On March 18, 1995, Henry Watkins “Hank” Skinner was convicted of murdering his girlfriend, Twila Busby, and her two adult sons, Randy Busby and Elwin Caler. The three individuals were brutally murdered on December 31, 1993 in Pampa, Texas, as Twila was bludgeoned to death and the two sons were stabbed.
It has been fifteen years since Skinner’s conviction, and in March, 2010, just thirty five minutes before Hank was scheduled to be executed, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay of execution in order to consider Skinner’s request for DNA testing, something that was not done during his trial in 1994. Ultimately, while the Supreme Court ruled in Skinner’s favor, it did not grant Skinner the actual DNA testing, instead, under the Civil Rights Act of 1871, the Supreme Court ruled that Skinner could sue the county D.A.
It is not as if there wasn’t any DNA evidence to test. In fact, there were many DNA samples taken from the crime scene, including a rape kit, blood samples, samples of biological material from underneath Twila Busby’s fingernails, suggesting that she fought back at her assailant, and a windbreaker with more blood samples, human hairs, and perspiration stains. There is also evidence that another man, Twila’s uncle, had been stalking her the night of the murder and had a violent past with Twila.
Despite the plethora of DNA evidence and the pleas of seven of the 12 jurors on the case to test the DNA, the state of Texas has refused to test the samples in the Skinner case. Skinner is set to be executed on November 9th, and judging by the actions of Georgia in killing Troy Davis this past September despite so much doubt surrounding his case, we cannot assume that justice will be paid by our failing court system. We need to act now and prevent Texas from executing what may very well be an innocent man. Texas has done it before in 2004 when they executed Cameron Todd Willingham, despite expert arson evidence that could have exonerated him.
We need to act now. Please contact Gray County (TX) District Attorney Lynn Switzer and Governor Rick Perry and urge Texas to test Hank Skinner’s DNA and not to execute another man. You can also sign this petition and show your support.
Despicable Scum of the Week is a weekly look at a despicable scum. This week…
Sorry, no column this week. I’m getting over a cold and I was following the Troy Davis situation too closely to feel like writing.
Let’s just say that a large chunk of the State of Georgia and the entire bunch of mutant, treacherous, pus-headed troglodytes on the Burrito Supreme Court are the despicable scum of the week and leave it at that.
Disbelief in the Wake of Troy Davis’ Killing Last night, at 11:08 pm, Troy Davis was killed by the state of Georgia. With no physical evidence and 7 of 9 eyewitnesses recanting their story, the Supreme Court still found it legitimate to kill Troy. This event has sparked a debate on the policy of the Death Penalty itself. This post by Dave Zirin epitomizes the sadness and questions that this killing has created in many Americans.
The Miseducation of the President Interesting post by Joan Walsh on the psychology of Barack Obama. This issue was raised by Ron Suskind’s new book, wherein he suggested that Obama has been beholden to his ‘Washington Insider’ advisors. Walsh hypothesizes that Obama might have read the book and be taking some steps to combat past failures. Personally, I need to see more evidence to be optimistic.
‘Ground Zero’ Mosque Opens… The World Doesn’t End The controversial ‘Ground Zero’ Park 51 Mosque opened on Wednesday… to little fanfare. As expected, the multi-faith community center was not the Sharia Law and Terror spouting machine that the Right Wing claimed it would be. This is a success story, if only more lessons would be learned from it.
Elizabeth Warren – Continuing to Fight the Good Fight Elizabeth Warren, riding high on her newly minted Senate run in Massachusetts, put out a campaign video where she plainly explains some liberal ideals. No one got rich on their own. They used public goods (Roads, Police/Fire, Public Schools) in their ascent, and they should pay their fair share of taxes in return. This is not Class Warfare.
Perry: Romney is Obama-Lite An Ohio Tea Party leader called Speaker John Boehner a ‘Socialist.’ Now Rick Perry is using a similar tactic – calling Mitt Romney ‘Obama-Lite.’ Seriously? Do these people know what a Socialist is? Because Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders might have something to say in his being grouped with men like Boehner and Romney.
Palestine to Continue Pursuing Bid for Statehood, Against U.S.’s Wishes Obama, in a last ditch effort, tried to stall Palestine’s effort to get a Statehood vote in the United Nations. Nicolas Sarcozy stepped up and put forward a plan that was starkly opposed to Obama’s wishes. This is a huge political hot potato for the Obama Administration – he can’t afford to disagree with Israel and AIPAC. But if it’s just him standing in the way of a free Palestinian state… it looks pretty awful for him around the world.
The Revolving Door Continues Meg Whitman, former eBay CEO, was the GOP’s rising star before losing in her California Gubernatorial race in 2010. Today, she agreed to take over as the head of HP. Give her a few years, let her increase company profits by offshoring more jobs, and she will once again have the ‘business cred’ to run for office again as a Republican.
