News in Brief: Orlando Aftermath, Assassination in Britain

Orlando Aftermath

On June 12, 49 people were killed in a mass-shooting terrorist attack at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando Florida. The event has sparked a revival of the gun control debate in the U.S. as well as concerns about homegrown Islamist terror attacks. The tragedy has also drawn attention to homophobia and hate crime. The debate over which concern deserves most attention: gun control, Islamist terror or homophobia, appears to have created a new level of division in an already divided society. Read more about how motivated reasoning has contributed to the reactions to Orlando here and here.

British MP Jo Cox Assassinated

A British MP, Jo Cox, was murdered on Thursday by a 52 year old man, Thomas Mair. Vigils have been held across the UK which have been led by the leaders of both the Labour and Conservative parties. Police have indicated that Thomas Mair’s links to far-right groups will be a priority line of inquiry and they have also indicated that they will be investigating his history of mental ill-health. The assassination has led to the suspension of EU referendum campaigning and all major parties have said that they will not be nominating candidates for a by-election in Ms Cox’s constituency. Ms Cox leaves behind a husband and two children aged three and five. Read The Guardian’s editorial on the assassination of Jo Cox here.

Russia’s Track and Field Team Barred from Rio Olympics

In a decision without precedent in Olympic Games history, the entire Russian track and field team has been barred from competing in the 2016 Rio Olympics. The World Doping Agency and various news organisations have alluded to a state-run doping scheme which included Russian officials giving athletes cocktails of banned substances; helping them swap urine for tests; and destroying incriminating drug samples. There have also been allegations that drug-testers have been threatened by Russia’s Secret Service. Read more about the ruling here.

Subject Choice at School Strongly Influenced by Genes

A twin-study published in Nature has found that choice of subjects studied in the final years of high school is highly heritable (between 52—80%). Achievement within school is also known to be highly heritable, however this study is unique in that it shows that appetites as well as aptitudes shape pupils’ educational experiences. Read the original study here.