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Oklahoma death row inmates win right to ask state to identify lethal injection ingredients

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By Heide Brandes

OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) – Two Oklahoma inmates, including one scheduled for execution on Tuesday, won stays of executions on Monday when the state’s highest court ruled the inmates have a right to challenge the secrecy over the drugs the state intends to use to put them to death.

In a 5-4 decision, the Oklahoma Supreme Court stayed the executions of Clayton Lockett, scheduled for 6 p.m. local time Tuesday, and Charles Warner, scheduled for April 29, “until final determination of all the issues presently pending” are addressed, the court ruling states.

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The case raised “grave first impression constitutional issues,” the court ruling states.

“We are relieved, and extremely grateful to the Oklahoma Supreme Court for its reasonable decision to stay the scheduled executions…,” said attorneys Susanna Gattoni and Seth Day, in a statement. The two jointly represent Lockett and Warner.

“In order for the courts to be able to do their job of ensuring that all state and federal laws are followed, they must have complete information about the drugs intended for use in executions, including their source,” the attorneys said.

Lockett was convicted of shooting to death a 19-year-old woman whom he and two other men kidnapped in June 1999. Warner was convicted of raping and murdering an 11-month-old child.

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Oklahoma officials had no immediate comment.

Attorneys for death row inmates in several U.S. states have been raising a series of arguments over lethal injection drugs as more states turned to lightly regulated compounding pharmacies for supplies. Makers of drugs traditionally used in lethal injections have largely stopped making the drugs available for executions.

Attorneys for the inmates argue that the drugs, which are not FDA-approved, could cause unnecessarily painful deaths, which would amount to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

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And they say moves by Oklahoma, Missouri and other states to keep the source of their compounded lethal injection drugs secret is a violation of the inmates’ rights. They argue they also should have details about the purity and potency of the drugs.

Similar arguments over state secrecy were being pressed this week by lawyers for Missouri death row inmate William Rousan, who is scheduled for execution at 12:01 a.m. central time on Wednesday.

Rousan, 57, was convicted of murdering 62-year-old Grace Lewis and her 67-year-old husband in 1993 in a plot to steal the farm couple’s cattle.

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(Reporting By Heide Brandes in Oklahoma City and writing and reporting by Carey Gillam in Kansas City; Editing by Eric Walsh)

[Image via Agence France-Presse]


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Putin aims a weaponized barb at Trump over Saudi attack – and hits the mark

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Russian President Vladimir Putin joked this week about selling defense systems to Riyadh following weekend attacks on Saudi oil facilities. The gag was aimed at US President Donald Trump and it hit the mark with the precision of a guided weapon.

It was a masterful piece of trolling by the czar of trolls – a snide, disparaging jibe with an element of truth twisted into absurdity for maximum effect and laughs. At a joint press conference with his Turkish and Iranian counterparts in Ankara on Monday, Putin cast his bait into the volatile Persian Gulf region just days after devastating attacks on Saudi oil facilities exposed the limits of the Gulf kingdom’s expensive defense systems.

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Black carbon from air pollution found in placentas: study

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Black carbon particles typically emitted by vehicle exhaust and coal-fired power plants have been detected on the foetus-facing side of placentas, researchers said Tuesday.

The concentration of particles was highest in the placentas of women most exposed to airborn pollutants in their daily life, according to a study in Nature Communications.

"Our study provides compelling evidence for the presence of black carbon particles originating from air pollution in human placenta," the authors said.

The findings, they added, offer a "plausible explanation for the detrimental health effects of pollution from early life onwards."

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‘You’re a witness — act like it’: Congresswoman owns Lewandowski when he tries to filibuster

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Corey Lewandowski had a difficult time debating Democrats who treated him like a hostile witness in a Congressional hearing Tuesday. When he tried to go off on a tangent and complaint, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) wasn't having it.

"We’re seeing a pattern of the president doing anything and everything to hide his misconduct from Congress and from the American people," she said. "The president tried to get you to deliver a secret message to the attorney general, all in an attempt to prevent the special counsel from exposing the president’s own misconduct. As soon as the special counsel published his report and the president’s misconduct was exposed, the president tried to cover that up, too. Isn’t it true that the president has repeatedly tried to discredit your and other witnesses’ testimony to the special counsel in the published report?"

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