Feb. 4, 2000
Curious about what kind of appetite a man might have when he knows he’s about to die? The thoughtful folks at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice have made it easy to find out, by Web-posting the last meals requested by inmates on the state’s voluminous death row, SALON.COM reports. Also on the menu are statistics about the inmates, including racial breakdown, a record of past executions, and a special section on women on death row.
A department spokesperson claims that the site is designed to meet the huge popular interest in the minutiae of putting people to death. It’s also, the spokesperson says, a “PR tool” designed to show people where the $2 billion dollars Texans spend on corrections each year is going.
Feb. 3, 2000
Auto workers scored big Thursday when Ford Motor Co. announced it would offer to provide each of its 350,000 employees worldwide with super-fast PCs, color printers, and internet access in their homes — for just $5 a month. The United Auto Workers union was hardly shy about taking credit for the deal: “This program is a tribute to the collective bargaining process and to our solid relationship with Ford Motor Co.,” UAW president Stephen Yokich told the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS.
While Ford refused to disclose how much the program would cost, company president Jac Nasser gave it a positive spin: “This program keeps Ford Motor Company and our worldwide team at the leading edge of e-business technology and skills,” he said. Seems unions are still good for something, after all.
Feb. 2, 2000
The future looks black for the Green known as “the Red.” According to the NANDO TIMES, prosecutors in Germany are aiming to lift the legal immunity of Green Party leader Daniel Cohn-Bendit, aka Danny the Red, so they can look into his alleged role in helping out a suspected terrorist. The alleged terrorist was arrested in France in 1998 on charges of participating in a 1975 attack led by the infamous Carlos the Jackal on an OPEC oil ministers’ conference that killed three people. As a member of the European Parliament, Cohn-Bendit is immune from prosecution, but prosecutors are trying to get that immunity nullified so they can launch an investigation.
Feb. 1, 2000
New evidence may prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Odell Barnes is innocent of a 1991 murder charge. What good will it do him? Probably none, the HOUSTON PRESS reports. According to some legal scholars, in Texas even the most convincing proof of a prisoner’s innocence may no longer be enough to warrant an appeal.
“In the current state of affairs, absolute innocence can’t prevent you from being executed,” says noted appellate lawyer Dick Burr. “It is the most shocking development that I have seen in the 20-plus years I have done death penalty work.”
Barnes’ various appeals have been rejected, and he is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on March 1.
Barnes was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1989 murder of Helen Bass in Houston. His conviction came despite what many say was a botched — if not corrupt — police investigation, ineffective trial lawyers and a convict-at-all-cost attitude on the part of police and prosecutors. Recent lab tests and extensive re-examinations of the evidence have ripped away key elements of the case against him. In addition, new witnesses have contradicted the prosecution’s version of what happened the night of the murder.
Jan. 31, 2000
Sure, $325 million sounds like a lot of money, especially when you’re talking about giving it to a destitute region of the world. That’s the amount tireless presidential wannabe Al Gore pledged to dedicate to “sub-Saharan Africa” for research and treatment of the AIDS pandemic there, which Gore has called a threat to global security.
But Nairobi-based THE EAST AFRICAN points out why $325 million is really an insult. For one, the amount works out to a paltry $10 per African with AIDS. Moreover, $325 million is less than what the US government gives a typical African ally in military support in a single year. And we might add that Gore, who on behalf of his pharmaceutical industry pals fought to prevent generic AIDS drugs from use in South Africa, owes Africa not only more in the way of assistance, but an apology, too.
Says the author: “Gore’s proposal, when keenly scrutinized, is more in the nature of a penny tossed to a beggar by a detached tycoon.”