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High court: Florida death penalty system is unconstitutional

US Supreme CourtThe Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that Florida's system for sentencing people to death is unconstitutional because it gives too much power to judges — and not enough to juries — to decide capital sentences.

The 8-1 ruling said that the state's sentencing procedure is flawed because juries play only an advisory role in recommending death while the judge can reach a different decision.

The court sided with Timothy Lee Hurst, who was convicted of the 1998 murder of his manager at a Popeye's restaurant in Pensacola. A jury divided 7-5 in favor of death, but a judge imposed the sentence.


Report charts history of abuse at Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon sexual abuses reportedA new report by a federal watchdog outlines a history of harassment on river trips through Grand Canyon National Park in which male park employees allegedly propositioned female colleagues for sex, touched them inappropriately and made lewd comments.

The report obtained by The Associated Press comes after 13 current and former Grand Canyon employees filed a complaint in September 2014 saying women had been abused over 15 years. It was released Tuesday by the Department of the Interior's Office of Inspector General.


Pressure grows on Oregon militia as former Bundy backers call for retreat

Oregon standoffAs the armed siege of an eastern Oregon wildlife refuge entered its second week, the rightwing militia faced increasing pressure to surrender – including from former supporters of the occupation’s leader.

Ammon Bundy, the Nevada rancher who organized the takeover of the Malheur national wildlife refuge headquarters, avoided reporters all weekend as some of the protesters began to leave the occupation and as local residents and activists who had previously backed Bundy demanded that he and his militiamen retreat.


L.A. Police Chief Wants Officer Charged For Killing Unarmed Homeless Man

Charlie BeckBetween 2000 and 2014, the LAPD shot an average of one person every week. Yet no officer has been charged for a fatal shooting in the last 15 years.

If Police Chief Charlie Beck gets his way, that could change soon. Despite push-back from his colleagues, Beck has recommended that Officer Clifford Proctor be charged for shooting and killing an unarmed homeless man in Venice last year.


Lax gun laws in Indiana fuel gun violence in Chicago

Indiana lax gun lawsAt a gun show on Indiana’s fairgrounds, hundreds of people filed past tables of firearms — World War Two relics, handguns, hunting rifles, and combat-grade automatic weapons — sprinkled with a selection of knives, Nazi artifacts, Confederate flags, dozens of anti-Obama and anti-Islam bumper stickers, and t-shirts with slogans including “Infidel” and “I want YOU to learn English.”

“You got something to sell in that bag, buddy?,” one vendor asked a passerby at the December show. Guns aren’t just for sale — you can trade yours in, and vendors are buying.


Atlanta police stop and put gun to head of rapper after he withdraws $200,000 from his bank

rapper attacked by police for withdrawing his own moneyA rapper exiting an Atlanta bank, found himself in handcuffs and on the ground with guns pointed at his head after police stopped him for making a substantial withdrawal from his account, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution is reporting.

According to Sam Benson — who goes by the stage name of “Blac Youngsta” — he had just exited a Wells Fargo branch in the upscale community of Buckhead after withdrawing $200,000 in order to buy a new car.


Biker Injuries And Deaths Soar After Michigan Repeals Helmet Law

Biker law repealed in MichiganIn the three years after Michigan repealed a mandatory motorcycle helmet law, deaths and head injuries among bikers rose sharply, according to a recent study.

Deaths at the scene of the crash more than quadrupled, while deaths in the hospital tripled for motorcyclists. Head injuries have increased overall, and more of them are severe, the researchers report in the American Journal of Surgery.

Senior author Dr. Carlos Rodriguez decided to do the study after noticing an abrupt change in the trauma unit at Spectrum Health Hospital in Grand Rapids, where he works.


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