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

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…

Reconciliation committee urges Hamas to cancel death sentences

A reconciliation committee of Palestinian factions met in Gaza City on Tuesday and to send a letter to Fatah and Hamas urging them to stop all actions that have a negative impact on national dialogue.

The letter called on Hamas and the de facto government in Gaza to cancel the death sentences against 3 Palestinians which a Hamas military court ruled handed down on Sunday. The letter explained that the death sentences were related to the Hamas-Fatah rivalry and confrontations, and so should be addressed through the conciliation committee appointed during Hamas Fatah talks in Cairo.

The letter also called on both movements to stop politically-motivated detentions in the West Bank and in Gaza, also calling for a national committee to follow up on that issue.

Furthermore, the letter called for immediately halting all restrictions on public freedoms, namely freedom of movement and travel in Gaza as well as political activities.

For his part, representative of the Palestinian People's Party (PPP) on the conciliation committee, Nafith Ghneim, said the meeting and the letter were aimed at exerting pressure on the de facto government in Gaza and the caretaker government in the West Bank to stop all violations which impede unity talks. A major violation was the death penalty against 3 Fatah-affiliated men in the Gaza Strip, he explained.

Source: Ma'an News Agency, May 29, 2009

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