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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, 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 “identity po…

Mississippi: Controversial medical examiner backs off ‘shaken baby’ claim in death penalty case

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This week, the controversial former Mississippi medical examiner Steven Hayne testified at a hearing for Jeffrey Havard. Havard was convicted in 2002 of sexually assaulting and shaking to death Chloe Britt, the 6-month-old daughter of Havard’s live-in girlfriend. Havard has always maintained that the infant hit her head on the toilet after he dropped her while giving her a bath.
But Havard made some mistakes. He first failed to tell his girlfriend — and later doctors and investigators — that he had dropped the girl. By the time he did, they understandably no longer believed him. But the evidence against Havard has always been thin. It has mostly consisted of testimony from Hayne that Chloe Britt died from shaking, not from a blow to the head consistent with Havard’s story. The symptoms Hayne cited to make that diagnosis have since been called into question in the medical and forensics communities. But the shaken baby syndrome (SBS) diagnosis alone probably wouldn’t have allowed the st…

Mississippi says it has execution drugs amid secrecy fight

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JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi prison officials have obtained new supplies of execution drugs, which could allow the state to carry out lethal injections after some other drugs expired, they said in court papers.
The state provided that information Monday in an ongoing lawsuit over its execution methods. 
Mississippi's new execution secrecy law should block lawyers for death row inmates from finding out too much about the state's plans to administer the death penalty, the state said. 
Among the things the state wants is a federal judge to protect the identity of the drug supplier, as well as any clues in other documents about who that supplier might be.
Lawyers for death row inmates, though, are asking U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate to force the state to provide more information about Department of Corrections' drug-buying effort, saying it's necessary to pursue their lawsuit challenging Mississippi's current execution method. 
The court showdown will det…

Iran: Torture and Death Penalty for Another Teenager

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NCRI - Mehrab Eyvazi, an adolescent who was arrested at the age of 17 with nine others, was sentenced to death by the regime's court for murder. According to reports, in addition to being severely beaten and mayhem in a police station, he is also threatened with rape.
Mr. Eyvazi was under the age of 18 at the time of his arrest, but the forensic court confirmed his rational and mental development in spite of his minor age, which provided the ground for the issue of the death sentence.
A member of Mehrab’s family, in an interview, said: “Mehrab, along with others, was taken to the Intelligence office (detention) after being arrested. They did not allow him to communicate with his family for a long time. He did not even have a lawyer, and was beaten so much during the interrogation that he could not even move.”
This informed source said: “Mehrab, after finding contact with the family, said that they made him get naked and forced him to lie down on the ground while filming him with …

Eight Prisoners Hanged in One Day in Iran's Rajai Shahr Prison

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Eight prisoners were hanged in one day in Rajai Shahr Prison while another prisoner at this prison is in imminent danger of execution.
Iran Human Rights (AUG 17 2017): On Wednesday August 16, eight prisoners were reportedly hanged at Karaj's Rajai Shahr Prison on murder charges. Another prisoner was reportedly transferred to solitary confinement in preparation for his execution.
According to close sources, the names of five of the eight prisoners executed are: Mostafa Bashkouh, Rasoul Gol Mohammadi, Shahram Abadeh, Seyed Mohammad Seyed Abdollah, and Moharram Abdi. 
These prisoners were transferred to solitary confinement on Monday in preparation for their executions. 
A juvenile offender by the name of Mehdi Bahlouli was also transferred to solitary confinement, but he was reportedly returned to his cell after the complainant on his case file postponed his execution. 
Another prisoner by the name of Majid Rahimi was also transferred to solitary confinement, but he received a thr…

Deadline Approaches for Supreme Court Appeal in Koh Tao Murder Case

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CHIANG MAI, Thailand – Five months after the District Court of Appeal in Koh Samui, Thailand, turned down an appeal for two Burmese migrant workers sentenced to death, the legal defense team for the pair are ready now to file an appeal to the Thai Supreme Court in Bangkok.
Win Zaw Htun and Zaw Lin—both in their early 20s—were sentenced by the Koh Samui Township Court in Dec. 2015 for charges they have denied, involving the 2014 deaths of British nationals Hannah Witheridge, 23, and David Miller, 24, on Koh Tao island.
The legal defense team—made up of members of the Thai Lawyer Council, legal advisers from the Myanmar government, and members of non-government organizations advocating for labor rights—would have to file the Supreme Court appeal no later than the Aug. 21 deadline. They have been preparing for the appeal since early March 2017 and have requested monthly extensions to complete the procedure.
U Aung Myo Thant, a defense lawyer in the case, said they are likely to file the…

Missouri Supreme Court denies request for stay of execution

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The Missouri Supreme Court will not stop next week's scheduled execution of Marcellus Williams, it said Tuesday.
The court said it will not review the new evidence that Marcellus Williams' attorney submitted Monday, but gave no explanation why. 
Kent Gipson had argued that said a new test proved Williams' DNA was not found on the knife that was used in the 1998 killing of former St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Felicia Gayle in University City.
Gipson said he plans to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court and will ask Gov. Eric Greitens to intervene, too. He also said he was surprised with the speed in which the high court denied the stay.
"Certainly something involving a claim of innocence that is this substantial, you would think they would at least write an opinion or at least a short opinion giving the reasons why they denied it, because that makes it more difficult to take it up to a higher court because they don't know exactly on what basis the ruling was made,&…

