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Trial by Fire - Did Texas execute an innocent man?

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The fire moved quickly through the house, a one-story wood-frame structure in a working-class neighborhood of Corsicana, in northeast Texas. Flames spread along the walls, bursting through doorways, blistering paint and tiles and furniture. Smoke pressed against the ceiling, then banked downward, seeping into each room and through crevices in the windows, staining the morning sky.
Buffie Barbee, who was eleven years old and lived two houses down, was playing in her back yard when she smelled the smoke. She ran inside and told her mother, Diane, and they hurried up the street; that’s when they saw the smoldering house and Cameron Todd Willingham standing on the front porch, wearing only a pair of jeans, his chest blackened with soot, his hair and eyelids singed. He was screaming, “My babies are burning up!” His children—Karmon and Kameron, who were one-year-old twin girls, and two-year-old Amber—were trapped inside.
Willingham told the Barbees to call the Fire Department, and while Dia…

U.N. Report on Gaza Finds Both Israel and Palestinian Militants May Be Guilty of War Crimes

A United Nations investigation has found “serious violations of international humanitarian law” that “may amount to war crimes” by both Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip during their bloody battle last summer.

report released on Monday in Geneva by a commission of the United Nations Human Rights Council said that “impunity prevails across the board” regarding the actions of Israeli forces in Gaza, and called on Israel to “break with its recent lamentable track record in holding wrongdoers accountable.”

As for Palestinian armed groups, the commission cited the “inherently indiscriminate nature” of rockets and mortars fired at Israeli civilians, condemned the execution of suspected collaborators, and said Palestinian authorities “have consistently failed” to bring violators of international law to justice.

The report condemns Israel’s restrictions on Gaza residents’ travel and trade, saying “the blockade and the military operation have led to a protection crisis and chronic, widespread and systematic violations of human rights.”

Hamas militants about to execute a man suspected of collaborating with Israel in Gaza City
Hamas militants about to execute a man suspected
of collaborating with Israel in Gaza City. Read more.
The commission says that “the scale of the devastation was unprecedented” in Gaza, where it counts 2,251 Palestinian deaths and 18,000 homes destroyed, and also cites “immense distress and disruption to the lives of Israeli civilians,” along with $25 million in civilian property damage.

“Palestinian and Israeli children were savagely affected by the events,” the report said in a distinct effort at even-handedness. “Children on both sides suffered from bed-wetting, shaking at night, clinging to parents, nightmares and increased levels of aggressiveness.”

The highly anticipated report is expected to serve as a road map for the inquiry into possible war crimes already underway by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

The Israeli government refused to cooperate with the Human Rights Council inquiry, saying it was inherently biased.

Israel last week published an extensive report arguing that its soldiers and commanders adhered to all international laws, and placing the bulk of the blame for Palestinian civilian deaths on Hamas.


Source: The New York Times, Jodi Rudoren, June 22, 2015

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