South Carolina to bring back firing squads – National & International News- THU 6May2021

South Carolina is set to add death by firing squad to its accepted execution methods, which already include the electric chair.

SC to bring back firing squads. ATL reinstates officer charged with murder. WH backs vaccine patent waiver. Myanmar: anti-coup block forms defense force.

NATIONAL NEWS

SC to reinstate firing squads for executions

The South Carolina House has voted to allow death by firing squad as an acceptable execution method in the state. The state’s Senate has already approved the bill. It will now go to Gov. Henry McMaster, who has said he would sign it.

There has been a shortage of effective lethal injection drugs nationwide, and South Carolina is no exception. The state hopes the bill will soon have its death chambers up and running again after a 10-year hiatus. Three of the state’s 37 death row inmates have exhausted their appeals and could soon be put to death.

South Carolina is one of only 9 states still using the electric chair, and only the fourth to reinstate firing squads. The other three states that allow firing squads are Mississippi, Oklahoma and Utah. Once signed, the new bill will require condemned inmates to choose between electrocution and firing squad. 

Recently, a Nevada death row inmate requested death by firing squad. His attorneys say he believes it to be a more merciful method than the experimental cocktails that have led to botched lethal injections across the US.

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Atlanta forced to reinstate officer facing murder charge

Last year, just 12 days after the death of George Floyd, Atlanta police officer Garrett Rolfe shot Rayshard Brooks, a black man, in the back in a Wendy’s parking lot. Atlanta’s Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms immediately had Rolfe fired from the police force. 

Now, the Atlanta Civil Service Board says that Bottoms summary of dismissal of Rolfe without a hearing violated the city’s due process rules for such firings. Rolfe has been reinstated to the city’s police force but restricted to administrative duty. Rolfe has been charged with felony murder, aggravated assault and other crimes in connection with the case, but no trial date has yet been set.

Bottoms defended her actions in firing Rolfe last year. She stated that, “Given the volatile state of our city and nation last summer, the decision to terminate this officer, after he fatally shot Mr. Brooks in the back, was the right thing to do”.

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INTERNATIONAL NEWS

White House backs vaccine patent waivers

Under pressure from progressive politicians and the international community, the Biden administration has at last pledged to support patent waivers for COVID vaccines. The US does not have the authority to unilaterally waive patents, but representatives from the US and other nations will discuss the matter at an upcoming World Trade Organization summit. Nevertheless, US support could potentially be pivotal in the negotiations. Vaccine producers’ share prices dropped considerably following the announcement.

A patent waiver would allow poorer countries to produce their own vaccines rather than waiting for leftovers from wealthier countries. 

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Myanmar’s anti-junta bloc announces to create its own defense force

Last month, a coalition of ethnic militias and pro-democracy protesters formed their own National Unity Government (NUG) to oppose the country’s military junta. Some of the militias that have long defended the country’s ethnic minorities in border regions have seen some recent success in attacking military assets in the country. 

The NUG has announced the formation of a unified “people’s defense force” to protect protesters and other opponents of the junta from military aggression. Since the military coup on Feb. 1, the military’s suppression of protests has killed more than 700 people, many of them children.

The statement says the defense force is a precursor to the creation of a Federal Union Army to oppose the Tatmadaw, Myanmar’s well-armed and battle-hardened military force. The announcement points to all-out civil war in the country breaking out in the near future.

In related news, 200 NGOs have petitioned the UN to block arms sales to Myanmar’s military, citing rampant human rights abuses.

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