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The synthetic painkiller fentanyl has been the driving force behind the nation’s opioid epidemic, killing tens of thousands of Americans last year in overdoses. Now two states want to use the drug’s powerful properties for a new purpose: to execute prisoners on death row.
As Nevada and Nebraska push for the country’s first fentanyl-assisted executions, doctors and death penalty opponents are fighting those plans. They have warned that such an untested use of fentanyl could lead to painful, botched executions, comparing the use of it and other new drugs proposed for lethal injection to human experimentation.
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The situation has led states such as Florida, Ohio and Oklahoma to turn to novel drug combinations for executions. Mississippi legalized nitrogen gas this s…

Ex-governor Michael Dukakis endorses campaign to exonerate Ethel Rosenberg, executed in 1953

Robert and Michael visited the White House in 1953 in a failed bid to get President Eisenhower to stop their parents’ executions.
Robert and Michael visited the White House in 1953 in a failed
bid to get President Eisenhower to stop their parents’ executions.
More than 60 years after the execution of alleged spy Ethel Rosenberg, a former governor of Massachusetts has endorsed a campaign to exonerate her.

Rosenberg and her husband, Julius, of New York, were put to death by electric chair in 1953 for conspiring to pass secrets about the atomic bomb to the Soviets. Other alleged co-conspirators served prison sentences after cooperating with prosecutors.

The Rosenbergs' convictions and executions remain controversial, with supporters saying the evidence was weak and the Rosenbergs were victims of Cold War hysteria.

The couple's sons, Robert and Michael Meeropol, were 6 and 10 years old at the time. Now 69 and 73, they are asking the U.S. Department of Justice and President Obama to definitively state that their mother was innocent.

"An enormous body of evidence ... demonstrates that Ethel Rosenberg was not a spy, and that the government knew this at the time of her trial and execution," said Dukakis in offering his support. "The charges against Ethel and the threat of the death penalty were meant to intimidate her and use her, in the government's own words, as 'a lever' to force her husband to cooperate with the prosecution."

The cause has also earned endorsements from U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Worcester, filmmaker Michael Moore and 13 members of the New York City Council, along with 45,000 signatures on an online petition by the Rosenberg Fund for Children.

This effort is modeled on a proclamation Dukakis issued as governor in 1977, declaring that Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, two Italian immigrants and alleged anarchists executed for murder in 1927, were not guilty.

"Today, I urge President Obama to take similar action," said Dukakis, adding that a presidential proclamation would be in the service of "justice."

In an interview last month, Robert Meeropol said he does not want his mother pardoned "because she was not guilty. We're asking for a proclamation that she was wrongly convicted, and wrongly executed."

The brothers acknowledged in 2008 that their father was part of a conspiracy, but they insist he did not pass along nuclear secrets. Their change of heart about Julius Rosenberg came after co-defendant Morty Sobell confessed.

Source: masslive.com, December 13, 2016

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