November 3, 2018

US mid-terms: How closely does Congress reflect the US population?

US mid-terms: How closely does Congress reflect the US population? Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Ilhan Omar, a Democratic congressional candidate for Minnesota, may become one of the first female Muslim members of the US House of Representatives In the mid-term elections on 6 November, Americans will elect the entire House of Representatives of 435 members, and 33 of the 100 seats in the Senate. These two bodies, the House and the Senate, make up the US Congress. Currently 80% of these seats are occupied by white politicians, both male and female. According to census data, this group makes up just over 60% of the total US population. Women, although half the US population, make up around 20% of those elected. The largest minority ethnic groups - Hispanic, Asian and African Americans - are also significantly under-represented in Congress. These figures are derived from profile data collected by the US Congressional Research Council and show the current participation of different population groups. Changing representation over timeLooking back over the past few decades, it's clear that participation for all these groups is on the rise, with a noticeably rapid increase in the participation of women over the past two decades. The rise in minority representation has been slower, although over the past five years there has been a significant rise in the number of Hispanic Americans elected to Congress. For both ethnic minorities and for women, representation in elected government has often been historically associated with granting these groups the right to vote, or the changing of electoral laws to make it easier to participate. Today there are 45 Hispanic Americans and 48 African Americans serving in Congress. When Barack Obama was elected to the Senate, he was only the fifth African American senator. Women in WashingtonIn 1992, there was a significant increase in participation, with 54 women elected to Congress, a 69% jump over the previous term. A..
November 3, 2018

Florida yoga studio shooting: Two killed and four injured

Florida yoga studio shooting: Two killed and four injured Image copyright Reuters Image caption The shooting at the hot yoga studio happened late Friday afternoon Two women have been killed and five others injured after a gunman opened fire in a Florida hot yoga studio. Scott Paul Beierle killed Nancy Van Vessem, 61, and Maura Binkley, 21, after entering the studio in Tallahassee at 17:37 local time (21:37 GMT) on Friday, police say. The 40-year-old then apparently turned the gun on himself, Tallahassee Police Chief Michael DeLeo told reporters. Beierle's motive for "this heinous act" is not known at this time, he added. Guns in the US: The statistics behind the violenceMr DeLeo said his officers responded to reports of the shooting at Tallahassee Hot Yoga within "three, three-and-a-half minutes", by which time Beierle was already dead. A number of other victims received gunshot wounds, while one person was pistol-whipped. "There are indications that several people inside fought back and tried to not only save themselves but other people, which is a testament to their courage," Mr DeLeo said. Two of the victims remain in hospital, while three others have been treated and released. Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum - who is currently running as the Democratic candidate for Florida governor - said he would be cutting short a campaign event and returning to the city. "No act of gun violence is acceptable," he said. "I'm in close communication with law enforcement officials and will be returning to Tallahassee tonight."
November 3, 2018

Trump administration to reinstate all Iran sanctions

Trump administration to reinstate all Iran sanctions Image copyright AFP Image caption President Trump began reinstating sanctions on Iran in May The Trump administration is to reinstate all US sanctions on Iran removed under the 2015 nuclear deal. The White House said it was "the toughest sanctions regime ever imposed on Iran" and targeted Iran's energy, shipping and banking sectors. However, eight countries will not be penalised by the US for continuing to import Iranian oil. EU states which backed the deal have said they will protect EU firms doing "legitimate" business with Iran. President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal in May, describing it as "defective at its core". "Sanctions are coming," he tweeted after Friday's announcement, referencing the TV series Game of Thrones and its motto "Winter is coming". Image Copyright @realDonaldTrump @realDonaldTrump Report Image Copyright @realDonaldTrump @realDonaldTrump Report The US has been gradually re-imposing sanctions since it unilaterally withdrew from the agreement, but analysts say this move is the most important because it targets the core sectors of Iran's economy. An Iranian foreign ministry spokesman said Iran was unconcerned at the return of sanctions, Reuters reports. The agreement saw Iran limit its controversial nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief. What nappies tell us about Iran's economic woesThe impact of Iran sanctions - in chartsIran nuclear deal: Key detailsBarack Obama, the US president at the time, had argued the deal would prevent Iran from developing nuclear arms. The UK, France, Germany, Russia and China were also parties to the 2015 accord and have stuck to it, saying they will set up a new payment system to maintain business with Iran and bypass US sanctions. Mr Trump argues that the terms of the deal are unacceptable and it has not stopped Iran developing a ballistic missile programme and intervening in neighbouring countries, including Syria ..
November 2, 2018

