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The new face of crime in Japan

Tokyo crowd (Credit: Lance Bellers via fotolia)The face of crime in Japan is growing increasingly wrinkled these days as the nation's elderly turn to a life of theft at an ever-escalating rate. According to CNBC's Leo Lewis, "About thirty-five percent of shoplifting offences are committed by people over the age of sixty," while "forty percent of repeat offenders have committed the same crime more than six times." However, the real surprise comes not in the actions but in the motivations of these would-be thieves.

As Japan's cost of living continues to outpace the basic state pension by roughly twenty-five percent, many elderly can find a better life in prison than in their own homes. Considering that the theft of a 200 yen sandwich (roughly $1.76) can result in a two-year prison sentence, it doesn't take much for the country's older citizens to relocate to their local penitentiary, where they are guaranteed food, bedding, and health care (all to the tune of roughly 8.4 million yen, or just over $74,000, per inmate).

As Lewis concludes, "Prison, no matter how the spreadsheets are run, is a woefully inefficient way for the government to target welfare spending at those who most need it." And with a projected forty percent of the population to be over sixty-five by the year 2060, this problem will not go away on its own.

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Tragedy on Temple Tuesday: Brussels

People walk away from the broken windows at Zaventem Airport in Brussels after an explosion on Tuesday, March 22, 2016. Explosions, at least one likely caused by a suicide bomber, rocked the Brussels airport and subway system Tuesday, prompting a lockdown of the Belgian capital and heightened security across Europe. At least 26 people were reported dead. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)Three explosions detonated in the Belgian capital of Brussels, killing at least 34 people. According to Belgian media, these explosions wounded about 170 more. In the heart of Europe and the capital of the European Union, the Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel told reporters, "We were fearing terrorist attacks, and that has now happened." A widely circulated Twitter post from ISIS backers featured the words, "What will be coming is worse."

Days ago, authorities there captured Europe's most wanted man, Salah Abdeslam—the latest of many suspected terrorists caught in the small European country. Talking to CNN, a U.S. counterterrorism official said, "The Belgians have been sitting on a ticking time bomb." With an extraordinarily high proportion of citizens who have been to Iraq as well as insular Muslim communities that shield jihadists, Belgian security officials face a momentous challenge.

And all of this erupted on Holy Tuesday morning.

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Four Bible Translators Murdered in Middle East

Image of an old Holy Bible on wooden background in a dark space with shallow depth of field (credit: 4Max via fotolia)Islamic militants murdered four translators in an attack on a Wycliffe Bible translation office in the Middle East. Two of the workers sacrificed their lives to save the lead translator by lying on top of him, deflecting blows from the attackers' weapons. Several others were injured in the attack.

The invaders destroyed all the equipment, burned all the books, and damaged other translation materials in the office. However, Wycliffe Associates report that some computer hard drives containing translation work for eight other language projects were salvaged.

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ISIS using birth control to rape women

While fightings in Kobane continue since more than fifty days, today two women fighters from YPJ were buried in Suruc with the attendance of hundreds of people. The coffins of fighters Perwin Mustafa (20) and Perwin Dihap(20) were take by Kobane woman from Suruc state hospital. Accompanied with slogans the coffins were carried by woman to the cemetery where they were buried./LEJOURNAL__MG_2968/Credit:NAZIM FIRAT/LE JOURNAL/SIPA/1411072214 (Sipa via AP Images)Over the weekend, the New York Times published a report detailing the depravity of ISIS. Using modern medicine to perpetuate medieval practices, ISIS forces women to take birth control so that they can be forced to have sex with ISIS fighters. These individual acts of rape would be heart-breaking enough, but the fact that they are undergirded by systemic structures that both allow and encourage such behavior is sorrowful.

Hoping to recreate the Prophet Muhammad's time, ISIS leaders use obscure Islamic laws to satisfy their carnal longings. Such laws state that a man must ensure the woman is free of children before he is free to have intercourse with her. The woman must go through 'istibra,' which is the "process of ensuring the womb is empty" according to Princeton's Bernard Haykel, an expert on Islamic law. This process is less for the health of the woman and more to eliminate any potential confusion as to the paternity of the potential child.  

They are preying upon Yazidi women and girls. Last year alone, ISIS abducted 5,270 Yazidi women. Yazidism is an ancient faith with roots in this highly Kurdish region of the Middle East. Considered heretical devil worshippers by ISIS, these women are syncretistic in their religious belief.  They have a rich oral tradition that integrates Islamic beliefs with Zoroastrianism, ancient Persian religion, Mithraism, and other mystery religion indigenous to the Eastern Mediterranean.

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The world's most expensive cities

Skyline of Singapore building at twilightThe Economist Intelligence Unit recently released their 2016 rankings for the most expensive cities in which to live and Singapore remains in first place (or last place, depending on how you look at it). The survey cites Singapore's high transportation costs as the primary reason for the city's lofty prices, noting that "It is the most expensive place in the world to buy and run a car." And with its general transportation costs roughly 2.7 times higher than in New York, getting around in any fashion isn't cheap.

But the gap between Singapore and its closest competitors appears to be closing. Zurich, Switzerland and Hong Kong are tied for second place, with Hong Kong in particular becoming a pricier locale. The Asian metropolis jumped seven spots in the last twelve months, indicating that it might take the top spot before next year's report. Geneva, Switzerland comes in next, giving the relatively small European country half of the report's top four entries.

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