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Vox Sentences: 1,427 dead. Not 64.

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Children are found in dire conditions on a compound in rural New Mexico; the Puerto Rican government admits the Hurricane Maria death toll is far higher than initially reported.

A case with many unanswered questions

Morgan Lee/AP
  • Police discovered 11 children living in “filthy,” “disgusting,” and “squalid” conditions on a compound in rural New Mexico on Friday, August 5. Two men were arrested and three women detained in connection with the case. [Reuters / Dan Whitcomb]
  • Authorities received a tip, reportedly from one of the children living on the compound, that they “are starving and need food and water.” They discovered the 11 children, who were emaciated and with “basically dirty rags for clothing.” They also found several firearms and a large quantity of ammunition at the compound. [CNN / AnneClaire Stapleton and Holly Yan]
  • Police were originally searching for 4-year-old Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj, who went missing in December; police suspect he was abducted by his father, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj. Abdul-Ghani’s mother was concerned because she said he suffered from seizures, could not walk, and needed constant medical attention. He was not among the 11 children found by police.
  • [NBC / Elizabeth Chuck, Andrew Blankstein, and Alex Johnson]
  • Wahhaj and Lucas Allen Morton, the two men arrested, had “trained at least one of the minors to use an assault rifle in preparation for a school shooting” with shooting ranges found on the compound, according to one of the rescued children. Authorities believe that the duo are considered “extremist of the Muslim belief.” [Washington Post / Eli Rosenberg and Abigail Hauslohner]
  • Wahhaj is the son of controversial New York imam Siraj Wahhaj, who served as a character witness for a sheikh convicted of plotting terror attacks in the US in 1995. [CBS]
  • The remains of a young boy were found on the compound. The imam says family members confirmed that the other children told authorities they belong to Abdul-Ghani. [AP / Stephen R. Groves]
  • The imam’s mosque said that authorities were painting “false narratives” of the younger Wahhaj and villainizing him as an extremist. [NYT / Alan Feuer and Serge F. Kovaleski]

Puerto Rico massively updates its Hurricane Maria death toll

  • The Puerto Rican government “quietly acknowledged” on Thursday that Hurricane Maria killed 1,427 residents. The government had previously said only 64 people died in the storm’s aftermath. [NYT / Frances Robles]
  • The announcement came in a report detailing a $139 billion reconstruction plan needed to restore infrastructure across the entire island, which is home to 3.3 million people. [AP]
  • This is still a highly contested figure. A Harvard University study reports that anywhere from 800 to 8,500 people died as a result of Hurricane Maria. [USA Today / Rick Jervis]
  • Though some were killed amid the destruction of Hurricane Maria, many were killed in the storm’s aftermath because of nonfunctioning hospitals and a lack of medical care. Resulting power outages also caused an increase in deaths due to diabetes, heart illnesses, and sepsis. [Vox / Umair Irfan]
  • Hurricanes Maria and Irma caused countrywide blackouts that broke records as the largest power outages in American history. Blackouts continue to persist on the island. [BBC]
  • The US government has done very little to support the struggling US territory. Still, President Trump thinks the government has done a “great job” with rescue efforts. They should be “very proud,” he said. [Guardian / Amanda Holpuch and Oliver Laughland]


  • Basketball fans are garnering support for a new petition that demands LeBron James, who recently opened a scholarship-driven elementary school for underprivileged children, replace Betsy DeVos as the US secretary of education. [Complex / Joshua Espinoza]
  • Brock Turner, infamous for only serving three months of a six-month jail sentence after being convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman, has lost his appeal to turn over his conviction. He will now remain on the sex offenders registry for life. [BuzzFeed / Claudia Koerner]
  • Longtime incumbent St. Louis prosecutor Robert McCulloch, who notably defended his office after police officer Darren Wilson was not indicted for killing unarmed teen Michael Brown in 2014, outspent his opponent, Wesley Bell, 12 to one in Tuesday’s election. Bell still won. [LA Times / Matt Pearce]
  • Happy birthday, Mary Golda Ross! Ross was the first Native American engineer in history and worked on NASA’s secret space mission “Skunk Works.” [The Verge / Angela Chen]


“The counter-counterfactual is this: Are Republican leaders so unwilling to condemn Trump because their voters support him so vigorously, or do these voters support Trump so vigorously because so few Republican leaders have dared condemn his actions? Chicken, meet egg.” [Mark Leibovich profiles House Speaker Paul Ryan as Ryan’s final term in office comes to a close / NYT]

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