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USA | William Barr’s Exemplary Christ-Like Behavior

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“A twisted halftime show between executions.” Barbara Koeppel reports on the outrage over this year’s National Catholic Prayer Breakfast honoree. On Sept. 23, Attorney General William Barr was honored with the Christifideles Laici award at the 16th annual National Catholic Prayer Breakfast (NCPB). To those not versed in Latin, it’s given “to highlight the good works and those who serve the Church so well.”
Many Catholics were outraged. Barr reinstated the death penalty for federal prisoners this past July. Until then, there were none for 17 years. Since July, there have been seven.
The award was squeezed between the sixth and seventh executions: One was on Sept. 22, the day before the breakfast, and the other was on Sept. 24, the day after.  The two men, William LeCroy and Christopher Vialva, who had been convicted of murder, had been imprisoned for 26 and 20 years.
The yearly breakfast is sponsored by the Fellowship Foundation, which a 2019 NBC report described as an evangelical Christi…

Assange may end up at Colorado Supermax jail, UK court told

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LONDON (AP) — WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange would have to be “almost dying” to get out of arguably the most notorious prison in the United States if convicted of espionage charges and sent there, a court at London's Old Bailey heard Tuesday.
Assange, who is fighting an extradition request from the U.S., would likely be sent to the federal Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado, if convicted, according to Maureen Baird, a former warden at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York.
U.S. prosecutors have indicted the 49-year-old Assange on 17 espionage charges and one charge of computer misuse over WikiLeaks’ publication of secret American military documents a decade ago. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 175 years in prison.
Assange’s defense team says he is entitled to First Amendment protections for the publication of leaked documents that exposed U.S. military wrongdoing in Iraq and Afghanistan. They have also said he is suffering from wide-ranging mental health issue…

Tunisia | Presidential statement in favour of death penalty is shocking

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Tunisian President Kais Saied announced his position in favour of resuming executions during the National Security Council meeting on Monday, saying that “murder deserves the death penalty”. 
He made the remarks following the recent murder of a girl in Ain Zaghouan. 
Responding to the announcement, Amna Guellali, Amnesty International's Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said:
“Tunisia has not carried out any execution since 1991. The President’s announcement in favour of the death penalty is shocking and contravenes the decades-long established practice of not carrying out executions. President Saied is the 1st president to ever announce intentions to implement death sentences in Tunisia.
“Resuming executions would be a slap in the face of all the human rights progress that the country has made so far. We urge the Tunisian President to immediately reverse his disturbing announcement which would take Tunisia’s human rights record backwards instead of forwar…

Iran Executed 108th Woman Under Rouhani

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The Iranian regime executed a woman at dawn on Wednesday, September 23, bringing the total number of women executed there since supposed moderate President Hassan Rouhani took office in 2013 to at least 108
Mahtab Shafii, 32, was hanged in Gohardasht Prison (aka Rajaiishahr prison) in Karaj. She was detained for seven years in Qarchak Prison on murder charges, but even this is suspect due to the fact that the regime does not classify murder according to degrees.
As many Iranian women are subjected to domestic violence with no legal recourse to get their abuser arrested, have a restraining order, or even obtain a divorce, they risk losing everything, including their children, by leaving, or staying and possibly losing their lives. Thus, many Iranian women, suffering from battered person’s syndrome, kill their attackers in self-defense.
Political prisoner Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee wrote in July 2019: “In meeting women convicted of murder, I learned that a large percentage of them had murdered…

Iran | Prisoner Executed at Gonbad Kavous Prison

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Iran Human Rights (IHR); September 28, 2020: A prisoner sentenced to qisas (retribution-in-kind) for murder, has been executed at Gonbad Kavous Prison.
According to the Iran newspaper website, on the morning of 28 September, a man sentenced to qisas (retribution-in-kind) was executed at Gonbad Kavous Prison. 
The prisoner, who is yet to be identified, had been accused of killing two teenagers when he was 21 years old.
According to the article, the executed death row inmate had "cited revenge as the motive for the murder and had said to have had an argument with Adnan, one of the two teenagers killed, over an issue," which they agreed to resolve on 28 July 2017, the day the teenagers went missing, outside the city. 
“But after not reaching an agreement, I killed him with a knife and fearing that I would be exposed, I killed Adnan’s friend who had witnessed the incident.”
According to Iran Human Rights’ annual report, at least 225 of the 280 of those executed in 2019 were charged w…

