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Nursing home serial killer Catherine Wood who murdered five is released from jail

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A serial killer who helped her girlfriend murder at least five elderly women while they worked at a nursing home has been freed from jail.

Catherine Wood, 57, was freed from a federal prison in Tallahassee, Florida, on Thursday morning over the 1987 smotherings at the Alpine Manor home in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Despite the severity and scale of her crimes, a parole board in Michigan has now agreed that Wood no longer poses a danger, and should be freed.

The murderess is now headed to her new home in South Carolina, WOOD reporter Ken Koler said.

Wood and accomplice Gwendolyn Graham, 56, who were dubbed ‘the Lethal Lovers’ claimed they carried out the killings they did so because of an intense lesbian ‘love bond’ between themselves.

The pair met in 1986 shortly after Graham moved to Grand Rapids from Texas, with their friendship quickly turning into a full-blown romantic relationship.

Graham reportedly smothered their first victim, an Alzheimer’s sufferer, in January 1987 while Wood acted as a lookout.

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That death was put down to natural causes, with no autopsy performed.

Graham is said to have murdered four other patients in the subsequent months.

Most of those victims, who were aged 65 to 97, were incapacitated and suffered from dementia.

The twisted killers are reported to have turned their victim selection into a warped game, which saw them pick out victims whose initials would help spell the word ‘MURDER’.

Breaking news story. More to follow. 

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Source: Metro News

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Mount Vesuvius volcanic eruption turned a victim’s brain into glass

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Italy’s Mount Vesuvius was so hot when it erupted that it turned one victim’s brain to glass, according to a new analysis of the tragic statues left behind by the volcano’s destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum.

The cataclysmic blast caught most people by surprise in 79 A.D., when it buried an area of 20 square kilometres under volcanic ash and pumice within just a few hours. The incident encased thousands of victims in ash, preserving their agonized final expressions in moulds that would endure long after their bodies had decayed.

But while most victims’ bodies did decay, researchers say part of one person’s brain survived.

READ MORE: ‘First living robots’ assembled using frog stem cells and AI design

Archeologists say they recovered a piece of brain matter from one victim in Herculaneum, a small city that was closer to Vesuvius than Pompeii when the volcano erupted nearly 2,000 years ago. It’s not the first bit of brain tissue to be found, but where past samples have essentially turned into soap, this new sample was different.

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The brain tissue had been turned to glass in a process known as vitrification, according to the study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“This is the first ever discovery of ancient human brain remains vitrified by heat,” study co-author Pier Paolo Petrone told BBC News. Petrone led the project in his role as a forensic anthropologist at the University of Naples Federico II.

READ MORE: Remains of a horse still wearing a harness found in ancient Pompeii stable

The victim appears to have been a man in his mid-20s who was working as a caretaker at the Collegium Augustalium, a place of worship in Herculaneum. He was lying on a wooden bed when he died.

Analysis of the charred bed shows the victim was exposed to a maximum temperature of 520 C (968 F). The heat was so intense that it burned the tissue and turned it into glass.

“This suggests that extreme radiant heat was able to ignite body fat and vaporize soft tissue,” the study said. The authors add that a sharp drop in temperature after the blast likely helped in the vitrification process.

Most of the victim’s tissue was transformed into a solid, spongy mass, much like what happened to firebombing victims during the Second World War, the study said.

Archeologists work to uncover new bones discovered in Pompeii
Archeologists work to uncover new bones discovered in Pompeii

Petrone says he was analyzing this spongy material when he spotted a few black fragments in the victim’s skull.

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“I noticed something shining inside the head,” he told the Guardian newspaper. “This material was preserved exclusively in the victim’s skull, thus it had to be the vitrified remains of the brain.”

Petrone and his team analyzed the glass more closely and found proteins left over from a human brain, as well as fatty acids that would be left behind by human hair.

READ MORE: Famed Viking runestone may have warned of future ‘climate crisis’

Petrone says the victim would have died instantly in Vesuvius’ pyroclastic flow — a fancy term for a cloud of hot gas and volcanic matter that swept over Herculaneum and Pompeii following the eruption.

The press office at the Herculaneum historical site hailed the discovery in a statement on Thursday.

“This is the first time ever that vitrified human brain remains have been discovered resulting from heat produced by an eruption,” the office said.

Skeleton of man attempting to flee Pompeii explosion found at excavation site
Skeleton of man attempting to flee Pompeii explosion found at excavation site

Petrone said the discovery should serve as a sobering reminder for residents of modern-day Naples, who live in the shadow of the same volcano that wiped out Pompeii and Herculaneum in a matter of hours.

Vesuvius has erupted dozens of times since that history-making blast in 79 A.D., and it is still considered to be an active volcano surrounded by a large, vulnerable population.

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“Even if sheltered within buildings, people will die due to the high temperatures of the ash surges, as demonstrated by the victims of Herculaneum, Pompeii and even further settlements,” he told the Guardian.

Petrone called the discovery a “silent warning for the three million inhabitants of metropolitan Naples.”

