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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…

U.S. assures Russia no death penalty for Snowden

Eric Holder tells his Russian counter party Snowden would be tried in a civilian court.

Attorney General Eric Holder has appealed to Russia to extradite NSA leaker Edward Snowed by assuring Moscow that the U.S. would try him in a civilian court, would not seek the death penalty and would not torture him.

A spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, however, again ruled out extradition for the 30-year-old former defense contractor, RT.com reports.

The promises came in a letter from Holder to his Russian counterpart, Justice Minister Vladimirovich Konovalov.

"The charges he faces do not carry that possibility, and the United States would not seek the death penalty even if Mr. Snowden were charged with additional death penalty-eligible crimes," Attorney General Eric Holder said in a letter to Russian Minister of Justice Vladimirovich Konovalov.

In addition, Holder said that would be tried in a civilian court and "would not be tortured."

In the past, Russia has cited the prospect of capital punishment as a factor in its decision not to turn Snowden over to the U.S.

"We believe that these assurances eliminate these asserted grounds for Mr.Snowden's claim that he should be treated as a refugee or granted asylum, temporary or otherwise," Holder wrote.

A copy of the letter was released by the Justice Department on Friday.

The letter came amid discussions about the Snowden case between FBI director Robert Mueller and FSB chief Aleksandr Bortnikov, RT.com reported..

Despite the flurry of activity, Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov, said Friday that "Russia has never extradited anyone, and will not extradite," according to RT.com.

The spokesman also said he is certain that the former defense contractor, who has applied for asylum in Russia, will stop harming Washington with leaks or new revelations about the National Security Agency if allowed to stay in Russia

Peskov said that if Snowden, through his actions, should undermine Moscow's ties with Washington, "the head of state (Putin) has expressed strong determination not to allow this."

Snowden argued in his application for temporary asylum in Russia that he "he faces persecution by the U.S. government and he fears for his life and safety,"according to his lawyer Anatoly Kucherena. 


Source: USA Today, July 26, 2013

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