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Showing posts from May, 2016

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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…

Iran regime carries out two public executions

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NCRI – Iran’s fundamentalist regime has publicly hanged two men in Fars Province, southern Iran, and Mazandaran Province, northern Iran, in the past 24 hours.
On Monday, May 30, an unnamed 40-year-old prisoner, was hanged in public in the town of Noor in Mazandaran, according to the state-run Young Journalists Club (YJC) news agency which quoted the regime's prosecutor in Noor, Qanbar Qanbari.
On Sunday, May 29, a man identified only by his surname Zohrabi, was hanged in public in the town of Kovar, 40 kilometers south of Shiraz, the provincial capital in Fars.
The mullahs' regime last Thursday publicly hanged a man, identified only as Hamid B., in the southern city of Shiraz.
The latest hangings bring to at least 118 the number of people executed in Iran since April 10. Three of those executed were women and two are believed to have been juvenile offenders.
Ms. Farideh Karimi, a member of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and a human rights activist, last wee…

UN human rights body condemns floggings in Iran

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NCRI - The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights condemned on Tuesday the "outrageous flogging" of dozens of young Iranians last week in Qazvin, north-west of Tehran.
"We condemn the outrageous flogging of up to 35 young men and women in Iran last week, after they were caught holding a graduation party together in Qazvin, north of Tehran," said a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.
"Flogging is prohibited under international human rights law, in particular the Convention against Torture. The UN Committee against Torture, the Human Rights Committee and UN Special Rapporteurs have repeatedly voiced serious concerns about States’ use of flogging, highlighting in particular its use against women, and have called for its abolition. For the authorities to have meted out this cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment – which could amount to torture – is completely disproportionate and abhorrent," it said.
Ismaeil Sadeqi Ni…

Supreme Court Rules in Capital Cases, Overturning a Death Sentence

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WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Tuesday took action in two death penalty cases, rejecting a broad constitutional challenge to capital punishment from Louisiana and reversing a death sentence from Arizona.
The moves were in keeping with the court’s general approach in this area. It has been open to cutting back on the availability of the death penalty but not inclined to test its constitutionality.
Justice Stephen G. Breyer, dissenting in Glossip v. Gross last year, urged his colleagues to consider the larger question. “Rather than try to patch up the death penalty’s legal wounds one at a time,” he wrote, “I would ask for full briefing on a more basic question: whether the death penalty violates the Constitution.”
The case from Louisiana asked the justices to consider that question, but the court turned down the appeal without comment. Justice Breyer dissented and, as in Glossip, only Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined him.
In the second case, Lynch v. Arizona, No. 15-8366, the cour…

Australian charged with cyanide-coffee killing not exempt from death penalty, Indonesian court says

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There is no agreement preventing Australian resident Jessica Wongso from facing the death penalty, an Indonesian court has said.
That is despite Justice Minister Michael saying he approved the Australian Federal Police's assistance in the high-profile Jakarta murder case because he was promised the death penalty would not apply.
Wongso will shortly face trial accused of poisoning her 27-year-old friend Mirna Salihin in a Jakarta cafe.
Ms Salihin died in January shortly after drinking a coffee that police said was laced with cyanide.
Murder is a capital crime in Indonesia and a judge with the Central Jakarta District Court says there is no binding agreement to prevent a death sentence from being handed down.
District Court Judge and spokesman for the Central Jakarta District Court Jamaluddin Samosir told the ABC the Indonesian justice system "does not recognise that kind of deal".
"No such deal is possible in our system," Judge Jamaluddin said.
The Central Jaka…

What Are the Implications of Sentencing Dylann Roof to Death?

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How will executing Dylann Roof help the Black community?
Author Ta-Nehisi Coates pondered the irony of executing Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof in an interesting piece for The Atlantic.
On the evening of June 17, 2015, the white Nationalist quietly sat in on a prayer service at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church before opening fire on the unsuspecting worshippers killing 9, including state senator Clementa Pinckney.
In addition to a count of murder for each of the deceased, Roof faces 3 counts of attempted murder, possession of a firearm and federal hate crime charges.
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced Tuesday that she would seek the death penalty in the case.
In the article, Coates argues that killing Roof flies directly in the face of the nonviolence trope American "powers that be" impose on victims of racial hostility and injustice.
"The symbol of this approach is, of course, Martin Luther King Jr. One problem with using King in this w…

Supreme Court refuses to review death penalty over two justices' dissents

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WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court refused to hear a Louisiana prisoner's death penalty appeal Tuesday, but two of the eight justices said they would have taken the case to decide if capital punishment remains constitutional.
The one-paragraph order and two-page dissent solidified the battle lines at the court over what some justices consider their most difficult duty: deciding who lives and who dies.
That six justices, including liberals Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, denied convicted murderer Lamondre Tucker's petition shows that the court is not ready to reconsider its 1976 decision reinstating the death penalty.
But Justices Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg reiterated their desire to consider its constitutionality, which they first voiced last June in a dissent from the court's 5-4 decision upholding a controversial form of lethal injection.
In the Louisiana case, Breyer noted that Tucker was barely older than the 18-year-old threshold to be eligible for the death…

How big of a difference does an all-white jury make? A leading expert explains.

