Slain imam — Investigators in New York said Wednesday they were certain the man charged with first-degree murder in the sidewalk killing of an imam and his assistant in Queens was the assailant, although they concede the motive for the attack remains a mystery. “We have the gun; we have video,” Robert Boyce, the New York Police Department’s chief of detectives, said during a news conference. “Clearly, it is him.” The suspect, Oscar Morel, who has been in police custody since Sunday night, was charged Monday with two counts of second-degree murder in the killings of the imam, Alauddin Akonjee, 55, and his assistant, Thara Miah, 64. On Tuesday, prosecutors in Queens added a first-degree murder count.
Women in jail — A report released Wednesday found that the number of women in local jails in the United States was almost 14 times what it was in the 1970s, a far higher growth rate than for men, although there remain far fewer women than men in jails and prisons. The study, by the Vera Institute of Justice and a program called the Safety and Justice Challenge, found that the number of women held in the nation’s 3,200 municipal and county jails for misdemeanor crimes or who are awaiting trial or sentencing had increased significantly — to about 110,000 in 2014 from fewer than 8,000 in 1970.
Heart tests — Genetic tests for an inherited heart disorder are more likely to have incorrect results in black Americans than in whites, according to a new study that is likely to have implications for other minorities and other diseases, including cancer. Mistakes have been made because earlier research linking genetic traits to illness did not include enough members of minority groups to identify differences between them and the majority white population or to draw conclusions about their risks of disease. The new study was published Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine.
Turkey coup crackdown — Turkey said on Wednesday that it would empty its prisons of tens of thousands of criminals to make room for the wave of journalists, teachers, lawyers and judges rounded up in connection with last month’s failed coup. The startling decision to put so many criminals convicted of nonviolent offenses back on the streets is a measure of the strains on the state as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expands a wide-ranging purge of those suspected of being enemies of the government. Turkey said in a decree issued on Wednesday that it would begin releasing up to 38,000 prisoners.
Cholera in Haiti — For the first time since a cholera epidemic believed to be imported by U.N. peacekeepers began killing thousands of Haitians nearly six years ago, the office of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has acknowledged that the United Nations played a role in the outbreak and that a “significant new set of U.N. actions” will be needed. The acknowledgment stopped short of saying that the United Nations specifically caused the epidemic. But it represents a significant shift after denial of any involvement or responsibility of the United Nations in the outbreak, which has killed at least 10,000 people and sickened hundreds of thousands.
Burkini bans — The debate is so heated that one could be forgiven for assuming that the burkini — the full-body bathing suit worn by some Muslim women — had invaded French beaches. Five towns have banned them. Three more are doing so. Prime Minister Manuel Valls called the garment part of “the enslavement of women.” That there is no clear definition of what qualifies as a burkini, and that Muslim women have complained of being singled out even when covered by other garments, has raised the question of whether the bans are meant to signal France’s demand for conformity or are part of France’s culture of secularism in public life.
Refugees to Australia — A detention center in Papua New Guinea where Australia has sent hundreds of asylum seekers will be closed, the governments of both countries said Wednesday. But neither side said when it would be shut down or what would be done with the people held there. The center, on Manus Island, is one of two such detention centers that Australia maintains in the Pacific to house migrants it has intercepted on the way to its shores, a policy that rights groups and the United Nations have criticized. In April, Papua New Guinea’s Supreme Court declared the center illegal. But few details about the future of the 960 asylum seekers being held there were disclosed Wednesday.