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Court overturns Boston Marathon bomber’s death sentence

A federal appeals court on Friday overturned the death sentence of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the man convicted in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

The three-judge panel of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston issued the decision more than six months after arguments were heard in the case.

The April 15, 2013, attack killed three people and injured more than 260 others.

Tsarnaev’s lawyers had argued that intense media coverage had made it impossible to have a fair trial in Boston. They also pointed to social media posts from two jurors suggesting they harboured strong opinions even before the 2015 trial started.

The appeals judges, in a hearing on the case in early December, devoted a significant number of questions to the juror bias argument.

They asked why the two jurors had not been dismissed, or at least why the trial judge had not asked them follow-up questions after the posts came to light on the eve of the trial.

The judges noted that the Boston court has a longstanding rule obligating such an inquiry.

Tsarnaev’s lawyers say one of the jurors, who would go one to become the jury’s foreperson, or chief spokesperson, published two dozen tweets in the wake of the bombings. One post after Tsarnaev’s capture called him a “piece of garbage.”

Tsarnaev was convicted on 30 charges, including conspiracy and use of a weapon of mass destruction. He’s been serving his sentence in a high-security supermax prison in Colorado.

His brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was killed in a gun battle with police days after the two brothers detonated two pressure cooker bombs near the marathon finish line.

Alanna Durkin Richer, The Associated Press

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General News

Iowa governor to sign order restoring felon voting rights

DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said she will sign an executive order Wednesday granting convicted felons the right to vote, ending Iowa’s place as the only remaining state to broadly deny voting rights to felons.

The Republican governor promised in June that she would take such action.

Reynolds said she’ll continue to press the Legislature to pass a constitutional amendment, which couldn’t be reversed by a future governor and she proposed last year but couldn’t get Republican state senators to support. Several lawmakers insisted on exclusions for people convicted of more serious crimes, such as murder, and that felons be required to pay all victim restitution before they could vote.

Reynolds has made the issue a priority based on her belief that felons deserve a second chance and that restoring their voting rights is part of that opportunity for redemption.

David Pitt, The Associated Press

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General News

McCartney appointed AP’s entertainment & lifestyles editor

Anthony McCartney, The Associated Press’ West Coast entertainment editor who as a reporter covered the legal aftermath of Michael Jackson’s death and many celebrity trials, has been appointed the news co-operative’s global entertainment and lifestyles editor.

AP deputy managing editor Sarah Nordgren made the announcement on Wednesday.

“McCartney has been a leader in entertainment coverage since joining the AP,” Nordgren said. “His experience in entertainment spans court coverage, awards shows and far beyond.

“His expertise and skill in driving great journalism in entertainment position him perfectly for his new role.”

McCartney, 41, will be based in Los Angeles, the first time the job has been based there. He will lead a team of more than 40 text and visual journalists in New York, London, Seoul, Nashville, Tennessee; and Los Angeles.

He has served as West Coast entertainment editor since 2017, overseeing film, television, celebrity and awards season coverage, as well as breaking news.

McCartney, who joined the AP in Tampa, Florida, in 2007, was previously the news co-operative’s celebrity courts reporter, which included coverage of criminal cases against R&B singer Chris Brown, Mel Gibson, record producer Marion “Suge” Knight and several high-profile celebrity divorces and deaths. He has also covered the Academy Awards and the Grammys and other major events and reported on the celebrity happenings at the 2016 Super Bowl.

Before joining the AP, McCartney worked at The Tampa Tribune in Florida and The Huntsville Times in Alabama. A native of Los Angeles, he studied journalism at Santa Monica College.

The Associated Press

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Canada

Feds earmark $3.3B for provinces, territories for COVID-19 infrastructure

OTTAWA — The federal government is moving ahead with plans to make it easier for provinces and territories to spend billions of dollars on infrastructure projects to address the challenges posed by COVID-19.

Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna says $3.3 billion out of the $33 billion that Ottawa has previously promised in matching funds for provincial and territorial projects will be available for projects related to the pandemic.

Those projects include retrofits to public buildings such as schools and long-term care facilities, measures related to physical distancing such as new bike and walking paths and those designed to protect against floods and wildfires.

McKenna says the federal government plans to introduce a faster application process for provinces and territories to apply for federal funds, with Ottawa footing up to 80 per cent of the bills for approved projects.

The new approach comes as most provinces are looking at re-opening schools in the next month and trying to guard against new outbreaks of COVID-19 at nursing homes.

While the measure is expected to be welcomed by provinces and territories, each must sign an agreement with the federal government before it can apply for funding.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 5, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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