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News Article | April 16, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

In the view of anti-death penalty activists, everyone involved pays a price in an execution including the officers who have to carry it out (AFP Photo/MARK RALSTON) Miami (AFP) - Putting a prisoner to death "stays with you for a long time," says Ron McAndrew. The former warden of Florida State Prison says his own mental health had begun to deteriorate by the time he left his position in 1998 after taking part in eight executions. Now, McAndrew is fighting against the death penalty. He is particularly concerned about the psychological well-being of the handful of officials who would be involved if Arkansas were to proceed with the rapid-fire executions of several condemned men, originally set for April 17 to 27. Courts in that southern state have blocked those executions for now, as legal appeals continue. "We wanted the governor (of Arkansas) to understand that he's sitting in his office very comfortable. And these men are going to be partaking in a killing of another human being," McAndrew told AFP. He doesn't use the word "execution," which he considers a euphemism. "These officers, they get to know these inmates," he explained. "Twenty-four hours a day they work with these inmates. They feed them. They take them to get their showers, they take them for exercise. They stand in front of their cells and they talk to them when they feel lonely," McAndrew said. "The only persons that the inmates know are the officers. Suddenly it's the same officer who's taking them to another room to kill them." "The experience is something that will stay with you for a long time; I don't think it ever goes away." McAndrew, who took part in the deaths of eight convicts -- three in Florida, and five in Texas as training -- says that the executions in Arkansas will undoubtedly be carried out by the same five people. "You can't change the team," he said. "The officers that will carry out the executions, they have practiced the executions several hundred times. They do it over and over and over again," he said. An officer volunteers to play the part of an inmate, he said. "They take him from the cell, they put them on the gurney, they strap him down, they put them on the IVs," or intravenous lines. Arkansas prison authorities have refused to divulge the makeup of their execution team, fiercely protecting the identities of those involved. "I can say that they are well-trained and qualified to carry out their respective responsibilities," said Solomon Graves, a spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Correction. In the view of anti-death penalty activists, everyone involved pays a price. "We are concerned for the welfare of the prisoners, we are concerned for the victims' families, we are concerned for the welfare of the prison workers that have to do this," said Abraham Bonowitz, director of the New York-based Death Penalty Action group. "There's a broader range of collateral damage than simply the prisoner and the victim." Arkansas's original packed schedule would place added pressure on the execution team, increasing the risk of error, critics say. And no one wants to see a repeat of the agony Clayton Lockett suffered during his botched execution in Oklahoma in 2014. "The rapid schedule will put an extraordinary burden on the men and women required by the state to carry out this most solemn act, and it will increase the risk of mistakes in the execution chamber -- which could haunt them for the rest of their lives," said Allen Ault, Georgia's former commissioner of corrections who has overseen five executions, writing in Time magazine's March 28 edition. A group of former officials from all over the United States, including McAndrew and Ault, have written to Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas urging him not to impose such a burden on prison staff. "Even under less demanding circumstances, carrying out an execution can take a severe toll on corrections officers' well-being," the letter said. "We are gravely concerned that by rushing to complete these executions in April, the state of Arkansas is needlessly exacerbating the strain and stress placed on these officers," increasing the chance of error. Arkansas's original plan to execute eight men in 10 days this month would have set a rate never seen since the United States resumed the death penalty in 1977, the nonprofit Death Penalty Information Center has reported.


