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Why Texas’ ‘death penalty capital of the world’ stopped executing people

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Since the Supreme Court legalized capital punishment in 1976, Harris County, Texas, has executed 126 people. That's more executions than every individual state in the union, barring Texas itself.
Harris County's executions account for 23 percent of the 545 people Texas has executed. On the national level, the state alone is responsible for more than a third of the 1,465 people put to death in the United States since 1976.
In 2017, however, the county known as the "death penalty capital of the world" and the "buckle of the American death belt" executed and sentenced to death a remarkable number of people: zero.
This is the first time since 1985 that Harris County did not execute any of its death row inmates, and the third year in a row it did not sentence anyone to capital punishment either.
The remarkable statistic reflects a shift the nation is seeing as a whole.
“The practices that the Harris County District Attorney’s Office is following are also signifi…

Tweet Proclaiming Atheism Lands Saudi Man 2,000 Lashes, 10 Years Behind Bars

Saudi Arabia has sentenced a 28-year-old man to 10 years in prison and 2,000 lashes for tweeting that he is an atheist.

The nation’s strict Sharia law defines atheism as “terrorism,” and the man refused to take back his words, insisting that he has a right to express his lack of belief. 

Saudi religious police who monitor social networks found over 600 tweets from the man, mocking the Koran and stating that teachings of the prophet Muhammad's lies stokes cultural hostility. 

In addition to imprisonment and violent punishment, he was also fined 20,000 riyals (over $5,300). 

Laws defining atheism as terrorism were introduced under King Abdullah in 2014, aimed at stopping political and religious dissent that could “harm public order.” 

In 2012, blogger and activist Raif Badawi, 32, ran a website called “Free Saudi Liberals” and was arrested for "insulting Islam through electronic channels,” "setting up a website that undermines general security," "ridiculing Islamic religious figures," and "going beyond the realm of obedience.” 

He was sentenced in 2014 to 10 years in prison, 1000 lashes, and a fine of 1 million riyals, with the public whipping take take place over a period of 20 weeks.

His wife, relatives, and activists have consistently pleaded with Saudi Arabia to stop the lashings, fearing that Badawi will not survive. "The first lashing session was tough — it took a toll on his fragile body," Dr. Elham Manea, a friend and spokesperson of the family, told Mashable at the time. "His health condition is not that good at all. We are glad that this medical examination has confirmed that he is not fit to be flogged again." 

The whippings began January 9, 2015, and sparked a massive international outcry. Top United Nations officials called the flogging, “a form of cruel and unusual punishment,” and a petition from Amnesty International received nearly a million signatures. 

In a video of the lashing, he is repeatedly struck as the crowd shouts "Allahu Akbar!" (God is great), while officials warn that no cellphone recording is allowed.

Source: Sputnik News, August 31, 2016

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