There have been several death penalty stories in the news recently.
One interesting story is that the state of Oklahoma used the wrong drug to execute Charles Warner back in January, according to National Public Radio.
Apparently, they used Potassium Acetate instead of Potassium Chloride. In September, Governor Mary Fallin stopped the execution of inmate Richard Glossip, saying the state had received potassium acetate rather than potassium chloride.
However, in a statement released on October 8th, Governor Fallin said a doctor and pharmacist working with the Department of Corrections assured them that the “two drugs are medically interchangeable.”
Also in the headlines are two supreme court cases from Kansas that actually reversed death penalty sentences.
In one case, known as the “Wichita Massacre,” the lower court set aside the capital sentences of two brothers because they had a common trial instead of separate trials. Their sentences were seen as being “lumped together.” There were other technical issues involved.
In the other case, the Kansas court said the jury instructions had been confusing. It was claimed by the state prosecutor that the state court had cited the U.S. Constitution instead of Kansas law, which reportedly gives more protections to the defendant.
“Ali al-Nimr was a 17-year-old high school student when he was arrested for taking part in Arab Spring-inspired protests in 2012,” writes CNN.
Al-Nimr was given a death sentence in May for taking part in the demonstrations for democracy and equal rights in Saudi Arabia’s oil-producing Eastern Province, writes Reuters.
CNN states that he and others were calling for social and political reforms in the Shiite province of Qatif.
A court later convicted him of charges including “belonging to a terror cell,” attacking police with Molotov cocktails, incitement, and stoking sectarianism, according to the state media report.
A group of U.N. experts has joined rights groups in calling on Saudi Arabia to halt the execution.
Ali al-Nimr, the nephew of Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, faces execution by beheading and an additional rare punishment of “crucifixion,” which means publicly displaying the body after death as a warning to others, according to Saudi state media.
“Any judgment imposing the death penalty upon persons who were children at the time of the offense, and their execution, are incompatible with Saudi Arabia’s international obligations,” the U.N. group said in a statement Tuesday, invoking the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Saudi Arabia is a party.
His final appeal was rejected when the Appeals Court and High Court ratified his verdict last week, the report said.
“France is concerned about the situation of Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, who was sentenced to death even though he was a minor at the time of the events,” said French Foreign Ministry spokesman Romain Nadal. “Opposed to the death penalty in all cases and circumstances, we call for the execution to be called off.”
According to U.S. News and World Report, the acting administrator for the Drug Enforcement Agency, Chuck Rosenberg, said recently, “If you want me to say that marijuana’s not dangerous, I’m not going to say that because I think it is. Do I think it’s as dangerous as heroin? Probably not. I’m not an expert.”
The Supreme Court recently made a ruling on Glossip v. Gross, a case on the death penalty. By a 5-4 vote, the court upheld the use of the controversial drug midazolam as part of a three-drug cocktail used in carrying out the death penalty. The Supreme Court concluded its term on Monday, writes NPR.
Let’s take a brief look at the situation, shall we?
According to The Economist, of the 35 people who were executed in America in 2014, at least three died a death that was unduly harsh or violent.
The problem is that states are having trouble getting the drugs they need to ensure the deaths are painless.
European companies will not sell drugs to be used in executions, and American companies are increasingly uncertain (or worried about lawsuits?) about having their brands linked to lethal injections.
Oklahoma and other states have been changing the three-drug protocol, and in some cases using a drug called midazolam, which was apparently used in the “botched” execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma last year. It was used in others as well.
Does using midazolam defy the Eighth Amendment ban on “cruel and unusual punishment”? According to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Glossip v Gross, the answer, surprisingly, was no.
“The case was brought before the court by three prisoners on death-row in Oklahoma, who are understandably wary of an execution cocktail that includes midazolam,” writes The Economist.
In a 5-4 decision, the court ruled that the petitioners failed to prove that midazolam offers a ‘substantial risk of serious harm’.
Citing evidence that the sedative is effective at the right dosage, the court found that while Clayton Lockett received too little of it, the same three-drug mix finished off 12 other prisoners “without any significant problems”.
The 8th amendment reads: Amendment VIII. “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”
The 28 member nations of the E.U. have banned the death penalty. It is a requirement for joining the E.U.