News Article | April 15, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — If Arkansas succeeds in executing multiple inmates by the end of the month, despite several setbacks in court, it will show that states have found an effective way of repelling some legal challenges that have thwarted or delayed executions in recent years. Arkansas and at least a dozen other states with the death penalty have been keeping secret how and where they are getting the lethal drugs for their death chambers — information that had long been publicly available. The secrecy has helped blunt legal challenges over the lethal injection drugs, which states have had trouble obtaining in recent years because manufacturers don't want their drugs used in executions. In recent rulings, state and federal courts across the country have upheld the legality of the new secrecy laws, despite opponents' complaints. "These secrecy statutes are extremely effective at preventing challenges to execution procedures," said Megan McCracken, an attorney at the University of California at Berkeley Law School's Death Penalty Clinic. With its new secrecy law, approved in 2015, Arkansas will be able to resume executions, which had been blocked since 2005 by legal obstacles and drug shortages. In 2011, the state lost a source of sodium thiopental, a sedative then used, disrupting the process. Arkansas had hoped to execute eight inmates in 11 days, starting with two on Monday, because its supply of one of the three drugs it uses in executions will expire at the end of the month. Whether it will be able to execute anyone is uncertain, though. Courts granted stays to two of the eight inmates before a federal judge ordered a halt to all of them Saturday, leading the state to quickly appeal. Also unclear is whether the secrecy will make it easier long-term to obtain the lethal drugs needed, as states hope. Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the secrecy law helped Arkansas find its new supplies, but officials won't say how. It was not known whether a supplier provided drugs confidentially or, as one medical supplier claimed, whether the state might have diverted drugs that were intended for medical purposes. Three pharmaceutical companies have also objected to their products being used in Arkansas' planned executions. "I don't think we would have acquired the drugs that we have without that confidentiality agreement," Hutchinson said. The American Pharmacists Association has discouraged its members from providing drugs for executions. Numerous executions have been placed in legal limbo in recent years after challenges based on the source of the drugs. Information about the drug's supply chain and handling is essential to ensure that inmates won't be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment, said Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, which opposes capital punishment. Details about production and transportation of drugs "are vitally relevant to the execution process," Dunham said. But the states argued that the difficulty didn't come from problems revealed in the drugs' handling, but from public protests directed at manufacturers and suppliers for assisting executions. They said secrecy is needed to protect suppliers from threats or retaliation. State courts have also upheld secrecy laws in Arkansas, Georgia and Oklahoma, and the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Arizona's drug secrecy in a 2014 case. A media advocacy group and the American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday asked Missouri's highest court to settle whether the state's prison system must reveal its execution drugs. "At this juncture, plaintiffs have failed to present a persuasive case for the proposition that source knowledge is necessary to mount a meaningful, much less comprehensive, challenge to Ohio's execution protocol," U.S. District Judge Gregory Frost wrote in his 2015 ruling upholding Ohio's drug secrecy efforts. Arkansas set such a crammed execution schedule because its supply of one of its three execution drugs, midazolam, expires at the end of the month. The sedative has been used in botched executions in other states. Although Arkansas found sources for its three execution drugs, it took 12 days to obtain a new supply of vecuronium bromide and 67 days to replace its potassium chloride supply.


