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The Blissful Ignorance of American neo-Nazis

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The violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville reflects the dangerous, vicious, open-the-floodgates culture that having a Bully-in-Chief in the White House has created in America.
Hundreds of protesters descended upon Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 12, 2017 for a “Unite the Right” rally. 
The rally was dispersed by police minutes after its scheduled start at noon, after clashes between rallygoers and counter-protesters, and after a torchlit pre-rally march Friday night descended into violence.
But later that day, as rallygoers began a march and counterprotests continued, a reported Nazi sympathizer drove a car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing one and injuring 19.
Self-described “pro-white” activist Jason Kessler organized the rally to protest the planned removal of a statue of confederate general Robert E. Lee from a park in Charlottesville. 
Kessler is affiliated with the alt-right movement that uses internet trolling tactics to argue against diversity and “id…

Vietnam upholds death sentences against shipping execs in major corruption case

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But without a major overhaul of the country's public sector, stern sentencing may be only cosmetic, analysts say.
A court of appeals in Hanoi on Friday upheld the death sentences against two executives from the corruption-hit shipping industry after convicting them of pocketing nearly $12 million in deals made between 2006 and 2008, the latest punishment meted out as the ongoing crackdown on the public sector is widening.
At the first trial in February, Giang Kim Dat, the former sales manager of the troubled shipbuilder Vinashinlines, and Tran Van Liem, the company's former CEO, were sentenced to death for stealing more than VND260 billion ($11.65 million) from the company between 2006 and 2008.
In February, the firm’s former accountant, Tran Van Khuong, also got a life sentence for abetting the embezzlement, while Dat’s father Giang Van Hien received 12 years in prison for money laundering. Friday's appellate court upheld all these sentences.
According to the indictment, …

MPs call for an end to Pakistan's blasphemy laws

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As Pakistan celebrates its 70th anniversary as an independent state, 24 British politicians, led by Labour MP Siobhan McDonagh, have written to the Pakistani government urging it to repeal its blasphemy laws, which have been used to persecute humanists and religious minorities. Humanists UK, which is part of the End Blasphemy Laws coalition, has welcomed the letter.
Siobhan McDonagh, also chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Ahmadiyya Muslims, stated that the Pakistani government has consistently committed discriminatory acts against minority religious groups, including ‘denying religious freedom, harassing, violently persecuting’, and sometimes, carrying out death sentences. The letter also states that the current use of these laws stands in ‘painful contrast’ to the vision of Pakistan’s founders.
Blasphemy laws were first introduced into what is now modern-day Pakistan in 1860 by the British, during the period of colonial rule in India. They continued to form part of Pa…

Florida: First Palm Beach County trial under new death penalty law

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Anngela Fader Sampler turned 40 this year, but the milestone was bittersweet — it’s now been 30 years since her mother was strangled to death near Lake Worth.
But the sad anniversary comes with a fresh hope for justice for Dana Fader’s loved ones because her alleged killer, Rodney Clark, finally is set to stand trial. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in a case that had gone cold for over two decades.
“We’re ready for some kind of closure,” said Sampler, a southeast Tennessee resident speaking also for her younger brothers, Kolby and Johnny, who were 5 and 3 when they lost their mom. “Whether it’s life in prison, death, just to know he’s going to pay for his crime.”
It’s the first death penalty case to be tried in Palm Beach County since Florida got a new death penalty law in March, and for more than three years before that. Unanimous jury votes are now required to impose a death sentence.
The case against the Mississippi man, 50, didn’t emerge until 2012, and that was six ye…

Deaths Rise Among Indonesian Drug Dealers Amid Fears of Philippines-Style Campaign

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Jakarta. The number of suspected drug dealers killed by Indonesian police has more than tripled so far this year from the whole of 2016, activists said on Wednesday (16/08), raising concerns the country may be headed towards a bloody Philippines-style war on narcotics.
At least 60 suspected dealers have died so far this year, up from last year's 18, Amnesty International said.
"While Indonesian authorities have a duty to respond to increasing rates of drug use in the country, shooting people on sight is never a solution," said Usman Hamid, director of Amnesty International Indonesia.
The rights group added that all the deaths involved police allegedly acting in self-defense or because the suspects resisted arrest, but that no independent investigations had been conducted.
A spokesman for the national narcotics agency said officers had to prioritize their own safety and those of others if there was resistance from drug dealers.
"If firearms are used, it's becaus…

Hogan's Katyal Aims to End the Death Penalty in Arizona SCOTUS Case

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Former acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal is hoping that the time is finally right for the U.S. Supreme Court to declare the death penalty unconstitutional again.
Katyal, now a Hogan Lovells partner in Washington, filed a certiorari petition with the court on Monday in an Arizona death-row case, asking the court to decide whether "the death penalty in and of itself violates the Eighth Amendment, in light of contemporary standards of decency."
If the court grants the case, it will add to the high court's blockbuster docket of upcoming cases for the fall term, on issues ranging from political gerrymandering to President Donald Trump's immigration travel ban.
The Arizona case is titled Hidalgo v. Arizona. The main flaw in the Arizona death-penalty statute, Katyal wrote, is that so-called "aggravating factors" have been added over the years to the point where 99 percent of those who commit first-degree murders are eligible to be executed.
"The Ariz…

