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Pakistan overturns Briton’s death sentence in Daniel Pearl murder

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A Pakistani court on Thursday overturned the death sentence for British-born militant Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, who had been convicted in the 2002 killing of American journalist Daniel Pearl.

Defence lawyer Khawja Naveed told AFP his client’s sentence had been reduced to seven years in prison.

Since Omar Sheikh had been in prison since 2002, he was expected to be released, but the court had not yet issued that order, Naveed added.

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Prosecutors were not immediately available for comment. Pakistani media reported that the verdict was handed down by two judges in the Sindh High Court.

Naveed and local media said the court also overturned the convictions of three other men in the case. They had been convicted of abetting Omar and sentenced to life in prison. It was not immediately clear when they might be released.

Pearl, 38, was the South Asia bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal when he was abducted in Karachi in January 2002 while researching a story about Islamist militants.

A graphic video showing his decapitation was delivered to the US consulate in the city nearly a month later. Omar Sheikh was arrested in 2002 and sentenced to death by an anti-terror court.

In January 2011, a report released by the Pearl Project at Georgetown University following an investigation into his death made chilling revelations, claiming that the wrong men were convicted for Pearl’s murder.

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In 2014, a Pakistan anti-terrorism court acquitted Qari Hashim, who had been arrested in the case in 2005. The judge at the time said there was a lack of evidence in the case.

The investigation, led by Pearl’s friend and former Wall Street Journal colleague Asra Nomani and a Georgetown University professor, claimed the reporter was murdered by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the September 11 2001 attacks, not Omar Sheikh.

Mohammed — better known as KSM — was arrested in Pakistan in 2003 and is being held in Guantanamo Bay. A US psychologist who interviewed KSM said the prisoner had told him that he had beheaded Pearl.

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Pearl’s brutal murder sparked revulsion across the globe. Observers at the time said the killers were acting out of revenge for Pakistan’s support of the US-led war on the hardline Islamic Taliban regime in Afghanistan and the Al-Qaeda terror network they harboured.

General Pervez Musharraf, who led Pakistan in 2002, had reversed his country’s backing of the Taliban and provided the US military with logistical support, intelligence and air corridors. He followed this up with a crackdown on Islamic militants in his own country.

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MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace chuckles after Times reporter explains why Trump has no hope of pivoting to an empathetic campaign

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MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace struggled to stifle a chuckle in a conversation about President Donald Trump's struggle to run a campaign that can contend with most Americans' needs in a horrific pandemic.

"I think to Nick [Confessore's] point earlier, there should be a sense of nervousness in Trump's camp," began Democratic strategist Basil Smikle. "You don't see -- you talked about enablers. You don't see Republicans engaged in their behavior with respect to the president at this juncture. You're starting to see them not nationalize he's the president of the United States. They should be more allied with him, but instead, they're focused on local campaigns. The president has lost several cases at the Supreme Court, the Affordable Care Act case notwithstanding. There's a lot of things they should be rallying around, but they can't."

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Texas GOP sues Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner over canceled in-person convention

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The gathering, which was estimated to draw around 6,000 people, was set to happen next week in Houston.

The Republican Party of Texas is suing Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and others involved with the canceling of the party's in-person convention, which was scheduled to happen next week.

On Wednesday, Houston First Corporation, the operator of the George R. Brown Convention Center, sent a letter to party officials informing them that the event had been canceled. That cancelation happened after Turner announced he was directing the city's legal department to work with Houston First to review the contract for the event.

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Texas bans elective surgeries in more than 100 counties as coronavirus hospitalizations keep climbing

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Gov. Greg Abbott said the decision is designed to free up more resources to address the pandemic.

With cases of the new coronavirus and related hospitalizations rising at alarming rates, Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday expanded his ban on elective medical procedures to cover more than 100 counties across much of the state.

Surgeries and other procedures that are not “immediately, medically” necessary — which have already been on hold in many of the state’s biggest cities and several South Texas counties — are now barred in much of the state, from far West Texas to much of Central Texas, Southeast Texas and the Gulf Coast.

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