We conclude today’s post with a happier story to lighten the mood…
Best. Memoir. Title. Ever. Arnold Schwarzenegger is releasing a memoir. What is its title? Total Recall. Yes, Arnold Schwarzenegger is releasing a memoir (that I assume is not a comedy book) with the same title as his 1990 movie. Also, Total Recall is a fantastic movie and I hope that the book does the name justice.
Thanks for reading and staying informed. Keep checking back to The Progressive Playbook for more insightful progressive commentary and more Daily News Drops!
Sources: The Nation, Alternet, Think Progress, Talking Points Memo, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, The Raw Story
Troy Davis EDIT: As I’m typing, the Supreme Court is trying to decide whether Troy Davis will die tonight.
For some reason, the state of Georgia has decided to kill Troy Davis, whether he’s guilty or not. Despite mounting evidence that, at the very least, sheds DOUBT upon the guilty verdict, the state has rejected every single appeal, request for stay of execution, and now, even rejected a polygraph test. They want to kill him reeeeeally badly, apparently. Welcome to the United States of America.
A Palestinian State? I have yet to have anybody give me a decent reason for why the Palestinians should not have their own state. Israel was created by the United Nations, and they’ve been taking land from the Palestinians for years, so I really don’t understand what the issue is. I do understand that the supposed “better” route to take would be directly through peace talks with Israel, but Bebe will NEVER let that happen.
Ron Paul’s Dead Staffer Apparently, the Ron Paul Staffer who died, leaving his family with $400k worth of medical bills because of his lack of insurance (due to a pre-existing condition), was a victim of the Government. According to Ron Paul, it’s the Government’s fault that doctors and private insurance companies charge so much money for treatment. He, however, completely ignores the fact that this man wasn’t able to have access to insurance because of his condition, and, of course, fails to acknowledge that the man was working for him when he died. Employer based health care? WHAT’S THAT?!
DADT Ending Bittersweet Past service members who were discharged under or served during “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” are feeling a little bittersweet over the end of DADT, and with good reason. It must be really difficult to watch somebody be able to be themselves when you had to live a lie simply because people finally got around to ending a policy that shouldn’t have existed in the first place. Nevertheless, we should celebrate its demise, and remember and thank all for their service, discharged or not under that horribly misguided, discriminatory program.
Santorum Rick Santorum has been complaining about the less-than-savory definition that comes up in Google when you search for his name (thanks to former roommate, Dan Savage). However, “Google’s rankings were declared ”opinions” protected by the 1st Amendment in a 2003 Federal court ruling. Google literally is of the opinion that Rick Santorum is a gross anal byproduct and there’s nothing he can do about it.” This may be an immature story, but it’s hilarious. Enjoy it!
Class Warfare Democrats are actually fighting back (a little bit) against the Republicans’ ridiculous claims that Barack Obama has been engaging in “class warfare.” If class warfare is telling the truth about what the Republicans have done to the middle class and below in this country, then yes, I suppose the President is armed and dangerous.
FBI Teaching Bigotry This is an article I meant to post days ago. New documents reveal that the FBI was training Counterterrorism Agents to actually BE Islamophobic. They were “being taught that “devout” Muslims are more likely to be “violent” and that American Muslims are likely to be terrorist sympathizers.” That’s just wonderful. How can we possibly expect our country to “recover” from 9/11 or even just not be a bunch of light skinned bigots if our Federal Bureau of Investigation officers are perpetuating that bigotry and stereotypes?! We can’t. We have, however, been assured that this type of training is no longer happening; I’m sure they’re scapegoating somebody though!
Jane Lynch Just because I love Jane Lynch. Watch it!
Everybody have a fantastic evening, and see you tomorrow for more of the Daily News Drop!
Sources: The Washington Post, CNN, Talking Points Memo, Gawker, The Huffington Post, Think Progress
Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Officially Ends After a completely unnecessary waiting period, the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy toward Gay soldiers has officially ended. And the world didn’t end. Really, it didn’t. Dan Choi, who was discharged from the military under the policy and became one of DADT’s most outspoken critics, has stated that he intends to re-enlist. Congratulations Dan, I met the man a couple years ago and I can say that he deserves this happy ending. Now if we can just end these illegal wars…
Miscarriage of Justice: Troy Davis to be Killed Today, the Georgia Board of Parole and Pardons ignored severe doubts raised about the conviction of Troy Davis and the hundreds of thousands of petitions sent on Troy’s behalf and ruled that he shall be executed at 7:00pm tomorrow. This case is a clear example of why the death penalty is barbaric and why it should be eliminated. Its permanence eliminates any chance of righting wrongful convictions. The editors of the Nation have written a concise piece on what this case says for our nation in regards to the death penalty.
