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California: With state executions on hold, death penalty foes rethink ballot strategy

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California advocates of abolishing the death penalty got a jolt of momentum in March, when Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that he would not allow any executions to take place while he was in office.
But after trying twice this decade to persuade voters to end capital punishment, they have no plans to go to the ballot again in 2020. Rather than seeking to build on Newsom’s temporary reprieve for Death Row inmates, activists are taking their own pause.
Grappling with the legacy of their two failed initiatives, advocates are reassessing their strategy and retooling their message. Natasha Minsker, a political consultant who has long been involved with abolition efforts, said the governor’s moratorium has given advocates the opportunity to do long-term planning.
“There’s this excitement and energy in our movement that we haven’t had in a long time,” Minsker said.
Newsom’s executive order caught many Californians by surprise. Although he supported the unsuccessful ballot measures to abolish t…

Electric chair attraction banned in Paris fun park

One attraction at a fun park in Paris (left) has been banned today by French authorities and later dismantled and put away by its owner.

Visitors to la Fête à Neu-Neu in the outskirts of Paris could admire an authentic, working electric chair imported straight from the United States. What's more, the park would periodically "execute" a puppet for guests' entertainment -- and they could watch as the mannequin flopped around and screamed as the voltage coursed through his body. At the end, the dummy's head would slump forward, smoke drifting up from the hood over his head.

The electric chair belongs to Stéphane Camors, 40, who bought it for $10,000 in Florida. He first had it on display at a fun park near Milan in Italy and was charging visitors €1.65 to watch the dummy die. The park manager told La Repubblica in July that 50 executions were performed daily, with 150 taking place on Sunday.

Protests against the macabre act, though, shut down the electric chair attraction. "It is my dragon or my King Kong, it's just an adornment," the owner told AFP. "It's not meant to glorify the death penalty."

The death penalty is not only illegal in the European Union but also severely frowned upon as a form of punishment, making this form of entertainment particularly politically incorrect.

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