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Botched Executions in the US Reached a Record High in 2022

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Botched Executions in the US Reached a Record High in 2022

According to a report released on Friday by a non-profit capital punishment research group, the number of botched executions in the United States reached a record high in 2022, even though the overall number of inmates executed remained near a five-decade low.

According to the Death Penalty Information Center’s annual report, seven of the 20 executions attempted this year were “visibly problematic,” including one lethal injection attempt that resulted in an unprecedented three-hour struggle to insert an intravenous (IV) line into an Alabama man.

Two of this year’s 20 execution attempts – both lethal injections in Alabama – were called off midway after officials attempted and failed to establish IV lines, prompting the state’s Republican governor to call for a “top-to-bottom” review of the execution process.

Other scheduled executions in Tennessee, Idaho, and South Carolina were canceled after state officials discovered flaws in execution preparation or protocol, according to the report.

Except for the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021, when many states paused or slowed executions, the 18 executions in 2022 were the fewest in three decades. Outside of the pandemic years, the 22 death sentences issued in 2022 were the fewest in any previous year.

Because 37 U.S. states have abolished the death penalty or have not executed anyone in more than a decade, this year’s executions were concentrated in a few states, with more than half taking place in Oklahoma and Texas.

Oregon’s Democratic governor commuted the death sentences of the state’s 17 death-row inmates on Tuesday, sending them to life in prison with no chance of parole, and directed officials to dismantle the state’s execution chamber.

In the United States, public support for executing prisoners had hovered this year just one percentage point above a five-decade low reached in 2021, when 54% of respondents said they supported capital punishment in a Gallup poll.

In 2022, a Rasmussen Reports poll found even lower support for the death penalty, with only 46% of respondents supporting it.

0 Death Row inmate gorged on huge last meal that consisted of too much syrup before

Mississippi executes man for rape, murder of a 16-year-old girl

Meanwhile, a man who raped and killed a 16-year-old girl in Mississippi was executed by lethal injection on Wednesday, becoming the state’s second execution in ten years.

Sunflower County Coroner Heather Burton pronounced Thomas Edwin Loden Jr., 58, dead at 6:12 p.m. He’d been on death row since pleading guilty to capital murder, rape, and four counts of sexual battery against Leesa Marie Gray in 2001. In June 2000, she was stranded with a flat tire when Loden forced her into his van.

Wanda Farris, Gray’s mother, was present at the execution at the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman, about 130 miles (210 kilometers) north of the state capital, Jackson. The most recent execution in Mississippi occurred in November 2021.

A federal judge declined to stay Loden’s execution earlier this month, despite a pending lawsuit by him and four other Mississippi death row inmates challenging the state’s use of three drugs for lethal injections, which they claim is inhumane.

Loden wore a red prison jumpsuit and was covered by a white sheet during the execution. Brown leather straps restrained him on a gurney.

Loden expressed “deep remorse” before the injection began.

“I’ve tried to do a good deed every single day for the past 20 years to make up for the life I took from this world,” Loden said. “I know these are just words, and they won’t undo the harm I’ve done. If nothing else comes from today, I hope it brings you peace and closure.”

According to officials, his final words were “I love you” in Japanese.

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Grey had spent the summer before her senior year of high school working as a waitress at her uncle’s restaurant in northeast Mississippi. She left work after dark on June 22, 2000, and got a flat tire.

Loden, a Marine Corps recruiter with relatives in the area, pulled over around 10:45 p.m. and began discussing the flat with her. “Don’t be concerned. I’m in the Marine Corps. “This is something we do,” he explained.

Loden told investigators that after Gray allegedly said she would never want to be a Marine, he became enraged and ordered her into his van. He told investigators that he sexually assaulted her for four hours before strangling and suffocating her.

According to court records, “Loden was discovered lying by the side of a road with the words ‘I’m sorry’ carved into his chest and apparent self-inflicted lacerations on his wrists” the following afternoon.

Farris described her daughter as a “happy-go-lucky, always smiling” adolescent with aspirations of becoming an elementary school teacher.

“She wasn’t perfect, mind you,” Farris admitted. “However, she worked hard to do the right thing.”

Farris refused to speak to reporters after the execution.

A week earlier, U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate granted the execution, citing a U.S. Supreme Court decision seven years ago that upheld a three-drug lethal injection protocol in Oklahoma.

After a string of failed lethal injections, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey called for a moratorium on executions and a “top-to-bottom” review of the state’s capital punishment system in November.

Mississippi conducts “mock executions and drills” every month to avoid a botched execution, according to Jeworski Mallett, deputy commissioner of institutions for the Mississippi Department of Corrections.

