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Scientists studied what puts cities at risk of mass shootings — here’s what they found – National




Whether or not massacres — like the recent shooting at a California bar, which killed a dozen people — can be traced back to specific causes has long been up for debate.

A group of researchers from the University of Toledo have compiled a study that claims to identify the common characteristics of communities where mass shootings are likely to occur and potentially identify those that are at risk.

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“It’s multifactorial. It’s about how economically and socially healthy your community is, it’s about the laws that the people in your community have agreed to live by, it’s about successful enforcement of those laws and it’s about mental health services,” explained Dr. Stephen Markowiak of the University of Toledo Health Center, who led the study.

On Wednesday, a gunman opened fire at a bar in Thousand Oaks, Calif., killing a total of 13 people, including himself. It was later discovered that the gunman suffered from mental health issues as well as post-traumatic stress disorder from his time in the U.S. military.

The report, which looks at 155 mass shootings across the U.S., indicates that communities that frequently experience these events are often “less healthy” on average than their counterparts. The factors used to determine what constitutes a “healthy” or “unhealthy” city include availability of mental health resources, levels of socialization, rates of income inequality and housing costs.

Factors that continue to come up in discussions about mass shootings include gun control laws and mental health resources. While communities in states with the strictest gun laws were shown to have a greater risk of mass shootings, two laws in particular correlated with lower incidence rates: mandatory reporting of mental health records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System and restrictions on open carry of firearms.

It’s important to note that the above finding does not include day-to-day gun violence, only multiple-shooting incidents.

Markowiak explained that one of the strongest determinants for low-risk communities was a higher mental health provider-to-patient ratio.

“At the end of our study, we believe we conclusively showed that communities that had above-average access to providers and below-average need had a 2.1 per cent incidence of these events over the 11-year period that we looked,” Markowiak said.

Factors that aren’t discussed as often include socialization of the community and income inequality.

Thousand Oaks is located in Ventura County, Calif., while Squirrel Hill, the location of a mass shooting that killed 11 on Oct. 27, is located in Allegheny County, Pa. While both Ventura County and Allegheny County scored high in terms of availability of mental health resources, they both scored low when it came to income inequality and social associations. Both counties also had stricter-than-average gun control laws.

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“The first and easiest conclusion that can be drawn from our study is that we’ve demonstrated that you can study this problem. That is something that’s actively being debated. This issue can be studied. It’s just a fact; it can,” said Markowiak.

However, other researchers point out the true value in studying societal problems comes from turning those findings into policy, which rests on the shoulders of legislators.

“Epidemiological studies of violence tell us an awful lot about the correlations of violence — they also tell us a lot about risk factors. When governments use that knowledge, you see reductions,” explained Irvin Waller, an expert in criminal justice with the University of Ottawa.

He used Glasgow, Scotland, as an example of a city that treated rampant knife crime as a public health issue in order to address the problem.

A 2005 UN report concluded that Scotland was the most violent country in the developed world, and Glasgow was particularly violent. By working with the city’s health, education and social work sectors, Glasgow was able to cut its knife violence epidemic in half.

“Glasgow did an epidemiological analysis of where killings are taking place and the characteristics of the people doing it. When you use that to develop policy and you implement the policy, you can get huge reductions,” Waller said.

Video shows shots ring out in California bar before patron runs to safety

He notes, however, that there are some aspects of the mass shooting epidemic in the U.S. that weren’t addressed in the study, including access to military-grade weapons, which allow shooters to kill large numbers of people in a short amount of time.

Frederic Lemieux, a professor with the applied intelligence program at Georgetown University, adds that in addition to enforcing gun laws and bolstering mental health services, it’s important that these two entities work together to take action on mass shootings before they happen.

“What you don’t have is a concerted effort. It is the role of a therapist, for example, to (alert) a school or to (alert) law enforcement if the therapist believes a person could be dangerous for themselves or to others, and that’s where things are falling through the cracks,” he said.

However Markowiak, Waller and Lemieux all agreed that while researchers have just begun analyzing mass shootings, taking the findings into account is key to eventually reducing the problem.

“If we can all agree on the same set of facts, on the same set of associations, then we can make these decisions together,” Markowiak said.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali



Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

Contrary to the expectations of the people, the leadership of the Episcopal Conference of Mali (CEM) has termed the Tuesday, August 18 military coup in the West African nation as “regrettable” and “a big failure for our democracy” and called for a change of mentality if the country has to put an end to coups.

In an interview with ACI Africa Wednesday, August 19, made available to RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA, the President of CEM, Bishop Jonas Dembélé said that the governance challenges the country is facing can be managed through dialogue.

“The military coup that led to the ousting of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta is regrettable because we are in a state of law and democracy. This is the second time that Mali has had a military coup as a result of the way in which the country is governed. It is a big failure for our democracy even if there were reasons for it,” Bishop Dembélé told ACI Africa.

“It is true that our country has serious challenges including bad governance, the poor management of the economy, corruption, insecurity and so on,” Bishop Dembélé said and probed, “Why is it that we Malians have not managed to engage in dialogue to be able to discuss these problems and face up to these challenges responsibly?”

