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You turn to Democracy Now! for ad-free news you can trust. Maybe you come for our daily headlines. Maybe you come for in-depth stories that expose government and corporate abuses of power. This month, Democracy Now! is celebrating our 23rd birthday. For over two decades, we've produced our daily news hour without ads, government funding or corporate underwriting. How is this possible? Only with your support. Right now, in honor of Democracy Now!'s birthday, every donation we receive will be doubled by a generous supporter. This means if you give $30 today, Democracy Now! will get $60 to support our daily news hour. Please do your part. It takes just a couple of minutes to make sure that Democracy Now! is there for you and everybody else. Thank you! -Amy Goodman
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Texas Governor George Bush has spent a record $60 million, as he and his rival, John McCain, prepare for the expensive and crucial primaries in New York, California and other states on March 7th — the $60 million on a campaign that has so far netted fifty-seven delegates, according to a tally by the New York Times. More than 1,000 are needed for the nomination. McCain has ninety-five delegates. No presidential candidate has raised or spent as much money as Bush. Before the first vote was cast in New Hampshire, Bush had raised nearly $70 million and spent $50 million, according to the Federal Election Commission.
A disgraced Los Angeles police officer who blew the whistle on a widespread corruption scandal will be sentenced today for stealing cocaine from an evidence room. Rafael Perez faces a five-year prison sentence under an immunity deal covering other crimes he has admitted to investigators. After his arrest in 1998 in the cocaine case, Perez detailed alleged misconduct among his fellow officers, including beatings and shootings of innocent people. So far, the scandal has resulted in twenty officers being relieved of duty. Some forty tainted convictions have been overturned. Several hundred more cases are under review. In just a few minutes, we’ll be spending the show looking at the LAPD scandal, as well as the Pelican Bay riot.
This news from Huntsville, Texas: Critics of capital punishment say George W. Bush missed a prime opportunity last night to demonstrate his compassionate conservatism. The Texas governor denied a last-minute reprieve for condemned killer, Betty Lou Beets. The sixty-two-year-old woman was given a lethal injection for the murder of her fifth husband. Prosecutors say Beets killed her husband for insurance and pension money in 1983. She was also convicted of shooting and wounding her second husband and has been charged but never tried in the '81 shooting death of her fourth husband. Beets insisted she was innocent and had recently said she'd also endured years of domestic violence. That issue prompted organizations dealing with domestic violence victims to push for a delay in the trial.
Meanwhile, the US Supreme Court will hear arguments Monday on whether the so-called Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 should deny those facing execution the right to appeal when there’s new evidence on their innocence. Hundreds of protesters are planning a mass civil disobedience and rally Monday morning in support of death row prisoner, Mumia Abu-Jamal, that rally in front of the Supreme Court.
And this news from Louisiana: The Justice Department has accused guards at a privately run juvenile prison of violating inmates’ rights by habitually using excessive force, so-called “chemical restraints” and allowing fights over basic items like food and clothing. The prison is owned and operated by the Wackenhut Corrections Corporation, opened in 1998, and is one of two privately run juvenile prisons in the state. A Wackenhut spokesperson called the report “exaggerated.”
California prison officials now say guards wounded fifteen prisoners and killed one when they opened fire to stop a riot at the Pelican Bay State Prison. We’ll have more on that story later in the news.
And a remarkable homecoming: After thirty-nine years of exile in Britain, Australia and Africa, Preston King finally woke up in America. King was a twenty-four-year-old graduate student in the early 1960s, when the draft board in Albany, Georgia, after learning that he was black, stopped referring to him as Mr. King and began addressing him as Preston. King said at the time he was willing to serve in the military, as long as the board called him by the same respectful title it used in correspondence when it assumed he was white. The board refused, and King was convicted of draft evasion by an all-white jury and sentenced to eighteen months in prison.
While on bail, he fled to Britain, where he enrolled at the London School of Economics. King could not return to the United States until President Clinton issued a pardon this past Monday. Even though President Jimmy Carter, a fellow Georgian and political ally of the King family, issued a blanket pardon in 1977 for all draft evaders, it extended back only to ’64 and did not cover King’s 1961 conviction. The kind of action that King took is a family tradition. His brother, whose funeral he attended when he returned home, Clennon W. King, Jr., was briefly committed to an insane asylum because he had tried to enroll in the all-white University of Mississippi in the 1950s.