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Oklahoma judges reverse execution decision after political pressure

RT -

The Oklahoma Supreme Court issued a stay of execution Monday for Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner, two convicted killers. In a 5-4 decision the justices challenged the constitutionality of Oklahoma’s policy that permits state authorities to keep the ingredients of the drug used to carry out lethal injections secret.

A day after Oklahoma’s Republican Governor May Fallin criticized the court, the justices dissolved their own ruling, pulling back its assertion that death row inmates have the right to know what will kill them.

Exactly why the court would reverse its own decision two days later was not immediately clear. Some speculated that the justices determined the case should ultimately be decided by the Criminal Court of Appeals, which rejected hearing the case multiple times.

Law enforcement officials throughout the US have declared that keeping information regarding execution chemicals under wraps is essential to protect the pharmacies that supply the drugs.

The issue has become increasingly contentious over the past year, as European drug-makers have stopped supplying drugs known to be used in lethal injections on principle and American pharmacists who have admitted to filling the role have drawn the ire of protesters and led to boycotts.

The court’s decision Monday said the suspension would be in place until “final determination of all issues presently pending before the court…along with all issues that may be brought by [the corrections department]…and any legal challenges that may arise as a result of this court’s resolution of those issues are actively litigated.”

That decision, while popular with death penalty opponents who claimed the drugs could lead to each inmate experiencing “cruel and unusual punishment” during their final moments, was criticized by Oklahoma’s Republican governor, May Fallin. Fallin declared that the court acted “outside the constitutional authority” in the case and ordered each man be put to death within seven days, although legal experts quickly wondered if she was up to speed on her own legal authority.

Governor Fallin is a politician and not a lawyer,” Randall Coyne, an expert on constitutional law at the University of Oklahoma, told the Guardian. “According to well-established precedent of the US Supreme Court, the courts – not executive officials – have the final word on what is constitutional. She of course has the right to disagree with judicial decisions but they remain the law. The governor is dangerously close to precipitating a constitutional crisis.”

According to opponents of the Fallin administration, the introduction of articles of impeachment that were drafted Wednesday were intended as political pressure. Republican Representative Mike Christian claimed the justices engaged in “willful neglect of duty” by temporarily halting the executions.

Speaking to the Associated Press after the ruling changed, Justice Steven Taylor said that the inmates’ claim that they may not know until it was too late if that would endure “cruel and unusual punishment” was not relevant.

The plaintiffs have no more right to the information they requested than if they were being executed in the electric chair, they would have no right to know whether OG&E or PSO were providing the electricity; if they were being hanged, they would have no right to know whether it be cotton or nylon rope; or if they were being executed by firing squad, they would have no right to know whether it be by Winchester or Remington ammunition,” he wrote. “I hope that this case ends any thought of future journeys down this path that has led this court to this day.”

Both Lockett – convicted in the 1999 kidnapping, rape, and murder of a 19-year-old woman - and Warner – convicted for the 1997 rape and murder of an 11-month-old girl – are currently slated to die next week.

Think Progress reported that this case, aside from its implications, is another in a long line of attempts by Oklahoma politicians to control judges. Fallin’s administration has at times sought to portray judges up for election as being “soft on crime,” the website said, by manipulating them into ruling in favor of such policies like the death penalty if they want to voters to keep them on the bench.

Fallin would likely disagree with such an assertion. “This ruling shows that our legal system works,” she said of the final verdict.

NM radiation leak blamed on management, lack of safety culture

RT -

The accident investigation report, released by the DOE’s Office of Environmental Management on Thursday, looked into the causes and handling of the radiation leak that triggered a lockdown of the entire Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) facility near Carlsbad, NM in February.

The report, written by members of the Accident Investigation Board, cited poor management, ineffective maintenance and a lack of proper training and oversight at WIPP, according to the Associated Press. The report also found that much of the operation failed to meet standards for a nuclear facility.

"We made some mistakes. We're going to have to strengthen some of the programs," Bob McQuinn, the WIPP project manager in charge of restoring the facility, told Fronteras Desk. WIPP is one of the world’s three deep repositories for nuclear waste left over from the production and testing of atomic weapons. It buries the waste over 600 meters underground in tunnels hewn out of salt beds.