“Our leaders, our people lack transparency, they hate those who speak the truth and advocate for good governance. This mentality must change for our country to move on,” the Prelate told ACI Africa August 19.

Bishop Dembélé who is a frontline member of RECOWA-CERAO urged the military officials “to ensure a return to democracy as promised but most especially ensuring the new leadership of the country put the people first and tackle the security challenges facing the nation.”

Asked about the role of the Church in the current crisis, the 57-year-old Prelate noted, “For us the Catholic Church in Mali, our role is to preach peace; our role is to preach dialogue. We shall continue in this path of dialogue for peace just like Cardinal Jean Zerbo and some religious leaders initiated.”

“In a state of law, power is not in the hands of certain individuals but to the people. The anger of our people led to this crisis, but we must work for peace and reconciliation in Mali,” Bishop Dembélé said.

He continued in recollections, “The Bishops in Mali have always issued messages before every election in our country sounding the alert and inviting the government to organize transparent elections, ensure good governance and better management of resources.”
“But it seems our messages are never taken into consideration that is why we find ourselves in this situation today,” the Local Ordinary of Kayes Diocese told ACI Africa and added, “If the opinion of the Episcopal Conference of Mali is needed to mediate in bringing back stability and peace in the country, then we are ready.”

As a way forward, the Bishop urged the people of God in Mali to “seek the path to conversion” and to accept dialogue in the spirit of truth and honesty.
“We all want change in our

country, but this change can only be possible if individually we seek the path to conversion. It is for Malians be they Muslims or Christians or members of traditional religion, to do an examination of conscience and accept personal and community conversion in order to engage in sincere dialogue,” he said.

The Malian Prelate added, “Now there is this coup d’état to demand change we really wonder where change should come from. As long as we don’t change our behavior, our mentality, we will always have a repeat of the current situation.”

On Tuesday, August 18, President Keita announced his resignation and dissolved parliament hours after mutinying soldiers detained him at gunpoint, Aljazeera reported.
“For seven years, I have with great joy and happiness tried to put this country on its feet. If today some people from the armed forces have decided to end it by their intervention, do I have a choice? I should submit to it because I do not want any blood to be shed,” President Keita said August 18 during the televised address to the nation.

Rev. Fr. George Nwachukwu

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Harris accepts VP nomination



Harris accepts VP nomination

Senator Kamala Harris formally accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday following a scathing speech by former President Barack Obama, who said the fate of the nation” depends entirely on the outcome of this election.”

Both Mr. Obama and Harris stressed the importance of voting, with Harris saying “we’re all in this fight together.” Harris sounded an optimistic note by highlighting her personal history and the promise of America, saying she was “so inspired by a new generation.”

“Make no mistake, the road ahead will not be not easy,” she said. “We will stumble. We may fall short. But I pledge to you that we will act boldly and deal with our challenges honestly. We will speak truths. And we will act with the same faith in you that we ask you to place in us.” She called Mr. Trump a “predator” in a speech that came after Mr. Obama issued his most forceful rebuke of his successor to date, saying Mr. Trump “hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t.”

“This president and those in power — those who benefit from keeping things the way they are — they are counting on your cynicism,” Mr. Obama said. “They know they can’t win you over with their policies. So they’re hoping to make it as hard as possible for you to vote, and to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter.

That’s how they win. That’s how they get to keep making decisions that affect your life, and the lives of the people you love. That’s how the economy will keep getting skewed to the wealthy and well-connected, how our health systems will let more people fall through the cracks. That’s how a democracy withers, until it’s no democracy at all.”

Mr. Obama and Hillary Clinton, speaking earlier in the night, both said they had hoped Mr. Trump would rise to the occasion. But they both stressed what they called his failures while in office, with Mr. Obama saying Mr. Trump has shown “no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves.”

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself



Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

The Malian soldiers who forced President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to resign in a coup promised early Wednesday to organize new elections after their takeover was swiftly condemned by the international community.

In a statement carried overnight on state broadcaster ORTM, the mutinous soldiers who staged Tuesday’s military coup identified themselves as the National Committee for the Salvation of the People led by Colonel Major Ismael Wagué.

“With you, standing as one, we can restore this country to its former greatness,” Wagué said, announcing that borders were closed and that a curfew was going into effect from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m

The news of Keita’s departure was met with jubilation by anti-government demonstrators in the capital, Bamako, and alarm by former colonial ruler France and other allies and foreign nations.

The U.N. Security Council scheduled a closed meeting Wednesday August 19, 2020 afternoon to discuss the unfolding situation in Mali, where the U.N. has a 15,600-strong peacekeeping mission. Keita, who was democratically elected in a 2013 landslide and re-elected five years later, still had three years left in his term.

But his popularity had plummeted, and demonstrators began taking to the streets calling for his ouster in June.

West African regional bloc ECOWAS had sent mediators to try and negotiate a unity government but those talks fell apart when it became clear that the protesters would not accept less than Keita’s resignation.

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