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As Trump calls for death penalties, federal cases are ticking up – National

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Before a suspect was even publicly named, U.S. President Donald Trump declared that whoever gunned down 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue should “suffer the ultimate price” and that the death penalty should be brought back “into vogue.”


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Trump calls for tougher laws ‘in terms of death penalty’ after synagogue shooting

Trump has largely gotten his wish, at least on the federal level, with death penalty cases ticking back up under his Justice Department after a near-moratorium on such prosecutions in President Barack Obama’s last term, when he directed a broad review of capital punishment and issues surrounding lethal injection.

Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has so far approved at least a dozen death penalty prosecutions over the past two years, according to court filings tracked by the Federal Death Penalty Resource Counsel, with cases ranging from the high profile to the relatively obscure.

They include the man charged with using a rented truck to fatally mow down eight people on a New York City bike path a year ago; three men charged in a fatal armored truck robbery in New Orleans; a gang suspect in Detroit charged with “murder in aid of racketeering”; and a man charged with fatally shooting a tribal police officer in New Mexico on the nation’s largest American Indian reservation.

WATCH: Trump announces plan for fighting U.S. opioid epidemic, including death penalty for some drug dealers






The tally could grow higher over the next two months as federal prosecutors await Sessions’ decision in several other cases, including against the alleged synagogue shooter, Robert Bowers, who faces federal hate crime charges and 11 counts of murder.

By comparison, in Obama’s final year in office the Justice Department authorized just one capital prosecution, that of Dylann Roof, the white supremacist who fatally shot nine black people in 2015 during a church service in Charleston, South Carolina.

But while the Justice Department under Trump has increased death penalty prosecutions, the numbers are not entirely out of line with those earlier in the Obama administration under Attorney General Eric Holder, who approved 11 capital prosecutions in 2009 and at least 13 in 2012.


READ MORE:
Trump condemns Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, says ‘vile’ anti-Semitism must end

And both the Trump and Obama administrations pale in comparison to that of President George W. Bush and his attorney general John Ashcroft, who in 2003 alone signed off on capital prosecutions against more than three dozen defendants, at times overruling his own prosecutors when they recommended against seeking capital punishment.

What makes Trump different, death penalty experts say, is that he publicly advocates for the ultimate punishment in specific cases.

“I think they should very much bring the death penalty into vogue,” Trump told reporters Saturday shortly after news came of the synagogue shooting. “Anybody that does a thing like this to innocent people that are in temple or in church. We had so many incidents with churches. They should really suffer the ultimate price.”

WATCH: People who kill police “should get the death penalty”






And he took to Twitter just a day after last year’s Manhattan bike path attack to call suspect Sayfullo Saipov a “Degenerate Animal” and argue he “SHOULD GET DEATH PENALTY!”

Trump also said this year that capital punishment should be used to prosecute drug traffickers. Sessions followed a day later with a memo urging prosecutors to seek the death penalty “for certain drug-related crimes,” including killings occurring during drug trafficking.

“If we’re to be a nation of laws, then the legal process has to be allowed to play itself out without being subject to political manipulation,” said Robert Dunham, executive director of the Washington-based Death Penalty Information Center. “Charging decisions should be made based on the evidence, not based on politics and not based on political pressure.”


READ MORE:
Trump wants death penalty for drug dealers as part of opioid action plan

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Trump was a vocal proponent of the death penalty for decades before taking office, most notably in 1989 when the real estate magnate took out full-page advertisements in New York City newspapers urging elected officials to “BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY” following the rape of a jogger in Central Park. “If the punishment is strong,” he wrote at the time, “the attacks on innocent people will stop.”

Five Harlem teenagers were convicted in the Central Park case but had their convictions vacated years later after another man confessed to the rape. The city agreed to pay the so-called Central Park Five $41 million more than a decade after their exoneration — a settlement Trump blasted as “outrageous.”

WATCH: Trump calls for death penalty for New York terror suspect






Polls show a majority of Americans still back the death penalty, but support has been declining in recent years. A 2017 Gallup poll showed 55 per cent of Americans supported the death penalty for a person convicted or murder, the lowest percentage in 45 years.

The death penalty remains legal in 30 states, but only a handful regularly conduct executions. Texas has executed 108 prisoners since 2010, far more than any other state.

But such executions on the federal level have been rare. The government has put to death only three defendants since restoring the federal death penalty in 1988, the most recent of which occurred in 2003, when Louis Jones was executed for the 1995 kidnapping, rape and murder of a young female soldier.


READ MORE:
‘Something has to be done’: Donald Trump reacts to Pittsburgh synagogue shooting

In 2014, following a botched state execution in Oklahoma, Obama directed the Justice Department to conduct a broad review of capital punishment and issues surrounding lethal injection drugs. It remains unclear today what came of that review and whether it will change the way the federal government carries out executions.

The U.S. Bureau of Prisons did not respond to requests for comment.

Trump himself railed against this disconnect between prosecutions and actual executions in his comments after the Pittsburgh attack.

“They shouldn’t have to wait years and years,” he said. “Now the lawyers will get involved, and everybody’s going to get involved, and we’ll be 10 years down the line.”



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Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

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Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

Contrary to the expectations of the people, the leadership of the Episcopal Conference of Mali (CEM) has termed the Tuesday, August 18 military coup in the West African nation as “regrettable” and “a big failure for our democracy” and called for a change of mentality if the country has to put an end to coups.

In an interview with ACI Africa Wednesday, August 19, made available to RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA, the President of CEM, Bishop Jonas Dembélé said that the governance challenges the country is facing can be managed through dialogue.

