and cracking down on public protests. [BBC]
  • The latest development in the Eastern European nation is a dramatic one: Polish lawmakers aligned with the right-wing, populist Law and Justice Party are proposing dismantling the Supreme Court and forcing judges they don’t like to resign. [NYT / Rick Lyman]
  • Importantly, the bill they’ve proposed would also give President Andrzej Duda the power to select new judges, stacking the court with people friendly to his party. [Vox / Lindsay Maizland]
  • Members of the Law and Justice Party have justified the move by painting the Supreme Court as a holdover from old communist rule, but many Polish citizens and protesters say they are afraid the government is trying to consolidate power for itself. [Krakow Post]
  • The new bill is pushing Poland onto a crash court with the European Union, which is actively lobbying Duda not to sign the bill. EU leaders have warned that if the measure goes through, Poland is on track to fall out of its definition of a democracy. [Reuters / Pawel Sobczak and Lidia Kelly]
  • The EU could levy fines on Poland, or the country could lose its voting rights as an EU member, which would be big; that has never happened to a member state before. [Politico / Maia De La Baume]

Miscellaneous

  • A Daily Show writer turned Trump’s New York Times interview into poetry, and it’s just as great as you would think. [Eliza Cossio via Twitter]
  • “Despacito” may be the song of the summer, but government officials in Malaysia are not feeling it. They’ve banned the song because they think the lyrics are too vulgar. [Associated Press]
  • We all know that consuming sugar is bad for weight loss, but it turns out artificial sugar substitutes in diet sodas aren’t much better. [NPR / Katherine Hobson]
  • The Turkish government released a bunch of sensitive information about the whereabouts of American troops in Syria, and the Pentagon is really unhappy about it, calling the incident a security breach. [BuzzFeed / John Hudson and Nancy Youssef]
  • Flying is already zero fun. Climate change and rising temperatures could make that even worse, with hot air forcing grounding more planes and squeezing travel times. [Grist / Ari Phillips]

Verbatim


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Jack Handy

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