DOE Accident Investigation Board Chairman Ted Wyka previewed the findings of the latest report at a community meeting Wednesday night, AP reports, identifying the root cause as a "degradation of key safety management and safety culture."

The report showed shortcomings in nearly the entire response. Wyka focused on two of major issues: The more than 10-hour response to the emergency alarm and a bypass in the filtration system that allowed the radiation to escape to the surface.

"The bottom line is they failed to believe initial indications of the release," Wyka said at the meeting.

Don Hancock, director of the Nuclear Waste Safety program and administrator at Southwest Research and Information Center, blamed employees’ lack of nuclear experience once the contract for the facility changed hands, telling AP that the workers had more experience working in the local potash mines.

"Over time, some folks have stayed in Carlsbad, but a lot of them have moved on," he said. "Then the pressure was to hire local people, hire local people — jobs, jobs, jobs. So you hire local people with no experience in radiation but do have experience in mining. What do you expect you are going to get?"

During the town hall, Wyka said that workers feared retaliation if they identified issues, according the Albuquerque Journal reports. “During interviews, many employees indicated a reluctance to use the WIPP Form process due to a fear of retribution,” the report states. “The most prevalent example of retribution identified by employees was the assignment of undesirable tasks for a couple of weeks after submitting a WIPP Form.”

The accident likely happened more than 2,000 feet underground in a waste-storage vault, when an out-of-the-ordinary radiation spike was recorded at the facility which caused plant managers to suspend all operations. Personnel at the facility discovered the source of the radiation was a leak inside one of the salt tunnels where radioactive material is buried.

Some of the contamination reached the surface air, where air filters were activated as a precaution and workers were barred from entering the facility. Despite those actions, 21 WIPP employees inhaled or ingested radioactive particles, though in amounts that were unlikely to affect their health, officials told Reuters.

On Wednesday, a three-person team inspected the waste disposal room where the accident likely occurred. The team found contamination, but no signs of damage. It was the first time investigators had been able to access the site, Reuters reports.

The facility has been shutdown since early February - before the radiation release occurred - after a truck caught fire in one of the underground tunnels. Officials said the fire happened in a separate section of the facility to where the atomic waste is stored.

Apple, Google Agree To Settle Lawsuit Alleging Hiring Conspiracy

Slashdot -

An anonymous reader writes "A group of tech companies including Google and Apple have agreed to settle an antitrust lawsuit over no-hire agreements in Silicon Valley. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. From the article: 'Tech workers filed a class action lawsuit against Apple Inc, Google Inc, Intel Inc and Adobe Systems Inc in 2011, alleging they conspired to refrain from soliciting one another's employees in order to avert a salary war. Trial had been scheduled to begin at the end of May on behalf of roughly 64,000 workers in the class.'"

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Scholar Behind Viral 'Oligarchy' Study Tells You What It Means

Socialism OnLine! -

URL: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/princeton-scholar-demise-of-democracy-america-tpm-interview

Scholar Behind Viral 'Oligarchy' Study Tells You What It Means. "A new political science study that's gone viral finds that majority-rule democracy exists only in theory in the United States -- not so much in practice. The government caters to the affluent few and organized interest groups, the researchers find, while the average citizen's influence on policy is "near zero." "[T]he preferences of economic elites," conclude Princeton's Martin Gilens and Northwestern's Benjamin I. Page, who work with the nonprofit Scholars Strategy Network, "have far more independent impact upon policy change than the preferences of average citizens do." TPM spoke to Gilens about the study, its main findings and its lessons..."

Topic(s): Geography:  Vote Up/Down

LA Sheriff's bizarre Compton surveillance

Boing Boing -

Matthew says: For nine days in 2012, the Los Angeles County Sheriff used a spy plane to record low-resolution images of every corner of Compton. Residents of Compton were not told they were under aerial surveillance. The LASD initially claimed Compton was chosen because the city is flat. Critics pointed out most of Los Angeles County is flat, and asked whether Beverly Hills would also undergo aerial surveillance. Journalists also pointed out the videotaping: 1: Is too low-resoltuion to identify anyone, so... 2: it's worthless as evidence, and... 3: The video wasn't real-time so police wouldn't catch anyone in the act So what, exactly, was the point of this expensive program?