Let’s look at some history of the death penalty in the West. According to deathpenalty.org:
“In the aftermath of World War II, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This 1948 doctrine proclaimed a “right to life” in an absolute fashion, any limitations being only implicit. Knowing that international abolition of the death penalty was not yet a realistic goal in the years following the Universal Declaration, the United Nations shifted its focus to limiting the scope of the death penalty to protect juveniles, pregnant women, and the elderly.”
“These documents also provided for the right to life, but included the death penalty as an exception that must be accompanied by strict procedural safeguards. Despite this exception, many nations throughout Western Europe stopped using capital punishment, even if they did not, technically, abolish it. As a result, this de facto abolition became the norm in Western Europe by the 1980s.” (Schabas, 1997)
The U.S. already had a moratorium on the death penalty. That began in 1972 after the case of Furman v. Georgia.
According to deathpenalty.org:
“In Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238, (1972), the Court invalidated existing death penalty laws because they constituted cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment. The Court reasoned that the laws resulted in a disproportionate application of the death penalty, specifically discriminating against the poor and minorities. The Court also reasoned that the existing laws terminated life in exchange for marginal contributions to society.”
The death penalty was reinstated in 1977, after the case of Gregg v. Georgia:
In Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153, (1976), the Court refused to expand Furman. The Court held the death penalty was not per se unconstitutional as it could serve the social purposes of retribution and deterrence. Specifically, the Court upheld Georgia’s new capital sentencing procedures, reasoning that the Georgia rules reduced the problem of arbitrary application as seen in earlier statutes.
Clayton Lockett spent 43 minutes writhing in pain on the gurney, according to The Economist. “This shit is fucking with my head,” he said before finally dying.
(Let’s take a break from the standard news, shall we? – editor)
There is a rumor out there that actor Paul Walker was killed by the Skull and Bones secret society.
The Skull and Bones is a secret society of high-powered people based at Yale university, according to Wikipedia. The group is reportedly related to The Illuminati, a group of individuals that purport to be members of the original Bavarian Illuminati. The founders of the first clandestine group created the society in May 1776, writes guardianlv.com.
Paul Walker starred in the movie The Skulls as a student who is initiated into the secret club. The real group was less than happy that a movie was being made that draws attention to them and their practices.
The theory says that there are clues in the movie of Paul’s demise. There are also interesting coincidences.
Here is an example of some of the coincidences: In the movie, he is given a red Porsche by elders in the group. In real life, he died in a red Porsche.
Walker passed away 13 years after making the movie all about the Skull and Bones. The number is of great importance within the Illuminati, who believe in Satanic numerology, with 13 having great significance, as this is said to be the amount of families that run the world, according to Satanic Bloodlines.
Other sources claim that surveillance video footage of the car shows that it was hit by a projectile such as some kind of missile.
In photographs, Walker’s car seems to be burned to the ground, though the tree that his car hit does not seem burned.
We can assume that Hitler is no longer alive. The oldest person that ever lived in history (that was verifiable) was a French woman named Jeanne Calment, who died at the age of 122. She died in 1997, according to USA Today.
Hitler – born in 1887 – would be 128 today. It’s probably safe to assume that he’s no longer alive, but while there is a lot of information on his death from Russian autopsies, there is little that is third-party verifiable information.
So how – and when – Hitler died is a much more nebulous, cloudy event than whether or not he is dead.
During a military conference on April 22nd, 1945, Hitler was told that the Soviets had entered Berlin. He reportedly asked everyone except Wilhelm Keitel, Alfred Jodl, Hans Krebs, and Wilhelm Burgdorf to leave the conference room. After a tirade about the incompetence of his officers and officials, he declared that “everything was lost,” and he announced that he would stay in Berlin until the end and then shoot himself, writes Wikipedia. Perhaps people took him at his word.
On April 29th, after marrying his longtime girlfriend Eva Braun, Hitler took secretary Traudl Junge to another room in the bunker and dictated his will.
That event was witnessed and documents signed by Burgdorf, Goebbels, and Bormann, and Hans Krebs. Later that afternoon, Hitler was informed that Italian dictator Mussolini had been executed, which presumably increased his determination to avoid capture.
On April 30th, after intense street-to-street combat, when Soviet troops were within a block or two of the Reich Chancellery building, Hitler reportedly shot himself and Braun chewed a cyanide capsule.
