Nation roundup for December 12
Right-to-work legislation gains
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Legislature gave final approval Tuesday to a bitterly contested right-to-work plan limiting the power of unions, a devastating and once unthinkable defeat for organized labor in a state considered a cradle of the movement.
Unswayed by Democrats’ pleas and thousands of protesters inside and outside the state Capitol, the House approved two final bills, sending them on to Republican Gov. Rick Snyder. One dealt with private sector workers, the other with government employees. Both measures cleared the Senate last week.
Snyder is expected to sign the measures into law as early as today that would make Michigan the 24th state with right-to-work laws, which ban requirements that nonunion employees pay unions for negotiating contracts and other services.
Supporters say they give workers more choice and boost economic growth, but critics say the real intent is to weaken organized labor by bleeding unions of money needed to bargain effectively with management.
“This is about freedom, fairness and equality,” House Speaker Jase Bolger said.
U.S. fines British bank $1.9 billion
NEW YORK (AP) — American authorities on Tuesday cited “astonishing” dysfunction at the British bank HSBC and said that it had helped Mexican drug traffickers, Iran, Libya and others under U.S. suspicion or sanction to move money around the world.
HSBC agreed to pay $1.9 billion, the largest penalty ever imposed on a bank.
The U.S. stopped short of charging executives, citing the bank’s immediate, full cooperation and the damage that an assault on the company might cause on economies and people, including thousands who would lose jobs if the bank collapsed.
Outside experts said it was evidence that a doctrine of “too big to fail,” or at least “too big to prosecute,” was alive and well four years after the financial crisis.
The settlement avoided a legal battle that could have further savaged the bank’s reputation and undermined confidence in the banking system. HSBC does business in almost 80 countries, so many that it calls itself “the world’s local bank.”
Illinois concealed carry ban rejected
CHICAGO (AP) — In a major victory for gun rights advocates, a federal appeals court on Tuesday struck down a ban on carrying concealed weapons in Illinois — the only remaining state where carrying concealed weapons is entirely illegal — and gave lawmakers 180 days to write a law that legalizes it.
In overturning a lower court decision, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the ban was unconstitutional and suggested a law legalizing concealed carry is long overdue in a state where gun advocates had vowed to challenge the ban on every front.
Former officer is executed in Fla.
STARKE, Fla. (AP) — A former police officer who murdered nine people during a 1986 crime spree was executed Tuesday after his attorneys’ last-minute appeals were rejected.
Manuel Pardo, 56, was pronounced dead at Florida State Prison at 7:47 p.m., about 16 minutes after the lethal injection process began. His attorneys had tried to block the execution by arguing that he was mentally ill, but federal courts declined to intercede.
Reporters could not hear his final statement because of an apparent malfunction in the death chamber’s sound system. A white sheet had been pulled up to his chin and IV lines ran into his left arm.
He blinked several times, his eyes moved back and forth and he took several deep breaths. Over the next several minutes the color drained from his face before he was pronounced dead.
Officials said most of Pardo’s victims were involved with drugs. Pardo contended that he was doing the world a favor by killing them over three-month period in early 1986.
“I am a soldier, I accomplished my mission and I humbly ask you to give me the glory of ending my life and not send me to spend the rest of my days in state prison,” Pardo told jurors at his 1988 trial.
Ann Howard, a spokeswoman for Florida’s Department of Corrections, said that Pardo visited with eight people Tuesday. He also met with the prison chaplain and a Roman Catholic bishop.
Pardo ate a last meal of rice, red beans, roasted pork, plantains, avocado, tomatoes and olive oil. For dessert, he ate pumpkin pie and drank egg nog and Cuban Coffee. Under Department of Corrections rules, the meal’s ingredients have to cost $40 or less, be available locally and made in the prison kitchen.
Pardo was dubbed the “Death Row Romeo” after he corresponded with dozens of women and persuaded many to send him money.
Pardo, a former Boy Scout and Navy veteran, began his law enforcement career in the 1970s with the Florida Highway Patrol, graduating at the top of his class at the academy. But he was fired from that agency in 1979 for falsifying traffic tickets. He was soon hired by the police department in Sweetwater, a small city in Miami-Dade County.
In 1981, Pardo was one of four Sweetwater officers charged with brutality, but the cases were dismissed.
He was fired four years later after he flew to the Bahamas to testify at the trial of a Sweetwater colleague who was accused of drug smuggling. Pardo lied, telling the court they were international undercover agents.
Then over a 92-day period in early 1986, Pardo committed a series of robberies, killing six men and three women. He took photos of the victims and recounted some details in his diary, which was found along with newspaper clippings about the murders. Pardo was linked to the killings after using credit cards stolen from the victims.
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