VICTORY: Nebraska Becomes the 19th US State to Abolish the Death Penalty!


By Christy Hargesheimer, Nebraska resident and Nebraska State Death Penalty Action Coordinator for Amnesty International USA

Wow, who would have thought it possible? Red-state Nebraska (with a few purple splotches) actually has repealed the death penalty by voting to override the Governor’s veto! And who were the people responsible for finally pushing this through? A strong coalition of abolitionists, plus some unlikely suspects, that’s who.

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Nebraska, Tsarnaev, and the United States’ dwindling use of the death penalty

 In a stunning move this morning, Nebraska lawmakers passed a bill to abolish the death penalty in their state. And although the Governor has promised to veto, with 32 votes in favor the legislature stands poised to override the governor and make the bill law. Doing so would make Nebraska the 19th state to repeal the death penalty, the 7th since 2007.

Meanwhile, the nation is still reacting to the news that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was sentenced to death last week for the Boston Marathon bombings.

At first blush, the two news stories may seem at odds – while capital punishment looks to be on the way out in Nebraska, it looks alive and well in one Boston federal courthouse. But appearances can be deceiving, and the nation’s reaction to the Tsarnaev sentence shows a deep conflict, even discomfort, over the death penalty.

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The New US Attorney General Has a Torture Problem. Will She Act?


The Obama administration is fond of saying that it wants to “look forward” on torture, not “backward;” that is, it does not want to investigate or prosecute anyone. But failure to act now could increase the risk of torture recurring under the next administration.

There are too many horrific acts – like forced rectal feeding and hydration – that we only learned of due to the report and that we must ensure will never happen again.

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After 30 Years, Accountability for Police Torture in Chicago

This article originally appeared in McClatchy

While the nation watches as the city of Baltimore awaits justice from the investigation of the role of Baltimore police in the death of Freddie Gray, Chicago has just made history in holding police accountable for abuse.

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Will the Garland Shooting Show Us An America We Can Believe In?

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Scale model of the statue of Liberty, in Paris, on the 10th anniversary of the opening of the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Photo Credit: JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images

When I heard about the shooting in Garland, Texas, my first thought was: Is my family safe?

I grew up in a town near Garland, and much of my family still lives there. I didn’t know who had been shot at or why, but I wanted to know if my loved ones were okay. They were.

My second thought was less urgent: it was just a nostalgia for my hometown in Texas. Its treeless freeways and strip shopping malls were bland. But the people where I grew up were kind and inviting – even the teenagers, and even when it came to people like me.

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Make This Crucial Call Today to Help Unseal the Truth on Torture

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Take a minute to imagine this.

You are taken from your home in the middle of the day, blindfolded and shackled on a plane, then taken to a place you’ve never seen before. Here, you are subjected to some of the most degrading treatment imaginable.

  • Forced rectal feeding to humiliate and exert control over you;
  • Shackled into standing positions, hung naked except for diapers, forced into sleep deprivation for days and weeks;
  • Held in total darkness and isolation for days with only a bucket to use for human waste.

But for dozens of men who were “disappeared” by the U.S. government and held in secret sites around the world from 2002 to 2008, this isn’t just imagination. This was reality. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

No One Should Get Away With Torture

Professor Noam Chomsky (photo: Donna Coveney)

Professor Noam Chomsky (photo: Donna Coveney)

This is an American Torture Story.

Majid Khan was at the mercy of CIA interrogators for 1,200 days — at least. During that time, he was stripped. He was forced into ice water baths. He was “hung up” for a day in a sleep deprivation position. He was denied solid food for seven days.

After about a year, Majid Khan went on hunger strike to protest the treatment he was receiving. The CIA responded with “involuntary rectal feeding and rectal hydration.”  Majid’s lunch tray, consisting of hummus, pasta with sauce, nuts, and raisins, was “pureed” and “rectally infused.” This happened repeatedly. Eventually, Majid Khan attempted to cut his wrists.  SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

How to Get Away With Torture: 6 All Too Easy Steps

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More than 100 people were “disappeared” by the U.S. government and shuttled to secret detention sites between 2002 and 2008. Many were tortured.

Thanks to a new U.S. Senate report, we know more about how this happened than ever before. We’re calling it “The American Torture Story.” It’s a story that had to be written: and now it’s a story that must be read.

Shockingly, the US Justice Department, charged with investigating violations of the law, is apparently refusing to read to this Senate study—let alone act upon it. And as a new Amnesty International report shows: No one has been brought to justice. The United States is providing de facto amnesty to torturers.

Here’s 6 ways that those responsible have gotten away with torture – and 6 reasons we must act. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Did Death Sentences in US Increase or Decrease Last Year?

2014 death penalty top 5Amnesty International released its annual death penalty report last week, Death Sentences and Executions 2014, which tracks all known use of the death penalty on the planet from the past year. The report shows a large increase in global death sentences of 28%.

But the news isn’t all bad. Here in the United States, the death penalty’s steady decline continues unabated.

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