U.S. Building Massive Prison in Afghanistan Barack Obama wanted to close Guantanamo Bay. Or at least he said he did. But he didn’t. Not only that but he used a prison in Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan to continue the massive incarceration of ‘terrorists.’ Now, with austerity on the tongues of all the politicians in Washington, and surefire domestic cuts on the horizon, the Obama Administration solicited bids for the construction of a massive new prison at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. This project will cost between $25 million and $100 million dollars.
Because of Wikileaks, Al Jazeera Replaces Top News Director During the run up to the Iraq war, the Bush Administration demonized the Arabic news station Al Jazeera to the point of calling them terrorist sympathizers. Because of a disclosure by Wikileaks, we now know that the Top News Director at Al Jazeera (Wahad Khanfar) changed the coverage of the network because of the U.S.’s pressure. Because of this clear example of the breach of impartiality, Al Jazeera has replaced Khanfar. This is why entities like Wikileaks are vital. It helps keep everyone honest.
The GOP’s War on Pleasure Great commentary by Digby on a statement by a Texas GOP representative Wayne Christian claiming that there was a legitimate war on birth control across the country. It moves beyond just birth control – it is a war on pleasure, and the pleasure of women in particular.
A Primer on Why you Should Care About the Horn of Africa Famine I know, you haven’t heard this on the mainstream media, but thousands are dying in the Horn of Africa due to a horrific drought and subsequent famine. This famine is worse than the one that Somalia experienced in 1992 that killed 300,000. Read this in depth primer and tell your friends. More people need to know that 12 million people in the region are at risk of starvation. Also, climate change deniers, does this count as extreme weather that might have been caused by climate change?
Shocker: Mainstream Media Ignores the Left Michael Moore went on The Rachel Maddow Show yesterday to talk about the recent liberal protests around the country. The #OccupyWallStreet protest and the Keystone XL Pipeline protests in DC where more than 1,000 individuals were arrested to show opposition to the proposed oil pipeline were discussed in detail. Moore made a cogent point – isn’t it strange that a supposedly liberal media would largely ignore these protests? If 1,000 Tea Partiers were arrested in protest a year ago, we’d still be talking about it today.
To end the post, we conclude with two happier stories to lighten the mood…
Elizabeth Warren Leads Scott Brown in Polls Elizabeth Warren trailed Senator Scott Brown by 9 points when she announced her intention to run for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts. As of today, she has a 2 point lead. This is great news. It remains to be seen whether one Senator can actually make a difference in our political system, but all I can say is that Ted Kennedy’s old seat could do a whole lot worse than Elizabeth Warren.
Cornhuskers Fans Chop-Block Pipeline As a Nebraska fan, I was delighted to see the school highlighted by Dave Zirin. The fanbase, without any organizing, were able to deal a symbolic blow to TransCanada, the corporation who will be building and running the transnational pipeline that will pump the Tar Sands from Alberta through Nebraska to the Gulf of Mexico. The story is great, so read Zirin’s post and enjoy!
Thanks for reading and staying informed! Keep checking back to The Progressive Playbook for wonderful progressive commentary and more Daily News Drops!
Sources: The Huffington Post, The Nation, Salon, The New York Times, Digby’s Hullabaloo, Mother Jones, The Raw Story, Firedoglake, Edge of Sports
This post is a part of the “What Democracy Looks Like” weekly column, which covers left-wing movements and activism. Formerly known as “The Active Left.”
UPDATE- Unfortunately, after receiving hope that Troy would receive a stay of execution, the Supreme Court voted against it. Georgia went through with the execution. His time of death was 11:08 P.M. EST, Thursday Sept. 21, 2011.
A few weeks back I wrote a column on the group, Campaign to End the Death Penalty. In my post I touched on the story of Troy Davis, which is a case that the Campaign has been hard at work with.
As was previously stated, Davis’ story is just one example of how capital punishment is an institution that should be reconsidered. Davis was charged and convicted for the 1989 murder of Georgia off-duty police officer, Mark McPhail. In the 20 years since his conviction, some questions have risen. As Amnesty International explained, with no forensic or DNA evidence, the conviction of Davis was entirely based on witness testimony. Since the trial, seven out of the nine key witnesses recanted their testimony or changed their story. A few of them actually stated they were originally coerced by police to testify against Davis. Not only that, but one of the remaining two witnesses was actually a suspect in the murder.
As Mark reported on this website last week, the state of Georgia set an execution date for Davis scheduled for Wednesday, September 21. As soon as the news hit the CEDP, Amnesty International, NAACP and a number of other left-wing and human rights organizations began planning ways to protest the execution, and hopefully save his life in the end.