Panel Says U.S. Not Ready For Inevitable Arctic Oil Spill

Slashdot -

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "As eagerness to explore the Arctic's oil and gas resources grows, the threat of a major Arctic oil spill looms ever larger—and the United States has a lot of work to do to prepare for that inevitability, a panel convened by the National Research Council (NRC) declares in a report released yesterday. The committee, made up of members of academia and industry, recommended beefing up forecasting systems for ocean and ice conditions, infrastructure for supply chains for people and equipment to respond, field research on the behavior of oil in the Arctic environment, and other strategies to prepare for a significant spill in the harsh conditions of the Arctic." Shortest version: no one has any idea how any spill cleanup techniques would work in the arctic environment.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








چگونه وبلاگ‌نویسان ابزارهای الکترونیکی در ایران قربانیان سپاه پاسداران شدند

EFF's Deeplinks -

نارنجی یکی از مهمترین وبسایت‌های خبری ایران دربارۀ ابزارهای الکترونیکی بود که به صورت روزانه توسط گروهی از وبلاگ‌نویسان فن‌آوری و از یک دفتر کوچک در شهر کرمان به روز می‌شد. مخاطبان این سایت را جمعیت رو به رشد ایرانیان علاقه‌مند به فن‌آوری تشکیل می‌دادند. مانند گیزمودو (Gizmodo) و انگجت (Engadget) در ایالات متحده، محبوبیت این سایت از یک فرمول ساده اما مرسوم ناشی می‌شد: نظرهای کارشناسی مثبت و منفی از آخرین محصولات آندرویدی و اپل، خلاصه‌ای از دانلودها و برنامه‌های فارسی زبان جدید، و همچنین جدیدترین چیزهای محبوب در اینترنت (مانند ویدیوی همیشه محبوب "کشیدن باورنکردنی پرترۀ مورگان فریمن با انگشت در آی‌پد").

اما اکنون این سایت از بین رفته است. در صفحۀ نخست نارنجی، زمان در تاریخ ۳ دسامبر متوقف شده، هنگامی که کل تیم نارنجی توسط سپاه پاسداران دستگیر و روانۀ زندان شدند. دو وب‌سایت خواهر نارنجی، نردبان و نگهبان،  هم که به دنبال موفقیت نارنجی توسط این گروه راه‌اندازی شده بود در زمان متوقف شده‌اند.

بنیانگذار نارنجی، علی‌اصغر هنرمند، و سردبیر آن عباس واحدی، به چند دلیل می‌توانستند با اشتیاق به آینده نگاه کنند. رئیس جمهور فعلی ایران، حسن روحانی، با ایجاد یک صندوق نوآوری ۱ میلیارد دلاری برای توسعۀ "اقتصاد دانش‌بنیان"، کارآفرینی در حوزۀ فن‌آوری را به عنوان بخشی از پلتفرم دولت خود تشویق کرده بود. دولت او همچنین سخت در کار بود تا از طریق مذاکره، تحریم‌های غرب علیه این کشور را لغو کرده تا اقتصاد تقویت شده و طبقۀ متوسط ​​ایران امکان دسترسی به ابزارهای الکترونیکی بیشتری را داشته باشد.

این ویدیو، که از تلویزیون دولتی ایران پخش شده، تیم نارنجی را در بازداشت نشان می‌دهد.

در این گزارش آمده که این وبلاگ‌نویسان با سرمایه‌گذاری و آموزش توسط "شبکه‌های جاسوسی … و با هدف 'براندازی نرم' نظام ایران" ایجاد شده‌اند.

