Thursday, December 8, 2011

  • Mumia Abu-Jamal Spared Death Penalty After Prosecutors Drop 30-Year Bid for Execution

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    Philadelphia prosecutors have announced they will no longer seek the death penalty for the imprisoned journalist and former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal. For decades, Abu-Jamal has argued racism by the trial judge and prosecutors led to his 1982 conviction of killing Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. Two years ago, the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with a lower judge who set aside Abu-Jamal’s death sentence after finding jurors were given confusing instructions that encouraged them to choose death rather than a life sentence. The U.S. Supreme Court then ordered the court to re-examine the decision. In April, that ruling was upheld, and prosecutors had to determine whether Abu-Jamal would get a new sentencing hearing in court before a new jury. On Wednesday, Philadelphia prosecutor Seth Williams said he opted for a life sentence rather than face more lengthy appeals. Pennsylvania law now requires Abu-Jamal to be sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. [includes rush transcript]

  • South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu Calls for Release of Mumia Abu-Jamal

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    In a video statement released to coincide with the 30th anniversary of Mumia Abu-Jamal’s incarceration, the former South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu urges Abu-Jamal’s immediate freedom. Mumia "has faced years of prosecutorial and police misconduct and judicial bias," Tutu says. "Now that it is clear that Mumia should never have been on death row, justice will not be served by relegating him to prison for the rest of his life—yet another form of death sentence. Based on even a minimal following of international human rights standards, Mumia should be released." [includes rush transcript]

  • "I’m Scared for My Future": Student Disrupts Speech by U.S. Climate Envoy Todd Stern in Durban

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    Several prominent U.S. environmental groups have accused the Obama administration of obstructing negotiations at the United Nations Climate Change Conference and have called for the United States to step aside and let other countries carry on with the talks. Earlier today, the top U.S. climate negotiator Todd Stern addressed the U.N. summit for the first time. But as he took the stage, Middlebury College student Abigail Borah interrupted the proceedings. "I am scared for my future," Borah told Stern. "2020 is too late to wait. We need an urgent path to a fair, ambitious and legally binding treaty. You must take responsibility to act now." Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman later questioned Stern about Borah’s comments and accusations the United States is a major obstacle to progress at the climate talks. [includes rush transcript]

  • Critics: Rich Polluters—Including U.S.—Should Face Sanctions for Rejecting Binding Emissions Cuts

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    Talks at the United Nations Climate Change Conference are in their second to last day, but little progress appears to have been made on the key issues of extending the Kyoto Protocol or forming a Green Climate Fund. The United States is refusing to accept any deal involving binding emissions cuts before the year 2020 despite dire warnings that the world can’t afford to wait. We get analysis from Pablo Solón, Bolivia’s former ambassador to the United Nations and former chief negotiator on climate change, and from Patrick Bond, a South African climate activist, professor and author. "The main issue, that is the number, the figure of emission reductions of rich countries, is not really being raised," Solón says. "It’s very, very low... You cannot be silent when you see that genocide and ecocide is going to happen because of this kind of decisions." Solón also says the U.S. "blackmails" developing countries into dropping demands for binding cuts by threatening to withdraw climate aid. Bond says the next round of climate talks should include the idea of sanctions against major polluters, like the United States, that reject binding cuts. [includes rush transcript]

  • Entrepreneur: Capitalism Will Save World from Climate Crisis to Preserve Markets for iPads, Coke

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    On Sunday, Democracy Now! attended the corporate-sponsored World Climate Summit in Durban that advocates a market approach to solving the climate crisis. One attendee, South African entrepreneur Jason Drew, called for the United Nations to step aside and let businesses and markets fix the problems caused by global warming. When asked why business would be interested in saving the people of the Maldives from catastrophic climate change, Drew responded, "Customers live there. It’s a business world. It’s capitalism. We need people to buy our goods... They all buy iPads, Coca-Cola, all the products we know. If they don’t exist anymore, the market’s gone." [includes rush transcript]

  • "His Nickname Is George W. Obama": Leading Climate Change Denier Embraces U.S. Stance at U.N. Talks

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    On Wednesday, a group of climate change deniers praised the Obama administration’s refusal to support an extension of the Kyoto Protocol or an agreement on binding emissions cuts. Democracy Now! caught up to Marc Morano, publisher of the Climate Depot, at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa. "They [the Obama administration] have kept the exact same principles and negotiating stance as President George Bush did for eight years," Morano says. "Obama has carried on Bush’s legacy. So, as skeptics, we tip our hat to President Obama in helping crush and continue to defeat the United Nations process. Obama has been a great friend of global warming skeptics at these conferences." [includes rush transcript]

  • Wanjira Maathai: U.S. Should "Shape Up or Get Out" at U.N. Climate Talks

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    Wanjira Maathai is the daughter of the late Kenyan environmental activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Wangari Maathai, and the international director for the Green Belt Movement. At the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Durban, Wanjira says of the United States: "Shape up or get out... The United States should be providing the leadership ... yet they’re really putting blocks on what would be for African nations a really life and death situation... We appeal to them to really look beyond their own selfish gains. They’re going to probably have come to the rescue, if we get more famines of the scale that is in the Horn of Africa. So the devastation is not worth waiting for. Let’s act now." [includes rush transcript]

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