In the News

News Update

August 23, 2016


North America

US:  American Indian children are taken away from their parents and placed into foster care more often in Minnesota than anywhere else in the US.  Although less than 2 percent of children are Indian, they make up nearly a quarter of the state’s foster care population, a disparity more than double the rate in the next higher state.

US:  Throughout the US, more than 5 million former felons, parolees, probationers, and inmates are denied the right to vote. In 38 states and the District of Columbia, most people in these categories automatically gain the right to vote upon the completion of their sentences, but not in the remaining 12 states.

More than 13,000 former felons have just had their voting rights restored in Virginia. The state ban had disenfranchised one in five African-Americans in that state.

South America

Venezuela:  Venezuela was the world’s first nation to be certified for eradicating malaria in its most populated areas, beating the United States and other developed countries to that milestone in 1961.

But today Venezuela’s economy and infrastructure have collapsed and people are turning to desperate measures for money.

One of their strategies is to head for the jungles to pan for gold, where they contract malaria – and then return to the cities, where the infection spreads.  The result has been a return of malaria in this previously malaria-free country at levels not seen in 75 years.

For most of the people, there is no medicine, no food, no help, no hope.



Mali:  This week Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi, an Islamist militant, pleaded guilty to destroying cultural sites in Timbuktu, Mali, in a landmark trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands.  It is the first time that the Court has tried a case of cultural destruction, the first prosecution of an Islamic militant, and the first case of a guilty plea.


Former Yugoslavia: Prosecutions continue at the domestic level for former perpetrators of the Yugoslav war.


Middle East and Asia

Cambodia:  The Extraordinary Chambers for the Courts of Cambodia, the UN hybrid tribunal established to prosecute the perpetrators of the genocide carried out from 1975-1979, continues to hear cases.  In the past week a survivor testified about a mass execution.  He said, “All the people who were taken away with me all died except me alone who survived. I was sorrowful and terrified.”

Syria:  Little Omran Daqneesh, a 5-year-old Syrian boy who was bloodied in a battle in Aleppo, became an iconic image of the war, with his photo viewed millions of times around the world. The tragedy, however, is that this image belies any international action, and, indeed, there was almost no mention when Omran’s 10-year-old brother died only a few days later.

Turkey:  A suicide bomber at a Kurdish wedding in northern Turkey, originally identified by Turkish President Recep Erdogan as a 12-14 year-old youth acting for ISIS, may not have been a child and also has not been clearly identified as belonging to the terrorist organization. In response to the bombing, the Turkish military has attacked both US-backed Kurdish rebels and ISIS troops.