Antonin Scalia found dead at 79
On Saturday, Scalia, a United States Supreme Court justice, was found dead in his bedroom at a private resort for political and economic elites. Known for his conservatism, Scalia was vehemently opposed to providing women with abortion services, dissented on same-sex marriage and the case which struck down anti-sodomy laws, and upheld the death penalty. Interestingly, many of the obituaries in mainstream media outlets tended to play down his politics by emphasizing his ability to express his ideas well. As fellow justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg put it, “I disagreed with most of what he said, but I loved the way he said it.” He will be missed.
Zika virus continues to spread in the Americas
Colombia’s health authority announced recently that over 5,000 pregnant women have been infected with the Zika virus as the epidemic continues to spread throughout the Americas. At this point, over 35,000 individuals in Colombia have contracted the mosquito-borne virus. Zika is believed to be linked to microcephaly, a neurological birth defect that causes the babies’ heads to be abnormally small and suffer from incomplete brain development. The World Health Organization reported that the outbreak is also causally linked to an increase in Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS). GBS is a rare neurological disorder “in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the nervous system, causes gradual weakness in the legs, arms and upper body and sometimes leads to complete paralysis,” according to the Guardian.
Four American journalists arrested in Bahrain
While covering the five-year anniversary of the Arab Spring uprising in the kingdom, four American reporters were arrested by Bahraini authorities. The crew was covering and allegedly participating in Sunday protests in the Shia town of Sitra. According to the authorities, they had entered Bahrain by providing “false information to concerned authorities,” claiming they were tourists. They also accused some of the arrested reporters of practicing journalism without permission and engaging in illegal acts. One of the arrested Americans is an independent journalist named Anna Therese Day. Her family’s spokesperson denied that she or her crewmembers were involved in any illegal action. Despite the fact that the Shia-led uprising during the Arab Spring had been crushed forcefully by the Bahraini military, protesters continue to organize against the regime.
ISIS used chemical weapons in Iraq
A source at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) told Reuters that ISIS used mustard gas, an illegal chemical weapon, against Kurdish forces. Tests performed on the 35 troops who became ill in August came back positive recently, the source said. This is the first confirmed usage of chemical weapons in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein. Sulfur mustard, which has very few uses outside of warfare, causes severe and delayed burns to the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract.
Pope expresses solidarity with Mexico’s Indigenous peoples
This week, Pope Francis spoke on the economic injustice and exploitation of Indigenous peoples in Mexico. Visiting the southern state of Chiapas, Francis held a mass that involved readings in the Native regional languages by indigenous deacons, whose ministry had been suspended by the Vatican until his papacy. According to the New York Times, Francis denounced how Indigenous people have been systemically and historically misunderstood and excluded from society. He asked for forgiveness on behalf of those who, “intoxicated by power, money, and market trends, have stolen your lands and contaminated them.