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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.

It’s all about Beto and barbecue in the Texas Senate race; Pakistan’s Nawaz Sharif is a free man … for the time being.


Beto gives Cruz a run for his money in Texas

9.19 Vox Sentences: Will Texans bet on Beto?Laura Buckman/AFP/Getty Images
  • The Senate race in Texas between Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke and incumbent Republican Sen. Ted Cruz has become one of the most watched and contentious in the United States. O’Rourke has given the highly disliked incumbent a run for his money in the typically red state. [Vox / Tara Golshan]
  • Cruz is running a predictably conservative campaign. Meanwhile, O’Rourke is making very progressive promises, including raising the minimum wage, expunging marijuana offenses, and introducing stricter gun control — all of which are surprising “deep in the heart of Trump country.” [NYT / Matt Flegenheimer]
  • It’s currently unclear which way the election will go. Some polls on the race report that O’Rourke is 2 points ahead of Cruz, while others say he is 9 points behind. [The Hill / Justin Wise]
  • Still, Cruz “feel[s] very good about where we are” in the race. He is confident that “We’re going to win.” [Vice / Josh Hersh]
  • O’Rourke’s likability (and Cruz’s lack thereof) has scared many Republicans, who are putting the pressure on big-time donors to contribute to the Republican campaign and give Cruz a boost in the race. [Vox / Emily Stewart]
  • Cruz has relied on arguments that O’Rourke is for crossing the border illegally, abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and supporting NFL players’ right to kneel during the national anthem — all highly contentious topics that might galvanize Republicans to show up on Election Day. [Dallas News / Matthew Adams and Todd J. Gillman]
  • Cruz is also using absurdist arguments to try to discredit O’Rourke, relate more to his Texan constituents, and appear a bit more likable. He claimed today (partly as a joke) that “if Beto wins, BBQ will be illegal!” [CNN / Devan Cole]
  • Cruz and O’Rourke will participate in three debates on domestic and foreign policy leading up to the elections. [CBS / AP]

Pakistan’s ex-PM released from prison 2 months into a 10-year sentence

  • Pakistani officials released ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from prison after the Islamabad High Court (IHC) suspended his 10-year corruption sentence on Wednesday. Sharif, his daughter, and his son-in-law were released on bail in order to appeal their convictions after serving two months in prison. [Reuters / Asif Shahzad and Saad Sayeed]
  • Sharif and his family were convicted in July on charges of purchasing luxury properties in London. The IHC says the anti-corruption court was unable to substantially prove a financial link between Sharif and the property. [Al Jazeera / Asad Hashim]
  • The case at hand is linked to information from the Panama Papers, a controversial leak from 2016 that linked high-profile leaders and individuals across the world to money laundering and other forms of corruption. [The News]
  • Sharif has come in and out of power three times now. In 1993 and 2013, he was ousted on suspicions of corruption. [The Nation]
  • The IHC’s order could signify that his conviction will be overturned. Observers believe that the IHC sees the evidence as “too weak to stand,” though nothing will be clear until Sharif returns to court in the coming weeks. [NYT / Salman Masood and Maria Abi-Habib]

Miscellaneous

  • Longtime Sesame Street writer Mark Saltzman said in a recent interview that Bert and Ernie’s relationship was one of “a loving couple,” reigniting a long-running debate. Sesame Street then quickly came out with a statement that the two were “good friends” and “do not have a sexual orientation.” [The Verge / Elizabeth Simins]
  • Some people took issue with Marvel Studios’ new trailer for its upcoming film, Captain Marvel, which showed the superhero in question (played by Brie Larson) punching an old lady. Fear not: Grandma is simply a Skrull. [Polygon / Susana Polo]
  • Astronomers have discovered an exoplanet 16 light-years away that orbits the star known as 40 Eridani, which on Star Trek was home to Spock’s planet Vulcan. Whether pointy-eared people inhabit the exoplanet has yet to be determined. [NBC / David Freeman]
  • Roseanne Barr claims she knows how her Roseanne character will be written off in the planned spinoff The Connors: The character will die of an opioid overdose. ABC, which canceled Roseanne after Barr posted racist tweets, has declined to comment on the claim. [CBS / Andrea Park]

Verbatim

“We find ourselves today connected to vast repositories of knowledge and yet we have not learned to think. In fact, the opposite is true: that which was intended to enlighten the world in practice darkens it.” [Jaron Lanier on the harmful side effects of an overexposure to social media in his new book, Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now / New Yorker]


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