Monday, July 16, 2018

Hispanic rapist: Police in San Francisco have caught a man they'd been hunting as the "Rideshare Rapist"

Orlando Vilchez Lazo, 37, has been charged with four separate assaults going back to 2013, and police suspect that more victims are out there. Lazo would show up in a car with rideshare tags in areas where companies such as a Lyft and Uber did a lot of business. Victims would enter his car thinking that he was their driver, and he would then take them to another location and rape them. It was still unclear whether Lazo actually worked as a legit driver for any of the usual companies. "The fact that he's committed these four rapes over five years led us to believe he was a very dangerous person and he wasn't going to stop until we caught him," says police Cmdr. Greg McEachern. The commander adds that it's hard to believe Lazo committed only these four rapes over that stretch. Police knew from DNA that they were hunting a man they referred to as the Rideshare Rapist, but the crime-scene DNA did not match any currently in the police system. The most recent attack occurred in June 2018, and Lazo was stopped during an undercover operation recently. Police obtained a DNA sample that links him to the four violent attacks.

Israel is in the throes of political upheaval as the country’s ruling party seeks to pass legislation that could allow for Jewish-only communities, which critics have condemned as the end of a democratic state

The proposed legislation would allow the state to “authorize a community composed of people having the same faith and nationality to maintain the exclusive character of that community”. In its current state, the draft would also permit Jewish religious law to be implemented in certain cases and remove Arabic as an official language. The legislation has been compared to South African apartheid by Israeli parliamentarians. The Middle Eastern country sees itself as both a democratic and a Jewish state, saying that its legal system protects the rights of Arabs, who make up more than a fifth of the population, and other minorities. However, the “Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people” bill would enshrine the country’s Jewish national and religious character into law. “Our main concern is that it is changing the nature of the state and it changes the balance of Israel as a nation state,” said Amir Fuchs, the head of the defending democratic values program at the Israel Democracy Institute. “You can be a nation state and still be a democracy as long as you don’t discriminate,” said Fuchs. “That the state is allowed to create villages that will separate on the basis of race or religion or nationality – this is outrageous.” The purpose of the bill, he said, was “to change the balance, to make us more of a nation state, more of a Jewish state, and less of a democracy. There is no other way to put it. And this is the biggest problem.” Many Israeli neighborhoods and towns are already effectively segregated, with residents either vastly Jewish or Arab. In many places, it is tough for an Arab to move in, although segregation is not legal. Writing in the progressive-leaning Haaretz newspaper, Mordechai Kremnitzer, from the faculty of law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said the bill would “remove the mask so as to reveal the ugly face of ultranationalist Israel in all its repugnance”. The debate has also opened a rift with the Jewish diaspora, with fears among more liberal American Jewish groups that it would prioritize Orthodox communities over other denominations. Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the president of the Union for Reform Judaism, said that the bill was a grave threat to Israeli democracy and hurt “the delicate balance between the Jewish majority and Arab minority, and it enthrones ultra-Orthodox Judaism at the expense of the majority of a pluralistic world Jewry”. Daniel Sokatch, the chief executive of New Israel Fund, which supports civil rights groups in Israel, decried the bill as “tribalism at its worst”.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Forty-three percent of blacks owned homes in 2017, according to an annual report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University

In contrast, 72% of whites did, a gap that has mostly widened during the past three decades. The housing market is recovering nearly a decade after the financial crisis. But a recent increase in the national homeownership rate — the first in more than a decade — has done little to close the stark gap between black and white households. Blacks have also had smaller gains in homeownership since the recession compared with whites, Hispanics and Asians. The gap persists even as African-Americans have experienced other major financial gains since the downturn. The unemployment rate for black workers dropped to 5.9% in May 2018, hitting a record low. African-Americans' wages have risen as much as the average since 2008. But when it comes to homeownership, one of the pillars of building wealth, black households are worse off than they were 30 years ago. After finding steady jobs and rebuilding their credit after the recession, some African-Americans are having a hard time saving for a down payment. Black workers are more likely than other racial groups to see their paychecks, which are already smaller than those of the average white worker, eaten up by student loan payments and growing rental bills, housing experts say. And when they do feel ready to buy a home, people of color often face higher fees that make the loans unaffordable. Black and Latino borrowers were disproportionately hit by foreclosures in the financial crisis, studies show. About 8% of African-American and Latino homeowners lost their homes to foreclosure from 2007 to 2009, almost twice the rate of white homeowners, according to estimates from the Center for Responsible Lending. After the downturn, banks and other lenders clamped down on credit, added more consumer protections and raised the qualifications for mortgages. Some consumer groups say the higher lending standards resulted in an overcorrection that made it especially difficult for people of color, who may have lower credit scores and modest down payments, to break into the market.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

A Nigerian healer has been shot dead after encouraging one of his customers to test the efficacy of his bullet-proof charms

Chinaka Adoezuwe, 26, was killed wearing the pendants around his neck after he instructed the man to fire his weapon. The incident happened in the country's south-eastern Imo state and police say that the shooter has been arrested on suspicion of murder. Some Nigerian doctors claim that the charms harness various powers and can cure illnesses. Recently there have been several reports of people being shot dead trying to prove the efficacy of bullet-proof charms.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Germany's Angela Merkel has struck a deal to remain in power, at least for now

Merkel, long seen as a champion of the rights of immigrants to move freely within the European Union, agreed to toughen border policies to end a revolt from within her own governing coalition. The big concession is that Merkel agreed to set up "transit centers" on the German-Austria border and make it easier to turn some immigrants away. The "transit centers" are essentially migrant camps. Many see the Merkel deal as a spectacular turnabout on her part. Merkel's own conservative interior minister, Horst Seehofer, forced Merkel into the move by threatening to resign and bring down her government. The two emerged with the deal after about five hours of talks. Seehofer leads the Christian Social Union, the sister party to Merkel's Christian Democratic Union.