Arkansas Plans to Execute Two Convicts
Reuters – The state of Arkansas plans to execute two inmates on Monday evening, which would make it the first U.S. state in 17 years to put a pair of convicts to death on the same day.
A flurry of last-minute legal appeals at both the state and federal level are expected, though their likelihood of success may have diminished with the recent appointment of conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.
The high court cleared the way last week for Arkansas to hold its first execution in 12 years and the state carried out the death penalty on convicted murderer Ledell Lee.
Jack Jones, sentenced in 1996 for raping and strangling Mary Phillips and attempting to murder her 11-year-old daughter, is scheduled to be put to death at 7 P.M. at the Cummins Unit prison, about 75 miles southeast of the state capital of Little Rock. Jones was also convicted of rape and murder in Florida.
Supreme Court to Decide If Procecution, Defense Can Share Experts in Capital Case
NPR – In a time of high drama over executions in Arkansas, the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Monday in a case that could determine the fate of two of the condemned men in the Razorback state, as well as others on death row elsewhere.
At issue is whether an indigent defendant whose sanity is a significant factor in his trial, is entitled to assistance from a mental health expert witness who is independent of the prosecutors.
In 1986 James McWilliams was convicted of the rape and murder of a store clerk in Tuscaloosa, Ala. It is not his conviction that is before the court, but his death sentence.
American Monitor Killed in Ukraine When Mine Blasts Vehicle
LA Times – A land mine blew up a vehicle carrying an OSCE monitoring team in the separatist Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine on Sunday, killing an American observer and wounding two European members of the mission, officials reported.
The mission’s deputy head, Alexander Hug, said the member killed was from the United States and the two wounded are from Germany and the Czech Republic.
Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, who holds the rotating chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, called for an investigation into the blast and said on Twitter that “those responsible will be held accountable.”
China Ups Calls for Calm After Tense Weekend on Korean Peninsula
CNN – US President Donald Trump hit the phones Monday to speak with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with North Korea dominating the conversation. Trump has long called on China to rein in its unruly neighbor.
According to Chinese state media, Xi told Trump China is strongly against any action that would violate UN Security Council resolutions and added that the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue can only be solved if all parties take responsibility and work together.
“China hopes to work with relevant parties including the US to make the contribution to keep the peace and stability in the Korean peninsula,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Geng Shuang said at a briefing Monday. “As the two influential countries in the world, it is good for the two presidents to stay in touch and exchange views on major issues.”
North Korea Says It Is ‘Ready to Sink’ U.S. Aircraft Carrier
TIME – North Korea said on Sunday it was ready to sink a U.S. aircraft carrier to demonstrate its military might, in the latest sign of rising tension as U.S. President Donald Trump prepared to call the leaders of China and Japan.
The United States ordered the USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group to sail to waters off the Korean peninsula in response to mounting concern over the North’s nuclear and missile tests, and its threats to attack the United States and its Asian allies.
The U.S. government has not specified where the carrier strike group is as it approaches the area. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said on Saturday it would arrive “within days,” but gave no other details.
North Korea remained defiant.
Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen Advance in French Election
New York Times – In France’s most consequential election in recent history, voters on Sunday chose Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen to go to a runoff to determine the next president, official returns showed. One is a political novice, the other a far-right firebrand — both outsiders, but with starkly different visions for the country.
The result was a full-throated rebuke of France’s traditional mainstream parties, setting the country on an uncertain path in an election that could also decide the future of the European Union.
It is the first time in the nearly 59-year history of France’s Fifth Republic that both of the final candidates are from outside the traditional left-right party structure. Together, they drew less than half the total votes cast in a highly fractured election.