World’s top news stories for today from Washingtonian post (April 7, 2016)
Rise of worldwide executions in 2015
More people were put to death in countries around the world last year than in any other year during the past quarter-century, Amnesty International said Tuesday. The report said at least 1,634 people were executed in 2015, a rise of 54 percent from the year before and the highest number the human rights watchdog has recorded since 1989.
Executions were carried out in 25 countries, but just three – Iran, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan accounted for 90 percent of all recorded executions. Amnesty said at least 158 people were executed in Saudi Arabia, a predominantly Sunni country. Among those executed was Shi’ite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr. In Iran, many executions were carried out for drug-related offenses.
The true number of people executed globally is likely much higher, because China is excluded from Amnesty’s data. Belarus, the only European country to use the death penalty, and Vietnam also do not provide data.
US, the only country in the Continent to use capital punishment, was fifth on the Amnesty list. There were 28 executions in six US states – Texas accounted for almost half the total. VOA
US names in the Panama Papers
Most of the wealthy people implicated so far in the leak of offshore tax documents from Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca have been Russian, Chinese, and other nationalities, but there are also some American names.
McClatchy Newspapers published a number of those names late Wednesday, noting that there are some perfectly legal uses of offshore shell companies. Still, “I would assume a lot of the ultra rich are having conversations with their tax lawyers about what their exposure is as a result of this leak,” said University of Connecticut tax law expert Richard Pomp. “They know their names are likely to be revealed to the IRS. The question is ‘How clean are we?'” McClatchy, USA Today via The Week
The battle over US Supreme Court nominee
The battle over President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee increased in fury but came no closer to resolution as rhetorical barbs sharpened and tempers flared on Capitol Hill.
While Judge Merrick Garland continued to meet with senators, debate over his nomination devolved into finger-pointing about lawmakers’ motivations and was punctuated by sharp criticism of the Supreme Court’s chief justice. Assistant Democratic Leader Dick Durbin said Republicans’ refusal to consider Garland is part of a campaign to delegitimize President Obama.
Republicans insist their sole aim is to insulate the confirmation process from the political crosswinds of a presidential campaign season. In an unusual move, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley, took Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts to task for a recent speech bemoaning political fights in the Senate’s judicial confirmation process. Roberts argued such partisanship erodes the public’s confidence in the high court’s independence and objectivity. Roberts was nominated by Republican President George W. Bush.
Collins, the second Republican who met Garland, suggested fellow Republicans are taking a big gamble by waiting for the next president to choose a nominee rather than considering Garland, who is widely viewed as a judicial moderate.
Democrats, meanwhile, continue to mount a full-throated campaign demanding Garland’s consideration by the Senate. VOA
US Presidential election
Sanders’ comment on Clinton: At a rally in Philadelphia on Wednesday, Bernie Sanders said that Hillary Clinton “has been saying lately that she thinks that I am ‘not qualified’ to be president,” then went on to list several ways “I don’t believe that she is qualified,” including “through her super PAC, taking tens of millions of dollars in special interest funds,” her vote to authorize the Iraq War, and her support of “almost every disastrous trade agreement,” specifically the U.S.-Panama free trade deal passed under President Obama. Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon responded that “Clinton did not say Bernie Sanders was ‘not qualified.’ But he has now — absurdly — said it about her. This is a new low.” CNN
Chance for Cruz: The chance of a rare contested Republican presidential nominating convention is growing in the wake of U.S.Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s resounding win over front-runner Donald Trump in the Wisconsin primary election. There are 16 state Republican nominating contests to go, extending into early June. Trump, a billionaire real estate mogul making his first run for elective office, would have to win more than 60 percent of the remaining delegates to July’s national convention in order to claim the party’s presidential nomination before the convention starts. VOA
The only GOP who can beat Clinton: A poll released Wednesday shows Bernie Sanders trailing Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania by six points, while both Democratic candidates lag behind Ohio Gov. John Kasich in a hypothetical fall match-up in the Keystone State. The poll, released by Quinnipiac University, also shows Republican frontrunner Donald Trump leading Ted Cruz, 39%-30%. Kasich trails in third at 24%, but is the only Republican candidate who beat Clinton or Sanders in a head-to-head matchup in the key swing state, pollsters noted. USA Today
Trump’s big rally in New York: Trump went early and often to his go-to refrain, telling a crowd of more than 15,000 supporters at Grumman Studios Wednesday that America would win again if he becomes president. It was his first New York primary appearance and represented a homecoming one day after being dealt a momentum-shifting defeat at the hands of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in the Wisconsin Republican primary. USA Today
White House will move Ebola funds to Zika
The Obama administration will move $510 million in unspent money dedicated to battling last year’s global public health crisis — the Ebola virus — toward this year’s global public health crisis: the Zika virus.
But the White House also made clear that the United States needs to be able to address both Ebola and Zika, and called on Congress to act immediately on its $1.9 billion request to battle Zika.
There have been 312 travel-related cases of Zika in the continental United States as of March 30, according to the Centers for Disease Control. None have been confirmed to involve the spread of Zika to someone who has not traveled outside the United States. But there have been another 352 cases in the territories of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and American Samoa, where the disease is spreading by local mosquitoes. USA Today
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