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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…

Three Islamic militants executed in a prison in central Pakistan

Three Islamic militants convicted by military courts were executed in a prison in central Pakistan on Wednesday, the Pakistani army announced.

The militants were associated with the Pakistani Taliban and a second extremist group named Harkat-ul-Jihad e-Islami, the army said in a statement. 

They were convicted of involvement in the killing of soldiers and police officers, it said.

The Pakistani government began trying alleged Islamic militants in military courts and lifted a moratorium on executions following a December 2014 Taliban attack on a school that killed more than 150 people, most of them schoolchildren. 

Human rights groups have criticized the fairness of the military courts, but the army says all defendants have a right to appeal.

The two-year mandate for the military courts to try alleged Islamic militants recently expired, and parliament has been debating whether to continue the practice.

Pakistan has been at war with Islamic militants for over a decade.

Elsewhere on Wednesday, gunmen intercepted the car of a bureaucrat, Abdullah Jan, in the southwestern city of Quetta, and abducted him, according to police officer Abdur Razzaq Cheema.

No ransom or any other demand has been made yet and no one has claimed responsibility. 

Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province, is a hotspot for both Islamic militant groups and separatist insurgents who demand greater autonomy and a larger share of regional resources.

Source: Associated Press, March 15, 2017

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