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Prison officers traumatized by rate of executions in US death penalty states

Prisonofficers traumatized by rate of executions in US

The relentless pursuit of “non-stop executions” by a rump of US death penalty states is exposing prison staff to extreme levels of psychological and physical stress, according to traumatized corrections officers who are appealing for help.

Though capital punishment is generally on the wane in America, with only five states carrying out executions last year, those states that remain active are showing a renewed determination. In some states, the pace of judicial killings is now so intense that prison guards are kept in an almost permanent state of readiness, with mock executions staged on a rolling basis.

In Oklahoma, officers at the state penitentiary in McAlester, which houses the death chamber, are so stretched by the schedule of 25 executions set in 2022 by the Republican-controlled state that the state’s own attorney general and the head of the prison service have appealed to the courts for a more staggered approach. They have requested that the gap between executions be widened from 60 to 90 days, so far to no avail.

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Opinion: I’m a Jewish student at Yale. Here’s what everyone is getting wrong about the protests

Yale student Jewish protesterLast week, I sat in Yale University’s Beinecke Plaza leading around 50 classmates in nigunim — wordless melodies from the Jewish Hasidic tradition — and other Jewish songs and prayers. As is typical when I sing nigunim, I went home that day feeling spiritually rejuvenated, but, unlike usual, most of those singing with me that day were not Jewish.

That’s because both Jewish and non-Jewish students, inspired by anti-Apartheid protests in Beinecke Plaza decades earlier, had gathered for a week-long sit-in to demand that Yale divest the portion of its endowment invested in the stocks of military contractors, which make the weapons Israel is currently using in its war with Hamas in Gaza. The students were protesting under the Occupy Beinecke coalition, which includes Yale Jews for Ceasefire, a group of Jewish students dedicated to fighting for a ceasefire in Gaza as well as sustainable peace and equality within the region.

In light of student arrests Monday morning — along with similar arrests at Columbia last week — campus clashes and concerns around antisemitism are once again in the news.

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White House shuts down GOP calls to bring in National Guard for college protests

WH shuts down GOP call for Nat'l GuardThe White House punted on Speaker Mike Johnson’s (R-La.) demand for President Biden to call in the National Guard to college campuses amid mass protests over the Israel-Hamas war on Thursday.

White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said Thursday that the issue is not up to the president.

“That is something for the governors to decide,” she told reporters, noting that Biden has previously criticized the protests as antisemitic.

Johnson went a step further Wednesday, calling the protests “dangerous.”

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Will the Freedom Flotilla Sail to Gaza?

Code Pink flotilla

The non-violence training to join the Freedom Flotilla Coalition’s ships to Gaza has been intense. As hundreds of us from 32 countries gathered in Istanbul, we were briefed about what we might encounter on this voyage. “We have to be ready for every possibility,” our trainers insisted.

The best scenario, they said, is that our three ships—one carrying 5,500 tons of humanitarian aid and two carrying the passengers—will reach Gaza and accomplish our mission. Another scenario would be that the Turkish government might cave to pressure from Israel, the United States, and Germany, and prevent the boats from even leaving Istanbul. This happened in 2011, when the Greek government buckled under pressure and 10 boats were stalled in Greece. With our boats docked in Istanbul today, we fear that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who recently suffered a crushing blow in local elections, is vulnerable to any economic blackmail the Western powers might be threatening.

Another possibility is that the ships take off, but the Israelis illegally hijack us in international waters, confiscate our boats and supplies, arrest and imprison us, and eventually deport us.

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Israeli failed to prove Hamas has deeply infiltrated UN aid agency, report says

Report exonerates UNRWA

Israel has provided no evidence that hundreds of U.N. aid workers in Gaza are affiliated with Hamas, but the aid agency needs more "robust" screening to ensure neutrality among its workforce, an independent review released Monday has found.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres ordered the review after Israel accused workers with the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) of providing support for the attack on Israel that ignited the Hamas-Israeli war. More than a dozen nations, including the U.S., halted funding for the agency when the allegations became public.

The review was prompted by Israeli allegations that at least 12 UNRWA employees were directly involved in the Hamas-led attack Oct. 7, another 30 supported the attack in some way, and as many as 12% of the organization’s staff were affiliated with the militant group. UNRWA has over 13,000 aid workers in Gaza.

"Moving forward, the secretary-general appeals to all stakeholders to actively support UNRWA, as it is a lifeline for Palestine refugees in the region," his office said in a statement.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying Hamas is tied in so closely to UNRWA that “it is impossible to say where UNRWA ends and Hamas begins.”

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U.N. Demands Israeli Forces Stop Enabling Settler Attacks In West Bank

Settlers atack PalestiniansIn addition to using firearms to attack Palestinians, settlers and Israeli forces also torched hundreds of homes, buildings and cars in the West Bank, per OCHCR. Shamdasani said that settlers also reportedly established at least two new illegal outposts this week “near Palestinian communities which have been repeatedly attacked by settlers in the past months and are at imminent risk of being forcibly transferred from their homes and land.”

“Israel, as the occupying power, must take all measures in its power to restore, and ensure, as far as possible, public order and safety in the occupied West Bank,” she said. “This obligation includes protecting Palestinians from settler attacks, and ending unlawful use of force against Palestinians by [Israeli forces].”

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Ohio judge blocks ban on gender-affirming care for transgender minors—for now

ACLUAn Ohio judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked an impending law that would restrict medical care for transgender minors in the Buckeye State.

The decision came weeks after the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit challenging the state on behalf of two transgender girls and their families. The measure prevents doctors from prescribing hormones, puberty blockers, or gender reassignment surgery before patients turn 18.

Attorneys contend the law violates the state Constitution, which gives Ohioans the right to choose their health care.

“Today’s ruling is a victory for transgender Ohioans and their families,” said Harper Seldin, staff attorney for the ACLU. “Ohio’s ban is an openly discriminatory breach of the rights of transgender youth and their parents alike and presents a real danger to the same young people it claims to protect.”

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