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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…

Saudi beheads Chadian national over drug trafficking

The Saudi Press Agency on Tuesday reported the kingdom had beheaded Abdulkarim Ibrahim Mousa Abkar, a Chadian national convicted of smuggling drugs. It was the fourteenth such execution in Saudi Arabia since the start of the new year.

Those convicted of charges that include murder, rape, drug trafficking, apostasy, sorcery and witchcraft could be brought to the block in Saudi Arabia, which adheres to an extreme form of Islamic law.

Saudi Arabia has one of the highest state execution rates in the world. The kingdom put down at least 82 people in 2011 according to Amnesty International. Seventy-six people were beheaded in the kingdom last year according to an AFP tally, while Human Rights Watch has put the number at 69.

The kingdom has brushed off international calls for the kingdom to abolish the policy of beheading.

Source: Agence France-Presse, February 2013

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