Lethal Injection Split

In court papers filed in July 2021, the Department of Corrections revealed that it had acquired three drugs for its lethal injection protocol: midazolam, a sedative; vecuronium bromide, which paralyzes the muscles; and potassium chloride, which stops the heart.

Only Alabama, Oklahoma, Mississippi, and Tennessee have used a three-drug protocol since 2019, according to Jim Craig, a MacArthur Center attorney, who spoke at a November court hearing.

Craig stated that in 2008, most death-penalty states and the federal government used a three-drug protocol, but the federal government and most of those states have since switched to a single drug.

According to the Death Penalty Information Center, the death penalty is used in 27 states. Mississippi has 36 inmates on death row.

Death Penalty Action, a group opposed to the death penalty, held a press conference in front of the state capitol on Tuesday.

“Something snapped in him for him to commit such a horrific crime,” said Mitzi Magleby, a spokesperson for the Mississippi chapter of Ignite Justice, a criminal justice reform advocacy organization. “Mr. Loden was immediately repentant. Isn’t there room for grace and mercy in this situation?”

Loden hoped his execution would be the country’s last, according to his attorney, Mark McDonald, in a statement issued after the execution.

At a Wednesday news conference, Burl Cain, the Mississippi Department of Corrections commissioner, stated that Loden cooperated with officials.

“He expressed his grief. “But he was upbeat and ate well,” Cain said. For his last meal, he had two bone-in-fried pork chops, sweet potatoes, and peach cobbler with ice cream.

The victim’s mother, Farris, told The Associated Press on Friday that she had forgiven Loden years ago but did not believe his apology.

“I don’t want to see anyone die,” Farris explained. “However, I believe in the death penalty… I believe in justice.”

Source: Reuters, VOR News

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THAILAND: Rescue Dig Saves Toddler Trapped In Well For One Night

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BANGKOK, Thailand — A 19-month-old girl fell into a dry artesian well shaft at a cassava farm in northern Thailand 18 hours before she was saved. It took rescuers all night to get her out.

Rescuers clapped and cheered as the toddler, the daughter of Myanmar migrant workers, was pulled from the 15-meter (49-foot)-deep well shaft and placed on a stretcher that carried her to an ambulance waiting nearby.

“You guys did an excellent job. “We did it!” exclaimed one rescuer as his colleagues wept and hugged each other in Tak province’s Phop Phra district.

While her parents were working at the plantation, the child fell into the hole late Monday afternoon.

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Rescuers In Thailand Were On The Scene Quickly

The deep pit, dug by the landowner to be an artesian well, was left uncovered after it failed to reach groundwater, according to Phop Phra district chief Sanya Phetset on Tuesday.

According to local media, the first rescuers on the scene shouted down the hole and heard the child cry back. After lowering a camera into the hole to assess the situation, a tube was snaked to provide oxygen.

Using backhoes and other excavation tools, rescuers dug a 30-centimeter-wide trench alongside the pit overnight.

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The Child Is Now Safe And Sound

“At first, it appeared to be a simple operation because it appeared to be loose dirt, but once we started digging, we discovered rock, which made it difficult because excavators cannot dig through it,” Sanya explained.

He explained that the operation was risky because the digging could collapse the well’s sides onto the child.

After being carried to safety, the toddler was immediately taken to Phop Phra Hospital in Thailand.

“She is now safe. “She’s a little tired, but nothing serious,” Sanya explained.

SOURCE – (AP)

 

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Pope Francis Clarifies his Remarks on Homosexuality and Sin

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Pope Francis Clarifies his Remarks on Homosexuality and Sin

Pope Francis has clarified his recent remarks about homosexuality and sin, stating that he was referring to official Catholic moral teaching, which states that any sexual act other than marriage is a sin.

In a Friday note, Francis emphasized that even black-and-white teaching is subject to circumstances that may eliminate the sin.

Francis made the remarks in an interview with The Associated Press on January 24, stating that laws criminalizing homosexuality are “unjust” and that “being homosexual is not a crime.”

As he often does, Francis then imagined a conversation with someone who brought up the issue of the church’s official teaching, which states that homosexual acts are sinful or “intrinsically disordered.”

“All right, but first, let’s distinguish between a sin and a crime,” Francis said in the fictitious conversation. “It is also a sin not to be charitable to one another.”

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Pope asked for Clarification.

LGBTQ advocates hailed his comments calling for decriminalizing homosexuality as a watershed moment that would help end harassment and violence against LGBTQ people. However, his use of the word “sin” raised questions about whether he believed that simply being gay was a sin in and of itself.

