Top News Stories for Today – Aug 25, 2017
Hurricane Harvey will bring life-threatening flooding
Hurricane Harvey, now a Category 2 storm, is gaining strength, and by the time it hits the middle Texas coast late Friday or early Saturday, it’s expected to be a Category 3, with winds of at last 111 mph, the National Hurricane Center said Thursday night.
Harvey could make landfall in Corpus Christi, where Mayor Joe McComb has issued a voluntary evacuation order; it is now about 250 miles southeast of the city, moving 10 mph. Rainfall from Harvey “will cause devastating and life-threatening flooding,” the National Hurricane Center said, as it will likely linger over the state. Forecasters are expecting Harvey to bring 15 to 25 inches of rain along the Texas coast and in parts of Louisiana. The last hurricane to make landfall in Texas was Ike in 2008; 21 people died in the storm. CNN, The Week
Iranians convert to Christianity for Asylum
In the Netherlands, thousands of Iranian Muslim migrants and refugees are converting to Christianity, despite conversion from Islam being considered apostasy in Iran and punishable by death. But some converted Iranians said they had only converted to increase their chances of being granted asylum. Thousands of Iranian asylum-seekers across Europe are turning to Christianity, though observers are not convinced that all claims of conversion are genuine.
A BBC documentary, Praying for Asylum, tells the story of a number of Iranian asylum-seekers in the Netherlands who say they have become Christians and would be exposed to persecution if they were deported. Iranian-born church leader Masoud Mohammad Amin, who founded Cyrus Church, one of largest Iranian churches in Europe, said he had baptised thousands of Iranians, from the streets of Paris to Turkey. BBC, World Watch Monitor
Samsung leader sentenced to 5 years for corruption
On Friday morning, a court in Seoul found Samsung’s acting chairman and heir apparent Lee Jae-yong guilty of bribery, embezzlement, perjury, hiding money overseas, and other corruption-related charges and sentenced him to five years in prison. Lee, 49, has maintained his innocence.
Prosecutors said that Lee gave $38 million in bribes to foundations operated by Choi Soon-sil, a friend of since-impeached President Park Geun-hye, on the presumption that Park would support a merger that strengthened Lee’s control over his family’s lucrative business empire. Park and Choi are also on trial, separately. Prosecutors were seeking a 12-year sentence for Lee, who can still appeal the verdict. The Associated Press, BBC News, Theweek
Thailand’s Ex PM flees abroad
Ousted Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has fled the country ahead of a verdict against her in a negligence trial brought by the junta that overthrew her, sources close to the Shinawatra family said on Friday. Yingluck, 50, whose family has dominated Thai politics for more than 15 years, failed to show up at court for judgment in a case centered on the multi-billion dollar losses incurred by a rice subsidy scheme for farmers.
Overthrown in 2014, Yingluck had faced up to 10 years in prison if found guilty. “It is possible that she has fled already,” Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan told reporters. VOA
Zinke recommends shrinking at least 3 national monuments
Zinke did submit a report to the White House that recommends shrinking the size of Utah’s Bear Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments and Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, several people with knowledge of the report told The Washington Post. Environmental activists have said they will go to court if necessary in order to preserve the current boundaries and protections at each site. The Associated Press, The Washington Post, Theweek
Saudi-led airstrikes kill 14 civilians in Yemen
Airstrikes by a Saudi-led coalition targeted Yemen’s capital early on Friday, hitting at least three houses in Sanaa and killing at least 14 civilians, including women and children, residents and eyewitnesses said. The attack was the latest by the coalition, which has been waging a relentless air campaign against Yemen’s Iran-backed Shiite rebels for the past two years in an effort to bring the internationally recognized government back to power.
Recently, the strikes in and around the capital, Sanaa, targeting army compounds and other locations of the rebels known as Houthis, have intensified. On Wednesday, coalition fighter jets struck a hotel in the town of Arhab, north of Sanaa, killing at least 41 people. VOA
Amazon-Whole Foods deal to close Monday
Amazon will finalize its acquisition of the Whole Foods grocery company Monday, with customers to see discounts on Whole Foods staples after Amazon officially closes the deal. Amazon Prime members will further receive “special savings and in-store benefits,” the company writes, after Prime becomes integrated as the customer reward program at Whole Foods stores.
Jeff Wilke, the CEO of Amazon Worldwide Consumer, said in a statement: “We’re determined to make healthy and organic food affordable for everyone. Everybody should be able to eat Whole Foods Market quality — we will lower prices without compromising Whole Foods Market’s long-held commitment to the highest standards.” Amazon agreed to buy Whole Foods for $13.7 billion in early June. CNBC, The Week