Hard Numbers: Rape-victims after Dobbs, ECB holds rates, US economy booms, Burkina Faso accused of war crimes, another South Korean politician attacked, New execution method in Alabama
65,000: A new study estimates that since the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022, nearly 65,000 women who became pregnant through rape were unable to get abortions in 14 US states that have imposed nearly complete bans on the procedure. The authors of the study in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal noted that “persons who have been raped and become pregnant cannot access legal abortions in their home state, even in states with rape exceptions.”
4: The European Central Bank on Thursday kept its key interest rate unchanged at a record-high of 4%. With inflation at 2.9% in Europe still riding above the ECB target of 2%, bank President Christine Lagarde said talk of a cut was still “premature,” but investors are reportedly calling it a wrong move that could force a more jarring U-turn in interest rate policy this spring.
3.3: The US economy grew an unexpectedly high 3.3% in the fourth quarter of 2023, despite high interest rates and increasing prices. Core inflation – a measure of change in cost prices of goods and services, except for food and energy sectors – also rose 2% during the same period. For all of 2023, the US economy expanded 3.1%.
60: The army of Burkina Faso has killed more than 60 civilians in three separate drone strikes targeting Islamist fighters since August 2023, according to Human Rights Watch. The watchdog group called on the government to investigate the apparent “war crimes.” Captain Ibrahim Traore, after becoming the head of state in a 2022 coup, has amped up security forces to reclaim territories controlled by armed groups affiliated with al-Qaida and the Islamic State Group.
2: Since the start of the year, two prominent South Korean politicians have now been physically assaulted in public. Bae Hyunjin, a People Power Party lawmaker, was struck in the head on Thursday with a “rocket-like” object. She was taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries. On Jan. 2, Lee Jae-myung, leader of the opposition party, was stabbed in the neck. The attacks come as the country heads towards national legislative elections in April.
22:Kenneth Smith, 58, was executed using nitrogen gas in Alabama on Thursday. This came after an attempt to execute Smith by lethal injection failed. The execution took 22 minutes. It was the first time nitrogen has been used to carry out an execution anywhere in the world, making the US -- one of the few developed countries that still has the death penalty -- a trailblazer in the realm of capital punishment.