In Texas and Louisiana, at least 30 people have died, more than 17,000 people are in shelters, hundreds of thousands are under evacuation orders, and all past U.S. rainfall records have been shattered, as Hurricane Harvey continues to wreak climate chaos in Houston, the fourth-largest city in the United States. Around 4 a.m. this morning, Harvey made landfall for a second time, just west of Cameron, Louisiana. In Texas, a third of Harris County—which encompasses Houston—is currently underwater. Houston officials have imposed a mandatory curfew between midnight and 5 a.m.
ExxonMobil says Harvey has damaged at least two of its refineries, causing thousands of pounds of chemicals to be released into the air. Residents in Crosby, Texas, are being evacuated amid concerns a chemical factory damaged by Harvey could explode. On Tuesday, the World Meteorological Organization’s spokesperson, Clare Nullis, explained how Harvey’s devastation is linked to climate change.
Clare Nullis: “What I think we can say is that the fact that we do have climate change—our atmosphere is warmer, it contains more moisture—it means that when we do have a hurricane, a tropical cyclone like this, then when an event does occur, then, you know, climate change does very likely increase the associated rainfall. But climate change per se does not cause tropical cyclones.”
This is the third 500-year flood to hit Houston in the last three years. By the time it’s finally over, the storm may be categorized as a once-in-a-thousand-year flood. Thousands of National Guardsmen have been mobilized to rescue stranded residents. Mexico has also offered to assist in the disaster response.
Deadly extreme weather fueled by climate change also continues worldwide. In Mumbai, India, at least six people, including two toddlers, died in flash flooding caused by torrential downpours Tuesday. Meteorologists are warning the rain will continue in Mumbai for at least the next 24 hours. Downpours also inundated parts of Istanbul, Turkey, Tuesday, turning major streets into raging rivers.
The U.N. Security Council has condemned North Korea’s latest missile tests, including the launch of an intermediate-range ballistic missile that flew over the Japanese island of Hokkaido Tuesday morning. This is the Japanese Ambassador to the United Nations Koro Bessho.
Koro Bessho: “Japan welcomes the swift adoption of the presidential statement strongly condemning the most recent ballistic missile launch by North Korea, which flew over Japan, and also demanding North Korea immediately cease all such actions. This demonstrates the unity of the Security Council and sends a strong and clear message to North Korea that the international community will not accept its reckless behavior.”
The Security Council did not vote to impose further sanctions against North Korea. Both Russia and China urged negotiations and blamed the U.S. military activity on the Korean Peninsula for escalating tensions.
In Afghanistan, airstrikes have killed more than a dozen civilians in the western province of Herat on Monday. The U.S.-backed Afghan military carried out the strike and initially claimed the victims were Taliban members. But residents say all of the victims were civilians, mostly women and children.
In Washington, D.C., a grand jury has indicted 15 members of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s security detail on felony charges for attacking a group of peaceful protesters in Washington, D.C., in May. Video from the scene shows Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan looking on during the assault, which came just after Erdogan was welcomed to the White House by President Trump. It’s not clear if Erdogan gave the order for the attack. It left nine anti-Erdogan protesters hospitalized.
The Washington Post reports special counsel Robert Mueller’s lawyers have issued several subpoenas to Washington lobbying firms, demanding information about their interactions with the consulting firms of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort. Among those subpoenaed are Manafort’s former lawyer and his spokesperson. Both Manafort and Flynn have been at the center of the ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.
Defense Secretary James Mattis has temporarily frozen President Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the U.S. military. On Tuesday, Mattis said transgender troops will be allowed to continue serving until a review of the issue is finished. Trump’s proposed ban, first announced on Twitter, also faces multiple lawsuits, including from the ACLU.
President Trump is headed today to Springfield, Missouri, where he’ll give a speech calling for an overhaul of the tax code. Trump has proposed slashing the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to a mere 15 percent and cutting taxes for the richest Americans. Trump’s tax overhaul efforts are being led by two multimillionaires: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn. Both are former Goldman Sachs bankers.
And in Wisconsin, six people were arrested after one person locked himself to a piece of heavy machinery to stop the construction of the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline. The proposed line would carry tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, to a terminal in Superior, Wisconsin. It faces sustained resistance from indigenous nations and environmental activists in both the U.S. and Canada.