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In the crosshairs of conscience: John Kitzhaber's death penalty reckoning

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To cope with his dread, John Kitzhaber opened his leather-bound journal and began to write.
It was a little past 9 on the morning of Nov. 22, 2011. Gary Haugen had dropped his appeals. A Marion County judge had signed the murderer's death warrant, leaving Kitzhaber, a former emergency room doctor, to decide Haugen's fate. The 49-year-old would soon die by lethal injection if the governor didn't intervene.
Kitzhaber was exhausted, having been unable to sleep the night before, but he needed to call the families of Haugen's victims.
"I know my decision will delay the closure they need and deserve," he wrote.
The son of University of Oregon English professors, Kitzhaber began writing each day in his journal in the early 1970s. The practice helped him organize his thoughts and, on that particular morning, gather his courage.
Kitzhaber first dialed the widow of David Polin, an inmate Haugen beat and stabbed to death in 2003 while already serving a life sentence fo…

Al-Qaeda leader threatens "gravest consequences" if Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is executed

Al-Zawahri:"gravest consequences if Boston marathon bomber is executed."
Al-Zawahri:"gravest consequences if Boston marathon bomber is executed."
Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri has warned the United States of the "gravest consequences" if Boston marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev or any other Muslim prisoner is executed.

Tsarnaev, named in a new online video message from Zawahri, was sentenced last year to death by lethal injection for the 2013 bomb attack, which killed three people and injured more than 260.

“If the U.S. administration kills our brother the hero Dzhokhar Tsarnaev or any Muslim, it ... will bring America’s nationals the gravest consequences,” Zawahri said.

Zawahri, who became al Qaeda's leader after U.S. forces killed Osama bin Laden in 2011, urged Muslims to take captive as many Westerners as possible, especially those whose countries had joined the "Crusaders' Campaign led by the United States".

The veteran Egyptian-born Islamist, shown wearing white robes and sitting in front of green velvet drapes, said the Western captives could then be exchanged for Muslim prisoners.

Western powers "are criminals and they only understand the language of force", he added.

The nearly hour-long video, which included images of Tsarnaev, gave no indication of the location of Zawahri, believed to be based close to the Afghan-Pakistan border.

Tsarnaev carried out the Boston bombings along with his older brother Tamerlan, who was killed in a confrontation with police soon after. No organization claimed responsibility.

Tsarnaev is being held at the "Supermax" high-security prison in Florence, Colorado, while his attorneys appeal his death sentence.

Legal wrangling over Tsarnaev's fate could play out for years or even decades. Just three of the 74 people sentenced to death in the United States for federal crimes since 1998 have been executed.

Source: Reuters, July 1, 2016

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