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In the Bible Belt, Christmas Isn’t Coming to Death Row

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When it comes to the death penalty, guilt or innocence shouldn’t really matter to Christians.  

NASHVILLE — Until August, Tennessee had not put a prisoner to death in nearly a decade. Last Thursday, it performed its third execution in four months.
This was not a surprising turn of events. In each case, recourse to the courts had been exhausted. In each case Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, declined to intervene, though there were many reasons to justify intervening. Billy Ray Irick suffered from psychotic breaks that raised profound doubts about his ability to distinguish right from wrong. Edmund Zagorksi’s behavior in prison was so exemplary that even the warden pleaded for his life. David Earl Miller also suffered from mental illness and was a survivor of child abuse so horrific that he tried to kill himself when he was 6 years old.
Questions about the humanity of Tennessee’s lethal-injection protocol were so pervasive following the execution of Mr. Irick that both Mr. Zagorski and M…

Iran: 2 men hanged in Urmia, Qazvin over drug, rape charges

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Iran Human Rights (IHR); December 11, 2018: A Prisoner was executed at Urmia Central Prison on December 10, 2018.
According to the IHR sources, Younes Azizi was hanged on Monday, December 10, at Urmia Central Prison. 
He was sentenced to death for drug offenses.
“Younes was sentenced to death for possessing 100 kilograms of morphine. His case was sent for the revision under the new anti-narcotic law, but the verdict was upheld because he had three other drug-related sentences,” the source told IHR.
Younes Azizi was transferred to solitary confinement a day before the execution.
The Iranian media outlets have not published news related to the aforementioned execution so far.
Prisoner Hanged at Qazvin Prison
December 10, 2018: A prisoner was hanged at Qazvin Central Prison yesterday.
According to Iranian media outlets reports, an unnamed prisoner was hanged on the rape charges on the morning of December 9, 2018.
According to the Qazvin chief prosecutor, Mohammad Qasemi, there are 5 def…

Texas executes Alvin Braziel Jr.

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Killer who shot newlywed, raped his wife on Mesquite walking trail is executed
A convicted killer who shot a man and raped his wife in 1993 as the newlyweds strolled on a trail in Mesquite was executed by lethal injection Tuesday night.
Alvin Braziel was convicted of fatally shooting Douglas White in 1993.
Alvin Avon Braziel Jr., 43, was convicted of capital murder in 2001, nearly 8 years after he killed 27-year-old Douglas White and raped 23-year-old Lora White in September 1993.
Braziel’s execution was delayed about an hour after defense attorneys filed last-minute motions to stay the lethal injection, but the motions were denied.
Braziel was pronounced dead at 7:19, less than 10 minutes after he spoke for the last time.
In his final moments, Braziel apologized to Lora White for her husband’s death, calling his victim “Lori.”
She was not present at the execution.
“I want to apologize for the 2nd time to Lori for her husband dying at my hands,” Braziel said.
Braziel did not mention r…

Texas: "Lethal injections are poison, not medicine"

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Texas’ preferred method for executing criminals is lethal injection with pentobarbital. The whole process has the look and feel of a medical procedure. There are protocols, medical equipment, pharmaceuticals and people in white coats. But don’t be fooled: This is not the practice of medicine.
This facade of professionalism is no accident. It becomes easier to execute people when the public regards lethal injection as a serious and sober activity — subject to the same safety oversight as a procedure at a doctor’s office. This is little more than an illusion. Any attempt to cite medical or pharmaceutical regulatory oversight in any aspect of lethal injection, including drug manufacturing, is a forgery of the truth. No pharmaceutical has “lethal injection” as a Food and Drug Administration-labeled indication. There is no medically approved way to execute someone. The result is a market of questionable sources for chemicals involved in lethal injections.
According to a recent piece by Bu…

UK: MPs voice fears over £1.28bn aid fund amid claims of links to torture, death penalty

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Lack of accountability in security programme fuels allegations that UK taxpayers are unknowingly complicit in rights abuses
MPs have expressed concern over the government’s flagship £1.28bn global security programme, saying a lack of transparency and accountability lends weight to allegations from rights groups and watchdogs that taxpayers are unwittingly complicit in human rights abuses.
Campaigners at Reprieve have accused the government of failing to release full details of a new “rule of law” initiative in Pakistan, granted £9.3m in foreign aid and an undisclosed amount in non-aid funding. The failure to release a human rights assessment of the initiative for 2018-19 raised “the appalling prospect that British taxpayers are unknowingly complicit in torture and death sentences”, it said.
Previously undisclosed details of the secretive and partly aid-funded conflict, stability and security fund (CSSF) for 2018-19 reveals aid money to Pakistan is supporting prosecutions in the countr…