Despite Threats of EPA Budget Cuts, the Church of Scientology Inspires the Community to "Safeguard and Improve Your Environment" On April 23rd the Church of Scientology Information Center and the Way to Happiness Foundation of Tampa Bay celebrated the 47th anniversary of Earth Day in Downtown Clearwater. Guests learned about groups and activities to safeguard and improve the environment and were entertained by world-class artists. Clearwater, FL, April 29, 2017 --( Ms. Kelly Yaegermann, the President of the Way to Happiness Association of Tampa Bay spoke about their regular neighborhood clean ups and Way to Happiness Booklet distribution. This has caused a drop in crime rates by 60% in those neighborhoods. She also spoke of their beautification projects, repairing and painting houses for the elderly. These activities were inspired by the precept, “Safeguard and Improve Your Environment” from the Way to Happiness the non-religious common sense moral code written by humanitarian, educator and Scientology’s founder, Mr. L. Ron Hubbard. In this book Mr. Hubbard says, “Care of the planet begins in one’s own front yard. It extends through the area one travels to get to school or work. It covers such places as where one picnics or goes on vacation. The litter which messes up the terrain and the water supply, the dead brush which invites fire, these are things one need not contribute to and which, in otherwise idle moments, one can do something about. Planting a tree may seem little enough but it is something.” Mr. David Pomeranz a singer, song writer and Grammy winner shared his support performing his environmental song called, “Safe at Home” playing acoustic guitar. Also, Dunedin’s well known pianist from “Bon Appetit” Restaurant Ms. Kathy Roberts played classic songs in celebration of the occasion inspiring impromptu sing alongs. “It’s important that we think of the future life of this planet, the rivers, the streams, plants and animals. These are our gifts to our children, and that’s why we support this cause,” said Information Center Manager, Amber Skjelset. The center offers tours to the broad public and civic leaders; holds small events and receptions for various community groups; and opens up the use of its conference room to social, civic and non-profit groups. Upcoming events at the Scientology Information center are: April 28th – Open House Reception during the Downtown Blast Friday Concert, 5:00-10:00pm May 13th – Mother’s Day Tribute by Broadway and Beyond, 6:30-8:30pm For more information please call the manager at 727-467-6966 or via e-mail amber@cos.flag.org. About the Church of Scientology: The Scientology religion was founded by humanitarian and philosopher, L. Ron Hubbard. The first Church of Scientology was formed in the United States in 1954 and has expanded to more than 11,000 churches, missions and affiliated groups, with millions of members in 167 nations. Scientologists are optimistic about life and believe there is hope for a saner world and better civilization, and actively do all they can to help achieve this. Based on L. Ron Hubbard’s words, “A community that pulls together can make a better society for all.” The Church of Scientology regularly engages in many humanitarian programs and community. Clearwater, FL, April 29, 2017 --( PR.com )-- Ms. Lynn Posyton, Community Outreach Director of Consumer Energy Solutions spoke about their organization’s plot at the Downtown Gateway (formerly called East Gateway) Community Garden. She elaborated how the community gardens not only create a greener environment, but also builds a sense of stewardship and community togetherness. Guests learned that anyone can grow their own organic vegetables even if they don’t have space at their home for a garden.Ms. Kelly Yaegermann, the President of the Way to Happiness Association of Tampa Bay spoke about their regular neighborhood clean ups and Way to Happiness Booklet distribution. This has caused a drop in crime rates by 60% in those neighborhoods. She also spoke of their beautification projects, repairing and painting houses for the elderly. These activities were inspired by the precept, “Safeguard and Improve Your Environment” from the Way to Happiness the non-religious common sense moral code written by humanitarian, educator and Scientology’s founder, Mr. L. Ron Hubbard.In this book Mr. Hubbard says, “Care of the planet begins in one’s own front yard. It extends through the area one travels to get to school or work. It covers such places as where one picnics or goes on vacation. The litter which messes up the terrain and the water supply, the dead brush which invites fire, these are things one need not contribute to and which, in otherwise idle moments, one can do something about. Planting a tree may seem little enough but it is something.”Mr. David Pomeranz a singer, song writer and Grammy winner shared his support performing his environmental song called, “Safe at Home” playing acoustic guitar. Also, Dunedin’s well known pianist from “Bon Appetit” Restaurant Ms. Kathy Roberts played classic songs in celebration of the occasion inspiring impromptu sing alongs.“It’s important that we think of the future life of this planet, the rivers, the streams, plants and animals. These are our gifts to our children, and that’s why we support this cause,” said Information Center Manager, Amber Skjelset.The center offers tours to the broad public and civic leaders; holds small events and receptions for various community groups; and opens up the use of its conference room to social, civic and non-profit groups.Upcoming events at the Scientology Information center are:April 28th – Open House Reception during the Downtown Blast Friday Concert, 5:00-10:00pmMay 13th – Mother’s Day Tribute by Broadway and Beyond, 6:30-8:30pmFor more information please call the manager at 727-467-6966 or via e-mail amber@cos.flag.org.About the Church of Scientology:The Scientology religion was founded by humanitarian and philosopher,L. Ron Hubbard. The first Church of Scientology was formed in the United States in 1954 and has expanded to more than 11,000 churches, missions and affiliated groups, with millions of members in 167 nations. Scientologists are optimistic about life and believe there is hope for a saner world and better civilization, and actively do all they can to help achieve this. Based on L. Ron Hubbard’s words, “A community that pulls together can make a better society for all.” The Church of Scientology regularly engages in many humanitarian programs and community.


