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'Express lane to death': Texas seeks approval to speed up death penalty appeals, execute more quickly

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Texas is seeking to speed up executions with a renewed request to opt-in to a federal law that would shorten the legal process and limit appeals options for death-sentenced prisoners.
Defense attorneys worry it would lead to the execution of innocent people and - if it's applied retroactively, as Texas is requesting - it could potentially end ongoing appeals for a number of death row prisoners and make them eligible for execution dates.
"Opt-in would speed up the death penalty treadmill exponentially," said Kathryn Kase, an longtime defense attorney and former executive director of Texas Defender Services.
But a state attorney general spokeswoman framed the request to the Justice Department as a necessary way to avoid "stressful delays" and cut down on the "excessive costs" of lengthy federal court proceedings.
Robbie Kaplan, co-founder of the #TimesUp movement, says sweeping changes to laws in recent years have dissuaded attorneys from taking on har…

Air France gay cabin crew protest new Tehran route, cite death penalty for homosexuality

Gay staffers are now also rebelling against the route, as Iran continues to enforce the death penalty for homosexuality

Air France is facing a rebellion from gay air stewards – who are refusing to fly on a new route to Iran.

The company is launching a new route from Paris to Tehran, the capital of the reclusive state, with flights set to begin on April 17.

However, the new route has been controversial with cabin crew – after a memo instructed female staff members to wear heardscarves and modest trousers.

The company last week said it will introduce an exception so that female employees who don’t want to work on the route will be granted exemptions.

But gay staffers are now also rebelling against the route, as Iran continues to enforce the death penalty for homosexuality.

Laurent, a gay air steward, started a petition against the route that has attracted nearly 2000 supporters.

He urged the company to “grant gay crew members the right to refuse to go to a country where they could be killed for who they are”.

The petition continues: “Homosexuality remains illegal in Iran. The penalty is up to 74 lashes for a minor, to death penalty for an adult.

“Of course, sexuality is not written on passports and doesn’t change how we work… but it is inconceivable to force someone to go to a country where they are condemned for being who they are.”

“It’s also inconceivable to ask the people who fought for equality in their country, or fought for their family to be recognized, to hide who they are for their profession.”

According to The Local, the Unac union says it is hopeful the opt-out will be extended”for the entire aircrew, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation”.

Source: Pink News, Nick Duffy, April 12, 2016



Air France's gay flight attendants protest Iran route, cite death penalty

A gay flight attendant working for Air France launched an online petition against homosexual staff being forced to fly to Iran. It comes after female cabin crew members refused to fly on the route because they didn't want to be forced to wear headscarves.

"Sure, our sexuality isn't written on our passports and it doesn't change the way we work as a crew," the flight attendant, identified only as 'Laurent M,' wrote in an open letter to the French government and Air France CEO Frederic Gagey.

"But it is inconceivable to force someone to go to a country where his kind are condemned for who they are," he continued.

The online appeal, titled 'Gay stewards from Air France don't want to fly to the death penalty in Iran', points out that homosexuality is punishable by death for adults in Iran. It also notes that gay minors face a punishment of 74 lashes in the Islamic Republic.

The petition has so far received over 2,000 signatures.

It comes just 1 week after Air France flight attendants and female pilots refused to fly the Paris to Tehran route because they didn't want to be forced to wear headscarves and loose trousers.

2 organizations representing the female cabin crew, the SNPNC and Unsa PNC, said that forcing women to fly to Tehran would have been "an attack on freedom of conscience and individual freedoms," as well as the "freedom of women."

The female staff members eventually achieved victory, with the airline accepting that they could refuse to work on the route without facing punishment. Air France suspended flights to Tehran in 2008, but is resuming the route next week after international sanctions against Tehran over its nuclear program were lifted.

Source: Reuters, April 12, 2016 

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