The Lookout
  • Kevin CooperLately we've been telling you about an unusual effort in Texas to challenge the constitutionality of the death penalty. Defense lawyers, backed by anti-death-penalty advocates, have been arguing to a judge that the Lone Star State's death-penalty system leaves too high a risk of executing innocent people -- and they point to two recent cases in which evidence has emerged suggesting that's exactly what may have happened.

    But that problem may extend beyond Texas. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote today about the case of Kevin Cooper, a black man convicted of murdering a white family in 1983 who faces death by lethal injection in California next year. There's a slew of evidence suggesting that the police decided early that Cooper was guilty, then actively buried or ignored evidence that undermined their thesis. As Lanny Davis, the former Clinton White House counsel who's defending Cooper pro bono, puts it: "My simple theory: heinous brutal murder of white family and black

    Read More »from Death penalty opponents claim California may execute an innocent man
  • ‘Don’t ask’ repeal dies in Senate

    AP101115158228The repeal of the military's ban on openly gay service was defeated today after a deal between GOP Maine Sen. Susan Collins and Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid broke down publicly on the Senate floor.

    "I'm perplexed and frustrated that this particular bill is going to become a victim of politics," Collins said on the floor, after Reid would not agree to four days of debate on the bill and to allow Republicans to offer 10 of their own amendments.

    Collins still voted yes to begin debate on the defense authorization bill. But GOP Sens. Scott Brown and Lisa Murkowski, who indicated they would vote for the bill if Reid agreed to Collins' plan, voted no. Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin also voted against debate, leaving only 57 senators who voted for debate, three shy of the 60 needed to prevent a Republican filibuster. (UPDATE: Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman says he will introduce a stand-alone bill to repeal "Don't ask" this year.)

    Read More »from ‘Don’t ask’ repeal dies in Senate
  • 106890920You know what's cool? Giving away a billion dollars.

    That's the message Facebook co-founders Mark Zuckerberg and Dustin Moskovitz, both in their 20s, sent when they announced a jaw-dropping commitment to give away at least half of their total wealth to charity over their lifetimes. The pair join the distinguished company of (comparatively) elder philanthropic statesmen Warren Buffett and Microsoft founder Bill Gates in their pledge to make the world a better place by giving away their cash rather than passing it all on to heirs.

    The Facebook titans are part of a new, young generation of entrepreneurs who made their wealth very early in life. This move signals to their peers -- and those who want to be their peers -- that it's important to be precocious in philanthropy as well as in business. The effect on young entrepreneurs will be enormous, say two people in the young tech crowd.

    Thayer Walker, the spokesman for a group that brings together young entrepreneurs called the Summit Series, tells The Lookout the move will have a "huge" impact on the group's members. (Among those involved: Evan Williams, the founder of Twitter.)

    Read More »from Zuckerberg’s charity vow turns up heat on young tycoons

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