Receive press releases from Church of Scientology: By Email Religious Studies Students Welcome at the Church of Scientology Information Center The Church of Scientology’s Information Center in Downtown Clearwater announces that its doors are open to religious studies students to learn about one of the world’s fastest growing religions. The center is open from 10am-9:30pm Monday through Wed, 10am-8pm Thursday & Friday, and 1pm-9:30pm Saturdays and Sundays. Clearwater, FL, April 23, 2017 --( “We’re happy to answer questions and provide information for the community. There really aren’t any ‘dumb questions.’ This center is a great location where anyone is able to find out for themselves and was established for that reason,” said Information Center Manager, Amber Skjelset. As an example, during the last “Blast Friday” several students walked into the center asking Ms. Skjelset, “Would it be OK if I asked you a few questions?” The student added he originally was a member of the Nation of Islam and that they were all interested in learning about Scientology for their class. The other young men were from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds, each with their own list of questions for their assignments. Ms. Skjelset helped provide basic information from the center’s gallery of exhibits which contain videos presentations about basic concepts of Dianetics, Scientology, Churches around the world and the life of Mr. L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology’s founder. “Wow! This was so helpful!” said the students. “Thank you so much for your time answering our questions – we really appreciate it,” who each received a DVD, “Introduction to Scientology,” a videoed interview of L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology’s founder, answering common questions about Scientology. The Center welcomes individuals and classes to visit daily with no appointment necessary. For more information please contact Amber Skjelset, Manager of the Scientology Information Center, at 727-467-6966 or e-mail her at amber@cos.flag.org. About the Church of Scientology: The Scientology religion was founded by humanitarian and philosopher, L. Ron Hubbard. The first Church of Scientology was formed in the United States in 1954 and has expanded to more than 11,000 churches, missions and affiliated groups, with millions of members in 167 nations. Scientologists are optimistic about life and believe there is hope for a saner world and better civilization, and actively do all they can to help achieve this. Based on L. Ron Hubbard’s words, “A community that pulls together can make a better society for all.” The Church of Scientology regularly engages in many humanitarian programs and community. Clearwater, FL, April 23, 2017 --( PR.com )-- Since the beginning of the New Year, the center has welcomed several groups of students from some of the St. Pete College Campuses for their comparative religions classes, as well as students from out of state visiting Clearwater for vacation. A student from Georgia also called in to do an interview about Scientology for her school article who was also assisted with information for her assignment.“We’re happy to answer questions and provide information for the community. There really aren’t any ‘dumb questions.’ This center is a great location where anyone is able to find out for themselves and was established for that reason,” said Information Center Manager, Amber Skjelset.As an example, during the last “Blast Friday” several students walked into the center asking Ms. Skjelset, “Would it be OK if I asked you a few questions?” The student added he originally was a member of the Nation of Islam and that they were all interested in learning about Scientology for their class. The other young men were from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds, each with their own list of questions for their assignments.Ms. Skjelset helped provide basic information from the center’s gallery of exhibits which contain videos presentations about basic concepts of Dianetics, Scientology, Churches around the world and the life of Mr. L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology’s founder.“Wow! This was so helpful!” said the students. “Thank you so much for your time answering our questions – we really appreciate it,” who each received a DVD, “Introduction to Scientology,” a videoed interview of L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology’s founder, answering common questions about Scientology.The Center welcomes individuals and classes to visit daily with no appointment necessary. For more information please contact Amber Skjelset, Manager of the Scientology Information Center, at 727-467-6966 or e-mail her at amber@cos.flag.org.About the Church of Scientology:The Scientology religion was founded by humanitarian and philosopher, L. Ron Hubbard. The first Church of Scientology was formed in the United States in 1954 and has expanded to more than 11,000 churches, missions and affiliated groups, with millions of members in 167 nations. Scientologists are optimistic about life and believe there is hope for a saner world and better civilization, and actively do all they can to help achieve this. Based on L. Ron Hubbard’s words, “A community that pulls together can make a better society for all.” The Church of Scientology regularly engages in many humanitarian programs and community. Click here to view the list of recent Press Releases from Church of Scientology