Secret sedative: How Missouri uses pentobarbital in executions

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Missouri will use 2 of its 34 vials of the sedative pentobarbital on Tuesday when it executes Marcellus Williams, who was convicted in the 1998 killing of Felicia Gayle, former St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter.
The state has enough pentobarbital for 17 executions, Williams' included, according to a document obtained by St. Louis Public Radio. No one except the state of Missouri knows where the stockpile comes from, despite lawsuits from inmates and media outlets.
But there is 1 sure thing, according to 2 people who've witnessed executions in Missouri and Georgia: Pentobarbital is a potent means of death.
The FDA-approved manufacturer of the drug will not sell directly to any state for use in an execution and has made it clear it doesn't want 3rd-party distributors to do so. Any compounding pharmacy that makes small, quick-to-expire batches is shielded from public knowledge, too.
St. Louis Public Radio's Erica Hunzinger explains how pentobarbital works and why Missouri…

Bali 9 Australian Renae Lawrence won’t get out next year, even with remission

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Renae Lawrence, a member of the infamous Australian smuggling group the Bali Nine, has gotten six months knocked off her prison sentence, but that doesn’t mean she’ll get out next year, says the woman’s father.
Lawrence, who’s currently serving out her sentence in Bali’s remote Bangli prison, received a remission for good behavior in concurrence with Indonesian’s Independence Day. It is customary for the country to reduce sentences ever so slightly during special holidays for well-behaved Indonesian and foreign prisoners alike.
While it was reported that Lawrence could see a release date of next year if her recommendation for a remission went through, that won’t be the case for the 39-year-old, because she’s got a “subsidiary sentence”: an extra six months on top of her sentence that she must serve unless she pays a $100,000 fee.
“She won’t be getting out when they say she’s getting out because there’s a $100,000 fine she’s got to pay and we can’t pay that – we haven’t got it,” her f…

Marcellus Williams faces execution in Missouri despite doubts about conviction

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The state of Missouri is scheduled to execute Marcellus Williams on August 22 despite a lack of solid evidence used to secure his conviction and a new report from a DNA expert that his lawyers argue supports his claim to innocence.
“The death penalty is abhorrent in any circumstance, and as we have seen time and time again, the capital justice system is capable of error,” said Zeke Johnson, senior director of programs at Amnesty International USA. “The state of Missouri must not allow this execution to go forward, and must commute the sentences of all of those on death row. There is no acceptable way for the state to kill its prisoners.”
Williams was convicted of the 1998 murder of former St. Louis reporter Felicia Gayle by a jury consisting of 11 white jurors and one black juror. 
Williams is black and Gayle was white. There was no forensic evidence or eyewitness testimony linking him to the crime. 
The jury was not presented evidence of Williams’ background, which included severe a…

As Sammantha Allen Heads for Death Row, Will Arizona Execute a Woman Again?

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The convicted murderer inadvertently became one of Arizona's capital punishment pioneers when she was hung 87 years ago for killing a Tucson rancher.
On February 21, 1930, she approached the gallows and remained silent and stoic before her hanging. But then something went awry. The rope sliced Dugan's neck and she was decapitated.
As Pinal County Historical Society President Lynn Smith likes to tell it, "Her head popped off when she was hanged and it went across the room and scared all the witnesses."
Sixty people saw the botched and bloody hanging that would cause the state Legislature to switch to gas chamber executions, according to an Arizona Daily Star report from back then.
"It was before sunrise and everybody ran out into the dark and her body went down into the basement," Smith said.
Smith oversees a collection of over 20 nooses used to carry out early executions at the Arizona State Prison at the Pinal County Historical Society and Museum.
Dugan&#…

Pakistan: Two death row convicts acquitted, set free after 12 years

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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Friday acquitted two death row convicts languishing in prison for around twelve years for murdering a man in the name of honour, ARY News reported.
Aijaz Ahmed and Shahid Iqbal were condemned to death by a trial court for killing a man for honour in Hafizabad city of Punjab in 2005.
Subsequently, the convicts challenged the guilty verdict in high court which converted their capital punishment into life imprisonment.
The convicts, afterwards, appealed the high court’s verdict in the top court, seeking their acquittal in the murder case.
After hearing arguments from defense and prosecution sides, a Supreme Court bench announced the verdict acquitting both the convicts for want of evidence.
Justice Asif Saeed Khosa observed that the fault is that police collude with suspects which leads to their acquittal. 
Police botched up the case after receiving kickbacks, observed another member of the bench and added that the prosecution’s conduct was also inapprop…