What Is MERS ?

South Korea recently announced a 13-billion-dollar-plus economic stimulus package to help combat the disease MERS.

What is MERS ?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), MERS – Middle East respiratory syndrome – is a viral respiratory disease caused by a coronavirus (MERS‐CoV) that was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012. Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can cause diseases from the common cold to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

Where can MERS be found?

The following 26 countries have reported cases of MERS: Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen (Middle East); Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Turkey, and the United Kingdom (UK) (Europe); Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt (Africa); China, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, the Philippines and Thailand (Asia); and the United States of America (Americas).

The vast majority of these cases have so far occurred in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, according to WHO.

180 cases – including 29 deaths – have been reported in South Korea due to MERS, writes the International Business Times.

http://www.ibtimes.com/mers-outbreak-south-korea-plans-stimulus-package-135b-tackle-economic-impact-viral-1982933

KKK Plans Rally At South Carolina Capitol Building

KKK Hoods (Associated Press)

The Ku Klux Klan plans to rally in July in response to calls to remove the Confederate flag from South Carolina statehouse grounds, writes USA Today.

“We will be at the statehouse in Columbia, S.C., standing up for our Confederate history and all the southerners who fought and died against federal tyranny,” said an automated message on the Loyal White Knights’s voicemail.

The white supremacist group, which claims to be affiliated with the KKK, is based out of Pelham, N.C., according to the group’s website.

Shark Attacks In The Carolinas

At least five shark attacks have been reported at North and South Carolina beaches this month, writes CNN. The Washington Post puts the number at 7 attacks.

On Saturday afternoon, a beach outing in North Carolina took a harrowing turn when a 17-year-old boy was attacked by a shark.

The teenager was swimming with several other people near Waves, North Carolina, when the shark attacked, writes CNN.

The teen received various injuries to his right calf, buttocks and both hands, according to a news release posted to the facebook page of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.  No other swimmers were injured, writes CNN.

Ocean Rescue Squad paramedics and National Park Service Rangers rushed to the scene in response to a 911 call about an injured person on the beach, writes CNN.  The teen was then transported to Norfolk, Virginia, for further medical treatment.

How Do GOP Candidates Feel About The Confederate Battle Flag?

The website Vox created a graphic to describe how the Republican presidential candidates feel about the Confederate battle flag.  The graphic shows the choices “remove the flag now” vs. “states rights.”

http://www.vox.com/2015/6/23/8828215/Confederate-flag-states-rights

North Korea Replaces “Choco Pies” With Domestic Snacks at Kaesong Industrial Complex

According to Radio Free Asia, North Korean authorities have asked South Korean enterprises in the Kaesong Industrial Complex to replace popular “chocolate pie” cookies with rice cakes to serve as snacks for North Korean workers there.

This is to stop the spread of “capitalist culture” and boost the sales of its own snack producers, sources with knowledge of the matter said.

Radio Free Asia states that North Korea recently started to supply “keongdanseolgi,” the isolated country’s rice-cake version of the South’s cookies known as “Choco Pies” to some of its 53,000 workers in the industrial zone. Choco Pies are similar to Moon Pies in the United States, writes Radio Free Asia.

The Kaesong Industrial Region (KIR) is a special administrative industrial region of North Korea (DPRK), writes Wikipedia. It was formed in 2002 from part of the “Kaesong Directly-Governed City.”

Wikipedia states that the most notable feature of the region is the Kaesong industrial park, operated as a collaborative economic development with South Korea (ROK). The park is located about ten kilometers (or six miles) north of the Korean Demilitarized Zone. It is an hour’s drive from Seoul, and has direct road and rail access to South Korea.

http://www.rfa.org/english/news/korea/north-korea-replaces-choco-pies-with-domestic-snacks-at-kaesong-industrial-complex-06152015154656.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/kaesong-industrial-complex/

25 Deaths From Storm Cell In South

CNN

More than 25 people in two countries have been killed by the same storm system, claims CNN. That death toll is set to go up. The deaths have occurred in the Southern portion of the U.S. and in Mexico.

