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Vox Sentences: The summer of devastating natural disasters isn’t over

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Trump levels more harsh rhetoric at North Korea during his first UN speech; another earthquake in Mexico kills at least 61 people; Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands brace for Hurricane Maria.


“Rocket man burning out his fuse up here alone”

Drew Angerer/Getty Images
  • President Trump’s first speech in front of the United Nations General Assembly today took several dark turns, as Trump emphasized self-reliance above international cooperation and threatened North Korea directly. [Vox / Zeeshan Aleem]
  • The most eye-popping quote from Trump’s speech was a promise to “totally destroy” North Korea if it continued its nuclear provocations. Trump called North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un “rocket man,” a phrase that’s also been showing up in his tweets lately. [Washington Post / David Nakamura and Anne Gearan]
  • Despite occasional outbursts by Trump (see: “fire and fury”), the US and other nations are so far pursuing a strategy of increasingly tight economic sanctions to try to halt North Korea’s weapons programs. So far, there’s not a lot of evidence it’s working; the country’s economy is staying pretty resilient. [NPR / Elise Hu]
  • Trump also had harsh words for Iran. He call the nation a rogue state and signaled that he could soon end the nuclear deal between the US and Iran that is keeping the latter from expanding its own nuclear weapons program. [NYT / Peter Baker and Somini Sengupta]
  • Other leaders countered Trump’s rhetoric on North Korea; French President Emmanuel Macron suggested continued pressure and sanctions on the Korean dictator, rather than escalating a potential conflict. Macron also said the US must keep its nuclear deal with Iran in place, or risk the country becoming another North Korea. [CNN / Christiane Amanpour and Hilary Clarke]
  • Some foreign policy experts said that while Trump’s speech contained lots of bluster and tough talk, there were not a lot of details or substance to back it up. In other words, more of the same. [Vox / Zeeshan Aleem]

But it also presents a picture of a US that is only interested in protecting its own interests, rather than championing the interests of the global community. [Slate / Fred Kaplan]


Collapse

Alfredo Estrella/AFP/Getty Images
  • Mexico has been hit by another deadly earthquake, the second to rattle the country in as many weeks. Officials there have reported 61 deaths so far. [Associated Press]
  • The 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck central Mexico and the country’s capital of Mexico City this afternoon. Footage from Mexico City shows buildings collapsing as tremors shook the streets, and a recent count shows more than 20 buildings have collapsed. [NYT / Kirk Semple, Elisabeth Malkin, and Paulina Villegas]
  • The epicenter of the quake was located about 75 miles from Mexico City in the state of Puebla, while the deaths that have been reported so far were in a neighboring state called Morelos. [NPR / Colin Dwyer]
  • Tuesday’s earthquake comes on an eerie anniversary: On this day in 1985, one of the country’s deadliest earthquakes struck Mexico City and killed thousands of people. And just two weeks ago, another earthquake struck off the Pacific Coast, killing about 100 people. [Washington Post / Joshua Partlow]
  • Mexico sits on active fault lines, and scientists have been monitoring the Guerrero gap near Mexico City. The quake off the Pacific Coast last month took some seismologists by surprise, and prompted hope that one earthquake might free up some pressure and make another one in the same spot less likely. [Science Magazine / Lizzie Wade]
  • Mexico City building standards were tightened after the 1985 earthquake to prepare for an event like today’s. The fact that more than 20 buildings collapsed may prompt another review of building codes. [Reuters / Anthony Esposito]

Another week, another hurricane

Ricardo Arduengo/AFP/Getty Images
  • Another week has brought yet another powerful hurricane and more devastation to the Caribbean.
  • Hurricane Maria became a strong Category 5 storm on Monday night, with wind speeds of 160 miles per hour in the Atlantic Ocean. [Grist / Eric Holthaus]
  • What makes Maria so devastating is that it's heading for the same group of small Caribbean islands that were also hit by Hurricane Irma just last week, including the Virgin Islands. [Vox / Brian Resnick]
  • The US territory of Puerto Rico is also on high alert; that island was just barely spared the worst of Irma but could get a direct hit from Maria this time. [Washington Post / Jason Samenow]
  • Dominica, a small island nation, has sustained some of the worst damage from Maria so far. Buildings had their roofs torn off by strong winds, thousands of people lost power, and there was severe flooding on parts of the island. One person has been confirmed dead on the island of Guadeloupe. [NYT / Kirk Semple and Austin Ramzy]
  • The seemingly endless parade of natural disasters this summer has people wondering how big a role climate change plays in these storms. As Vox’s David Roberts explains, climate change did not cause these hurricanes, but there’s plenty of evidence that it’s producing stronger storms. [Vox / David Roberts]
  • That’s because rising levels mean worse storm surge from hurricanes, and there’s scientific evidence to show climate change accounts for worse rainstorms. But there are plenty other factors, including rapidly growing development. [Climate Central / Andrea Thompson]

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