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Vox Sentences: Water, water, everywhere

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Harvey continues to dump rain on a flooded Houston; monsoon rains in India, Bangladesh, and Nepal have killed 1,200 people; supporters of an Indian guru riot after his rape conviction.


The deluge in Texas continues

Joe Raedle/Getty Images
  • Much of Houston and the towns surrounding it are underwater, and a total of eight people are confirmed dead in the ongoing floods and rainfall from Tropical Storm Harvey. [Washington Post / Kevin Sullivan and Mark Berman]
  • While many were fearing a deadly storm surge from a hurricane, the worst of Harvey came after it was downgraded to a tropical storm. That’s because Harvey is slow-moving, so it’s basically been sitting over the Houston area, loosing a deluge of rain. [Vox / Brian Resnick]
  • Texas got so much rain that the National Weather Service literally had to update its maps with a brand new color chart to reflect new totals. [National Weather Service via Twitter]
  • But this part of Texas is no stranger to big floods; while Harvey is by far the biggest event so far, it comes after two other floods in 2015 and 2016 that were also considered 500-year floods. That suggests these types of rare flooding events aren’t as rare as we might think. [Vox / Dara Lind]
  • Congress is still on its summer break, but when it returns, it will get started on a relief package. At this point, the flooding in Houston is very much ongoing, so no one really knows exactly how much Harvey could cost taxpayers. For a point of reference, victims of Hurricane Sandy got a $50.5 billion relief package in 2012. [CNN / Deirdre Walsh, Ted Barrett, and Ashley Killough]
  • The Houston area is home to many major oil refineries, which have had to shut down and wait out the flooding. [Marketplace / Kai Ryssdal and Emily Henderson]
  • In the meantime, if you're looking for ways to donate to Texans, Vox’s Dylan Scott has a rundown of some of the charities that are working to provide disaster relief to victims. [Vox / Dylan Scott]

Meanwhile, in South Asia ... even more rain

Prakash Mathema/AFP/Getty Images
  • Texas isn't the only place to suffer from catastrophic rain and flooding. In India, Bangladesh, and Nepal, a torrent of unrelenting monsoon rains have killed hundreds and displaced millions. [PBS Newshour / Larisa Epatko]
  • Monsoon season is a part of life in South Asia, but this year’s floods have been some of the worst on record, killing over 1,200 people and displacing hundreds of thousands more. About 16 million people total have been impacted across the three countries, aid officials say. [Reuters]
  • In addition to the immediate human toll, the floods are having a devastating impact on farms and are polluting drinking water. Thousands of acres of farmland have been washed away in the floods. [Al Jazeera]
  • The bulk of the deaths have been in India, where the worst rains have been concentrated in the northeastern part of the country. Hundreds have also died in Nepal and Bangladesh. [BBC]
  • The summer monsoons in South Asia go from June to September and typically bring the bulk of the yearly rainfall in those months. In Bangladesh, rains are heaviest they’ve been in 100 years. [The Guardian / Rebecca Ratcliffe]
  • In Nepal, 17 inches of rain fell in just eight hours. Poorly designed roads are also not helping the water drain property and worsening the problem. Many roads have been washed away, leaving people stranded in remote rural areas. [The Diplomat / Peter Gill and Bhola Paswan]
  • Many of those impacted in Nepal are poor people, who are forced to live in low-lying and flood-prone areas due to their economic status. [The Diplomat / Peter Gill and Bhola Paswan]

The strange case of an Indian guru comes to an end

STR/AFP/Getty Images
  • Deadly protests have broken out in India after a spiritual guru named Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was sentenced to 20 years in prison, convicted of raping two of his female followers. [CNN / Manveena Suri and Omar Khan]
  • Singh’s imprisonment sparked violent protests among his religious followers; 38 people were killed in clashes in Northern India, near a courthouse where he was sentenced. Hundreds more were injured. [NYT / Hari Kumar]
  • Preaching a simple lifestyle to his followers, Singh fashioned himself as a godlike figure to thousands who revered him. He is the third guru of a religious sect known as Dera Sacha Sauda, which claims to have millions of followers worldwide. [Associated Press / Muneeza Naqvi]
  • Among some of the more bizarre teachings of Singh and his sect was a recommendation to male followers to castrate themselves in order to become closer to God. [The Quint / Chandan Nandy]
  • It appears Singh did not exactly practice what he preached; he favored flashy outfits and was also known as the “guru of bling.” He also ran a commercial franchise, and starred in movies and music videos. [Agence France-Press]
  • His main compound was located in northern India, and was where the assaults allegedly took place in the late 1990s. Over the years, Singh has built a large network of religious centers in India, overseeing 46 centers as well as schools and hospitals. [Sky News / Connor Sephton]
  • Singh could also soon face charges in a murder case, where he’s accused of killing a journalist who first exposed the rapes in 2002. [Hindustan Times / Prabhjit Singh]

Miscellaneous

  • In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, photos of a shark swimming in Houston floodwaters and planes nearly submerged on a runway have circulated on the internet. They’re fake. [Gizmodo / Melanie Ehrenkranz]
  • China’s government wants to plant millions of trees in an attempt to stop its deserts from spreading. But the project is controversial, as some people have been forced out of their villages to make way for greenery. [Mother Jones / Vince Beiser]
  • Amazon is turning up the heat in the grocery wars of 2017 by slashing its prices in a market where it doesn’t really need to be competitive. [Heather Haddon and Laura Stevens]
  • A comprehensive history of the tater tot, from potato byproduct to insanely popular frozen food item. [Eater / Kelsey McKinney]
  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions wants to aggressively go after legalized marijuana, but his own task force of federal law enforcement officials disagrees with him. [Associated Press / Sadie Gurman]

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