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Arkansas Rushes to Execute 8 Men in the Space of 10 Days

MATTHEW HAAG and RICHARD FAUSSET write:

‘The state of Arkansas plans to put to death eight inmates over a span of 10 days next month, a pace of executions unequaled in recent American history brought about by a looming expiration date for one of the drugs used in the state’s lethal injection process.

The eight men facing execution — four black and four white — are among 34 inmates on death row in Arkansas, a state where the death penalty has been suspended since 2005 over legal challenges to the state’s laws and difficulty in acquiring the necessary drugs for lethal injections. All eight men were convicted of murders that occurred between 1989 and 1999, and proponents of the death penalty and victims’ rights in the state have been frustrated that the men’s cases have dragged on for so long without resolution…’

Source: New York Times

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Understanding American authoritarianism

‘As part of his PhD research for UMass Amherst, Matthew MacWilliams surveyed the psychological characteristics of authoritarians — not the people who lead authoritarian movements, but the followers, those who defer to them.

His work echoed the independent research of Vanderbilt’s Marc Hetherington and UNC’s Jonathan Weiler, whose 2009 book Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics concluded that a sizable fraction of the US voting public were authoritarian: people who wanted to be controlled, and wanted their neighbors to be controlled, because they were afraid the status quo was slipping away and they didn’t believe that anything better would replace it.

They all posit that there are really three American parties, not two: the Democrats, the Republicans, and the authoritarian Republicans, who aren’t conservatives in the sense of wanting tax cuts for the rich or caring about specific religious or moral questions. Rather, they want strong leaders who’ll fight change, preserve hierarchies, and talk tough.

Vox’s Amanda Taub recounts the long struggle to understand authoritarianism, something social scientists have struggled with since the rise of fascism in the mid-twentieth. She describes many authoritarians as latent, waiting to be “activated” by threats — demographic and economic shifts, messages of fear and terror. …’

Source:  Boing Boing

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Trump’s Already Small Circle Of Trusted Advisers Suffers Another Big Blow

S.V. Date writes:

‘When you get to the White House with such a tiny band of brothers, each and every one seems that much more indispensable.

Or so it must seem to President Donald Trump who, just five weeks into his term and two weeks after having to fire his national security adviser, has now watched his closest Cabinet ally neutered in a key role.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Thursday that he was recusing himself from any investigations pertaining to the Trump campaign, following the revelation that he spoke with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak twice last year, despite having testified under oath during his confirmation hearings that he had no contact with any Russians.

“I have now decided to recuse myself from any existing or future investigations of any matter relating in any way to the campaigns for president of the United States,” Sessions said at a hastily called news conference.

The attorney general is the one Cabinet member of any presidential administration with the independent authority to launch investigations that could undo the presidency. In Trump’s case, that danger became plausible even before he took office, with U.S. intelligence agencies reporting that Russia had meddled in the presidential election with the goal of electing Trump.

Sessions’ decision to stay out of any of the probes underway now, or to come at some point in the future, means he can no longer shield Trump from the results. …’

Source: The Huffington Post

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Jeff Sessions said that people who commit perjury must be removed from office

Ian Millhiser writes:

‘The Washington Post reported Wednesday night that Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke to Russia’s ambassador twice last year, despite testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee that “I did not have communications with the Russians.”

Eighteen years ago, however, then-Sen. Sessions (R-AL) was called upon to judge a president who, he believed, had lied under oath. As political scientist Scott Lemieux notes, Sessions did not look kindly on President Bill Clinton during that president’s impeachment.

It now appears very likely that Sessions committed the very same crime he once voted to convict President Clinton of. The federal perjury statute forbids anyone who has “taken an oath before a competent tribunal, officer, or person” from “willfully and contrary to such oath” making a statement on “any material matter which he does not believe to be true.” …’

Source: Think Progress