News Article | April 22, 2017
Site: www.PR.com

Receive press releases from Church of Scientology FSO: By Email Clearwater, FL, April 22, 2017 --( “We are looking forward to the next party,” said Nicole Biancolini, Block Party organizer and Church of Scientology staff member, referencing the face painting, bouncy house, train rides, a gyroscope, the raffle items and food trucks confirmed for the event. The party features charitable and non-profit organizations with booths that present what they do to the community. At the Spring Block Party, non-profits will include Feed Our Children Ministries, Speaker of Hope, AVOID, Angels on Assignment Worldwide and the Red Cross. Over 3,300 Tampa Bay residents flooded Cleveland Street during the last block party on November 5th, 2016. Guests enjoyed live music by the Flag Band, food from some of the area's most popular food trucks and downtown Clearwater restaurants. “We had a great time at the last Block Party,” said Al Graham from the Second Chance Life Skills non-profit. “We got a ton of exposure for our organization and it was a lot of fun!” In addition to the festivities, Block Party goers will have the opportunity to find out all about the social programs supported by Scientologists around the world. Along Fort Harrison Ave. lie the Scientology Information Center and six centers devoted to their respective non-profit humanitarian organizations. They are: United for Human Rights of Florida; The Way to Happiness Association of Tampa Bay; Foundation for a Drug-Free World; Criminon Florida; Scientology Volunteer Ministers; and the Citizens Commission on Human Rights Florida. For more information on how to participate, please contact Dylan at (727) 467-6860 or dylanpires@churchofscientology.net. About the Church of Scientology: The Scientology religion was founded by humanitarian and philosopher, L. Ron Hubbard. The first Church of Scientology was formed in the United States in 1954 and has expanded to more than 11,000 churches, missions and affiliated groups, with millions of members in 167 nations. Based on L. Ron Hubbard's words, "A community that pulls together can make a better society for all," the Church of Scientology regularly engages in many humanitarian programs and community events. To learn more, visit www.scientology-fso.org. Clearwater, FL, April 22, 2017 --( PR.com )-- On May 6th 2017 from 6:00-10:00pm, the Church of Scientology is sponsoring their third Downtown Block Party for the community. The event will be on the corner of Cleveland Street and Fort Harrison Ave. Preparations are well in progress.“We are looking forward to the next party,” said Nicole Biancolini, Block Party organizer and Church of Scientology staff member, referencing the face painting, bouncy house, train rides, a gyroscope, the raffle items and food trucks confirmed for the event.The party features charitable and non-profit organizations with booths that present what they do to the community. At the Spring Block Party, non-profits will include Feed Our Children Ministries, Speaker of Hope, AVOID, Angels on Assignment Worldwide and the Red Cross.Over 3,300 Tampa Bay residents flooded Cleveland Street during the last block party on November 5th, 2016. Guests enjoyed live music by the Flag Band, food from some of the area's most popular food trucks and downtown Clearwater restaurants.“We had a great time at the last Block Party,” said Al Graham from the Second Chance Life Skills non-profit. “We got a ton of exposure for our organization and it was a lot of fun!”In addition to the festivities, Block Party goers will have the opportunity to find out all about the social programs supported by Scientologists around the world. Along Fort Harrison Ave. lie the Scientology Information Center and six centers devoted to their respective non-profit humanitarian organizations. They are: United for Human Rights of Florida; The Way to Happiness Association of Tampa Bay; Foundation for a Drug-Free World; Criminon Florida; Scientology Volunteer Ministers; and the Citizens Commission on Human Rights Florida.For more information on how to participate, please contact Dylan at (727) 467-6860 or dylanpires@churchofscientology.net.About the Church of Scientology:The Scientology religion was founded by humanitarian and philosopher, L. Ron Hubbard. The first Church of Scientology was formed in the United States in 1954 and has expanded to more than 11,000 churches, missions and affiliated groups, with millions of members in 167 nations. Based on L. Ron Hubbard's words, "A community that pulls together can make a better society for all," the Church of Scientology regularly engages in many humanitarian programs and community events. To learn more, visit www.scientology-fso.org. Click here to view the list of recent Press Releases from Church of Scientology FSO


The Church of Scientology's Information Center in Downtown Clearwater announces that its doors are open to religious studies students to learn about one of the world's fastest growing religions.