Chinese teacher sentenced to death for poisoning nursery children

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A Chinese court has sentenced a nursery teacher to death for poisoning 25 children, one of whom died.
Wang Yun was arrested last year after children at a kindergarten in Jiaozuo city were rushed to hospital after eating their morning porridge.
The court said she put sodium nitrite in the breakfast of her colleague's students for revenge after a fallout.
It described Ms Wang as "despicable and vicious".
The incident on 27 March last year shocked China and triggered global headlines.
At the time it was reported 23 children began vomiting and fainting after eating their breakfast. 
A police probe was triggered after allegations the teacher had poisoned them.
RELATED | China teacher held after children poisoned
On Monday a local court in Jiaozuo sentenced Ms Wang to death.
It said in a statement that she had put sodium nitrite into the porridge of the young students of another teacher in "revenge" after they had "argued over student management issues".
Sodium nitri…

Iran's Supreme Court Uphold Death Sentence Against Prisoner After 29 Years of Limbo

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Iran’s Supreme Court has upheld the death sentence against a prisoner who suffered almost 29 years on death row.
The prisoner, Moein Salavarzi has languished in a cruel limbo after being arrested and charged with murdering his brother in 1991.
In a phone call to his family last week, the 55-year-old said that his death sentence has been upheld by the Supreme Court.
Judicial officials during the past years claimed that the prisoner’s case was missing and that they upheld the sentence due to the inquiries of the victim’s children.
Iran’s Islamic Penal Code allows the family of a murder victim to insist on execution or to pardon the killer and receive financial compensation. 
The Iranian authorities contend that qisas – the sentence for convicted murderers – is not execution, even though people sentenced to qisas are put to death by the state. 
This contention is not accepted in international law.
Moein Salavarzi has been denied a lawyer during this period because he could not to pay for legal …

USA | Barrett could be Ginsburg's polar opposite on Supreme Court

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Amy Coney Barrett paid homage to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in her White House speech Saturday as a shatterer of glass ceilings. She said she would be mindful of the woman whose place she would take on the Supreme Court.
She even commented that her children think their father is the better cook, much as Ginsburg used to talk about her husband's prowess in the kitchen.
But the replacement of the liberal icon Ginsburg, the second woman to serve on the high court, by Barrett, who would be the fifth, would represent the most dramatic ideological change on the Supreme Court in nearly 30 years and cement conservative dominance of the court for years to come.
Barrett, a judge on the federal appeals court based in Chicago, made clear in her Rose Garden address that she looks to conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, for whom she once worked, and not Ginsburg, on matters of law.
“His judicial philosophy is mine, too. Judges must apply the law as written. Judges are not policy …

USA | Trump’s tax revelation could tarnish image that fueled rise

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The bombshell revelations that President Donald Trump paid just $750 in federal income taxes the year he ran for office and paid no income taxes at all in many others threaten to undercut a pillar of his appeal among blue-collar voters and provide a new opening for his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, on the eve of the first presidential debate.
Trump has worked for decades to build an image of himself as a hugely successful businessman — even choosing “mogul” as his Secret Service code name. But The New York Times on Sunday revealed that he paid just $750 in federal income taxes in 2016, the year he won the presidency, and in 2017, his first year in office. He paid no income taxes whatsoever in 10 of the previous 15 years, largely because he reported losing more money than he made, according to the Times, which obtained years’ worth of tax return data that the president had long fought to keep private.
The development comes at a particularly precarious moment for Trump, w…

USA | How Amy Coney Barrett on the Supreme Court could affect LGBTQ rights

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President Donald Trump nominated federal Judge Amy Coney Barrett to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court Saturday, a choice LGBTQ rights groups are concerned could lead to a reduction in the rights of LGBTQ Americans.The Supreme Court has historically been important for the advancement of LGBTQ rights, with its rulings giving gay and lesbian people marriage equality and recently, protecting queer and trans people from employment discrimination under federal law.
And there are a number of important cases soon to come before the court; for example, Fulton v. City of Philadelphia is set to be heard the day after Election Day. That case, in which a religious adoption agency is seeking the right to turn away LGBTQ couples, will determine whether taxpayer-funded organizations are allowed to discriminate against LGBTQ people.
Senate Republicans have already promised a speedy confirmation process to install Trump’s nominee before the election, suggesting Barrett wil…