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The first thing you need to know about Patrick Bayer is that he's an economist, a social scientist and part of a discipline that relies heavily on all sorts of data about human behavior and financial matters. That's part of the reason economics is sometimes called the dismal science.
Bayer began his career studying urban economics. So for him, that work also often included examining residential segregation, school choice and competition, social interactions and the effects of different neighborhoods on people's lives. Today, Bayer is also a professor of economics at Duke University, where his most recent research has gone deep on the effects of discrimination in mortgage lending and housing markets.
It's serious, academic stuff, not included in publications on your local newsstand. And it is important stuff. For instance, this year Bayer co-authored a journal article called, “The Vulnerability of Minority Homeowners in the Housing Boom and Bust,” published in the Ame…

Global group of jurists asks Duterte to rethink push for death penalty revival

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The International Commission of Jurists has written President-elect Rodrigo Duterte to express concern about his strong support for reinstating the death penalty. The ICJ said it constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, has not been proven to deter heinous crime, and would run against repeated calls by the UN General Assembly for all states "to establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty."
The ICJ, a 60-year-old global organization of judges and lawyers fighting for legal protection of human rights throughout the world, said it "considers the imposition of the death penalty to be a violation of the right to life and the absolute prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."
Reinstating the death penalty, said the letter signed by Sam Zarifi, ICJ's Regional Director for Asia & the Pacific, "would contravene international commitments that the Philippines has voluntarily enter…

India: 3 more prisons in state to have hanging area

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Move comes as number of convicts facing death penalty now exceeds 50
With number of convicts facing death penalty in Maharashtra exceeding 50, the home department has decided to equip 3 more central prisons with the hanging area and a special ward for the "death penalty convicts". Till date, only 2 Maharashtra prisons -Yerawada and Nagpur - were designated to have convicts facing death sentence. However, now Taloja, Nashik and Kohlapur prisons will also have special wards designated for such convicts. Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab was the only exception who was kept in Arthur Road prison due to security concerns but was transferred to Yerawada prison a night before the execution.
As per sources, one of the key reasons for increase in the number of such convicts is the prolonged legal battles that defer hanging. All of these 50 odd cases are pending with some or the other court for appeal or have procured stay orders.
Waking up to the need of pushing things forward, jail of…

Gaza Strip: Hamas executes three as death penalty resumes

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Three people convicted of murder have been executed in the Gaza Strip, in a move condemned by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.
The men were shot or hanged on Tuesday after appeals were exhausted, officials from Gaza's de facto rulers, the Islamist Hamas movement, said.
Hamas did not seek the approval of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, as required under Palestinian law.
It underscores the continuing divisions between the main Palestinian factions.
Hamas and President Abbas' Fatah party signed a unity deal in 2014 designed to end a seven-year split which saw the West Bank and the Gaza Strip governed by rival administrations.
However, the agreement has never been properly implemented, leaving Hamas still effectively in charge of the coastal territory.
'Flagrant violation'
The three men, one of whom was a reportedly a policeman employed by the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, were executed at dawn.
The general prosecutor's office in Gaza said the …

Hillary Clinton needs to tell us where she stands on the death penalty for Dylann Roof

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Almost a year ago, after the massacre of nine black parishioners at a Charleston, South Carolina, church known as Mother Emanuel, relatives of the victims did something incredible: They forgave the man accused of murdering their loved ones.
It was an act of Christian compassion so powerful that one presidential candidate drew inspiration from it for months.
“One by one, grieving parents and siblings stood up in court and looked at the young man who had taken so much from them and said, ‘I forgive you,'” Hillary Clinton said just weeks after the massacre. “Their act of mercy was more stunning than his act of cruelty.”
In March of this year, when a Donald Trump rally in Chicago was canceled because of fears of violence between Trump supporters and protesters, Clinton once again invoked the Charleston families.
“The families of those victims came together and melted hearts in the statehouse and the Confederate flag came down,” she said in a written statement. “That should be the mod…

Govt to submit appeal for Indonesian on death row in Malaysia

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The Foreign Ministry will submit an appeal to the Penang High Court in Malaysia regarding Indonesian migrant worker Rita Krisdianti, who was sentenced to the death penalty on Monday for her alleged involvement in drug smuggling.
Taufiq Rodhi, general consul at the Indonesian Consulate General in Penang, said Indonesian officials had instructed an attorney from law firm Goi & Azzura to submit an appeal as the ruling was still at the 1st level of the court system.
"Through the Foreign Ministry, we will keep coordinating with all stakeholders who can help us to provide evidence that could lessen [the punishment]," Taufiq said in a statement.
The opportunity remained, therefore, for further defense from the Indonesian side, he added.
The ministry said it had also cooperated and coordinated with the Indonesian Consulate General in Hong Kong, the country where Rita worked from January to April 2013, as well as the local administration of Ponorogo regency, East Java, where Rit…

Indonesia: Cleric calls on govt not to carry out executions... during Ramadhan

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A local leader of Indonesia's biggest Islamic organization has called on the Attorney General's Office (AGO) not to carry out the anticipated execution of several drug convicts during the fasting month of Ramadhan, which begins on July 6.
KH. Maslahuddin, the chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) in Cilacap, Central Java, said it was hoped the government would respect the holiness of Ramadhan and give the death row inmates a chance to repent before God in the special month for Muslim people.
"After that, please carry out the execution as quickly as possible. Do not postpone it further," Maslahuddin told journalists last week. 
He said if necessary the executions could even be conducted before Ramadhan. "So that prosecutors, firing squad personnel, the Muslim death row inmates and other parties involved in the execution can be devoted to carrying out their Ramadhan religious services," Maslahuddin said. [Hypocrisy and bigotry rule the world - DPN]
He said it was…