Court Overturns 100 death sentences

SAN FRANCISCO

A federal appeals court threw out more than 100 death sentences in Arizona and two other states yesterday because the inmates were sent to death row by judges instead of juries.

The case stems from a 2002 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, in which the high court found that juries, not judges, must render death sentences. But the Supreme Court left unclear whether the new rules should apply retroactively to inmates awaiting execution. In an 8-3 vote, the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said all condemned inmates sentenced by a judge should have their sentences commuted to life in prison.

The ruling applies only to Arizona, Idaho and Montana, the only states in the 9th Circuit that have allowed judges to impose death sentences. Two other states, Nebraska and Colorado, have also allowed judges to sentence inmates to death. But the federal appeals courts that oversee them have yet to rule on the issue.

The ruling affects approximately 3 percent of the 3,700 people on death row in the United States. “By deciding that judges are not constitutionally permitted to decide whether defendants are eligible for the death penalty, the Supreme Court altered the fundamental bedrock principles applicable to capital murder trials,” Circuit Judge Sidney Thomas wrote for the court.

Defense attorneys hailed the verdict.


North Korea calls for non-aggression pact

SEOUL, South Korea

North Korea said yesterday that it is willing to resolve the dispute over its nuclear program “through dialogue,” in an apparent softening of its stance following last week’s six-nation talks in Beijing.

After last week’s landmark talks in the Chinese capital, North Korea angrily dismissed the need for more talks and threatened to strengthen its “nuclear deterrent force,” casting doubt on the prospects for future meetings.

Yesterday, the North’s state-run news agency, KCNA, repeated North Korea’s threat to increase its nuclear capabilities unless the United States changes its policy and signs a nonaggression treaty with the communist state, but also said North Korea is willing to continue the six-nation talks.

“The DPRK’s fixed will to peacefully settle the nuclear issue between the DPRK and the U.S. through dialogue remains unchanged,” KCNA said in an English-language commentary monitored in Seoul. DPRK stands for Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, North Korea’s official name.

Last week, representatives from the United States, the two Koreas, Japan, China and Russia met in Beijing to discuss ways to end the nuclear crisis.


Reorganization to air marshals

WASHINGTON

The Bush administration is shuffling its homeland security operation to make 5,000 more armed agents available to protect commercial flights.

The reorganization will combine the air marshal’s program with the customs and immigration security programs so agents can be cross-trained and used for aviation security, officials said. This will allow the government to put extra agents on airliners if officials believe they are going to be a terror target.

Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge described the changes as a way to better mobilize the resources of his department.

“This realignment offers a sweeping gain of additional armed law enforcement officials who will be able to provide a ‘surge capacity’ during increased threat periods or in the event of a terrorist attack,” Ridge said in remarks prepared for a speech yesterday to the American Enterprise Institute.


Study: More money needed to ght cancer

WASHINGTON

Cancer deaths may be leveling off after several years of decline, and many states are lagging in proven methods to fight the most common tumors, says the nation’s annual report on cancer.

Sixteen states spend less than $1 per person on tobacco control – far less than the $5 to $10 per person recommended – even though smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, the nation’s top cancer killer. Screening for breast and colorectal cancer varies widely, too.

And there’s a widening racial gap as white Americans increasingly survive certain tumors better than blacks, says the report published Tuesday in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

“The progress against cancer continues to be mixed,” said co-author Michael Thun of the American Cancer Society.


Doctor says ‘cough CPR’ will save lives

VIENNA, Austria

Coughing vigorously until an ambulance arrives could save the lives of heart patients who are going into cardiac arrest, a doctor said yesterday.

Tadeusz Petelenz, a researcher in Poland, said the technique, called cough CPR, forces blood to the brain while the heart is starting to fail and keeps patients conscious long enough to call for help.

It may also rectify their heart rhythm, he told a meeting of the European Society of Cardiology.

He recommended Cough CPR be taught to the public, but other experts said while the concept is provocative, it needs more study.

Every year about 300,000 people in the United States die from sudden cardiac death.

– Compiled from Daily wire reports.

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