The Reverand James Martin, an American priest who runs the Outreach ministry for LGBTQ Catholics in the United States, asked Francis for clarification and published the pope’s handwritten response late Friday on the Outreach website.

In his note, Francis reiterated that homosexuality “is not a crime” and that he was trying “to emphasize that criminalization is neither good nor just.”

“When I said it is a sin, I was simply referring to Catholic moral teaching, which states that every sexual act other than marriage is a sin,” Francis wrote in Spanish, emphasizing the final phrase.

However, in a nod to his case-by-case approach to pastoral ministry, Francis noted that even teaching is subject to the circumstances, “which may decrease or eliminate the fault.”

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Sex is a Sin, as is Any Sexual Act

He admitted he could have been more specific in his comments to the AP. However, he stated that he was using “natural and conversational language” in the interview, which did not necessitate precise definitions.

“As you can see, I was generally repeating something. ‘Sex is a sin, as is any sexual act outside of the bonds of holy marriage,’ I should have said. This is to speak of ‘the matter’ of sexual sin, but we all know that Catholic morality considers not only the matter but also freedom and intention, and this for all types of sin,” he said.

According to Human Dignity Trust, which works to end such laws, 67 countries or jurisdictions worldwide criminalize same-sex sexual activity, 11 of which can or do impose the death penalty. According to experts, even when laws are not enforced, they contribute to harassment, stigma, and violence against LGBTQ people.

According to Catholic teaching, marriage is a lifelong bond between a man and a woman. It restricts intercourse with married couples and prohibits artificial contraception.

During his decade-long pontificate, Francis has upheld that teaching while prioritizing outreach to LGBTQ people.

Pope Francis has emphasized a more merciful approach to applying church doctrine, preferring to accompany rather than judge people.

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US General Tells His Officers to Prepare for War with China in 2025

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US General Tells His Officers to Prepare for War with China in 2025

In an internal memo, a four-star general in the United States Air Force stated that the US and China risk going to war in two years and advised officers under his command to prepare, including with target practice.

According to NBC, General Mike Minihan, head of the Air Force’s Air Mobility Command, believes the fight will take place in 2025 but hopes he is wrong. He claimed that presidential elections in the United States and Taiwan in 2024 would allow China to take action against Taiwan.

According to NBC, a Defense Department official stated that the remarks do not represent the Pentagon’s position on China. According to an Air Mobility Command spokesperson, the memo is part of the command’s effort to prepare for conflict if deterrence fails.

The administration of President Joe Biden has repeatedly expressed concern about China’s military buildup and what the US perceives to be a more aggressive Chinese stance toward Taiwan.

According to the administration’s national security strategy, China is the only US competitor “with the intent to reshape the international order and, increasingly, the economic, diplomatic, military, and technological power to do so.”

China has slammed the latest US defense spending bill, which allows up to $10 billion in weapons sales to Taiwan, for exaggerating the China threat and meddling in its internal affairs.

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Blinken Conerned Over Taiwan and China

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed concern about Beijing’s intentions regarding Taiwan as he prepares for a rare visit to Beijing, China.

When asked if the temperature had cooled with China during a visit to the University of Chicago, Blinken replied, “I think so because when you’re talking and engaging, it tends to have that effect.”

“The rest of the world anticipates that we will manage this relationship responsibly. “They understand that how we manage it will also impact them,” he said.

According to Taipei Times, Blinken will visit Beijing from February 5 to 6, marking the first US secretary of state visit to the rising Asian power since October 2018.

The trip was decided after US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping () met in November in Bali, Indonesia, to discuss wide-ranging disagreements between the world’s two largest economies.

Blinken, on the other hand, expressed concern about Taiwan, citing Beijing’s growing efforts to isolate the country and major military exercises conducted near it in August.

“What we’ve seen over the last few years is, I believe, China deciding that it was no longer comfortable with the status quo, a status quo that had prevailed for decades and had been successful in terms of our countries’ relationship and managing what a difficult situation is,” he said.

“What we say to China is that — they say this is a sovereign issue for us; we respond that this is an interest to the United States and countries all over the world,” Blinken said, referring to Taiwan’s dominance in semiconductors, which is critical to the global economy.

Any disruption of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait would be disastrous for the global economy, he said, adding that 50 percent of container ships operating around the world pass through the Taiwan Strait and that Taiwan manufactures 70 percent of higher-end computer chips.

Blinken was in Chicago for a trip that included a stop at the city’s historic Ukrainian community to discuss the response to Russia’s invasion.

By: Geoff Thomas

China Records 1st Population Drop In Decades As Births Fall

China Records 1st Population Drop In Decades As Births Fall

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