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Vox Sentences: Texas braces for Hurricane Harvey

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Texas is on hurricane watch; the White House details what it wants a transgender ban in the military to look like; Canada struggles to keep up with record numbers of asylum seekers.


There's a huge storm brewing in the Gulf of Mexico

Joe Raedle/Getty Images
  • People on the Texas coast are bracing for the first major hurricane they’ve seen in more than a decade. [Washington Post / Brian McNoldy and Jason Samenow]
  • As of this afternoon, Hurricane Harvey is picking up steam, with 85 mph winds. It’s expected to make landfall sometime tomorrow as a Category 3 hurricane or higher. The National Weather Services is warning of a possible deadly storm surge and severe flooding in southern Texas. [Vox / Brian Resnick]
  • A tropical storm becomes a hurricane when it reaches winds of more than 74 miles per hour. Then there’s a five-point category system hurricanes fall into depending on their strength. Category 1 is the weakest, causing minimal damage; a Category 5 storm can wreak catastrophic damage (think Hurricane Katrina). [Vox / Brad Plumer]
  • Many Texans aren’t waiting around; some cities and counties directly in the storm’s path have already issued mandatory evacuations. [Corpus Christi Caller-Times]
  • The storm has the potential to impact a lot of people and businesses; as meteorologist Eric Holthaus notes, about 1.5 million people have moved to that part of the state since 1999, and it also boasts the fourth-largest shipping port in the US, where a lot of crude oil and gasoline is shipped. [Eric Holthaus via Twitter]
  • There are fears Harvey could strengthen even further before it makes landfall because its path to Texas goes straight through the Gulf of Mexico, where water temperatures are extremely warm. [Eric Holthaus via Twitter]
  • That’s because warm water essentially helps feed hurricanes and other major storms, while cold water slows them down. Water temperatures in the gulf have consistently been breaking records this year. [Ars Technica / Eric Berger]

Trump's transgender ban is moving from tweet to policy

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call
  • A few weeks after President Trump tweeted his plans to ban transgender people from serving in the military, the White House is telling the Pentagon what it wants the actual policy to look like, and setting a six-month deadline. [WSJ / Gordon Lubold]
  • White House officials want Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis to consider a transgender person’s “deployability” — basically, whether their gender identity impacts whether they can serve. White House officials also want the Pentagon to stop paying for transgender medical care and bar new transgender recruits from serving. [WSJ / Gordon Lubold]
  • Trump’s tweets in late July reversed an Obama-era directive for transgender people to be able to serve openly in the military. [Vox / German Lopez]
  • The president’s actions were a concession to some conservative Republicans who were upset about the military having to pay for gender reassignment surgery and were using the issue to hold up a congressional budget bill. [Politico / Josh Dawsey and Rachael Bade]
  • However, Trump’s tweets were even more extreme, ordering a blanket ban on transgender people serving. [NYT / Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Helene Cooper]
  • What’s still unclear is how Mattis is going to respond. Trump’s original announcement reportedly took his generals by surprise, and some say Mattis may not do much to enforce a ban. [NPR / Tom Bowman]
  • Prominent generals including Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford said the Obama-era policy would not be discontinued until there was formal guidance from the White House, and legal challenges to Trump’s policy have already been filed. [NBC News / Julie Moreau]

Why thousands of Haitians are fleeing to Canada

Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images
  • In the Trump era, Canada has become the newest destination for refugees seeking asylum, and immigration officials are struggling to process the influx. [WSJ / David George-Cosh]
  • Many of these people are Haitian refugees who were living in the US with temporary protected status. But that status expires at the end of the year, after which the government told them they would have to go back to Haiti. [North Country Public Radio / Zach Hirsch]
  • The number of people fleeing into Canada has spiked this year. By July, more than 10,000 people had entered the country, compared to about 11,000 for all of 2016. That’s created a backlog in processing refugees, which government workers are now trying to alleviate. [Canadian Immigration and Citizenship]
  • Officials are also trying to find places for people to stay, including hastily constructed shelters and “tent cities” in Montreal and areas in neighboring Ontario. [Toronto Star / Tonda MacCharles]
  • Even though some refugees assume they will be able to stay in Canada, that’s not entirely true; only those fleeing persecution or war-torn countries can apply to stay permanently. The Haitians are economic migrants and will likely face being sent back to Haiti at the end of the year, just as they would in the US. [Associated Press / Patrick Lejtenyi and Rob Gillies]
  • Even so, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is doubling down on Canada’s commitment to accepting refugees, even as he’s faced pushback from conservative politicians who are blaming that welcoming message for the current situation. [CBC / Kathleen Harris]

Miscellaneous

  • The craft brewery bubble could be close to bursting, with a seemingly endless supply of new breweries and competition getting ever fiercer. [WSJ / Jennifer Maloney]
  • With courtrooms across America allowing court cases to be photographed, there is less and less need for courtroom sketch artists, and the ones that remain say their work is being increasingly lampooned on social media. [Atlas Obscura / Natasha Frost]
  • New studies suggest avocado pits contain antioxidants that researchers want to turn into new medicines. But don’t be fooled — you cannot, and should not, attempt to eat an avocado pit or the husk around it. [Popular Science / Sarah Chodosh]
  • Kid Rock's Senate bid may be dominating political news in Michigan, but the state also has a Muslim candidate named Abdul El-Sayed running for governor. A Democrat, El-Sayed wants universal health care and marijuana legalization, and he’s picking up steam, raising $1 million in small donations. [The Guardian / Drew Philp]
  • For years, people have smoked marijuana to relieve pain from cancer. Now some hospice patients in Connecticut are taking part in the first federally funded study to see whether cannabis use potentially could replace opioids for pain management. [BuzzFeed / Alyson Martin]

Verbatim


Watch this: We need to change how we bury the dead

The way we traditionally bury the dead is horrible for the environment. [YouTube / Dean Peterson]


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