Deb Haaland: Why more Native Americans are running for office

Deb Haaland: Why more Native Americans are running for office Image copyright Getty Images On a stage in Albuquerque's Indian Pueblo Cultural Centre a group of primary school dancers is bobbing to the mesmerising sound of chanting and the monotonous beat of a drum. The children are dressed in the traditional attire of their people, with enormous feather headdresses, white boots and red belts. In their hands they clasp mini spears and brightly coloured shields depicting eagles, horses and the local desert landscape. These tiny dancers are celebrating a big moment for their community. Their guest of honour is Deb Haaland, a member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe, who is on the brink of becoming the first Native American woman ever to be elected to the US congress. Her own struggles as a single mother will be familiar to many Americans regardless of their race - she talks of relying on government food stamps and struggling to pay off student debt. If she defeats her Republican opponent, Janice Arnold-Jones, as polls and early voting data suggest she will, Ms Haaland wants to use her position to shift New Mexico's economy away from the extraction of oil and gas which, she says, is scarring the landscape and threatening sacred land such as Chaco Canyon, a historic site which sits at the heart of a pre-Columbian civilisation which flourished from the middle of the ninth century AD. Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionThe "Pink Wave": How women are shaping the 2018 US elections "On my mom's side I'm a 35th generation New Mexican," says Ms Haaland. "My ancestors have been in New Mexico since the late 1200s." With the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th Century, those ancestors - who lived in compact communities and were therefore known as Pueblo Peoples from the Spanish word for town - entered into an epoch of struggle. Ms Haaland recalls how even as recently as the mid-20th Century the federal government's Bureau of Indian Affairs ..
November 2, 2018

The threat of rising anti-Semitism

The threat of rising anti-Semitism Media playback is unsupported on your device Media captionRabbi Doris Dyen: 'I'm broken and I can't pray' Last autumn, cards suddenly started appearing in some mail boxes of the well kept brick houses of quiet Squirrel Hill, a historic Jewish neighbourhood in the East End of Pittsburgh. One side had a woman smiling next to a swastika. A message, "It's not illegal to be White... yet", and the image of a noose had been printed on the other. At the same time, stickers were found on benches in a nearby public park, saying "White People Rock!" Alarms were raised. It was not the first time that residents of this tight-knit community, which dates back to the 1920s, had suffered anti-Semitic abuse; yet, some were left scared. The cards eventually stopped coming, the stickers were quickly removed to never be seen again, and life continued as normal. Isolated words of hate, many thought. But they were not, these families would tragically find out just one year later, as similar hostility, on the rise here and across the country, resulted in a massacre in one of their most sacred places. "All Jews must die," the suspected gunman reportedly said as he shot indiscriminately against worshipers gathered for their Sabbath rituals at the Tree of Life synagogue. Eleven people, aged between 54 and 97, were killed. The deadliest anti-Semitic attack in recent US history hit the heart of this "vibrant Jewish oasis", as some called it. For many in Squirrel Hill, and certainly elsewhere, it did not come as a total surprise. Anti-Semitism on the riseAnti-Semitic incidents increased 57% in the US in 2017 compared to the previous year, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), with cases reported in every single state for the first time since 2010. With alarming frequency, swastikas and messages like "Hitler was not wrong", "Kill all Jews" and "No Jews" have appeared on synagogues, Jewish graves and homes and school campuses, t..
November 2, 2018

The feeling that end-of-life carers won’t admit to

The feeling that end-of-life carers won't admit to Image copyright Brittany Fortner Image caption Kendall Fortner with his children Brittany, Terra and Christian When Brittany Fortner speaks about her dad Kendall, her voice cracks. Kendall, who died four weeks ago, was not yet an old man. At just 53, he made it abundantly clear he wasn't ready to go. In life his strength and resilience made him a formidable, inspirational character. But in dying, his stubbornness was hard to navigate. An incident in his final days left Brittany with feelings which many family carer-givers experience - but few admit to. Her confession highlights the emotional complexities of caring for someone at the end of their life. She's not alone. Looking after ill relatives is a task which many will face, as populations live to increasingly older ages. More than 90 million Americans currently care for family with chronic conditions, while in Britain, informal care at home for people aged over 65 is predicted to increase by 87% by 2032. Image copyright Brittany Fortner Image caption Kendall, 53, ran a property business in Springfield, Missouri where he lived with his wife Carol, 52 Kendall Fortner was first diagnosed with throat cancer two and a half years ago. He received treatment but after two remissions, the family knew it was terminal in October 2017. "I would describe him as a visionary. He really made a difference. We did everything together - he was a wonderful father and we were all really close to him," Brittany, 32, explained shortly after her dad died. In September she spent 10 days in the family home where Brittany's mum Carol, a nurse, was caring for him, along with Brittany's siblings Terra and Christian. By then Kendall was so weak that he couldn't stand, and Brittany sat with her dad, sometimes chatting to him, but mostly just spending time together. Image copyright Brittany Fortner Image caption Left to right: Kendall, Carol, Terra, Brittany and..
November 2, 2018