“The military coup that led to the ousting of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta is regrettable because we are in a state of law and democracy. This is the second time that Mali has had a military coup as a result of the way in which the country is governed. It is a big failure for our democracy even if there were reasons for it,” Bishop Dembélé told ACI Africa.

“It is true that our country has serious challenges including bad governance, the poor management of the economy, corruption, insecurity and so on,” Bishop Dembélé said and probed, “Why is it that we Malians have not managed to engage in dialogue to be able to discuss these problems and face up to these challenges responsibly?”

“Our leaders, our people lack transparency, they hate those who speak the truth and advocate for good governance. This mentality must change for our country to move on,” the Prelate told ACI Africa August 19.

Bishop Dembélé who is a frontline member of RECOWA-CERAO urged the military officials “to ensure a return to democracy as promised but most especially ensuring the new leadership of the country put the people first and tackle the security challenges facing the nation.”

Asked about the role of the Church in the current crisis, the 57-year-old Prelate noted, “For us the Catholic Church in Mali, our role is to preach peace; our role is to preach dialogue. We shall continue in this path of dialogue for peace just like Cardinal Jean Zerbo and some religious leaders initiated.”

“In a state of law, power is not in the hands of certain individuals but to the people. The anger of our people led to this crisis, but we must work for peace and reconciliation in Mali,” Bishop Dembélé said.

He continued in recollections, “The Bishops in Mali have always issued messages before every election in our country sounding the alert and inviting the government to organize transparent elections, ensure good governance and better management of resources.”
“But it seems our messages are never taken into consideration that is why we find ourselves in this situation today,” the Local Ordinary of Kayes Diocese told ACI Africa and added, “If the opinion of the Episcopal Conference of Mali is needed to mediate in bringing back stability and peace in the country, then we are ready.”

As a way forward, the Bishop urged the people of God in Mali to “seek the path to conversion” and to accept dialogue in the spirit of truth and honesty.
“We all want change in our

country, but this change can only be possible if individually we seek the path to conversion. It is for Malians be they Muslims or Christians or members of traditional religion, to do an examination of conscience and accept personal and community conversion in order to engage in sincere dialogue,” he said.

The Malian Prelate added, “Now there is this coup d’état to demand change we really wonder where change should come from. As long as we don’t change our behavior, our mentality, we will always have a repeat of the current situation.”

On Tuesday, August 18, President Keita announced his resignation and dissolved parliament hours after mutinying soldiers detained him at gunpoint, Aljazeera reported.
“For seven years, I have with great joy and happiness tried to put this country on its feet. If today some people from the armed forces have decided to end it by their intervention, do I have a choice? I should submit to it because I do not want any blood to be shed,” President Keita said August 18 during the televised address to the nation.

Rev. Fr. George Nwachukwu
RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA

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Harris accepts VP nomination

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Harris accepts VP nomination

Senator Kamala Harris formally accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday following a scathing speech by former President Barack Obama, who said the fate of the nation” depends entirely on the outcome of this election.”

Both Mr. Obama and Harris stressed the importance of voting, with Harris saying “we’re all in this fight together.” Harris sounded an optimistic note by highlighting her personal history and the promise of America, saying she was “so inspired by a new generation.”

“Make no mistake, the road ahead will not be not easy,” she said. “We will stumble. We may fall short. But I pledge to you that we will act boldly and deal with our challenges honestly. We will speak truths. And we will act with the same faith in you that we ask you to place in us.” She called Mr. Trump a “predator” in a speech that came after Mr. Obama issued his most forceful rebuke of his successor to date, saying Mr. Trump “hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t.”

“This president and those in power — those who benefit from keeping things the way they are — they are counting on your cynicism,” Mr. Obama said. “They know they can’t win you over with their policies. So they’re hoping to make it as hard as possible for you to vote, and to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter.

That’s how they win. That’s how they get to keep making decisions that affect your life, and the lives of the people you love. That’s how the economy will keep getting skewed to the wealthy and well-connected, how our health systems will let more people fall through the cracks. That’s how a democracy withers, until it’s no democracy at all.”

Mr. Obama and Hillary Clinton, speaking earlier in the night, both said they had hoped Mr. Trump would rise to the occasion. But they both stressed what they called his failures while in office, with Mr. Obama saying Mr. Trump has shown “no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves.”

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

The Malian soldiers who forced President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to resign in a coup promised early Wednesday to organize new elections after their takeover was swiftly condemned by the international community.

In a statement carried overnight on state broadcaster ORTM, the mutinous soldiers who staged Tuesday’s military coup identified themselves as the National Committee for the Salvation of the People led by Colonel Major Ismael Wagué.

“With you, standing as one, we can restore this country to its former greatness,” Wagué said, announcing that borders were closed and that a curfew was going into effect from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m

The news of Keita’s departure was met with jubilation by anti-government demonstrators in the capital, Bamako, and alarm by former colonial ruler France and other allies and foreign nations.

The U.N. Security Council scheduled a closed meeting Wednesday August 19, 2020 afternoon to discuss the unfolding situation in Mali, where the U.N. has a 15,600-strong peacekeeping mission. Keita, who was democratically elected in a 2013 landslide and re-elected five years later, still had three years left in his term.

But his popularity had plummeted, and demonstrators began taking to the streets calling for his ouster in June.

West African regional bloc ECOWAS had sent mediators to try and negotiate a unity government but those talks fell apart when it became clear that the protesters would not accept less than Keita’s resignation.

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