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Changes Made to Racial Justice Act: Wade Rawlins of Reuters reports the North Carolina House on Tuesday approved 72-47 a bill that would make changes to the state's 2009 Racial Justice Act. Under the new legislation, statistical evidence alone wouldn't be enough to prove racial discrimination in jury selection, and the use of statistical evidence of racial bias in jury selection would be limited to the area where the defendant was tried. The final approval was expected in the House on Wednesday before going to the state Senate for passage.

Arizona Execution Scheduled: The Associated Press reports the Arizona Supreme Court on Tuesday approved the execution of Daniel Wayne Cook, scheduled for August 8. Cook was sentenced to death for killing two co-workers, 26-year-old Carlos Cruz-Ramos and 16-year-old Kevin Swaney, in 1987. Cook and his roommate and co-worker, John Matzke, got drunk and high on methamphetamine before stealing $97 from Cruz-Ramos, who had just moved in with them. Then they gagged him, tied him to a chair, and over six hours cut him with a knife, sodomized him, burned him  with cigarettes, and beat him with fists, a metal pipe, and a wooden stick. After both men tried to unsuccessfully strangle Cruz-Ramos, Matzke stood on a pipe over his throat until he died. When Swaney showed up about two hours later, he was tied naked to a chair, gagged, and sodomized by Cook. When the men failed to strangle the boy with a sheet, Cook strangled him by hand and put his body in the closet on top of Cruz-Ramos. According to court records, Swaney's heart was still beating when he was left for dead. Cook would be the fifth inmate executed in Arizona this year.

Justice Dept. Sues Florida Over Voter Roll Purging:

SF Uses Puppies, Stipends to Address Panhandling: Heather Knight of the San Francisco Chronicle reports starting August 1, the city of San Francisco will begin a program to address the city's panhandling program called Wonderful Opportunities for Occupants and Fidos, or Woof. Panhandlers living in supportive housing must pledge to stop panhandling in exchange for a weekly stipend and a puppy. Participants will also receive training sessions, check-ins, and any dog food, toys, leashes, and veterinary care they need in hopes of making the dogs provided by the city's Animal Care and Control more adoptable. 


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