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SPOTLIGHT: MASS KILLINGS AND MENTAL INSTABILITY

A knife-wielding man killed 19 people in their sleep and injured at least 25 others overnight at a care center for people with mental disabilities in the Japanese city of Sagamihara. The man has been identified as 26-year-old Satoshi Uematsu, a former employee of the center, and has turned himself him to the police after what is an extremely rare mass killing in one of the most peaceful countries in the world.


There is early evidence that the killer himself suffered from mental illness, or was at least unfit to live in society: He had previously threatened to kill hundreds of disabled people and was committed to hospital before being released after two weeks.


In what otherwise have been much different circumstances, the recent perpetrators of attacks in Nice, Munich and Orlando had also previously displayed outward signs of mental instability. This is a reminder of the importance of better understanding and intervening in cases of mental illnesses, especially as our visually connected world spreads images of one killing that can trigger others. No doubt many will describe this morning's attack in Japan as "senseless," even as it becomes harder to differentiate the wave of Islamic-inspired terrorists from other mentally disabled killers. Still, no matter the combination of causes that lead to such acts, we should never forget that prevention of violence is not just the work of police.



WHAT TO LOOK FOR TODAY

  • Day 2 of the Democratic National Convention. Trayvon Martin's mother and Bill Clinton to speak, among others.
  • World Youth Day Kicks Off In Krakow.
  • Apple and Twitter report earnings.


10 KILLED IN MOGADISHU BLASTS

At least 10 people were killed this morning in two car bomb blasts near the Mogadishu airport in Somalia's capital, the BBC reports. The islamist terror group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack and said an African Union peacekeepers base was the target.


ONE DEAD IN FRANCE HOSTAGE SITUATION

One person, believed to be a priest, has been reported killed after two armed men took several people hostage in a church this morning near Rouen, in northern France. The television network France 3 reports that a priest, two nuns and several churchgoers were among those held by two hostage-takers armed with knives, who have been shot dead by police.


— ON THIS DAY

Is turning 73 getting him some satisfaction? That, and more, in today's 57-second shot of History.


MICHELLE OBAMA, SANDERS BACK CLINTON

The Democratic National Convention has opened in Philadelphia as the party tries to unify in support of Hillary Clinton in her upcoming showdown against Donald Trump. First Lady Michelle Obama yesterday praised Clinton while attacking Trump without naming him. "Our motto is, when they go low, we go high, she said." The night ended with Bernie Sanders facing booing by some of his supporters as he also called for party unity and insisted that "Hillary Clinton must become the next president of the United States."


FIRST EUROPEAN MICROCEPHALY BIRTH

A Spanish woman gave birth yesterday in Barcelona to the first baby in Europe to be infected with the Zika virus, El Paísreports. The mother had previously travelled to an unnamed country in Latin America, where the virus is prevalent. The parents had been informed by doctors that the baby would have microcephaly.


— WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

As births by Israeli settlers tops Palestinians in the West Bank, the "demographic advantage" could vanish, and undermine hopes for a peace settlement. From Jerusalem, Giordano Stabile writes for Italian daily La Stampa: "Settlers seem to have taken the Biblical instruction to ‘be fruitful and multiply' literally, and represent the fastest-growing demographic in the region with a yearly population increase of 3%. While the United Nations has criticized the expansion of West Bank settlements as an obstacle to peace, the construction boom has created tensions within Israel over competition for limited living space. ... ‘We need 40,000 to 60,000 new apartments each year,' says Alon Tal, a demographer at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. ‘This pace of construction puts our biodiversity at risk.'"

Read the full article, Israeli Settler Birthrate Tops Palestinians — A Political Problem.


VERBATIM

"The Brazilian political system is collapsing," Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff, whose mandate is currently suspended as she awaits an impeachment trial in August, said in an interview with Radio France International.


SOLAR IMPULSE 2 COMPLETES ROUND-THE-WORLD TRIP

The Swiss solar-powered plane Solar Impulse 2 landed in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, early this morning after an unprecedented flight around the world without using a single drop of fossil fuel, as Geneva daily Le Temps reports. The plane, which took off in March 2015 and completed 17 legs, spent a total of 23 days in the air and travelled more than 40,000 kilometers.


— MY GRAND-PERE'S WORLD

Venice Vicinity — Comacchio, 1973


KERRY, LAVROV DISCUSS SYRIA

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov met today on the sidelines of a meeting of Southeast Asian nations in Laos to discuss closer military cooperation between the two countries on Syria, Reuters reports. Successful talks would see Moscow and Washington share more intelligence to coordinate air strikes against the al Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front and prohibit the Syrian air force from attacking moderate rebel groups.


50

For the first time on record, temperatures in every square inch of all 50 states in the U.S. for the next three months will be above average, according to USA Today. These lasting high temperatures are caused by a series of factors that include unusually warm ocean temperatures, a blocking pattern in the upper atmosphere preventing the formation of clouds and rain and, more generally, man-made climate change.


MORE STORIES, EXCLUSIVELY IN ENGLISH BY WORLDCRUNCH

WHO'S THE TALLEST?

Dutch men, according to researchers at Imperial College in London. They have an average height of 182.5 centimeters (just under 6 ft), as compared to 169 centimeters (about 5 ft 6) just one century ago. Dutch women are also the second tallest in the world, after the ladies of Latvia.

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Ideas

Iran: A Direct Link Between Killing Protesters And The Routine Of State Executions

Iran has long had a simple and prolific response to political opposition and the worst criminal offenses, namely death by shooting or hanging. Whether opening fire on the streets or leading the world in carrying out the death penalty, the regime insists that morality is on its side.

Protesters linked to the Iranian group Mojahedin-e Khalq demonstrate in Whitehall, London in 2018

Ahmad Ra'fat

-Editorial-

In early September, before Iran's latest bout of anti-government protests sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, there was another, quieter demonstration: Relatives of several prisoners sentenced to death staged a sit-in outside the judiciary headquarters in Tehran, urging the authorities to waive the sentences. The crowd, which doggedly refused to disperse, included the convicts' young children.

Executions have been a part and parcel of the Islamic Republic of Iran since its inception in 1979. The new authorities began shooting cadres of the fallen monarchy with unseemly zeal, usually after a summary trial. On Feb. 14, 1979, barely three days after the regime was installed, the first four of the Shah's generals were shot inside a secondary school in Tehran.

To this day, the regime continues to opt for death by firing squad for its political opponents; the execution method-of-choice for more socio-economic blights like drug trafficking has been death by hanging.

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