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Source: Global News

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Myanmar must prevent genocide against Rohingya, UN top court rules

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The United Nations’ top court delivered a victory for Rohingya people Thursday, calling on Myanmar to enact emergency measures to prevent genocide against the Muslim minority.

In a unanimous 17-0 decision, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) rejected Myanmar’s argument that the deaths of the Rohingya were part of an “armed military conflict.”

READ MORE: What to know as Myanmar defends itself in Rohingya genocide court case

As part of the first step in a legal case that is expected to go on for years, the ICJ ordered Myanmar to “take all measures within its power” to end its military violence against the Muslim Rohingya community.

Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, president of the court, said in his order that the Rohingya in Myanmar “remain extremely vulnerable.”

Gambia filed the suit in November last year and accused Myanmar of “committing genocide” against the Rohingya. The case, which was put before the ICJ in The Hague, centres around a counterinsurgency campaign waged by Myanmar’s military in August 2017 in response to an insurgent attack.

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Gambia asked the ICJ to order “provisional measures” to prevent more harm and ensure any evidence of Myanmar’s alleged crimes be preserved.

What’s next?

Suu Kyi rejects Myanmar genocide claims at UN court
Suu Kyi rejects Myanmar genocide claims at UN court

The court itself has no enforcement powers, but its decisions are binding and not subject to appeal. In the past, countries have occasionally ignored or failed to adhere fully to ICJ rulings.

Bob Rae, Canada’s special envoy to Myanmar, told Global News the ruling was “an exercise in accountability.”

“The first hurdle for the government is for the court to say no, we’re not going to throw it out,” he said of Gambia’s lawsuit.

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“We accept jurisdiction, and we’re going to hear further arguments about whether or not this actually is a genocide and a breach of the Genocide Convention.”

In an ideal world, Rae said the government of Myanmar would recognize the Rohingya people are citizens and deserve to be treated with dignity and live in security as full citizens in Rakhine state, but “the reality is there are no signs of that happening.”

Rae also specified that the ruling does not determine whether or not genocide was committed but, rather, whether Canada and the UN have any jurisdiction “to try and get Myanmar to behave differently.”

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READ MORE: Myanmar leader’s testimony on Rohingya out of step with reality, Bob Rae says

While the ICJ cannot force Myanmar to comply with its ruling, Rae said it was important the plight of the Rohingya be made public.

“That entire process was important for the Rohingya people to know that people are listening and also to know that so far the government of Myanmar is still not ready to fully embrace their situation,” said Rae.

“Ultimately, there has to be a will on the part of the government of Myanmar,” said Rae. “In situations like this, what’s really required is the political will on the part of the government to actually do something.”

What happened in Myanmar?

UN chief urges Myanmar to take responsibility and address root cause of Rohingya crisis
UN chief urges Myanmar to take responsibility and address root cause of Rohingya crisis

For decades, Myanmar has considered Rohingya people to be from Bangladesh, even though they have lived in the country for generations. Nearly all Rohingya have been denied citizenship since 1982, effectively rendering them stateless. They are also denied freedom of movement and other basic rights.

The crisis came to a head on Aug. 25, 2017, when Myanmar’s military launched what it called a clearance campaign in Rakhine state in response to an attack by a Rohingya insurgent group, driving more than 742,000 to seek refuge in Bangladesh.

The latest UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) report found over one million Rohingya refugees have fled violence in Myanmar in successive waves of displacement since the early 1990s.

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In a 2018 report for the Canadian government, Rae described numerous incidents of mass rape, killings, separation of families and torching of homes and villages. UN investigators estimate over 10,000 people may have been killed.

At the peak of the crisis, the agency said thousands were crossing into Bangladesh daily. The UNHCR said most walked for days through jungles and mountains or braved dangerous sea voyages across the Bay of Bengal, adding that the vast majority who reached Bangladesh were women and children, with more than 40 per cent under the age of 12.

READ MORE: UN condemns human rights abuses against Myanmar’s Rohingya

In December, Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi defended the actions of her country’s military — the force that once held her under house arrest for 15 years — and said the exodus of men, women and children was a tragic consequence of hostilities started by Rohingya insurgents.

Asking the ICJ to drop the case, Suu Kyi — the first honorary Canadian to be stripped of citizenship — told the court that Gambia painted “an incomplete and misleading factual picture” of what happened in Rakhine.

The Harper government initially awarded Suu Kyi honorary citizenship in 2007 for what was deemed her pursuit of freedom and democracy in Myanmar, but it was revoked in 2018 after criticism emerged of Suu Kyi’s inaction amid the violence against Rohingya.

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“Surely, under the circumstances, genocidal intent cannot be the only hypothesis,” Suu Kyi told the judges. “Can there be genocidal intent on the part of a state that actively investigates, prosecutes and punishes soldiers and officers that are accused of wrongdoing?”

