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Vox Sentences: Harvey may sink Trump's border wall plans

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North Korea fires its latest missile over Japan; the flood waters in Texas continue to rise; violence in Myanmar reaches a tipping point.

Japan’s terrifying Tuesday morning

Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images
  • After staying fairly quiet for a couple weeks, North Korea fired yet another missile early this morning directly into Japanese airspace, a very bold move on its part. [Vox / Alex Ward]
  • Things in Japan got pretty tense; sirens went off and the government warned people to seek shelter as the missile flew over an island in the North called Hokkaido, which is home to about 5.3 million people. [The Independent / Joe Sommerlad]
  • This isn’t the first time North Korea has flown missiles over Japanese airspace, but it’s a very rare occurrence, precisely because it risks starting a military conflict. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has a pretty hawkish reputation, but he’s shown no indication that he’s going to pursue a military option right now. [Foreign Policy / Michael Penn]
  • Experts say the move to fly a weapon over Japan was a deliberate way to heighten tension in the region, but North Korea stopped short of pointing a missile at the American territory of Guam and inflaming tensions with the United States. [Washington Post / Anna Fifield]
  • In the US, President Donald Trump reiterated that “all options are on the table,” but didn't make any dramatic statements like his vow to rain “fire and fury” on North Korea a few weeks ago. [CNN / Jeff Zeleny, Dan Merica and Kevin Liptak]
  • South Korea actually responded most strongly to the latest test, flying fighter jets and dropping bombs on its border with the North as a show of force. This is especially noteworthy, given that new South Korean President Moon Jae-in has so far preached diplomacy with North Korea, and now seems to be shifting his message. [Vox / Alex Ward]

Houston just broke a rainfall record

Joe Raedle/Getty Images
  • As of this evening, rainfall from Hurricane Harvey has officially surpassed 50 inches, breaking a record for the continental United States. (Hawaii holds the record for 52 inches of rain, but it's likely that Harvey floods could reach that.) [Vox / Brian Resnick]
  • The rain is continuing to fall on Texas, and floodwaters are rising further as a flood control dam in Houston started to spill over this afternoon. Police say 13 people have died in the storm, with 3,500 people rescued so far. [NYT]
  • President Trump and first lady Melania Trump visited Texas today, and Trump vowed to get the state a comprehensive relief package as fast as possible. [CNN / Deirdre Walsh, Ted Barrett, Ashley Killough and Jeremy Diamond]
  • It’s tough to tell exactly how much the hurricane will cost Texas, but some have estimated it could be around $50 billion in combined damage and lost economic activity. [Houston Chronicle / Collin Eaton]
  • Harvey could also have a big impact in Washington, DC, where passing a budget is the big item on lawmakers’ agenda when they return from summer vacation. Trump has made it clear he’s willing to shut down the government if Congress doesn’t give him the money for the Southern border wall, but if Harvey funding is attached to a larger bill, it could make it much more difficult for the president to fight. [Vox / Jeff Stein]
  • That’s because shutting down the government would effectively suspend recovery efforts and prove devastating for thousands of flood victims. [Vox / Jeff Stein]
  • In addition to the Texas floods, there are new worries about the storm moving east to neighboring Louisiana, which is no stranger to devastating weather. []

Myanmar’s Muslims are fleeing en masse

Zakir Chowdhury/Barcroft Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images
  • The United Nations and human rights organizations are criticizing Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi for not doing enough to stop violence against Muslims in that country and pushing out human rights organizations trying to investigate recent clashes. [The Guardian / Oliver Holmes]
  • Violence in the Southeast Asian nation is intensifying, as government forces battle militants from the country’s Muslim minority, known as the Rohingya. [Financial Times / Amy Kazmin]
  • Fighting between Muslim militants and the Buddhist government security forces has left 100 people dead and thousands more Rohingya civilians fleeing across the border into neighboring Bangladesh. [Sky News]
  • The Rohingya have been persecuted in Myanmar for years; the government doesn’t recognize them as citizens and has designated them as illegal immigrants. [Reuters / Ruma Paul and Nurul Islam]
  • The government of Suu Kyi, a former recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, recently accused members of international aid organization of aiding “terrorists,” prompting outcries from the UN that they are inflaming tensions rather than trying to calm things down. [The Guardian / Oliver Holmes]
  • Suu Kyi’s rise to power was initially seen as a turning point toward democracy for Myanmar, a country that had been under military dictatorship for decades. But many say she has not been able to reform the country and is still being influenced by military leaders, evidenced by the continuing crackdown on journalists. [NYT]


  • The incredible science behind the floating masses of fire ants in Hurricane Harvey floodwaters (and why you should definitely not touch them). [Wired / Matt Simon]
  • Minnesota and Virginia are in a protracted battle over a Confederate flag captured by Minnesota soldiers in the Civil War. Virginia wants it back; Minnesota isn’t budging. [Twin Cities Pioneer-Press / Rachel Stassen-Berger]
  • A German nurse who told police he liked putting people under deadly anesthesia to practice reviving them has been implicated in more than 80 deaths dating back to the '90s, and people are asking why it took so long to arrest him. [NYT / Melissa Eddy]
  • In case there was any confusion as to who she is, first lady Melania Trump wore a baseball hat emblazoned with the acronym "FLOTUS" while visiting the Texas floods today. [The Cut / Gabrielle Paella]
  • The Newseum in Washington, DC, has been struggling financially for years, and some are wondering if it's going to have to downsize or close. [Washington Post / Margaret Sullivan]


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