MASS EXECUTION IN INDONESIA— Eight of nine drug prisoners in Indonesia were executed by firing squad on Tuesday. All but one of them foreigners, these nine were all arrested on charges related to drug crimes through an effort by Indonesian President Joko Widodo to crack down on drug-related law violations. However, the legal proceedings proved to be below par at best—some are said to have been offered lower sentences if they paid bribes to judges.
This group, along with five people who were executed in January on similar charges, are reported to have not been given fair trials. At least one of the governments of the foreigners involved tried to bargain for their citizens, and the United Nations also made efforts to interfere. But President Joko insists on following Indonesian law as he sees fit. However, despite the Indonesian law saying that it is prohibited to prosecute the mentally ill, one of the nine was a Brazilian who had been confirmed as having a mental illness since he was a teenager.
EARTHQUAKE IN NEPAL— An earthquake in Nepal last week resulted in the deaths of over five thousand people.
There are many more people suffering from injuries, overwhelming hospitals and causing them to run low on supplies. The effects of the earthquake were felt beyond Nepal and into India, Bangladesh, and Tibet. This area has long been expecting a large earthquake, and the large death toll is due in part to poor infrastructure. Several historic monuments have been turned to rubble, and it is feared that there are more victims buried beneath the ruins. The earthquake itself was of a 7.8 magnitude, and the aftershocks—some as bad as 6.7 in magnitude—continueed hours after the quake had terrified citizens.
This is the worst earthquake Nepal has suffered in almost 100 years. In terms of relief, China, India and the United States, among others, have all pledged some effort.
Study on black men missing—Last week, the New York Times published a study about black men “missing” in the United States.
“Missing” refers to either early death or incarceration. The study compared black men in proportion to black women in various places in the United States. The data show that for every 100 black women who are not in prison, there are only 83 black men. This means that there are about 1.5 million black men missing from society across the country. In other words, over one out of every six black men who should be between the ages of 25 and 54 are absent from society. It is perhaps the most disproportionate in Ferguson, Mo.—with only 60 black men for every 100 black women.
The Times pointed out that even though the statistics show a big disproportion, the data for black girls versus black boys is roughly equivalent, and the numbers don’t start to change until teenage years.
The numbers regarding the white population show no such disparity—there is roughly the same number of white men as white women in most U.S. cities.
100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide—On Friday, about 500 people gathered in Westlake Park in Seattle to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the Armenian genocide on April 24, 1915. 100 years ago, an official of the Ottoman Empire ordered for the arrest of several hundred Armenians. This began a systematic attack that eventually resulted in the deaths of about 1.5 million Armenians in modern day Turkey.
The event at Westlake aimed to give awareness to what participants considered a continuing injustice. A complaint amongst the group was that even though the extermination is commonly recognized outside of Turkey, there are still those who refrain from using the word “genocide” to describe it. Speakers criticized President Obama for not calling it genocide perhaps in order to keep Turkey as an ally. Members of the Armenian diaspora—of whom there are an estimated 6000 in Washington State—feel that this recognition is necessary to really give honor to the memory of the tragedy.
SEATTLE TEENS FOR CLEAN WATER—Two Seattle teenagers have started making an impact on something they care about: water.
Through a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation program called Teens Take Action, Jenneh Corkern, 17, and Grace Clipson, 15, have been holding bake sales and penny drives to raise money for clean water efforts through a Seattle organization called Water1st International, which funds projects for clean water in India, Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Honduras.
Corkern was raised as an orphan in Liberia, and lived there until she was 7 years old. She grew up not drinking healthy water and still deals with the effects of that on her body. According to Corkern, more than 840,000 people die every year due to illnesses associated with water. Clipson joined her when Corkern started Teens Take Action.
In addition to fundraising efforts, they have also compiled presentation materials based on their cause and presented both projects at their schools and at the Gates Foundation Visitor Center. So far, they have raised $900, and are hoping to reach their goal of $2,500 by the end of the year.