News Article | April 17, 2017
Site: www.prweb.com

Last fall, Presbyterian Homes of Georgia (PHGA) announced plans to build a brand-new retirement community in Oconee County: Presbyterian Village Athens. Today, PHGA is pleased to announce that the Information Center for this new community is scheduled to open on April 17, 2017. “The response to our announcement about Presbyterian Village Athens has been tremendous,” says Alex Patterson, Vice President, Presbyterian Homes of Georgia, Inc. “In fact, we currently have almost 300 Members on a priority list for the first appointments at the Information Center.” Located at 1520 B Jennings Mill Road in Watkinsville, the Information Center will feature a scale model of the community and a virtual reality station that allows you to “step inside” one of the villas. There will also be detailed information regarding services and amenities, residential options, floor plans and pricing. “Construction will begin as soon as we reach our requirement of 70% of the project sold,” says Patterson. Presbyterian Village Athens will offer indoor and outdoor amenities that include walking trails, tennis courts, an indoor saltwater pool, fitness classes and multiple dining venues, as well as a full continuum of on-site health care services.


News Article | April 19, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

KABUL, Afghanistan — The sky-tearing blast last week was unlike anything the villagers around the Acchin valleys in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar had ever heard. It set off panicked phone calls and fearful speculations until word spread that the explosion was not a new insurgency strike but an air attack by the United States. The onslaught employed one of the few bombs to have its own set of names — the GBU-43/B, otherwise known as the Massive Ordnance Air Blast, or the “Mother of All Bombs” (MOAB). It was the first time the 21,000-pound bomb, which covers a 1,000-yard radius, has been used in combat. The strike, directed at a network of tunnels used by insurgents, drew global attention to the long-running conflict in Afghanistan. “It was the right weapon, for the right target,” General John W. Nicholson, commander of the US forces in Afghanistan, told a room of journalists in Kabul on Friday afternoon. But it wasn’t just Americans who were enthusiastic about the strike. Despite the worries sparked worldwide by the news, local Afghan leaders were cheering the MOAB. “The attack was successful, and we all are happy, since there were no civilian casualties,” Zabiullah Zmarai, secretary of the provincial council in Nangarhar, told Foreign Policy. The official added that tribal areas from the neighboring districts of Shinwari, Charigam, and Kot had reached out to him to praise the MOAB. “Daesh [the Arabic term for the Islamic State] was a huge threat to the people in Nangarhar. They are relieved they were finished off with one bomb.” Malawi Subhanullah Salim, an imam from the Bati Kot district bordering Acchin, spoke enthusiastically about the attack. “They [the United States] have pulled out the Islamic State by the roots from this region,” he told Foreign Policy, adding that his community welcomed this operation and was pleased with the results. But others questioned the motivation. “The attack and the use of MOAB seems disproportionate,” said Timor Sharan, senior analyst at the International Crisis Group in Washington. He, like many, pegged the use of the bomb as a show of strength by the Trump administration. “It’s more about the message than the act — sending a clear message to regional players, including Russia and as far as North Korea, to say that the U.S. is ready to take action and utilize necessary force.” Zmarai agreed that the move was a show of strength by the United States, but it was one that seemingly gratified him. “America wants to show her power to the countries like Pakistan and Russia, to warn Russia not to support Taliban anymore and to Pakistan not to produce terrorists,” he said. Nicholson defended the timing of the attack, which came the day before multinational talks in Moscow on Afghan security. He said it was a tactical reaction after Afghan and U.S. forces came up against the tunnel and cave defenses that honeycomb the