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Newsflash: Nebraska Abolishes Death Penalty, PATRIOT Act’s Sec 215 Set to Expire, Putin Steps into FIFA Scandal

Uprising’s guest expert Chenjerai Kumanyika, Assistant Professor of Communications Studies at Clemson University, analyzes to day’s news headlines:

The national trend to abolish the death penalty continued this week with the state of Nebraska formally ending the practice. State lawmakers voted yesterday to end capital punishment, narrowly overriding Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts’ veto from the day before. Ricketts responded saying how, “appalled I am that we have lost a critical tool to protect law enforcement and Nebraska families.” The law commutes the death sentences of ten inmates to life in prison. Nebraska is the first state in two years to end the death penalty, joining 18 other states. The vote was all the more remarkable because Nebraska is dominated by Republican lawmakers, compared to its mostly Democratic dominated counterparts. A poll conducted in April found that there is still majority support for the death penalty among Americans but that the level of support has been falling steadily. Republicans are far more likely to back the practice compared to Democrats. The US is joined by a number of totalitarian regimes worldwide in continuing to rely on the death penalty as a form of punishment. Click HERE for a washingtonpost.com article on this story.

A section of the USA PATRIOT Act expires on Sunday, and lawmakers still haven’t decided what, if anything to do about it. Section 215, according to The Hill, “has been used by law enforcement almost 200 times per year to collect bank and business records from suspected terrorists and spies.” But privacy advocates have long denounced the invasive nature of the law into the lives of innocent and ordinary Americans. The USA Freedom Act was intended to address some of the concerns but activists celebrated when the Senate failed to pass a procedural vote on it. Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell has scheduled a rare Sunday vote on the measure once more. The House already passed the bill. The Senate will also consider a bill introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who has been a strong proponent of the government’s right to spy on Americans. Feinstein’s bill criminalizes whistleblowers and is being likened to the Espionage Act. Meanwhile, the Obama Administration, panicking at the idea that it might lose some legal justification for mass surveillance, accused lawmakers of playing “National Security Russian Roulette” with the PATRIOT Act. Click HERE for a thehill.com article on this story.

And finally, Russian President Vladimir Putin has stepped into the scandal over yesterday’s arrest of a number of FIFA officials in Switzerland. FIFA, the main governing body on the world’s most popular sport, is facing charges of corruption and bribery by the US Department of Justice. The arrested officials are expected to be extradited to the US to face charges. Mr. Putin, whose nation was chosen to host the 2018 World Cup, called the arrests, “another blatant attempt by the United States to extend its jurisdiction to other states.” The hosting decision was investigated last year and cleared, but Russia refused to turn over the computers in question, and has subsequently destroyed them. Invoking the US’s persecution of Edward Snowden and Julian Assange, Putin made the case that FIFA officials were being similarly unfairly targeted. Here in the US, the Clinton Foundation has also come under fire for accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from FIFA, and more from the 2022 World Cup host, Qatar. The US lost its bid to host the 2022 World Cup to Qatar. Click HERE for a The New York Times article on this story.