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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Argentina is speaking up for its women, we should join them

By Magdalena Medley, Development & Policy, International Coordination and Member Advocacy Assistant and Debbie Sharnak, Argentina Country Specialist

Argentina’s society will not tolerate losing one more woman to gender based violence. Not even one.

That is what the social media campaign #NiUnaMenos is all about. The hashtag #NiUnaMenos, meaning not even one less (woman) represents the support Argentinian society has for these victims and their families. As it went viral on Twitter we can see that they are not going to tolerate this type of violence, they will not stay silent. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

5 brave ways activists are fighting for LGBT rights worldwide

 Around the world, people face violent attacks and threats simply because of who they are or whom they have sex with. But some brave activists are still standing up for their rights. To mark the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOT) on May 17, we celebrate the courageous activism of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people worldwide. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Without Community Radio, No “Gooood Morning, Zimbabwe!”

Community radio stations provide a vital outlet to share information most relevant to where people live and what affects them most. But despite a 2001 law that established a licensing regime, the government has only authorized new licenses for groups aligned with the ruling ZANU-PF party. There is a critical need for marginalized communities to have access to information that promotes education, shared experiences, history, music and oral traditions. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

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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Raped, Pregnant, and Denied a Life-Saving Abortion—All at 10-Years-Old


By Debbie Sharnak, Argentina-Paraguay country specialist

A ten-year-old girl and her mother arrived at a hospital in Asunción, Paraguay on April 21 with stomach pains. The doctors quickly discovered the cause of the discomfort—the girl was 21-weeks pregnant, the result of having been raped by her stepfather.

At such a young age, the pregnancy is considered high risk by the World Health Organization— child pregnancies are extremely dangerous for the health of the pregnant girl and may lead to complications and even death. Because the bodies of young girls are not fully developed to carry a baby, these pregnancies tend be high risk, and in Latin America, the risk of maternal death is four times higher among adolescents younger than 16 years old. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

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

Journalists to Remember on World Press Freedom Day

Prisoner of Conscience Eskinder Nega (right) is serving an 18-year sentence for his legitimate work as a journalist in Ethiopia

Prisoner of Conscience Eskinder Nega (right) is serving an 18-year sentence for his legitimate work as a journalist in Ethiopia

By Selin Thomas, Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting Fellow

It would be impossible to bypass the endless torrent of violence and conflict currently ongoing around the world. Horrific scenes of decimated cities, bodies bloodied and limp, flood our newsstands as reports of torture, mass abductions, beheadings and revolutions barrage our televisions. From Chicago to Nigeria, Libya to the Central African Republic, Israel to Iran, we have witnessed some of humanity’s most atrocious contributions to history yet, and they show no sign of stopping. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST