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5 things you absolutely must know today

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Mayor arrested in Mexico’s missing students case

Police have arrested the fugitive mayor of Iguala, Mexico, executing a warrant issued after receiving evidence that Jose Luis Abarca and his wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda, may have been involved in the disappearance of 43 students on September 26. Abarca is being accused of ordering police officers to intercept the students, who were making their way from the teaching college they attended to Iguala to protest unfair hiring practices. The teaching college was known for its activism, and the busloads of students raised flags with officials. Iguala police intercepted the buses traveling back to the college, opened fire, killing three students, and handed over one busload of people to a local gang, whose leader gave orders to make the students disappear. The gang leader, now arrested, also told police Pineda was behind the criminal activity in Iguala. Searches in the area have uncovered a series of mass graves. Forensic tests have not shown a connection to the missing students, but the legitimacy of those tests has since been called into question. And since the first graves were found, more have been unearthed. The governor of the state in which Iguala is located has since resigned.  [Source: BBC]

U.S. midterm elections underway

The 2014 midterm elections in the U.S. are underway. Polls have opened. The Republicans need to win six seats in order to take over the Senate. And early analysis is confident the Republicans will maintain their hold over the House of Representatives. The Democrats need to make gains in order to have even a modicum of influence in the chamber. But theirs is an uphill battle, a party diminished by Barack Obama’s slumping ratings and a poor economy. There are a few tight contests, though. In total, today’s election will decide 435 seats in the House of Representatives, 36 seats in the Senate, and 36 governorships. For live updates, follow Bloomberg and the Guardian.

Husband has wife’s ashes made into fireworks display

Gary Maunder, a former Royal Marine, lost his wife Annette to cancer at the young age of 55. “The best 13 years of my life. We won the battle but lost the war,” he said of his marriage. “She was a keeper.” And to honour her wishes, her memory, her penchant for irreverent acts, Maunder had her ashes made into a fireworks display. Maunder and Annette’s father stood together Sunday night in Plymouth, England to watch the farewell display. “She would have loved it,” said Maunder. [Source: Death and Taxes]

IS releases 93 Kurds

The Islamic State extremist group has released 93 of the 99 Kurds it captured in February, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The seven that remain captured, IS has charged with theft and will reportedly be cutting off their right hands. The Kurds were seized by Islamic State for their alleged connection to the Kurdish Democratic Union Party, a group opposed to IS. The Observatory does not yet know why the 93 were released, but did tell news sources it’s not uncommon for IS to release prisoners. In Kobani, violence continues to escalate between IS and opposing forces, including a U.S.-led airstrike campaign, set on seizing what many say is a key, border town. [Source: Reuters]

Woman arrested for attending volleyball match in Iran goes on hunger strike

Ghoncheh Ghavami was arrested on June 20 for watching a men’s volleyball match in Iran, where women are banned from attending football and volleyball games to protect them from lewd behavior. Ghavami, whose case has sat in limbo since the arrest, is protesting the expected, stalled verdict of one year in prison by refusing to eat solids or liquids. Ghavami’s lawyer has allegedly seen the verdict of one year in prison, but the deadline for the judge to make that official has come and gone. She stands accused of spreading anti-regime propaganda, which apparently is a broad charge often used in Iran’s courts. The case has received international attention with many organizations condemning the country’s poor human rights record and the “appalling” conditions surrounding this particular case. Ghavami, 25, and a London law graduate, spent 41 days in solitary confinement before her case went to trial, according to her family. [Source: Guardian]


Follow Toban Dyck at @tobandyck 

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