The bodies of Hitler and Braun were reportedly carried up the stairs and through the bunker’s emergency exit to the bombed-out garden behind the Reich Chancellery in Berlin, where they were placed in a bomb crater and doused with gasoline. The corpses were set on fire as Soviet shelling continued, writes the British newspaper The Guardian.
Photos have been taken of these areas, but there are no photos of Hitler’s dead body.
In another area at the Chancellery, in an empty pond, a corpse was later discovered by Soviet troops that looked like Hitler, because it had a similar moustache and haircut. It was mistakenly believed to be the body of Hitler, but it turned out to be Gustav Weler, who was Hitler´s double.
What happened to the burned corpse that was supposedly the real thing?
Records in the Russian-Soviet archives, obtained after the fall of the Soviet Union, state that the remains of Hitler, Braun, Joseph and Magda Goebbels, the six Goebbels children, General Hans Krebs, and Hitler’s dogs were found and “repeatedly buried and exhumed.”
On May 2, 1945, Lt. Col. Ivan Klimenko, a Soviet counter-intelligence officer, led a group of men to the Chancellery in Berlin after hearing reports of burned corpses, said to be those of Hitler and Eva Braun. They were reportedly in wooden boxes where they were found by Soviet intelligence officers half-buried in the shell crater near the Berlin bunker, according to governmentsecrets.com. This information reportedly comes from the book The Death of Adolf Hitler: Unknown Documents from Soviet Archives, by journalist Lev Bezymenski from 1968.
Journalist Ron Rosenbaum argues in his book Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of His Evil that the Soviet autopsy of Hitler cannot be accepted as authoritative because Hitler’s body was said to have been almost completely immolated after his suicide, states Wikipedia.
There were not sufficient remains for any proper analysis or findings to be conducted, writes Rosenbaum. He states that based on information from Hitler’s own doctor and recollections by the people who compiled the published report, the Soviet autopsy report was a fabrication. According to noted historian Ian Kershaw, the corpses of Eva Braun and Hitler were fully burned when the Red Army found them, and only a lower jaw with dental work could be identified as Hitler’s remains.
The fate of Hitler’s corpse has been shrouded in secrecy for decades. No picture or film was ever made public, according to the British newspaper The Guardian.
Lieutenant-General Vasily Khristoforov, the chief archivist at the Russian federal security service, has told the news group Interfax that the service believes Hitler’s remains were incinerated in 1970 and the ashes thrown into a river in East Germany, writes the British newspaper The Telegraph.
General Khristoforov said the move took place out of concern that the original grave in the east German town of Magdeburg could become a Nazi shrine, writes The Telegraph.
“It was not worth leaving any grounds for the rise of a cult of worship…there are people who profess the fascist ideology, regrettably even in Russia.”
He said that the security service had no reason to question the authenticity of the skull fragments in its possession, writes The Telegraph.
Khristoforov said, “Hitler’s jaw is at the FSB archives, the fragment of skull at the State Archive. These materials are the only documentary evidence of Hitler’s death.”
The skull fragment claimed to have been Hitler’s was preserved for decades by Soviet intelligence. However, according to The Guardian, in 2009, American researcher Nick Bellantoni claims to have demonstrated that the skull fragment belonged to a woman under 40 with DNA analysis. The woman’s identity is unknown.
DNA analyses performed on the skull bone held by the Russian State Archive in Moscow were processed at the genetics lab of the University of Connecticut, writes The Guardian. The results – broadcast in the US by a History Channel documentary, Hitler’s Escape – were stunning.
According to Connecticut archaeologist and bone specialist Nick Bellantoni, it was clear from the outset that something was wrong. “The bone seemed very thin; male bone tends to be more robust,” he said. “And the sutures where the skull plates come together seemed to correspond to someone under 40.” In April 1945, Hitler turned 56.
Bellantoni had flown to Moscow to inspect the questionable Hitler “trophies” at the State Archive, which included the skull fragment as well as bloodstains from the bunker sofa on which Hitler and Braun supposedly committed suicide.
Bellantoni was allowed only one hour with the Hitler artifacts, during which time he applied cotton swabs and took DNA samples, writes The Guardian.
The samples were then flown back to Connecticut. At the university’s center for applied genetics, Linda Strausbau worked exclusively on the Hitler project for three days. “We used the same routines and controls that would have been used in a crime lab,” Strausbau said.
The skull DNA was undoubtably female, writes The Guardian.