mountains. “The focus of [this] operation was nothing other than destroying Daesh in 2017,” Nicholson said, adding that the “Resolute Strike” operation had now liberated two-thirds of the province. He emphasized that the decision had been his alone — in sharp contrast with Trump’s evasion of a similar question the previous night. But the Afghan enthusiasm for the strike came largely from its target, not from any geopolitical implications. The Islamic State was first reported in Afghanistan in 2014 but has steadily grown as a decentralized and scattered insurgency, most prominent in eastern Afghanistan. After initial failures to gain footing, a powerful local group, now calling itself the Islamic State Khorasan Province, coalesced around July 2016 in several districts of Nangarhar. Even among Afghanistan’s radicalized armed groups, the Islamic State was not welcomed into the fold, largely because of an extremely fundamentalist interpretation of Islam that didn’t align with the complexities of local traditions and ethnic divisions. The group’s methods, copied from its parent in Syria, were seen as hideously brutal even by the local Taliban groups and sympathizers. From public beheadings of tribal elders, to kidnapping, to sexual assault, the Islamic State created a new terror structure parallel to the Taliban-led brutality that already existed, one that has shocked even conflict-hardened Afghans. The insurgent group has also claimed responsibility for several attacks in the capital city of Kabul, including a double-suicide onslaught on a peaceful demonstration that caused dozens of casualties. The United Nations recorded about 900 civilians killed by the Islamic State in Afghanistan last year, a tenfold rise since the previous year. “They are animals!” Nicholson said. “They’ve sent suicide bombers to peaceful demonstrations and in mosques during prayer. Just last month, they shot and killed hospital patients in bed.” The Taliban condemned the hospital attack. Fighting between the new insurgent group and Afghan forces has driven hundreds of thousands of people from their homes. The Islamic State has also kidnapped many Afghans, holding them for ransom or as human shields. When Bahauddin Baha of Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar, heard about the blast his immediate concern was for his uncle, who was kidnapped three weeks earlier by Islamic State fighters from Haska Maina, a district near Acchin. “We don’t know if he got caught in the attack,” he said. “Even though I strongly believe it was insurgents who were targeted by attack. I feel so broken when I hear that the world’s heaviest bomb was dropped on my homeland. It doesn’t seem right to target terrorism like this.” The official insurgent death toll is 96, but the extent of civilian casualties is still unclear. U.S., Afghan, and local authorities say there were none. “We haven’t heard of any casualties, except those from the insurgents,” said Salim, the preacher. “How could there be any when our brothers there have been fleeing from Daesh?” Sediq Seddiqi, director of the Government Media & Information Center, told Foreign Policy that civilians had been warned about the attack and that surveillance footage of the site indicated there is no evidence of civilian casualties. “The Afghan forces working alongside the U.S. forces ensured that the last of the families living in that area were evacuated two days prior to the explosion,” said Javid Faisal, spokesperson for Abdullah Abdullah, chief executive of the Islamic Republic. Zmarai, the local council leader, added that the United States had distributed leaflets by helicopter telling civilians to clear the area. Although leaders both locally and in Kabul cheered the operation, former President Hamid Karzai accused the United States of using Afghanistan as a testing ground for dangerous weapons. “It is upon us Afghans to stop the USA,” he said on social media. “If we don’t act against Daesh, we get blamed. If we do something, we still get blamed,” Faisal said, reacting to Karzai’s comment. “As Afghans and as leaders, we need to stand together against Daesh brutalities. This move showed our [the U.S. and Afghan governments] collective commitment to eliminating Daesh in Afghanistan. It should be encouraged.”


