Memphis: DA seeks death penalty for man accused of kidnapping and murdering heiress last year.
Boy, 16, dies in sawmill accident after child labor laws rolled back.
US approves controversial cluster munitions for Ukraine after revelations of “secret” peace talks with Moscow.
Memphis: DA seeks death penalty for man accused of kidnapping and murdering heiress last year
Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy filed notice this week that his office will seek the death penalty against Cleotha Abston. Abston is accused of abducting and murdering Memphis heiress Eliza Fletcher in September 2022. Fletcher was out for a morning run near the University of Memphis campus when police say Abston forced her into his SUV. Her body was found some days later near some woods where Abston had been seen on camera cleaning out his SUV after the abduction.
DA Mulroy says that while he privately objects to capital punishment, he believed that the gruesome and cruel nature of the case merited the death penalty. Abston had previously served two decades in prison for aggravated abduction.
Less than a year before Fletcher’s abduction, Memphis woman Alicia Franklin tried to have Abston arrested for raping her at gunpoint, but says Memphis PD failed to act on her evidence. Franklin’s rape kit was only tested and found to be a match to Abston after Fletcher’s death. Franklin has filed suit against the Memphis PD, alleging they did not take her account seriously because she is Black. She also said she believed if Memphis PD had given her justice, Eliza Fletcher would be alive today.
Boy, 16, dies in sawmill accident after child labor laws rolled back
An unnamed 16-year-old boy in Wisconsin died of his injuries following an accident at a sawmill where he worked. Wisconsin is one of more than a dozen states that have recently passed laws relaxing regulations around child labor. These regulations can apply to what hours a child can work at what times of year, how old a person has to be to work legally, and how old a worker has to be to work hazardous jobs in industries such as logging, mining, construction and some factory jobs.
States and businesses have been pushing to relax these protections for underage workers simply because children typically work for lower wages than adults. But some states have gone one step further by creating legal firewalls to prevent parents from suing companies when children get hurt working dangerous jobs.
US approves controversial cluster munitions for Ukraine after revelations of “secret” talks with Moscow
Today the White House announced President Biden’s approval for a new $800 million aid package to Ukraine, part of which includes shipments of controversial “cluster” munitions. As the name suggests, each cluster round release hundreds or thousands of smaller incendiary device. They’re very effective when tackling large numbers of enemy soldiers over a wide area.
However, many of these smaller devices fail to detonate when first deployed and can become embedded in the ground. These embedded munitions can pose risk of injury or death to unsuspecting civilians, even long after a conflict has ended. Nearly 100 countries have banned the use of cluster munitions, in part because of the risk to civilians.
Former US diplomats in secret talks with Kremlin officials
This controversial development comes just a few days after news broke that a group of former White House officials had been meeting with high-ranking Russians in an effort to create an on ramp to peace negotiations for Ukraine. The group is said to have met with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who is currently subject to sanctions in both the US and Europe. The White House says that these talks were “not sanctioned” by President Biden or anyone in the administration.
This group reportedly includes Richard Haass, a former State Department official during the first George W. Bush administration. He left in 2003, having become disillusioned with the Iraq War, which he called a “poor choice, poorly implemented”. Haass also recently stepped down from two decades as president of the Council on Foreign Relations, an influential private think tank.
In his recent writings and statements, Haass has expressed doubts about America’s ability to be a stabilizing force in the world given our increasingly polarized and incendiary politics at home. A day before stepping down, Haass said he was often asked what kept him awake at night, whether it was Russia, China, Iran, or North Korea. Grimly he answered, “It’s us”.