UN report shows Myanmar troops’ sexual violence against Rohingya shows ‘genocidal intent’
UN report shows Myanmar troops’ sexual violence against Rohingya shows ‘genocidal intent’

Genocide vs. war crimes

The UN’s Genocide Convention defines genocide as any of a specific list of acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.

But Eyal Mayroz, a lecturer at the University of Sydney’s Peace and Conflict Studies department and member of the Genocide Prevention Advisory Network, said proof of intent is difficult to define, much less show.

Gambia’s case “is an example of the problematic nature of genocide because genocide is so hard to show that states are either not wanting to use that word,” he said. “I would not call the Genocide Convention effective.”

READ MORE: ‘Ethnic cleansing’ against Rohingya in Myanmar should be classified genocide: scholar

He added that states don’t usually take other states to court. Since the creation of the Genocide Convention in 1948, he said a case like Gambia’s has only happened two other times in history.

It happened once in 2007, when a case ruled genocide had occurred during the Bosnian War. It also occurred in 2010, when the court ruled that neither Serbia nor Croatia provided sufficient evidence that either side had committed genocide, thereby dismissing both cases.

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Mayroz says the Genocide Convention’s language is so vague that it is a “distraction.”

“The real value of protecting (a) mass number of people from mass killings or different atrocities is being sidelined based on whether it’s considered genocide or not,” he said.

“In my view, that should not distract us from the main thing, which is protecting countless lives from four mass killings.”

Rohingya refugees being sent back to Myanmar fear torture, persecution
Rohingya refugees being sent back to Myanmar fear torture, persecution

On Tuesday, the Independent Commission of Enquiry (ICOE) — a commission established by the Myanmar government — released the findings of its own investigation. It concluded that some soldiers likely committed war crimes but insisted there was no genocide against the Rohingya.

Echoing Suu Kyi, the ICOE report found some security personnel had used disproportionate force to commit human rights violations and war crimes, including the “killing of innocent villagers and destruction of their homes.”

But Maung Zarni, a Buddhist native of Burma, genocide scholar and human rights activist, disagreed and called the mere admission of war crimes “a cop-out.”

READ MORE: Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi claims Rohingya genocide accusation is ‘misleading’

He accused Myanmar’s legal team of trying to downplay its alleged genocide in order to frame it as an “armed conflict” with the Rohingya.

“What this war crime admission is designed to do is distort the essence of genocide, portraying that there are two sides in the conflict,” Zarni said in an interview.

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“You cannot have two sides in the conflict where one side — the Rohingya people — just want to live in peace as Myanmar citizens, as Rohingya ethnic people, which they enjoy under successive Myanmar governments that know full and equal citizenship rights, as well as the group ethnic identity,” he said.

Zarni, who is also the Burmese co-ordinator for the Free Rohingya Coalition, likened the atrocities committed against the Rohingya to the Holocaust in Nazi Germany.

“If this is a conflict, then in Nazi Germany, Jews had conflicts with German society and the Nazi Party, which is factually untrue,” he said.

— With files from Global News’ Maham Abedi and the Associated Press

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Source: Global News

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The Doomsday Clock has been moved forward and we’re one step closer to the apocalypse

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WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 25: The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists unveil the 2018 "Doomsday Clock" January 25, 2018 in Washington, DC. Citing growing nuclear risks and unchecked climate dangers, the group moved the clock to two minutes before midnight, 30 seconds closer and the closest it has been since the height of the Cold War in 1953. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Last year it moved closer

1949: Three minutes to midnight

President Harry Truman tells the American public that the Soviets tested their first nuclear device, officially starting the arms race.

The Soviets deny it, but a new era in history begins.

Nuclear Explosion MET in Nevada Desert (Photo by ?? CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
Surface tests were common in the 50s (Getty)

1953: Two minutes to midnight

The United States moves to research the hydrogen bomb, a far more powerful nuclear device capable of obliterating whole cities.

In October 1952, the United States tests its first thermonuclear device, obliterating a Pacific Ocean islet in the process.

Nine months later, the Soviets test an H-bomb of their own.

1981: Four minutes to midnight

The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, combined with new Western leaders Margaret Thatcher and President Reagan, saw nuclear tensions rise with the Soviet Union.

1984: Three minutes to midnight

Tensions between the superpowers saw dialogue virtually stop, and factions within Russia believed NATO was about to launch a nuclear surprise attack.

1988: Six minutes to midnight:

The United States and Soviet Union sign the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the first agreement to actually ban a whole category of nuclear weapons.’

2007: Five minutes to midnight

North Korea conducts its first nuclear test – highlighting fears over nuclear proliferation.

The Bulletin said, ‘The world stands at the brink of a second nuclear age. North Korea conducts a nuclear test, and many in the international community worry that Iran plans to acquire the Bomb. Climate change also presents a dire challenge to humanity.’

2015: Three minutes to midnight

The Bulletin said, ‘Unchecked climate change, global nuclear weapons modernisations, and out-sized nuclear weapons arsenals pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity, and world leaders have failed to act with the speed or on the scale required to protect citizens from potential catastrophe.’

Source: Metro News

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