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Trump Administration Trying To “Rush Through As Many Executions As Possible” Before Leaving

Activists say that this could be due to the fact that ending capital punishment was one of Joe Biden’s campaign promises

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Advocates for criminal justice reform are warning that the Trump administration is trying to “rush through” as many federal executions as they can before leaving office. Activists say that this could be due to the fact that ending capital punishment was one of Joe Biden’s campaign promises

On Monday, Sister Helen Prejean, the long-time death penalty abolition advocate who was the inspiration for the film Dead Man Walking, said that the Department of Justice is planning new executions after just recently bringing back the death penalty.

Last week, in a joint letter to Attorney General William Barr, a group of Democratic senators also expressed concern about the administration’s recent actions on capital punishment, according to the Independent.

The letter stated that:

“President-elect Biden’s plan for strengthening America’s commitment to justice includes the elimination of the federal death penalty and Vice-President-elect Harris is an original cosponsor of legislation we have introduced to eliminate the federal death penalty. A record number of Americans voted in favor of [Biden and Harris] and they deserve an opportunity to implement their policy agenda without the Trump administration rushing to take preemptive and irreversible steps.”

There was a 17-year pause on federal executions in the United States until this summer when the Trump Administration resumed the practice. Over the summer, seven people were executed since the rules were changed. There hadn’t been a federal execution since 2003 until the Trump administration took office. Before 2003, only three people had been executed by the federal government in the past 50 years, according to the Bureau of Prisons data.

Three new executions are now scheduled between November and December, including the first woman in 67 years.

All three of the inmates are fighting in the courts to have their executions delayed until the incoming administration takes office.

Despite his terrible record on criminal justice, president-elect Joe Biden promises that he will eliminate capital punishment.

The polling organization Gallup has monitored support for the death penalty in the United States since 1937 by asking “Are you in favor of the death penalty for a person convicted of murder?” Gallup surveys documented a sharp increase in support for capital punishment between 1966 and 1994.

However, support began to fall from 80% in 1994 to 56% in 2019. Experts credit this change in attitude to a large number of exonerations for death row inmates that took place when DNA technology was able to prove their innocence. DNA evidence proved how many people were in jail for crimes they didn’t commit and it made people think twice about supporting the death penalty.

In November 2009, another Gallup poll found that 77% of Americans believed that the alleged mastermind of the September 11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, should receive the death penalty if convicted, which was 12 points higher than the rate of general support for the death penalty on other surveys. A similar result was found in 2001 when a poll asked about the execution of Timothy McVeigh for the Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people.

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Palestinian Writer Kicked Out of His Neighborhood by Israelis for Viral CNN, MSNBC Interviews

Elias Marat

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A prominent Palestinian writer has been expelled from his home after delivering a powerful message about the actions of Israeli occupation forces on CNN and MSNBC.

As Israel continues to back the theft of homes by illegal Jewish settlers in Jerusalem, it has delivered harsh blows against the civilian population of the Gaza Strip, resulting in about 1,000 injured and a fast-rising civilian death toll of at least 139 Palestinians.

Mohammed El-Kurd, a Palestinian writer and activist who resides in Sheikh Jarrah, has been making appearances this week to discuss his personal experience of the wave of dispossessions and displacements enforced by Israeli authorities in Palestinian neighborhoods. His powerful interviews have gone viral.

As punishment for speaking to the international press about his people’s plight, El-Kurd was removed from his own neighborhood by Israeli military forces.

In the video, a woman can be heard pleading in Arabic for the soldiers to “leave him” while El-Kurd defiantly challenged the soldiers: “Hit me! Hit me!”

The expulsion of El-Kurd from his neighborhood is believed to be a direct result of his outspoken and blunt discussion of what he describes to CNN as “the violent dispossession” of Palestinian families.

He also described the forced eviction of Palestinians from their ancestral land as “forced ethnic displacement,” despite Israeli courts’ legal claims. El-Kurd pointed out that international law does not grant legal jurisdiction to Israeli courts over occupied East Jerusalem or the ability to evict Palestinians from their homes.

In a separate interview with MSNBC, the write blasted the Israelis for resorting to “supremacist, colonial judicial system” that works with civilian organizations to remove Palestinian Arab residents from their homes and replace them with Jewish settlers, many of whom hail from Europe and the United States.

“Today the difference we have is that they no longer use their artillery to steal our homes except when they do come and steal their homes,” he said. “Now they use a supremacist, colonial judicial system that colludes with organizations to take our homes. Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s moral or correct or historically just. What’s happening to us is ethnic cleansing.”

