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US attorney general Jeff Sessions opposes plan to reform prison sentencing

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday warned the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee to not approve a draft criminal sentencing reform bill that he claims would reduce sentences for “a highly dangerous cohort of criminals.”

In a letter seen by Reuters, Sessions told Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman and fellow Republican Charles Grassley that he feared passage of the legislation would be “a grave error.”

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Grassley’s committee is slated to make edits to the draft bill at a hearing on Thursday, before it can be sent to the full Senate for a possible vote.

The bill, unveiled by a bipartisan group of lawmakers last fall, aims to lessen prison sentences for non-violent drug offenders and it would also do away with the three-strike mandatory life provision.

It would also give judges more discretion in how they sentence non-violent offenders.

At the same time, it would toughen sentencing in some cases by adding mandatory minimums for crimes such as interstate domestic violence and trafficking in fentanyl-laced heroin.

Sessions’ opposition to the draft bill comes as no surprise.

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During his time in the Senate, he helped to kill a similar bill that was backed by many of his Republican and Democratic colleagues on the Judiciary Committee.

Since becoming attorney general a little more than a year ago, Sessions has made combating violent crime, illegal immigration and drug offenses his priority.

Last year, he issued a memorandum to all U.S. Attorneys’ offices instructing them to charge people with the highest provable offense – a move that is designed to trigger mandatory minimum sentences under laws passed in the 1980s and 1990s that critics say can wrongfully criminalize drug addicts and disproportionately affect minority communities.

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He also has blamed marijuana for directly helping fuel the ongoing opioid epidemic, and earlier this year he revoked Obama-era guidance that urged federal prosecutors not to prioritize marijuana cases in states where it is legal.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Andrew Hay and Lisa Shumaker)

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75 years ago: When atomic scientist Leo Szilard tried to halt dropping bombs over Japan

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As this troubled summer rolls along, and the world begins to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the creation, and use, of the first atomic bombs, many special, or especially tragic, days will draw special attention.  They will include July 16 (first test of the weapon in New Mexico), August 6 (bomb dropped over Hiroshima) and August 9 (over Nagasaki).   Surely far fewer in the media and elsewhere will mark another key date:  July 3.

On July 3, 1945, the great atomic scientist Leo Szilard finished a letter/petition that would become the strongest (virtually the only) real attempt at halting President Truman's march to using the atomic bomb--still almost two weeks from its first test at Trinity--against Japanese cities.

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‘Insane’: Park ranger shoots unarmed man through his heart and then handcuffs his dead body

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A ranger at Carlsbad Caverns National Park tased and then fatally shot a man during a New Mexico traffic stop and then handcuffed his lifeless body.

Charles "Gage" Lorentz was traveling March 21 from his work site in Pecos, Texas, to his family's home in southwest Colorado when he detoured at the national park to meet a friend, and that's where he encountered National Park Ranger Robert Mitchell, reported KOB-TV.

The ranger stopped the 25-year-old Lorentz for speeding on a dirt road near the park's Rattlesnake Springs area, and Mitchell's lapel video shows him ordering Lorentz to spread his feet and move closer to a railing.

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Former Trump administration official refers to a renowned Black scholar as ‘some criminal’

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President Donald Trump's former Attorney General Jeff Sessions referred to renowned Black Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. as "some criminal" in an interview with The New York Times Magazine.

Sessions, one of Trump's earliest supporters who was later fired after years of attacks from the president, is currently attempting to reclaim his old Senate seat in Alabama. Sessions has desperately tried to tout his Trumpist credentials on the campaign trail, even as the president has waged a campaign aimed at sabotaging his primary bid.

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