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Vox Sentences: Peace for the Koreas?

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A prison riot in South Carolina leaves seven dead; North and South Korea might be in talks to end their 68-year military conflict.


Deadly mayhem in a South Carolina prison

Logan Cyrus/Getty Images
  • A seven-hour prison riot at Lee Correctional Institution in South Carolina that left seven inmates dead and 17 injured has focused renewed attention on the issue of prison violence — especially in South Carolina, where the problem appears to be growing faster than it is elsewhere. [Vox / German Lopez]
  • Around 7:15 pm Sunday, inmates armed with homemade knives began fighting over territory, money, and contraband in what became the deadliest US prison riot in a quarter of a century. The brawl was apparently sparked by warring gangs within the prison. [AP]
  • An inmate who witnessed the violence and was communicating with the AP via a banned cellphone reported that bodies were “literally stacked on top of each other.” He also said no corrections officers or medical personnel attended to the dead or dying. [CBS]
  • South Carolina Department of Corrections director Bryan Stirling defended the prison’s actions, saying it’s protocol for guards to call for help and then extricate themselves from the situation. He attributed the delayed response to having to gather enough armed officers, saying that assembling a SWAT team in a rural area on a Sunday night takes time. (The first large response team didn’t enter the site of the fight until 11:30 pm.) [NYT / Richard Fausset]
  • Lee Correctional Institution, which houses about 1,700 of some of South Carolina’s most violent offenders, is no stranger to violence. Three weeks ago, inmates held a guard hostage and took control of part of a dorm for about 90 minutes. The guard was later released uninjured. [USA Today / John Bacon and Tim Smith]
  • One factor contributing to all this violence is an increase in inmates obtaining cellphones, which allows them to continue criminal activities from inside. Stirling said the corrections department would continue to push the Federal Communications Commission and cell service providers to block cell signals from the prison. [Washington Post / Amy B. Wang and Mark Berman]
  • Pervasive staff shortages is another factor: At Lee Correctional, the shortage is 28 percent. There were reportedly only four officers on duty for the 250 to 260 inmates in the dorm where the fighting broke out. [NBC / Kalhan Rosenblatt]
  • These staff shortages are common across the state: There are roughly 650 vacancies for correctional staff statewide. Amid this staffing shortage, 12 South Carolina prisoners were killed by fellow inmates last year. [The State / John Monk]

As neighborly disputes go, the Koreas’ conflict might be about to end

  • Some 65 years since open conflict officially ended, North and South Korea are still technically at war. But that might be about to change. [CNBC / Sam Meredith]
  • South Korea’s Munhwa Ilbo newspaper reported Tuesday that the two countries are in talks to announce a permanent end to the military conflict, citing an unnamed official. [USA Today / Jessica Durando]
  • The news comes ahead of a summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, scheduled for April 27. According to the official, easing military tensions and ending the military confrontation are high priorities on the summit’s agenda. [Newsweek / Sofia Lotto Persio]
  • Negotiations could focus on one of the most enduring symbols of the conflict: the 2.5-mile-wide stretch of land separating the countries known as the Demilitarized Zone. As of now, there’s no plan on what will happen to this uninhabited stretch of land that has become a haven for some of the most endangered animals in Asia, but it could involve returning the DMZ to its “original state.” [Bloomberg / David Tweed]
  • The report comes amid news that Kim Jong Un plans to formally announce his willingness to denuclearize his country during the summit with the South. [NYT / Choe Sang-Hun]

Miscellaneous

  • Parents whose children were killed during the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting have filed defamation suits against Alex Jones for portraying the incident as a hoax. [NYT / Matthew Haag]
  • In disturbing Soviet-era Russia news: The US and UK jointly accused Russia on Monday of hacking into global internet equipment with the intent of spying on the two countries. [Time via the AP / Frank Bajak]
  • Despite their name, rare earth elements aren’t actually all that rare. [The Verge / James Vincent]
  • A lost planet may have just been rediscovered: Rock fragments that hit Earth in 2008 may contain evidence of a planet that was part of the early solar system. [Guardian / Ian Sample]

Verbatim

“I began to shout in hope maybe some miracle happened and they were here. I shouted and shouted through the wind. And finally I heard some quiet voice.” [Rescue climber Denis Urubko to Outside Magazine / Marcin Jamkowski]


Watch this: How a warmer Arctic could intensify extreme weather

Is there a link between the vanishing Arctic sea ice and extreme weather? Some prominent climate researchers think so. [YouTube / Eli Kintisch and Mallory Brangan]


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