Florida Supreme Court refuses to block Aug. 24 execution of death row inmate Mark James Asay

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The court's majority said Asay had not shown that the introduction of the drug etomidate into the execution process put him at risk of suffering, in violation of the U.S. Constitution. 
Corrections officials plan to use etomidate as a substitute for a previous drug, midazolam, as the 1st drug in a 3-step process. It would be the 1st time etomidate, a sedative, has been used in an execution.
In its decision, the Supreme Court upheld a ruling by a Duval County circuit judge who held a hearing on the lethal-injection drug issue.
"Based on the testimony heard during the evidentiary hearing and the record before this (Supreme) Court, Asay has not demonstrated that he is at substantial risk of serious harm," the majority opinion said. "Indeed, the record before this court demonstrates that Asay is at a small risk of mild to moderate pain."
The majority opinion by Chief Justice Jorge Labarga and justices Peggy Quince, Ricky Polston and Alan Lawson, also said Asay had…

Iran: Four Prisoners Hanged, Authorities Silent

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A prisoner was reportedly hanged at Shirvan Prison on murder charges. 2 prisoners were reportedly hanged at Zanjan Central Prison on drug related charges.
According to close sources, the executions in Zanjan were carried out on the morning of Tuesday August 8, and the prisoners have been identified as: Hamza Rahimpour and Abbas Sooghi.
"Hamza Rahimpour was arrested and sentenced to death in 2014 on the charge of producing and selling 6 kilograms of crystal meth. Abbas Sooghi was arrested and sentenced to death in 2015 on the charge of four kilograms of opium and heroin," an informed source tells Iran Human Rights.
Iran Human Rights had reported on the imminent execution of these prisoners and urged the international community to take action.
An official Iranian source announced on Monday August 7 the execution of a prisoner at Zanjan Central Prison on murder charges. This brings the total number of prisoners who were reported as executed in Zanjan Prison last week to three.

Indonesia Increases Its Own War on Drugs

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Indonesia's President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo is again urging an increase in efforts to fight illegal drugs in the country.
Jokowi said police should shoot foreign drug dealers who "resist arrest." He added that the country is in a "narcotics emergency position."
Jokowi made his comments at a political event in late July. Days before the speech, police shot and killed a Taiwanese man for resisting arrest. Police say he and several others were trying to smuggle 1,000 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine into Indonesia.
Recently, Jakarta Police Chief General Adham Azis said he would "not think twice" about dismissing police officers who were not fighting drug trafficking enough.
In addition, the Ministry of Law and Human Rights recently announced a plan to place all people currently jailed for drug offenses into 4 prisons. The prisons in West Java, North Sumatra, Central Java and Central Kalimantan would get increased security, news reports say.

Indonesia: The journey from death row

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Waves of executions are part of Indonesian President Joko Widodo's hard line on drug convicts. Australians best remember those of Bali Nine leaders Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, shot by firing squad in 2015 despite all efforts to save them. With more than 200 people on death row, why do anti-death penalty activists now see a ray of hope?
IN A SMALL Christian prayer room at Cilacap jail, on central Java’s south coast, a death-row prisoner talks diffidently about her wedding dress.
The Indonesian migrant worker and convicted drug dealer was once married to an abusive husband but separated long ago after he shunted her off to work in Taiwan.
Merri Utami had planned to wear her new white dress, not to second nuptials, but to her execution by firing squad last year.
She had been preparing to meet Jesus.
According to Indonesian protocol, she would be tied to a stake in a remote jungle clearing on Nusakambangan penal island off the port town of Cilacap, blindfolded and shot dead in t…

Trump silent on imminent Saudi executions based on problematic confessions

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Rights groups urge Trump to intervene on cases they say hinge on coerced confessions and flawed trials
With the fate of 14 men facing execution in Saudi Arabia hanging in the balance, rights groups and anti-death penalty activists are pushing President Donald Trump to speak up.
All 14 defendants are Shia Muslims, an oppressed minority in Saudi Arabia, and were sentenced with the death penalty after being accused of terror-related activities that threaten national security, including killing of security forces and civilians during anti-government protests. But rights groups, such as Human Rights Watch, point out that most of the convictions were based on problematic confessions that the defendants, most of whom are in their twenties, later rejected in court.
But despite pressure from activists, the Trump administration as so far remained silent on their plight.
Maya Foa, the director or UK-based rights group Reprieve, had harsh words for the president, telling ThinkProgress that Trump’…

U.S.: A Top Lawyer Has Asked The Supreme Court To Hear A Major Death Penalty Case

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In a new filing, Neal Katyal is asking the high court to consider Arizona’s death penalty law — and whether the death penalty itself is unconstitutional.
WASHINGTON — One of the country’s top lawyers is asking the Supreme Court to take up a case that could reshape — or even end — the death penalty in America.
The aggressive filing comes as the Supreme Court is already set to hear a high-profile series of cases.
An Arizona death row inmate, Abel Daniel Hidalgo, has been arguing for the past three years that the state’s death penalty law is unconstitutional because it doesn’t do enough to narrow who is eligible for the death penalty among those convicted of murder.
Earlier this year, Neal Katyal, best known these days for serving as the lead lawyer for Hawaii’s challenge to President Trump’s travel ban, agreed to serve as Hidalgo’s lawyer at the Supreme Court.
Katyal, the former acting solicitor general in the Obama administration, asked the justices in Monday’s filing to hear Hidalgo’s…