AMERICA/VENEZUELA – Zika virus throughout Latin America

Caracas – The World Health Organization has launched a global alert on the spread of the zika virus. Currently, America is the most affected continent . In Venezuela, there are between 6 and 10 thousand symptomatic cases of the disease, to which are added 30 to 40% of asymptomatic cases. The Minister of Health has confirmed the state of alert and the monitoring of 4700 suspected cases.

STUDIES: Ohio Executions Reveal Vast Racial, Gender, and Geographic Inequities

“Ohio’s death penalty is plagued by vast inequities” grounded in race, gender, and geography, according to a new University of North Carolina study. UNC-Chapel Hill political science professor Frank Baumgartner examined the 53 executions Ohio has conducted since resuming capital punishment in the 1970s. His study found “quite significant” racial, gender, and geographic disparities in Ohio’s executions that, Baumgartner said, “undermine public confidence in the state’s ability to carry out the death penalty in a fair and impartial manner.” The data showed that Ohio was 6 times more likely to execute a prisoner convicted of killing a white female victim than if the victim was a black male. Although 43% of Ohio murder victims are white, 65% of Ohio executions involved the murder of white victims. Similarly, while only 27% of Ohio murder victims are female, 52% of all executions involved cases with female victims. The study also discovered significant geographic disparities in Ohio executions. More that half of the state’s executions were concentrated in just 4 counties, while more than 3/4 of Ohio counties have not produced any executions. Lake County had an execution rate that was 11 times the statewide average. Although the state’s three most populous counties (Cuyahoga, Franklin, and Hamilton) have similar murder rates, Hamilton’s .60 executions per 100 homicides was more than double the rate in Cuyahoga and nearly 9 times that in Franklin. Sharon L. Davies, Executive Director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at The Ohio State University, said that the “race or gender of a victim, and the county of the crime, should not influence who is sentenced to die” and urged “Ohio citizens and lawmakers[to] review the findings of this important research.” (Click image to enlarge.)

(F. Baumgartner, “The Impact of Race, Gender, and Geography on Ohio Executions,” University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, January 28, 2016; A. Johnson, “Study finds racial, gender bias in Ohio executions,” The Columbus Dispatch, January 28, 2016.) See Studies and Arbitrariness.

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ASIA/PHILIPPINES – Muslims fighting Isis: “sign of sincerity” says a missionary

Zamboanga – “It is a very positive step. It demonstrates the sincerity of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in the search for peace”: this is how Fr. Angel Calvo, a Claretian missionary, for several decades in Mindanao, who today lives in the city of Zamboanga, in the extreme south of the Philippines, judges the public statement of the Islamic movement that has decided to actively cooperate with the government to stop the spread of the Islamic State in the southern Philippines.In the southern Philippines, where there is a large Muslim community, Isis is trying to recruit new fighters and contaminate local groups.”Today, Isis is the brand that works. Small local radical groups like the ideology of Isis, although I do not believe this is an alarming situation, because these are small isolated incidents”, said Fr. Calvo. “The position taken by the formations that historically represent Islam Filipino, such as the MILF, and by many other Islamic leaders, makes it clear that the Muslim community in the southern Philippines rejects the poisoning that Isis tries to accomplish”.”MILF is fully committed to the peace process. It is a long, slow process, and you have to have patience. After the agreement signed with the government of Benigno Aquino, the present Parliament has not ratified it yet. The issue has been postponed to the new government that will take office after the elections of May 2016″, concludes the missionary.

Source: ASIA/PHILIPPINES – Muslims fighting Isis: “sign of sincerity” says a missionary

Cold Snap in Asia : Image of the Day

Weather Underground blogger Bob Henson reported that the January chill stemmed from the polar vortex—an upper-level circulation pattern that rings the Arctic. The vortex extended southward, allowing the development of a strong Siberian high. This cold, dense, low-level air mass then spread southeast across the continent.According to news reports, the temperature in Bangkok, Thailand, dipped to 16°C (61°F); lows there typically stay above 20–25°C. Taipei, Taiwan, got down to just 4°C (39°F), a low not seen in 44 years. Snow fell in Japan and South Korea, stranding travelers.Farther north, Mongolia and Inner Mongolia also saw anomalously low temperatures in January. In Eergu’Na, Inner Mongolia, temperatures reached a record-low of -47°C (-53°F). The cold weather in Mongolia, however, goes beyond the timespan portrayed in this this map. Extremely low temperatures and heavy snowfall—a winter phenomenon locally called dzud—have persisted since November 2015 and are expected to affect almost 1 million people, according to Reliefweb. Animals are vulnerable as well; Mongolia lost about 20 percent of its livestock during the 2009-2010 dzud.

Source: Cold Snap in Asia : Image of the Day

Sweden investigating Israeli death threats against its foreign minister | The Electronic Intifada

In the article, translated for Mondoweiss by Jonathan Ofir, Zameret lists Bernadotte’s supposed transgressions in the eyes of the Zionist movement and then turns his fire on Wallström: “The Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström, with her characteristic covert anti-Semitism, with her arrogance, ignorance, and her interest-bound speculation regarding her future Muslim voters – she too seeks to fight the foundations of the State of Israel. I am convinced and certain that her intentions will smoulder, just as all of the undignified count’s [Bernadotte] intentions did.”Zameret has denied that his article was an implicit endorsement of violence against Wallström, but Swedish officials will be concerned because of high profile assassinations of the country’s political leaders in recent decades.In 2003, Wallström’s predecessor Anna Lindh was murdered while out shopping in Stockholm. Her killer, Swedish citizen Mijailo Mijailović, is serving a life sentence.In February 1986, the country’s Prime Minister Olof Palme was shot dead while walking home with his wife from a cinema in the Swedish capital.His murder has never been solved, but among the many theories pursued by investigators over the years is that it was linked to South Africa’s apartheid regime, of which Palme was an outspoken international critic at the time.IncitementZameret’s article came as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had turned his anger on Wallström.

Source: Sweden investigating Israeli death threats against its foreign minister | The Electronic Intifada

Standoff Continues at Wildlife Refuge in Oregon: Four Domestic Terriorists Refuse to Leave

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Published January 29, 2016

BURNS, OREGON— The takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge continued into its 28th day today as four domestic terrorists still remain.

The four remain three days after a group of fellow domestic terrorists were arrested and one shot dead.

“The negotiators continue to work around the clock to talk to those four people in an effort to get them to come out peacefully,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Greg Bretzing.

On Thursday, the FBI released a video that dispels the notion that domestic terrorist LaVoy Fincium was attempting to surrender when he was shot dead by law enforcement.

Below is part of the FBI statement that deals with the moments leading to Finicum being shot:

When we come back to the video, the white truck leaves the scene at a high rate of speed. It travels some distance, quickly approaching a vehicle roadblock in the roadway.

As the white truck approaches the roadblock, there is a spike strip across the road but it appears Finicum missed it as he attempted to drive around the roadblock. He nearly hits an FBI agent as he maneuvers to the left. The truck gets stuck in the snowbank.

Finicum leaves the truck and steps through the snow. Agents and troopers on scene had information that Finicum and others would be armed. On at least two occasions, Finicum reaches his right hand toward a pocket on the left inside portion of his jacket. He did have a loaded 9 mm semi-automatic handgun in that pocket.

At this time, OSP troopers shot Finicum.

Approximately 30 seconds after the shooting, law enforcement officers at the scene deployed flash bangs to disorient any other armed occupants. Shortly after that, they deployed less-lethal sponge projectiles with OC capsules. Those OC capsules would be similar to pepper spray.

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