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Texas executes murderer with drug used on animals

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WASHINGTON (AFP) – Texas put to death a man convicted of a 2001 rape and murder by using a sedative that has often served to euthanize animals, becoming the third state to do so.

The southern state administered pentobarbital instead of sodium thiopental, which is no longer manufactured in the United States, along with two other drugs as the lethal cocktail to execute Cary Kerr, 46. It was the first time Texas had used the drug.

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Ohio and Oklahoma have previously used pentobarbital for lethal injections due to the nationwide shortage of sodium thiopental. South Carolina plans to use pentobarbital for an execution on Friday.

Kerr, who was convicted by a jury and sentenced to death in 2003 for assaulting and strangling 34-year-old Pamela Horton, had claimed his court-appointed lawyer did not represent him properly when appealing his conviction.

Defense lawyers had filed a last-ditch appeal with the US Supreme Court earlier, claiming Kerr lacked adequate counsel for his trial.

He was pronounced dead at 6:19 pm (1229 GMT), 16 minutes after the lethal drugs flowed, according to Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokeswoman Michelle Lyons.

“I am an innocent man,” Kerr declared in his final words, Lyons said.

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“Never trust a court-appointed attorney. I am ready, warden… Here we go. Lord Jesus, Jesus.”

The 219-pound (99-kilogram) man’s last meal request was a hearty one, consisting of meat pizza, fried chicken, lasagna, spaghetti, meat tacos, pork ribs with spicy sauce, deep fried mushrooms with french fries, a cheeseburger, a quiche and ice cream.

Kerr was the third person executed in Texas this year and the 13th in the United States.

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Trump wants Ric Grenell to keep his ambassador job while also overseeing every intelligence agency: report

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On Wednesday, President Donald Trump was reported to be planning to appoint U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell to serve as acting Director of National Intelligence — a position for which he has zero qualifications. The move raised immediate fears, given that Grenell is a hardline Trump loyalist.

But it doesn't stop there. Reports also suggest that the president intends for Grenell to keep serving as Ambassador to Germany at the same time as he is overseeing every U.S. intelligence agency.

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‘You lost me’: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez graciously defuses confrontational question

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In an appearance on ABC's popular daytime talk show "The View" Wednesday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez spoke about what she called a "disconnect" between centrist, establishment members of the Democratic Party and progressive lawmakers who have been viewed as agitators in the party.

Co-host Whoopi Goldberg said that while she had applauded Ocasio-Cortez's surprise victory in her 2018 primary against Wall Street-backed former Rep. Joe Crowley, she has since cooled on the lawmaker due to what she views as a dismissal of baby boomers' past activism. Ocasio-Cortez has pushed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to back a Green New Deal, called on her fellow Democrats to support Medicare for All, and criticized Democrats who take big-money donations from the financial, for-profit healthcare, and fossil fuel sectors.

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Security experts sound the alarm on Russian interference in the 2020 election: Their campaign is ‘underway’

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Cybersecurity experts have been warning that it isn’t a question of whether or not the Russian government under President Vladimir Putin will try to interfere in the United States’ 2020 election — it’s a question of how successful they will be and the ways in which they will make an attempt. Three security experts (Alex Finley, John Sipher and Asha Rangappa) address this concern in a February 19 article for Just Security, warning that troubling vulnerabilities remain in the United States’ election system.

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