US mid-terms: Twitter deletes anti-voting bots

US mid-terms: Twitter deletes anti-voting bots Image copyright AFP Image caption The bots were taken down in September and October Twitter has deleted an estimated 10,000 automated accounts that were posting messages discouraging people from taking part in next week's US mid-term elections. Most of the accounts were posing as Democrats, the social media company said. They were taken down in late September and early October. Twitter was alerted to the accounts by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). The DCCC was formed in response to the party's failure to respond to widespread false and negative information on social media about Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election, Reuters reported. Tech Tent: Is Twitter besieged by bots? Fake Soros scares bid to draw US voters California bans 'secret' election bots Twitter believes that the network of now-deleted accounts was run from the US, CNN reported. The DCCC is reported to be working with contractors to identify misinformation campaigns. Last month the state of California signed legislation that bans the use of undeclared bots during elections. The bill would make it illegal to use the bots to influence voting.
November 2, 2018

Man kicked off Canada plane over ‘sleeping pill’

Man kicked off Canada plane over 'sleeping pill' Image copyright WestJet Image caption WestJet operates a fleet of Boeing 767 and Boeing 737 aircraft A Canadian man who was removed from a flight after taking a prescription sleeping pill prior to boarding says he feels humiliated by the experience. Stephen Bennett says the trouble began when a crew member tried to wake him before takeoff. He says he was not allowed back on the plane despite airport paramedics saying he was fit to fly and an emailed note from his doctor. The airline says its crew acted appropriately given the circumstanceS. Mr Bennett, from Burnaby, British Columbia (BC), and his wife and son were on their way to Cuba and had a layover in Toronto on 13 October. He says he did not sleep on the overnight flight from the westernmost province of BC and so took a sleeping pill prescribed by his doctor before the connecting flight. Mr Bennett, who is recovering from a stroke, boarded early and fell asleep immediately. He says he next remembers waking up when his wife nudged him and the flight attendant told him "he had to go" because he was a "medical emergency". He says there may have been some initial confusion because his wife's first language is not English and she wanted him to rest, but once he was awake he was able to explain he had taken medication. Paramedics were called and removed him from the plane in a wheelchair. He says they checked him once he was off the plane and told WestJet crew his vitals were fine and he was able to fly, but to no avail. He says also was able to get his doctor to email a note saying he was healthy enough for the flight. "It was so humiliating," he said. "Basically, the stewardess became judge, jury and executioner." New Istanbul mega-airport opens Flight abandoned after bird strike The airline says that it cannot comment specifically on Mr Bennett's case due to privacy concerns. But it said that in any instance where its crew believes a..
November 2, 2018

No foul play suspected in deaths of Saudi sisters in NY

No foul play suspected in deaths of Saudi sisters in NY Image copyright NYPD Image caption Tala Farea, 16, and Rotana Farea, 22, were found duct-taped together in the Hudson River New York City police say no foul play is suspected in the deaths of two Saudi Arabian sisters who were found duct-taped together in the Hudson River. Tala Farea, 16, and Rotana Farea, 22, had previously suggested they would rather harm themselves than return to their homeland, police say. Detectives say the girls may have requested political asylum in order to remain in the US. A witness says the siblings prayed near the water before they died. Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea told reporters on Friday: "At this point in time, everything we've seen thus far is pointing to other than a crime taking place." He noted the sisters had told family members they would rather "inflict harm on themselves and commit suicide" than go back to Saudi Arabia. Chief Shea said there were unsubstantiated claims the sisters had fled an abusive home. A spokesman for the New York Police Department earlier said there was no evidence tying the Saudi government to their deaths. Mystery shrouds Saudi sisters' US deaths 'Haunting story'Police have been investigating the Farea sisters deaths since 24 October when their bodies were discovered on the banks of the Hudson River in Riverside Park. Detectives originally suspected they had jumped from the George Washington Bridge, but changed their theory due to a lack of physical injuries they would have suffered in such a fall. Instead, they now believe the girls walked into the water alive with their waists and ankles loosely bound with duct-tape, and that no crime was committed against them that caused their deaths. According to the Chief Shea, an eyewitness came forward on Wednesday because of a "story that is haunting him". Image copyright NYPD Image caption Police released sketches of the girls last week in an effort to identify their bodies The m..
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