Virginia: Jury deciding sentence for man who rammed rally protesters

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Victims described their physical pain and psychological trauma while defense attorneys detailed their client's history of mental illness Monday to a jury deliberating a sentence for the man who drove his car into counterprotesters at a white nationalist rally.
James Alex Fields Jr. faces up to life in prison for the death of Heather Heyer and injuries he caused to dozens of other counterprotesters.
Fields' lawyers argued that he acted in self-defense and out of fear.
Prosecutors called Heyer's mother and several people who were severely injured to testify about the impact his crimes had on them. Heyer, 32, was a paralegal and civil rights activist.
"She was full of love, she was full of justice, she was full of fairness, and Mr. Fields tried to silence that with his car, but I refuse to allow that," said Susan Bro, Heyer's mother.
The jury on Friday convicted Fields of first-degree murder and other charges for ramming his car into…

Inside the Supreme Court’s latest case on cruelty and the death penalty

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For much of the hour, Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh had been quietly shifting his weight in his seat, resting cheek against palm and looking down at the lawyers as they argued. Finally, he spoke, asking D. John Sauer, the state solicitor of Missouri, “Are you saying that even if the method creates gruesome and brutal pain you can still do it because there’s no alternative?”
The question sat there for a second. In the press area, located at the side of the courtroom gallery, twenty-some pairs of eyes ping-ponged between the justice and the solicitor. Mr. Sauer said, “Any petitioner who is claiming that it would create gruesome and brutal pain must...offer an alternative method that significantly reduces the pain.”
“So,” repeated Justice Kavanaugh, “you’re saying that even if the method imposes gruesome, brutal pain, you can still go forward?”
“Well, I would say again that that petitioner has to, if they want to—”
“Is that a yes?”
“Yes, it is, your honor.”
Justices Clarence Thomas and Sam…

Sri Lanka: President vows to push ahead with death penalty for drug traffickers

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The Sri Lankan president yesterday reiterated his pledge to push ahead with implementation of the death penalty for those convicted of drug trafficking, despite widespread criticism over the decision. 
Meeting with law enforcement officials at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday, amid the island's ongoing political crisis, Sirisena said "necessary steps should be instantly taken to implement the recently taken decision to enforce the death penalty against the persons who still engaged in drug trafficking activities even after they have been convicted, for the future of the country, the nation and future generation."
"Due to the failure of the relevant institutions to submit the required documents related to the persons that the death penalty should be implemented, the decision to implement the death penalty has been delayed and an investigation will be held in this regard in the near future," he further added. 
Sirisena's decision earlier this year came…

Alvin Braziel Jr. scheduled to be last inmate executed by Texas in 2018

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A man linked to a 1993 murder through DNA evidence is scheduled to be the last inmate executed by the state of Texas in 2018.
Alvin Braziel Jr., 43, is scheduled to die by lethal injection Tuesday at the Huntsville “Walls” Unit. He would be the 13th inmate put to death by the state this year.
Braziel has been incarcerated at the Polunsky Unit in Livingston since 2001 for the murder of 27-year-old Douglas White.
Court testimony states that, on Sept. 21, 1993, Douglas and his newlywed wife, Lora, were walking along a jogging trail at Eastfield College in Mesquite. 
While walking along the trail, a man, later identified as Braziel, stepped out from behind the bushes and pointed a gun at them.
According to court records, the man demanded money from the young couple. Lori testified that she and her husband prayed during the robbery. “Where’s your God at now?” Braziel asked before shooting Douglas twice.
Braziel would then drag Lora behind some bushes and sexually assault her before running…

Iran courts jail 30 men for economic crimes, uphold death sentence of businessman after execution of two traders on similar charges

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Iran’s currency has lost 65 percent of its value in 2018 amid US sanctions, with strong demand for dollars and gold coins on unofficial market
Fast-track courts set up in Iran to fight economic crime have jailed 30 men for as long as 20 years each, the judiciary said on Sunday, as the country faces renewed US sanctions and a public outcry against profiteering and corruption.
The new Islamic revolutionary courts - whose rulings cannot be appealed, except for death sentences - were set up in August after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for "swift and just" legal action to confront an "economic war" by foreign enemies, Reuters reported.
Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei, quoted by the body's news website Mizan, said 29 Iranians and an Afghan foreign exchange dealer were found guilty of crimes including bribery, embezzlement and "disrupting the economy".
Iran’s rial currency has lost about 65 percent of its value in 2018 amid rev…