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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…

North Korea General Thought to Be Executed in February Resurfaces

Kim Jong-un (R) with Ri Yong-gil at a military parade in October 2015
Kim Jong-un (R) with Ri Yong-gil at a military parade in October 2015
May 10, 2016: the North Korean state news media published list of officials newly selected for senior posts, which also includes Ri Yong-gil, a prominent general thought to be executed in February on corruption charges. 

According to the North Korean reports, he is not only alive but a member of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party, as well as its Central Military Commission.

The appointments were made during the Workers’ Party congress that ended on 9 May, the first such gathering in 36 years. General Ri was also named an alternate member of the Politburo, according to the reports.

General Ri had been chief of the North Korean Army’s general staff, the third-ranking figure in the army’s hierarchy, when his name abruptly stopped appearing in state media reports in January. In February, South Korean intelligence officials said General Ri had been executed, apparently the latest senior official to fall in a series of purges and executions that the North’s top leader, Kim Jong-un, has used to consolidate power.

Doubts about General Ri’s supposed execution emerged in March, when a South Korean cable channel, MBN, reported that General Ri had been demoted, not executed, and that he had been allowed to return to service.

Pictures released on 10 May by the North Korean state news media seemed to support that theory. General Ri was shown wearing a three-star rather than a four-star insignia, indicating he had been reduced in rank. 

Source: The New York Times, May 10, 2016

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