Alyssa Renee Ramirez had many friends in her hometown of Devine, Texas, southwest of San Antonio.

At Devine High School, she was student council president and co-editor of the yearbook. She starred on the tennis and volleyball teams, not to mention as a cheerleader.

CNN writes that she was the homecoming queen that school year.  She and her friends had been out on prom night Saturday but never returned home.  Her car got caught up in fast-moving floods, ending her short life and leaving her classmates crestfallen.

CNN looks at the storms that have hit Oklahoma, Texas, and Mexico.

Senator Lindsey Graham Would ‘Drone Americans For Thinking About Joining ISIL’

Secular Talk

Does South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham go over-the-top in regards to stopping Americans from joining ISIS?

The Republican Graham “quasi-announced” that he is running for president on Monday, writes Slate Magazine.

On Saturday, he gave a foreign policy-oriented speech at a dinner event hosted by Iowa Republicans. During that speech he made either a very bad joke or an extremely aggressive remark about drone warfare, according to Slate.

(Updated title to reflect the Senator’s use of ISIL instead of ISIS)

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2015/05/18/lindsey_graham_drone_attacks_threatens_jokingly_to_kill_americans.html

South African Leaders Visit Cook County Jail, Have Odd Question


Sam Seder

NBC / The Chicago Tribune had an interesting account of a South African delegation’s reaction after touring a Cook County, IL, jail facility. (The account was buried towards the end of an article about the Cook County criminal justice system.)

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/politics/ct-alvarez-dart-evans-preckwinkle-city-club-met-20150507-story.html

Stephen Colbert To Give $800,000 To South Carolina Schools

According to The Associated Press, Stephen Colbert surprised teachers in his native South Carolina recently by announcing that he would fund every single classroom project listed by teachers from the state on the crowdfunding website DonorsChoose.org.

It is a gift valued in excess of $800,000.

According to avclub.com, funds for the donation will come from the sale of The Colbert Report’s desk and fireplace, which were raffled off online late last year. Matching funds will come from ScanSource and The Morgridge Family Foundation’s Share Fair Nation.

Colbert, who is a member of the DonorsChoose.org board, made the announcement on a live video feed to the students of Alexander Elementary School in Greenville, South Carolina on May 7th.

http://www.avclub.com/article/stephen-colbert-offers-fund-800000-worth-projects–219105

High Native American Suicide Rates On South Dakota Reservation

Teen suicide has become especially poignant for the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, located along the South Dakota-Nebraska border.

On Monday, the Associated Press reported that a string of seven teen suicides in recent months has deeply affected the impoverished reservation, writes the Christian Science Monitor .

The website colorlines.com paints the picture of the area of Oglala Lakota County even more drastically than the Associated Press.  “At least 11 children between the ages of 12 and 17 have committed suicide in my county since December. The heartbreaking details vary from child to child, but their families and this community—in the newly renamed Oglala Lakota County—feel the voids left by their absences just as deeply each and every time,” states colorlines.com.

Between December 1st and March 23rd, Pine Ridge Hospital treated 241 patients under 19 who actively planned, attempted or committed suicide. The numbers don’t account for unreported cases or for those who were treated in neighboring counties.  At this rate, 37 young people in a county that only has 5,393 inhabitants under 18 will be gone by the end of 2015.  Statistics from Pine Ridge Indian Health Services show teen suicide numbers have increased over the last seven years. In the same four-month period last year, for example, there were no suicides in Pine Ridge. In 2012, only one, states colorlines.com.

“The situation has turned into an epidemic,” Thomas Poor Bear, vice president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, whose 24-year-old niece was one of two adults who also committed suicide this winter, told the Associated Press. “There are a lot of reasons behind it. The bullying at schools, the high unemployment rate. Parents need to discipline the children.”

Among native Americans ages 15 to 24, suicide rates are more than double the national average, according to The Christian Science Monitor.  The suicides are taking place amid a host of social problems including alcoholism and drug abuse, bullying, violence, high unemployment and school dropout rates, and high levels of poverty and deprivation.

Reversing a feeling of hopelessness is vital, advocates say.

More here