HELENA, Mont. – Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer on Friday told the family of a Canadian on death row that he is undecided on the inmate’s request for executive clemency, at times expressing sympathy for his plight and at other times noting the desire of the victims’ families for retribution.
The governor had a long, frank discussion with relatives of convicted murderer Ronald A. Smith. Schweitzer told them that his options include doing nothing with the clemency request, which seeks life in prison without the possibility of parole instead of the death penalty.
Schweitzer sympathized with the plight of Smith, who is scheduled to be executed in the 1982 killings of two Blackfeet Indian men. The governor said it is not fair for Smith to be executed after an accomplice was paroled, and indicated he believes that Smith may be a different man.
But the governor said he has spoken with the victims’ families, Blackfeet tribal members, who have told him they need Smith’s death for closure. The governor said he remains uncertain whether Smith’s death would improve the situation, and said he is not sure the traditional form of justice for the Blackfeet would include the death penalty.
“In their system of justice, when people did something very bad, they were banished,” Schweitzer said.
A tribal council member has said that many in the tribe believe that if the governor gives clemency to Smith that means the governor values Native American lives less.
Schweitzer told Smith’s family, from Red Deer, Alta., that he is aware of that criticism, but argued it does not have merit because he believes he has done more than past governors to include Montana’s largest minority group in his administration. Still, the governor is weighing the desire of those on the reservation.
“They cannot rest until there is retribution and Ron’s life is taken. They told us that,” Schweitzer said.
Blackfeet tribal members and family of the victims told the Montana Parole Board earlier this year that the execution has been postponed for too long and say it is time for Smith to pay for his crimes.
The board is recommending that Schweitzer dismiss the clemency request, writing in their report that “justice is best served” by continuing with the execution. The governor makes the final call.
Smith’s sister, Rita Duncan, told the governor much of the same that she and others told the parole board: Smith is a changed man who deserves to live the rest of his life behind bars. Speaking in a barely audible whisper, Duncan at times broke down in tears, as she described the impact Smith has helping the rest of his family through letters and phone calls.
Also at the meeting were Smith’s dad Nelson Smith, his daughter Carmen Blackburn and her two children.
The governor told them all options remain on the table. He does not have a timetable for making a decision, but noted the best-case scenario for Smith is life behind bars.
“His sentence, one way or another, is death: slow or long,” Schweitzer said.
Schweitzer also expressed anger at Smith, who originally sought the death penalty at trial before changing his mind, for putting the state of Montana in the position of aiding a suicide he once wanted.
The governor noted that the victims and others also wonder whether Smith’s apparent turnabout is real.
“Are we sure that monster is gone? Is this just a mask?” Schweitzer said.
The governor said many who write or call his office think argue Smith needs to be killed.
“I keep coming back to this question of what is fair. I don’t know what is fair,” the governor said in the hour-long meeting.
- Montana parole board denies clemency to murderer Ronald Smith (calgaryherald.com)
- Last chance at life as Montana governor meets with Ronald Smith’s family (calgaryherald.com)
- Clemency denial urged for death row Canadian in Montana (cbc.ca)
- Schweitzer meets with family of Ronald Allen Smith to discuss clemency request (montanacorruption.org)
- Governor meets family of Canadian on death row (billingsgazette.com)
- Governor meets family of Canadian on death row (missoulian.com)
- Montana governor meets family of Canadian on death row (missoulian.com)
- Clemency for Canadian on death row agonizes U.S. governor (cbc.ca)
- Montana governor meets family of death row Canadian (metronews.ca)
Scientists develop first satellite deforestation tracker for whole of Latin America
by Staff Writers
London UK (SPX) Jun 21, 2012
This shows deforestation around the dry Chaco of Paraguay from 2004-2011. Credit: http://www.terra-i.org/Karolina Argote/Louis Reymondin.
An international team of researchers in Colombia, the UK, USA and Switzerland have developed the first ever system to monitor deforestation across Latin America in near real-time using satellite data. Preliminary results from the new system reveal that in parts of Colombia, deforestation has increased by 340 per cent since 2004; and over a million hectares of forest have been lost in the Gran Chaco region of Paraguay.
The new satellite system, known as Terra-i, is being launched this week in time for the Rio+20 UN environment conference, and is soon to be expanded to cover all tropical regions. Although Brazil has had a sophisticated near real-time deforestation monitoring system in place since 2008, until now there has been no equivalent for the rest of Latin America.
Terra-i has been developed to monitor changes land cover every 16 days and for every 250 metres on the ground, in order to help national governments, conservation organisations and those implementing climate-related policy to assess recent trends in deforestation and emerging hotspots of change.
The system uses data supplied by NASA’s MODIS satellite sensorand is the result of collaboration between the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Colombia, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in the USA and South America, the School of Engineering and Management of Vaud (HEIG-VD) in Switzerland and King’s College London.
