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Californian governor issues temporary ban on death penalty | US News

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Hundreds of inmates on the largest death row in America will get a reprieve as the governor of California signs a temporary ban on the death penalty.

Gavin Newsom is to sign an executive order placing a moratorium on executions, as well as withdrawing the lethal injection regulations that death penalty opponents have tied up in court.

There are 737 people on death row in California.

Prepared remarks by the Californian governor read: “The intentional killing of another person is wrong and as governor, I will not oversee the execution of any individual.

“I do not believe that a civilised society can claim to be a leader in the world as long as its government continues to sanction the premeditated and discriminatory execution of its people.”

Mr Newsom said the death penalty is “a failure” that “has discriminated against defendants who are mentally ill, black and brown, or can’t afford expensive legal representation”.

Gavin Newsom signed the order and said the death penalty was a failure
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Gavin Newsom signed the order and said the death penalty was a failure

And he said innocent people have been wrongly convicted and sometimes put to death.

No one has been executed in California since 2006, when Arnold Schwarzenegger was governor.

In 2016, voters narrowly approved a ballot measure to speed up punishment, but no one faced imminent execution.

Since the last execution, the state’s death row has grown, and now accounts for one in four of total condemned inmates in the US.

On California’s death row is Scott Peterson, who killed his pregnant wife Laci, and Richard Davis, who kidnapped and strangled 12-year-old Polly Klaas while she was at a sleepover.

Michele Hanisee, president of the Association of Deputy (Los Angeles County) District Attorneys, said Mr Newsom was “usurping the express will of California voters and substituting his personal preferences via this hasty and ill-considered moratorium on the death penalty”.

Mr Newsom does not have the power to overturn California’s death penalty law, but he can refuse to sign any death warrants, and can change death sentences to life in prison.

The move is likely to be challenged in court.

In two other US states where the governor enacted a moratorium, Washington and Illinois, executions were eventually outlawed.

Mr Newsom said the death penalty was not a deterrent, wasted taxpayer money and is flawed because it is “irreversible and irreparable in the event of human error”.

Since 1973, five California inmates who were sentenced to death were later exonerated.

Now, more than 60% of condemned inmates in California are minorities, which Mr Newsom’s office says proves there is a racial disparity in who is sentenced to death.

Last April, Vicente Figueroa Benavides was freed in California after spending 25 years on death row for the murder of a young girl. A court ruled a testimony given at his trial was false.

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Chimps spotted cracking open tortoises’ shells and eating reptiles for first time | World News

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Chimpanzees have been spotted cracking tortoise shells against tree trucks and then eating the animals.

Scientists say this behaviour shows the apes’ impressive mental abilities.

It is thought to be the first time chimps have been seen preying on the reptiles in this way.

After smashing their shells, they scooped out the meat and shared it with other chimps.

The behaviour was spotted in the Rekambo chimpanzee community in Loango National Park in Gabon between July 2016 and May 2018.

One reason they do this could be that the region also has an abundance of hard-shelled fruit, like that from the strychnos tree, which also needs to be hit against trees to open.

This has led some enterprising chimpanzees to try the same on tortoises, said Tobias Deschner, one of the researchers.

“They see this is a hard-shelled object with some interesting thing inside and they need to crack it open,” said Mr Deschner, a primate researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

“If they can do that with the fruit and have the same problem with a hard-shelled animal with something inside that they want to get access to, then they can say ‘OK, why not do it in exactly the same way?'”

A “distinct smashing technique” was used, researchers from the University of Osnabruck and Max Planck Institute said.

They saw 10 animals, mainly male, hunting hinge-back tortoises on 38 occasions, 34 of which were successful.

They said: “Similar to nut cracking in chimpanzees – a percussive technology which is only mastered at the age of approximately nine to 10 years – the acquisition of a successful tortoise smashing technique may rely on a certain amount of strength.

“In addition, it may also involve a relatively long period of time to learn, practice and refine.”

It amounted to “further support for their exceptionally large and flexible cognitive tool kits”, the scientists said.

In two cases in which adolescent chimpanzees were trying to smash open a tortoise, the authors said they were unsuccessful.

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Healthy dog put down because owner wanted to be buried together | US News

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A healthy dog was put down because her owner requested she be buried with her in her will.

Emma, a Shih Tzu mix, was euthanized two weeks after arriving at a shelter in Chesterfield County, Virginia on 8 March.

Her owner had died and her will stipulated she be buried with her dog.

Staff at the shelter where Emma was staying were in contact with the executors of the will in the hope of convincing them to sign over the animal so they could have her adopted.

Carrie Jones, the manager of the animal services, said: “We did suggest they could sign the dog over on numerous occasions, because it’s a dog we could easily find a home for and re-home.”

According to WWBT in Richmond, Virginia, the dog was taken to a vet, euthanized and the ashes were placed in an urn and returned to the woman’s estate.

The process is legal in Virginia, by a law which came into force in 2014. But cemeteries have to allocate a separate part of the land for pets, and they can’t be in the same niche as humans.

Other states allow pets to be buried with owners.

The shelter offered to have the dog adopted
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The shelter offered to have the dog adopted

Speaking to AP, vet Dr Kenny Lucas said his clinic would not do it, but admitted it was an “emotional decision”.

Larry Spiaggi, president of the Virginia Funeral Directors Association, said it was abhorrent.

He told WWBT: “It’s not legal to put a dog’s cremated remains – or any animal – in a casket and bury them.”

The state is considering legislation to address the problem.

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UN tells Britain to end ‘colonial administration’ of Chagos Islands | World News

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Britain should end its “colonial administration” of the Chagos Islands and return them to Mauritius within six months, the UN has demanded.

The 193-member world body approved a resolution supporting a finding by the International Court of Justice that the Indian Ocean island chain be given back to Mauritius.

The General Assembly resolution, like the court’s ruling, is not legally binding but it does carry weight as it came from the UN’s highest court, and the vote – 116-6 with 56 abstentions – reflects world opinion.

The court said in its opinion Britain had unlawfully carved up Mauritius, which the Chagos Archipelago was a part of, in 1965 when Mauritius was a British colony.

It said: “The United Kingdom is under an obligation to bring to an end its administration of the Chagos Archipelago as rapidly as possible.”

DATE IMPORTED:22 October, 2008A demonstrator demanding her return to the Chagos Islands in the Diego Garcia archipelago shouts during a protest outside the Houses of Parliament in London October 22, 2008. Britain's highest court ruled in favour of the British government on Wednesday, blocking the return of hundreds of Chagos Island people to their homes in the south Indian Ocean after nearly 40 years of exile. The decision by the House of Lords ends a years-long battle to secure the Chagos Islan
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Many Chagossians resettled in the UK and have fought in British courts to return to the islands

Britain evicted about 2,000 people from the Chagos Archipelago in the 1960s and 1970s so the US military could build its air base on Diego Garcia.

Many resettled in the UK and have fought in British courts to return to the islands.

Britain’s UN ambassador, Karen Pierce, told the assembly: “British Indian Ocean Territory has been under continuous British sovereignty since 1814. Mauritius has never held sovereignty over it and we do not recognise their claim.”

She added that the government stands by the 1965 agreement with the Mauritian Council of Ministers to detach the British Indian Ocean Territory in exchange for fishing rights and other benefits and a commitment “to cede the territory when it is no longer needed for defence purposes”.

Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth told the assembly his country “is extremely disappointed” in the position of the British government.

Mr Jugnauth said the 1965 agreement on the Chagos Archipelago “was carried out under duress” and labelled the forcible eviction of islanders as “a very dark episode of human history akin to a crime against humanity”.

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