Perhaps the biggest qualm people have with capital punishment is that it can wrongfully be applied to innocent people. So how often does that happen? About once per every 25 death sentences, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
To arrive at that number, the authors started by noting that 1.6 percent of people put on death row since 1973 were later exonerated. But since many death row inmates have their sentences converted to life in prison, they no longer receive as vigilant of a review process that could determine their innocence, thus driving down the exoneration rate. So if everyone sentenced to death row stayed there, the authors estimated the exoneration rate would spike to "at least" 4.1 percent.
That said, the advent of DNA evidence may help curb wrongful executions going forward, bringing that estimated 4.1 figure down. And Americans are in general souring on capital punishment, while more states are ending the practice either by choice or due to a lack of execution drugs, all of which will result in fewer death sentences and thus, one hopes, fewer wrongful executions, too. Jon Terbush
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus on Sunday declined to attempt explaining where his party's nominee stands on immigration. Asked by NBC's Chuck Todd whether Donald Trump is undergoing something of an evolution on the topic, Priebus deferred, promising that Trump himself would "be giving prepared remarks on this issue" sometime soon.
"I don't speak for Donald Trump," Priebus continued. "Here’s what I know: [Trump's] position is going to be tough. His position is going to be fair, but his position is going to be humane." As Todd pressed for more details, Priebus seemed unsure as to whether Trump would really attempt to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants — though he was willing to state with certainty that Trump would work to build a border wall (which, for the record, already mostly exists).
While Trump has long made strict border security a central issue of his campaign, this week he said "there could certainly be a softening because we're not looking to hurt people." Trump then reversed himself one day later, suggesting he is instead engaged in a "hardening" of his immigration views. When these pivots led to confusion and accusations of flip-flopping, Trump blamed the media for "miss[ing] the whole point" and taking his words out of context. Bonnie Kristian
Acting DNC chair says she doesn't 'see what the smoke is' about Clinton Foundation corruption allegations
Acting Democratic National Committee Chair Donna Brazile said Sunday she doesn't see cause for concern in emails showing Clinton Foundation staff coordinating State Department access for their donors during Hillary Clinton's tenure as secretary of state.
"The way I look at it, I've been a government official," Brazile said in an interview on ABC's This Week. "So, you know, this notion that, somehow or another, someone who is a supporter, someone who is a donor, somebody who's an activist, saying 'I want access, I want to come into a room and I want to meet people' — we often criminalize behavior that is normal. I don’t see what the smoke is."
Brazile may have been referencing remarks from Clinton herself earlier this week, when the candidate told Anderson Cooper "there's a lot of smoke, and there's no fire" where accusations of a corrupt, pay-to-play relationship between the Clinton Foundation and State are concerned. Watch Brazile's comments below. Bonnie Kristian
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) August 28, 2016
At least 16 people were killed by a bombing in Syria — while attending a funeral for bombing victims
A pair of barrel bombs killed at least 16 people in Aleppo, Syria, on Saturday as they attended a funeral for children killed by a previous bombing in the same neighborhood earlier this week. Another estimate puts the death toll as high as 24, with dozens more injured.
The bombs were dropped by a helicopter, observers said, and hit the rebel-controlled area of Bab al-Nayrab. Barrel bombs are repurposed oil drums filled with scraps and explosives, and they are criticized by human rights advocates for their indiscriminate killing, especially in residential contexts. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has denied using such devices, but the activist group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says regime helicopters have dropped more than 28,000 barrel bombs. Bonnie Kristian
In a turn of events that would be bizarre in any other election year, Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton are both attempting to create a link in voters' minds between their opponent and the Ku Klux Klan.
Clinton brought up the KKK in her speech on Thursday, in which she accused Trump of handing a "national megaphone" to the "paranoid fringe in our politics." The same day, her campaign released a online ad in which self-proclaimed Klan members and white supremacists explained their enthusiasm for Trump. And on Friday, Clinton's running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine, reiterated the connection by declaring, "Ku Klux Klan values, David Duke values, Donald Trump values are not American values."
Trump wasted no time returning the accusation. On Saturday, he retweeted a post from Lynette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson, two African-American sisters who support his campaign, referencing Clinton's ties to the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W. Va.). Byrd was a member of the KKK in the 1940s and filibustered the Civil Rights Act of 1964, though for the bulk of his political career he vehemently repudiated his past Klan involvement. When he died in 2010, Clinton mourned Byrd as "a true American original, my friend and mentor."
Hardaway and Richardson told CNN they called attention to Byrd's history because "Donald J. Trump can't help who embraces his campaign but Hillary Clinton could've helped who she embraced." CNN reports neither campaign offered comment. Bonnie Kristian
After more than half a century of conflict, the government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) will announce a ceasefire Sunday to take effect at midnight local time. The two sides signed a historic peace agreement after negotiations in Havana, Cuba, on Wednesday, an accord Colombian voters will be able to approve or reject in an October referendum.
Colombians reacted to the news of peace with a mixture of hope and skepticism. "It is the opportunity to end a cycle of this terrible violence," said musician Julio Correal, who has worked on a state-led project to promote a cessation of hostilities. "It will not be easy — it has never been easy — but it is easier than a war scenario."
Supported by Turkish airstrikes, Syrian rebels seized territory from Kurdish-led fighters in northern Syria on Sunday. The attacks killed at least 35 people, most of them civilians in the villages that changed hands.
This offensive is part of a new escalation of Turkish involvement in neighboring Syria's conflict, intervention which includes fighting both the Islamic State and the Kurds. This weekend's airstrikes were the first time Turkish forces have targeted Kurdish militias in Syria, though Turkey's government has fought a Kurdish insurgency within its own borders for some time.
This dual opposition complicates matters for the United States, as Turkey is a NATO ally helping in the war on ISIS, and some anti-ISIS Syrian rebels are backed by the CIA — but the Kurdish forces Turkey is killing also oppose ISIS and are funded, armed, and trained by the Pentagon. Bonnie Kristian
The media "has missed the whole point on immigration" and distorts his remarks to create confusion about immigration policy, Republican Donald Trump said Saturday afternoon while speaking in Iowa.
Trump's comments moved away from the softer tone he adopted in recent days, proposing a tracking system for visa recipients as well as the swift removal of "criminal, illegal immigrants" — phrasing which leaves unclear whether he is again proposing mass deportation of 11 million people.
In an interview published Saturday, Trump's running mate, Mike Pence, argued the candidate's variation on this issue is "a classic CEO process" of developing an effective plan with a diversity of input. "At the end of the day, when [Trump] articulates a position, it’s going to be very much consistent with the priorities that he's laid forth and that have really resonated with millions of Americans," Pence said.
Since I wouldn't want to "take phrases and statements, chop them up, take them out of context," as Trump accused the media of doing on Saturday, here is a link to watch his entire speech. Bonnie Kristian