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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…

Indonesian president Joko Widodo to visit Australia in November 2016

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Indonesian President Joko Widodo
Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull and Indonesian President Joko Widodo
Indonesian President Joko Widodo has flagged he will visit Australia in November in a powerful indication of the warmth between the leaders of the two countries.

Mr Joko and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull cemented their relationship when they were mobbed by fans during a sweaty impromptu visit - known as blusukan - to a market in Jakarta last year.

"The temperature is warm but the warmth of the people towards the President is much warmer still," Mr Turnbull cried at the time as he flung off his coat and tie.

The successful one-day visit in November last year was seen as a turning point in the bilateral relationship, which had been scarred by the execution of Australians Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan in April last year.

Indonesians had taken umbrage to former prime minister Tony Abbott's comments linking the Bali nine executions and the $1 billion in aid Indonesia was given after the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami.

Australia, meanwhile, temporarily recalled its ambassador, Paul Grigson, in the wake of the executions.

During a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Laos on Thursday, Mr Turnbull gushed over Mr Joko and said he looked forward to welcoming him to Australia later in the year.

"You are an absolute beacon in the way that you demonstrate again and again that democracy, moderation, tolerance and Islam are thoroughly compatible," Mr Turnbull said.

Mr Turnbull has often spoken of Mr Joko's commitment to promoting a tolerant and moderate Islam and his powerful rejection of extremism, which the Prime Minister says resonates well beyond Indonesia.

"Australia has a vital interest in seeing President Widodo's commitment to tolerance succeed, as my own discussions with local Muslim leaders have made clear to me," Mr Turnbull said at the 2016 Lowy lecture in March this year.

Click here to read the full article

Source: Brisbane Times, Jewel Topsfield, September 8, 2016

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