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Texas reinstates inmate’s death penalty that had been halted by Supreme Court

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An inmate on death row in a Texas prison who was temporarily spared by the U.S. Supreme Court had his death sentence reinstated by a state court on Wednesday after it determined that he was competent to be executed, legal filings showed.

The U.S. Supreme Court in 2017 had faulted Texas for its obsolete standard of assessing if the inmate was intellectually disabled. The Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that the execution of people who are intellectually disabled violates the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which bans cruel and unusual punishment.

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The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the state’s highest court for criminal cases which is dominated by conservatives, said in a decision on Wednesday it had revised its standards to better reflect modern medical thinking and abide by U.S. Supreme Court directives. Under its new protocols, inmate Bobby Moore, 58, can be executed, it said.

“It remains true under our newly adopted framework that a vast array of evidence in this record is inconsistent with a finding of intellectual disability,” the Texas court said in a 5-3 decision.

Cliff Sloan, attorney for Moore, said the court’s ruling is “clearly an outlier that is inconsistent with the controlling intellectual disability standards.”

The district attorney for Harris County, where Moore’s crime took place, said in an October filing with the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals that Moore’s life should be spared because he was intellectually disabled.

Moore was convicted at age 20 of fatally shooting an elderly grocery store clerk during a 1980 robbery in Houston.

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In a Supreme Court ruling authored by liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in March 2017 for the Moore case, the court held that the Texas system for gauging the intellect of defendants was deficient.

Legal filings showed it was based on standards adopted about a quarter century ago.

The Supreme Court decision came about a month after it gave another Texas death row inmate, Duane Buck, a chance to avoid execution because his trial was tainted by testimony from a psychologist who stated Buck was more likely to commit future crimes because he is black.

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Chief Justice John Roberts denounced the “noxious strain of racial prejudice” seen in that case. Moore is also black.

Since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976, Texas has executed 551 inmates, the most of any state. The figure is about five times higher than the state with the second most executions, Virginia, according to the nonprofit Death Penalty Information Center.

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Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Additional reporting by Larence Hurley in Washington; editing by Bill Berkrot


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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America could be on the verge of a huge shift to the left — here’s what you can expect

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A new socialist movement is cohering in the US, thanks in large part to the popular class politics of Bernie Sanders. But as that movement grows and progresses, it is bound to run into dangerous obstacles and thorny contradictions. The new US socialist movement is without a single "line" or monolithic political position. That's a strength of the movement, since none of us has all the answers. Still, many people in the movement, ourselves included, feel strongly about certain approaches to strategy. One approach we feel strongly about is what we call "the democratic road to socialism," or the idea that we need to make good use of the democratic structures and processes available to us (and to improve and expand them) in order to advance our cause.A country like the United States has both a well-developed capitalist state, beholden to the capitalist class and armed to the teeth, and mechanisms for democratic participation in that state that allow people to exercise some measure of control over their representatives. Even though their choices are limited, their representatives are bought off by the rich, and the capitalist class holds the entire system hostage with the threat of devastating economic retaliation if things don't go their way, the system does have some basic democratic elements that its citizens largely affirm and occasionally participate in.This is a tricky situation to navigate. If the democratic capitalist state were less developed, it might be possible to convince people to simply storm the gates, tear up the old rules, and start fresh in a socialist society. This is what socialists tried to do in Russia in 1917: the state was weak and after centuries of autocratic rule it didn't have much legitimacy in the eyes of most Russians, so revolutionaries could get popular support for scrapping it and starting over.
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White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney caught on tape saying US is ‘desperate’

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White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney was caught on tape admitting that, despite President Donald Trump's policy preferences, the United States is "desperate" for more immigrants, according to a recording obtained by the Washington Post.

He further undermined the administration's claims of its economic prowess, admitting that immigration is necessary for sustained economic growth.

"We are desperate — desperate — for more people," Mulvaney said, according to the post, stressing that it should be legal. "We are running out of people to fuel the economic growth that we've had in our nation over the last four years. We need more immigrants."

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Hawaii holds woman over missing children amid suspicious deaths and ‘doomsday cult’ links

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A 46-year-old American woman with reported links to a doomsday cult and to at least three people whose deaths are being investigated has been arrested in Hawaii over the disappearance of her two children.

Lori Vallow was arrested Thursday on the island of Kauai and charged with felony desertion of the children, 7-year-old Joshua Vallow, who is autistic, and 17-year-old Tylee Ryan, police said in a statement.

According to US media reports, the children, who have different fathers, were last seen on September 23, 2019.

Their disappearance was reported in November by the boy's grandparents, who live in Louisiana and had heard nothing from the children for an extended period.

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