News Article | April 20, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

FILE - This undated file photo provided by the Virginia Department of Corrections shows Ivan Teleguz. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has called off Teleguz's execution in a murder-for-hire case, citing concerns about some of the information presented to jurors. The Democratic governor commuted the sentence to life in prison Thursday, April 20, 2017. (Virginia Department of Corrections via AP, File) RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A man sentenced to death in a 2006 murder-for-hire case won a reprieve Thursday when Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe commuted his sentence to life without parole, citing concerns about false information that he believes influenced the jury's sentencing decision. Ivan Teleguz was scheduled to be executed Tuesday, but McAuliffe commuted his sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole. It's the first execution that the Democratic governor has stopped since taking office. McAuliffe is a Catholic who has said he's personally opposed to capital punishment, but will uphold the law as governor. Teleguz was convicted in 2006 of hiring a man to kill 20-year-old Stephanie Sipe, the mother of his child. Sipe was stabbed to death in her Harrisonburg apartment. Sipe's mother found her body two days later, along with their 2-year-old son, who was unharmed. McAuliffe said he believes Teleguz is guilty, even though two witnesses recanted their testimony implicating him in the crime. But McAuliffe said he would spare Teleguz's life because part of his trial "terribly flawed." The jury was told that the man was involved in another murder in Pennsylvania, which never happened, McAuliffe said. It was also suggested that Teleguz was involved with the "Russian mafia," but there's no evidence to support that, McAuliffe said. McAuliffe said he thinks that made jurors fear for their safety, noting that they asked the judge whether Teleguz could access their personal information and addresses. "To allow a sentence to stand based on false information and speculation is a violation of the very principles of justice our system holds dear," McAuliffe said. Teleguz's attorneys said the man is grateful to those who supported his clemency effort and said he will continue to fight to clear his name. "He asks for their continued support as he works now to fully prove that he is not responsible for Stephanie's death," attorneys Elizabeth Peiffer and Michael Williams said. Marsha Garst, the lead prosecutor in the case, declined to comment. The governor had faced mounting pressure to intervene after the newspaper in Virginia's capital city, former Virginia attorneys general and death penalty opponents raised concerns about executing a possibly innocent man. Since Teleguz went to death row, two men who implicated him have said they lied under pressure from investigators they claim were fixated on putting Teleguz away. Kevin Whitfield, the lead police investigator in the case, said in a recent interview with The Associated Press that he has never wavered from his belief that Teleguz is guilty. "I do not have any doubt," Whitfield said. "I feel as convinced as today as I did back then." Sipe's sister has also said her family still believes Teleguz is responsible. After the two prosecution witnesses recanted their trial testimony in written affidavits, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a judge to conduct a hearing on Teleguz's innocence claim. But the judge rejected Teleguz's bid after one of the witnesses, Edwin Gilkes, refused to testify and another — who had been deported to Kyrgyzstan — didn't show up. Michael Hetrick, whose DNA was found at the scene, again testified that Teleguz hired him and Gilkes to kill Sipe. Teleguz's attorneys and supporters say that to save his own life, Hetrick told investigators what they wanted to hear. Hetrick was spared the death penalty and sentenced to life in prison in exchange for testifying against Teleguz. Teleguz's family came to the U.S. when he was a child to escape religious persecution in Ukraine, when it was controlled by the Soviet Union. He's is deeply religious and spends most of his time in prison doing Bible studies, his attorneys said. McAuliffe has overseen two executions since he took office in 2014. Convicted serial killer Alfredo Prieto was given a lethal injection in October 2015. Ricky Gray, who killed a well-known Richmond family of four, was executed in January. Eight death row prisoners in Virginia have been granted clemency since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. The last Virginia governor to spare a condemned man was Gov. Tim Kaine, when he commuted convicted murder Percy Walton's sentence to life in prison in 2008.


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Archives of disease in childhood. Fetal and neonatal edition | Year: 2013

'Liberating the NHS' and the new Outcomes Framework make information central to the management of the UK National Health Service (NHS). The principles of patient choice and government policy on the transparency of outcomes for public services are key drivers for improving the performance. Specialist neonatal care is able to respond positively to these challenges owing to the development of a well-defined dataset and comprehensive national data collection. When combined with analysis, audit and feedback at the national level, this is proving to be an effective means to harness the potential of clinical data. Other key characteristics have been an integrated approach to ensure that data are captured once and serve multiple needs, collaboration between professional organisations, parents, academic institutions, the commercial sector and NHS managers, and responsiveness to changing requirements. The authors discuss these aspects of national neonatal specialist data and point to future developments.

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