به نظر می‌رسد که دادستان‌های ایرانی بر این باور بودند که یک یا بیش از یک نفر از اعضای این تیم هنگامی که در لندن بوده‌اند توسط بی‌بی‌سی آموزش روزنامه‌نگاری دیده‌اند، و همین برای سرکوب آنها کافی بوده است. در حالی که برخی از وبلاگ‌نویسانی که در همان دور دستگیر شده بودند آزاد شده‌اند، اکثریت تیم نارنجی هنوز هم در پشت میله‌های زندان هستند:

* علی اصغر هنرمند (بنیانگذار نارنجی و صاحب پات شرق گواشیر، شرکت مالک نارنجی)

* عباس واحدی (سردبیر نارنجی)

* حسین نوذری (مدیر عامل پات شرق گواشیر)

* رضا نوذری (وبلاگ‌نویس بخش تکنولوژی نردبان، وب‌سایت خواهر نارنجی)

* احسان پاک‌نژاد (وبلاگ‌نویس بخش تکنولوژی نارنجی)

(روزنامۀ گاردین، لیستی منتشر کرده که کمی تفاوت دارد: علی اصغر هنرمند، عباس واحدی، علیرضا وزیری، نسیم نیک‌مهر، ملیحه نخعی‬‎، محمدحسین موسوی‌زاده و سارا سجادپور)

از این تعداد، تنها واحدی و نوذری به تازگی به قید وثیقه آزاد شده‌اند و انتظار می‌رود که آنها و سایرین ماه آینده به دادگاه احضار شوند.

نوع برخورد با تیم نارنجی، نمونه‌ای است تکراری از اینکه دولتهای سراسر جهان چگونه متخصصان فن‌آوری را به خاطر کارشان مورد هدف قرار داده‌اند. این مهم نیست که شما در حال نوشتن یک وبلاگ در مورد برنامه‌نویسی برای اندروید هستید و یا در حال توزیع پروکسی ضدسانسور: برای بسیاری از دولتها، همین که شهرت آنلاین داشته باشید و یا قدرتی نهفته برای تأثیرگذاری و یا ایجاد تغییر در جامعه از طریق دانش فنی، به سرعت ممکن است به عنوان یک تهدید غیرقابل قبول برای نظم اجتماعی تلقی شوید.

وبلاگ‌نویسان معروف اما غیرسیاسی مانند نویسندگان نارنجی، با این خطر هم مواجهند که ممکن است وسط جنگ‌هایی داخلی گرفتار شوند که خود هیچ کنترلی بر آن ندارند. کارشناسان سیاسی ایران که ما با آنها صحبت کرده‌ایم بر این باورند که بازداشت نارنجی توسط سپاه پاسداران انقلاب کرمان ممکن است واکنشی آگاهانه باشد توسط رادیکالهای محلی بر علیه حمایت دولت روحانی از کارآفرینان تکنولوژی: سیگنالی که روشن می‌کند که تهران نباید در اعتدال خود زیاده‌روی کند. در معرض دید بودن نارنجی نه تنها منجر به محافظت آنها را در برابر سپاه پاسداران نشده، بلکه ممکن است موجب شده باشد که آنها هدف ساده‌تری باشند.

قربانی شدن جامعۀ فنی تاریخچه‌ای طولانی و غم‌انگیز دارد. خود بنیاد مرزهای الکترونیکی (ای‌اف‌اف) هم در پاسخ به سرکوب شدن نابخردانه و ترسناک هکرها در ایالات متحده متولد شد؛ تعقیب‌های قانونی فعالان تکنولوژی مانند آرون شوارتز که با انگیزه‌های سیاسی صورت گرفته و تا به امروز هم ادامه داشته است. اگر ما خواهان توقف این موارد در هر کجای دنیا، چه در ایالات متحده، ایران، یا روسیه هستیم، نیاز داریم تا به منظور محافظت و بازتاب دادن بازداشت ناعادلانه و ارعاب فن‌آوران، در همه جای دنیا با یکدیگر متحد شویم.

شما می‌توانید با امضای این طومار از دولت ایران بخواهید تا تیم نارنجی را آزاد کند، و یا با استفاده از هشتگ‌های Narenji#  و #نارنجی، در رسانه‌های اجتماعی به خبررسانی جمعی بپردازید. از آن مهمتر این است که در اجتماع خود داستان آنها را به اطلاع دیگران برسانید. هر چه نارنجی بیشتر مورد توجه مردم عادی قرار گیرد، این احتمال بیشتر خواهد بود که آنها در زندان در امان بوده و پرونده‌یشان سریع‌تر بررسی شود.

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