Vox Sentences: Meddling in the midterms

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

The DOJ brings the first criminal case over alleged Russian interference in the midterms; at least 61 people die after a train runs into a crowd in India.


Russian is charged in 2018 election conspiracy case

 Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images
  • The Justice Department has charged a Russian woman in a case of attempted meddling in the midterm election. [Vox / Andrew Prokop]
  • Elena Khusyaynova, a St. Petersburg, Russia-based accountant, was charged with taking part in a scheme to spend more than $10 million on targeted social media ads and web pages intended “to sow division and discord in the US political system.” [Politico / Josh Gerstein]
  • Since at least 2015, a troll farm to which Khusyaynova has been linked created thousands of fake social media accounts containing inflammatory content mainly over deadly shootings, gun control, and the Second Amendment. [AP / Deb Riechmann and Eric Tucker]
  • The charges were brought forth just as the Office of the Director of National Intelligence warned about “ongoing campaigns” by Russia, China, and Iran to meddle with next month’s elections. [Washington Post / Matt Zapotosky, Rachel Weiner, Ellen Nakashima, and Devlin Barrett]
  • Khusyaynova is currently not in US custody. The group she operated with is partly managed by the Concord firms, which were named in a criminal indictment as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. [CNBC / Dan Mangan]
  • President Donald Trump has often tried to diminish the importance of US intelligence findings over Russia’s meddling in the election, most recently crediting the efforts to China. [NYT / Mark Landler]

A rail tragedy in Amritsar, India

  • At least 61 people died and 200 more were hurt in the city of Amritsar, India, when a train ran into a crowd holding a celebration near the rail tracks Friday evening. [NDTV]
  • The victims did not hear the train approaching because they were watching a firecracker-filled effigy of Ravana burn. The celebration was held as part of Dussehra, a major Hindu festival. [BBC]
  • Amarinder Singh, Punjab chief minister, declared a state of mourning and ordered all offices and educational institutions in the region to remain closed on Saturday. [Times of India]
  • India’s state railways, largely built during the colonial era, have an appalling safety record after decades of underinvestment in rail safety measures. Priority has remained instead on keeping fares low for the millions of passengers who use the train system daily. [Reuters]

Miscellaneous

  • Taking a brief break from acting to promote voter engagement, Jennifer Lawrence is producing videos with an anti-corruption advocacy group to shine a light on overlooked ballot initiatives. [Twitter Moments]
  • Only two days after Canada became the largest world economy to make cannabis legal, supplies are already running out of their stock, unable to meet the high demand. [Yahoo News via AFP / Michel Comte]
  • Before Maroon 5 was announced as the leading act of the coveted Super Bowl LIII halftime show, Rihanna first turned down the gig, citing the kneeling controversy and her support for Colin Kaepernick. [NBC Sports / Mike Florio]
  • Of the 25 top US burger chains that were graded on their antibiotic policies, 23 of them got failing grades and only two — Shake Shack and BurgerFi — received As. [CNN / Naomi Thomas]

Verbatim

“Kim Kardashian and Kanye West are splitting up”

[That was the false headline in a now-deleted tweet sent by Elle magazine, which led readers to a page encouraging voter registration. To be totally clear: Kim and Kanye are still married. / Page Six]


Watch this: How this young prince seized power in Saudi Arabia

Mohammed bin Salman is transforming Saudi Arabia and the Middle East. [YouTube / Johnny Harris]

Here’s more about the controversy swirling around MBS in the wake of the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi and MBS dissident.


Read more:

How a nuclear war kills you

NBA players keep getting tattoos of corporate logos. Now the league is forcing them to cover up.

How to make prisons more humane

What the super-rich want for the holidays: mummies, jaguar fur, and rose-gold airplanes

Cage-free, free range, organic: what all those egg labels really mean