The Leader of Europe's 'Last Dictatorship' Is Facing an Unprecedented Challenge. Here's What It Could Mean for Belarus

Europe’s longest serving leader Alexander Lukashenko has long worked hard to seem invincible. He has dominated past elections that the U.S. has deemed neither free nor fair and brokered no dissent and suppressed protests. Now, he is facing an unprecedented challenge as he runs for a sixth term as president of Belarus in elections on August 9. A former teacher and political novice, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, has emerged as his main rival, pledging to topple Lukashenko’s regime and restore democracy.
Tens of thousands have rallied across Belarus in some of the country’s biggest opposition protests in a decade, amid mounting frustration over the government’s mishandling of the COVID-19 crisis, combined with grievances about the economy. Referring to Lukashenko, protestors chanted ‘stop the cockroach’ and held placards reading ‘change!’.
“For the first time in his 26-year rule, Lukashenko knows the majority don’t support him,” says Aleksandr Feduta, a former aide to the incumbent, who was i…

Naeem Williams Trial Could Bring First Death Penalty To Hawaii

Jury selection is underway for the 1st death penalty trial in the state of Hawaii.

Capital punishment was abolished in Hawaii in 1957, but the U.S. attorney's office is seeking the federal death penalty in the trial of Naeem Williams who is accused of beating his 5-year-old daughter to death in 2005.

Williams, an Army specialist who was stationed in Hawaii at the time, had obtained custody of his daughter, Talia, only 7 months before her death. The 2 lived in base housing on Wheeler Army Airfield along with Williams's wife, Delilha Williams, and prosecutors claim the young girl endured months of abuse at the hands of both caregivers.

In July of 2005, Talia died from blunt-force trauma to her head, and an autopsy report showed she suffered from "battered child syndrome."

Court documents reveal that Talia's room had no mattress, no blankets and no furniture, and that "blood spatters could be seen throughout the Williams residence." Talia's room had "blood splatters on the walls ... caused by Naeem Williams 'whipping' Talia with his belt on Talia's back 'bursting open' the scars."

Williams also allegedly duct-taped Talia to a bed post on more than 1 occasion, covering her eyes and mouth with duct tape - "so she couldn't scream" or see - and then whipped the young girl with a belt "for more an hour at a time."

Delilha Williams told FBI agents that she had been "stomping on Talia," before the girl died, telling her that she hated Talia, that she was stupid and that she had ruined Delilha's life.

Delilha pleaded guilty to 1st-degree murder and is currently serving a sentence of 20 years. She is expected to testify against Spc. Williams.

Talia's biological mother, Tarshia Williams, won the right to sue the U.S. Army in 2010 for failing to protect her daughter after obvious signs of abuse. The Army usually handles instances of child abuse through the military police and the Army Family Advocacy Program, but, according to court documents, even an Army major general noted that, in Talia's case, there was "a series of missed opportunities to potentially prevent the death of the child."

Military police and social workers were alerted about possible abuse at the Williams home four times in the 6 months leading up to Talia's death.

Source: Huffington Post, January 30, 2014

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