Despite the traumatic experience of being expelled from his home, El-Kurd later tweeted that he was “fine & unintimidated.”

On Friday, the United Nations said that it believes that some 10,000 Palestinians have been forced to abandon their homes amid the escalating offensive by Israeli forces.

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WATCH: Video Shows Bullets Fly as Armored Car Crew Narrowly Escapes Brutal Heist

Elias Marat

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Dramatic dash cam footage from Pretoria, South Africa, shows the moment that the crew of an armored car narrowly escaped an attempt by armed robes to stage a heist.

The shocking video shows a pair of private security officers transporting cash in a bulletproof Toyota truck on April 22 before they suddenly come under attack by armed assailants.

For the first minute of the roughly three-minute-long video, the security guards can be seen routinely driving down a highway.

The vehicle then comes under fire as bullets can be heard slamming into the driver side of the car, with the window by the driver’s side shattering.

The driver, who maintains his calm and composure during the attack, manages to escape amid the traffic. He also seems to slam into one of the two vehicles belonging to the attackers.

“They’re going to shoot. They’re going to f**king shoot,” the driver then says, urging his colleague to pull out the rifle and prepare to defend their lives.

As gunshots continue to ring out, the two drive silently as the tension builds. The driver then shouts to his colleague: “Phone Robbie, phone Josh! Ask them where they are.”

As the video ends, the driver can be seen stopping the vehicle and grabbing his colleague’s rifle. At that point, it becomes clear that the assailants have realized that their attack was futile they had already fled the scene.

The suspects fired several shots at the [Cash-In-Transit] vehicle in an attempt to stop it during a high-speed chase,” said police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo , reports News24. 

“The driver of the CIT vehicle managed to evade the robbers for a while but later stopped in wait for the robbers,” Naidoo added. “The robbers fled without taking any money. No arrests have yet been made.”

Online users have praised the steel nerves of the armored car’s crew in navigating what could have been a deadly attack.

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After Strong Backlash, NYPD Kicks Robotic Dog “Spot” to the Curb

Kenny Stancil

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The New York City Police Department decided this week to stop leasing a robotic dog from Boston Dynamics following a sustained outcry from residents and lawmakers, who denounced the use of the high-tech, four-legged device in low-income neighborhoods as a misallocation of public resources and violation of civil liberties.

When the NYPD acquired the K-9 machine last August, officials portrayed “Digidog”—the department’s name for the camera-equipped, 70-pound robot—as “a futuristic tool that could go places that were too dangerous to send officers,” the New York Times reported earlier this week.

Inspector Frank Digiacomo of the department’s Technical Assistance Response Unit said in a television interview in December: “This dog is going to save lives. It’s going to protect people. It’s going to protect officers.”

Instead—thanks to strong backlash from critics, including people who live in the Bronx apartment complex and the Manhattan public housing building where the robotic dog was deployed in recent weeks—the department is returning “Spot,” as Boston Dynamics calls the device, months earlier than expected.

According to the Times:

In response to a subpoena from City Councilman Ben Kallos and Council Speaker Corey Johnson requesting records related to the device, police officials said that a contract worth roughly $94,000 to lease the robotic dog from its maker, Boston Dynamics, had been terminated on April 22.

John Miller, the police department’s deputy commissioner for intelligence and counterterrorism, confirmed on Wednesday that the contract had been canceled and that the dog had been returned to Boston Dynamics or would be soon.

Miller told the Times that the police had initially planned to continue testing the K-9 machine’s capabilities until August, when the lease had been scheduled to end.

The robotic dog came under increased scrutiny in February, after it was deployed in response to a home invasion at a Bronx apartment building, as Common Dreams reported at the time.

“Robotic surveillance ground drones are being deployed for testing on low-income communities of color with under-resourced schools,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) tweeted in response. “Please ask yourself: when was the last time you saw next-generation, world class technology for education, healthcare, housing, etc. consistently prioritized for underserved communities like this?” 

And earlier this month, as Common Dreams reported, footage of the robotic dog walking through a Manhattan public housing building went viral, sparking additional outrage and prompting a city council investigation.

“Why the hell do we need robot police dogs?” Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) asked at the time. 

While there are “people living in poverty, struggling to put food on the table, keep a roof over their head, take care of their kids, afford child care—all this going on, and now we got damn robot police dogs walking down the street,” Bowman lamented.

Bill Neidhardt, a spokesperson for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who urged the police department to reconsider its use of the robot following objections from residents and lawmakers, said he was “glad the Digidog was put down.”

“It’s creepy, alienating, and sends the wrong message to New Yorkers,” Neidhardt said.

Republished from CommonDreams.org under Creative Commons

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