Deforestation can lead to widespread loss of biodiversity and also impacts the ‚ecosystem services‘ that foster a stable climate and secure freshwater supplies. However, in many parts of the world the scale and pattern of deforestation is infrequently and inconsistently monitored and this makes management of change very difficult.
Huge volumes of data need to be processed to detect land cover change at a 250m spatial resolution every 16 days. Moreover, separating real human-induced changes, such as deforestation, from changes brought about by natural seasonality and by droughts, floods or persistent cloud cover, has made the development of an operational monitoring system a real challenge.
The availability of MODIS imagery means that assessment of land cover change can be made in a geographically consistent manner between countries and also updated frequently.
The development of the Terra-i system was led Louis Reymondin, PhD student in the Department of Geography at King’s College London, supervised by Dr Mark Mulligan, in collaboration with CIAT and HEIG-VD and funded by TNC.
‚We developed a computational neural network and ‚trained‘ it with data from 2000-2004 to recognise the normal changes in vegetation greenness due to seasonal variation in rainfall in different areas,‘ said Dr Mulligan, who is attending the Rio+20 conference this week.
‚The network now recognises where and when greenness suddenly changes well beyond these normal limits as a result of deforestation. The system runs on data for every 250 square metres of land from Mexico to Argentina shortly after the data comes in from MODIS and highlights every 16 days the pixels that significantly change, writing these results to Google Maps for easy visualisation,‘ he said.
Preliminary data from Terra-i show that in Caqueta, Colombia for example, deforestation grew from around 4,880 hectares in 2004 to 21,440 in 2011, up by 340 per cent. Deforestation has grown significantly in the buffer zones of the Chiribiquete National Park where deforestation ratesincreased by 196 per cent from 2010 to 2011.
The Gran Chaco in Paraguay is the second largest forested area in South America. Terra-i found that between 2004 and 2010, over a million hectares of this area was deforested with a peak in 2009 of 454,700 hectares.
‚As we approach Rio+20 in which the world will define the targets that will guide us along the road to a more sustainable development, it is critical that we deploy the appropriate tools to carefully monitor and manage our landscapes,‘ said Dr Mulligan.
‚We need to ensure that we maintain enough farmland to feed the nine billion to come but we must also have protected natural landscapes that provide clean water, a stable climate, a refuge for biodiversity and space for increasingly urbanised populations to experience and appreciate the wonders of nature.
‚Achieving the right balance between intelligently intensive agriculture and protected natural environments across the world will be fundamental to achieving truly sustainable development and requires sophisticated, geographically detailed and timely tools such as Terra-i to support appropriate policy and decision-making‘.
- The Brazilian President can stop this | Greenpeace International (spiritandanimal.wordpress.com)
- Scientists develop first satellite deforestation tracker for whole of Latin America (phys.org)
- Terra-i: the most precise real-time deforestation tracker yet (arstechnica.com)
- Deforestation tracker Rio+20 launch (earthsky.org)
- Scientists develop first satellite deforestation tracker for whole of Latin America (eurekalert.org)
The Robin Hood Tax campaign is calling for a tax of less than half of 1% on Wall Street transactions that could generate hundreds of billions of dollars each year.
A Robin Hood Tax on Wall Street will provide funding to kickstart the economy and get America back on its feet by creating jobs and strengthening public services like health care, education and infrastructure at home while tackling AIDS, global health, poverty and climate challenges around the world
Jamie Dimon received a pay package of $23 million last year as C.E.O. of J.P. Morgan Chase. Dimon is about to receive a flood of emails from Robin Hood, announcing the launch of a new campaign with a huge coalition behind it. Send him one more right now!
Video Posted June 19, 2012
- Soros Tax Gets Support From Nurses (economicpolicyjournal.com)
- Oxfam claims MSPs back ‚Robin Hood‘ tax plan on transactions (scotsman.com)
- Open thread for night owls: ‚Robin Hood Tax‘ advocates to rally Tuesday (dailykos.com)
- Mark Ruffalo: Why I Support the Robin Hood Tax (huffingtonpost.com)
- Mark Ruffalo: Why I Support the Robin Hood Tax (huffingtonpost.com)
Please, read the whole article there…thank You!
Here some lines:
March 26: This post has been updated to reflect the latest in the ongoing investigation of the shooting, and corrected .
„Stand Your Ground,“ „Shoot First,“ „Make My Day“ — state laws asserting an expansive right to self-defense — have come into focus after last month’s killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin .
In 2005, Florida became the first state to explicitly expand a person’s right to use deadly force for self-defense. Deadly force is justified if a person is gravely threatened, in the home or „any other place where he or she has a right to be .“
Most states have long allowed the use of reasonable force, sometimes including deadly force, to protect oneself inside one’s home — the so-called Castle Doctrine . Outside the home, people generally still have a „duty to retreat“ from an attacker, if possible, to avoid confrontation. In other words, if you can get away and you shoot anyway, you can be prosecuted. In Florida, there is no duty to retreat. You can „stand your ground“ outside your home, too.“ …..please, read whole article there!