- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Arizona execution scrutinized after murderer gasps for more than 1 1/2 hours in death chamber

PHOENIX (AP) - A condemned Arizona inmate gasped for more than an hour and a half during his execution Wednesday before he died in an episode sure to add to the scrutiny surrounding the death penalty in the U.S.

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne’s office said Joseph Rudolph Wood was pronounced dead at 3:49 p.m., one hour and 57 minutes after the execution started.

Wood’s lawyers had filed emergency appeals with federal and state courts Court while the execution was underway, demanding that it be stopped. The appeal said Wood was “gasping and snorting for more than an hour.”

Gov. Jan Brewer said later that she’s ordering a full review of the state’s execution process, saying she’s concerned by how long it took for the administered drug protocol to kill Wood.

An Associated Press reporter who witnessed the execution saw Wood start gasping shortly after a sedative and a pain killer were injected into his veins. He gasped more than 600 times over the next hour and 40 minutes.

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Solemn ceremony held as 40 bodies from jetliner shot down in Ukraine return to Dutch soil

EINDHOVEN, Netherlands (AP) - Victims of the Malaysian jetliner shot down over Ukraine returned at last Wednesday to Dutch soil in 40 wooden coffins, solemnly and gently carried to 40 identical hearses, flags at half-staff flapping in the wind.

The carefully choreographed, nearly silent ceremony contrasted sharply with the boom of shells and shattered glass in eastern Ukraine as pro-Russian rebels fought to hang onto territory and shot down two Ukrainian fighter jets. The bold new attack showed the separatists are not shying away from shooting at the skies despite international outrage and grief at the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

Even though they are still unidentified, the corpses that arrived on two military transport planes in Eindhoven were embraced by a nation unmoored by the loss of so many people caught in someone else’s faraway war.

Boys going to visit their grandparents, a flight attendant hurrying to get home, a bouncer heading to see his sweetheart were among the 298 victims of the jetliner that was blown out of the sky on July 17, intensifying anger at the separatists suspected of bringing it down with a surface-to-air missile.

Nearly a week later, international investigators still don’t have unfettered access to the crash site, some remains have yet to be recovered, and armed men roam the region, defying their government.

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10 Things to Know for Thursday

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Thursday:

1. ARIZONA INMATE DIES 2 HOURS AFTER START OF EXECUTION

The condemned man gasps and snorts during an episode that’s sure to add to the scrutiny of the death penalty in the U.S.

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Palestinian civilian casualties raise questions about Israeli campaign, possible war crimes

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - Shopkeepers say they were sitting outside their shuttered businesses Wednesday, catching a break from being cooped up during wartime, when an Israeli missile struck a nearby mosque, killing a truck driver and wounding 45 people.

One of those wounded by shrapnel said from his hospital gurney that the strike came without warning.

Israel has defended such strikes on civilian sites - nearly 500 homes, 16 mosques and at least two hospitals, by Palestinian count - by saying that Hamas hides weapons and fighters there or that tunnels into Israel originate in such places.

Israel says it is defending its civilians against rocket fire and other attacks from Gaza and doing its utmost to minimize harm to Palestinian civilians.

However, three-fourths of the Palestinians killed in more than two weeks of Israel-Hamas fighting were civilians, according to U.N. figures. One in four was a minor, it said.

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AP PHOTOS: Greek Orthodox church shelters Muslim families fleeing Gaza conflict

Muslim families driven from their homes by the fierce fighting between Israel and Hamas are observing Ramadan in Gaza City’s Greek Orthodox church.

St. Porphyrios Church has thrown its doors open to hundreds of displaced Palestinians, some of the more than 140,000 who have fled their homes, according to the UN.

Entire families are sleeping on thin sheets on the hard church floors, fasting during the holy month of Ramadan. During the day the adults try to keep the dozens of children occupied, taking their minds off the conflict. In the evening, the families break their fast with simple plates of rice, provided by church aid agencies.

Many come from Gaza’s Shijaiyah area, the scene of heavy bombardment. The church itself has not escaped unscathed - missiles fired into a nearby cemetery sent debris flying into the churchyard.

Here’s a collection of images of the church and those seeking refuge there.

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Internal report: Social Security spent nearly $300M on new computer system that doesn’t work

WASHINGTON (AP) - Six years ago the Social Security Administration embarked on an aggressive plan to replace outdated computer systems overwhelmed by a growing flood of disability claims. Nearly $300 million later, the new system is nowhere near ready and agency officials are struggling to salvage a project racked by delays and mismanagement, according to an internal report commissioned by the agency.

In 2008, Social Security said the project was about two to three years from completion. Five years later, it was still two to three years from being done, according to the report by McKinsey and Co., a management consulting firm.

Today, with the project still in the testing phase, the agency can’t say when it will be completed or how much it will cost.

In the meantime, people filing for disability claims face long delays at nearly every step of the process - delays that were supposed to be reduced by the new processing system.

“The program has invested $288 million over six years, delivered limited functionality, and faced schedule delays as well as increasing stakeholder concerns,” the report said.

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Family members fly to Taiwan airport where plane crashed as it attempted to land, killing 48

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) - Family members of victims of a plane crash were flying to the small Taiwanese island on Thursday where the plane had unsuccessfully attempted to land in stormy weather, killing 48. There were 10 survivors, and authorities were searching for one person who might have been in a wrecked house on the ground.

The ATR-72 operated by Taiwan’s TransAsia Airways was carrying 58 passengers and crew when it crashed into a residential neighborhood on Penghu in the Taiwan Strait between Taiwan and China late Wednesday, authorities said. The plane was on a flight from the city of Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan.

Two people aboard the plane were French citizens and the rest Taiwanese, Transport Minister Yeh Kuang-shih told reporters. The government’s Central News Agency identified the French passengers Thursday as Jeromine Deramond and Penelope Luternauer.

The twin-engine turboprop crashed while making a second landing attempt, Yeh said.

The news agency quoted a TransAsia Airways statement as saying family members had taken a charter flight on Thursday morning to Magong airport, near where the crash happened.

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Struggling to stop dangerous oil train fires, government proposes stiffer tank car regulations

WASHINGTON (AP) - Responding to a series of fiery train crashes, the government proposed rules Wednesday that would phase out tens of thousands of older tank cars that carry increasing quantities of crude oil and other highly flammable liquids through America’s towns and cities.

But many details were put off until later as regulators struggle to balance safety against the economic benefits of a fracking boom that has sharply increased U.S. oil production. Among the issues: What type of tank cars will replace those being phased out, how fast will they be allowed to travel and what kind of braking systems will they need?

Accident investigators have complained for decades that older tank cars, known as DOT-111s, are too easily punctured or ruptured, spilling their contents when derailed. Since 2008, there have been 10 significant derailments in the U.S. and Canada in which crude oil has spilled from ruptured tank cars, often igniting and resulting in huge fireballs. The worst was a runaway oil train that exploded in the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic a year ago, killing 47 people.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said he said he expects his department to complete final regulations before the end of the year. First, the public and affected industries will have an opportunity to comment on the proposal.

“We are at the dawn of a promising time for energy production in this country,” Foxx said. “This is a positive development for our economy and for energy independence, but the responsibilities attached to this production are very serious.”

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Montana senator says he was being treated for PTSD when he used unattributed work in thesis

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - Sen. John Walsh of Montana said Wednesday his failure to attribute conclusions and verbatim passages lifted from other scholars’ work in his thesis to earn a master’s degree from the U.S. Army War College was an unintentional mistake caused in part by post-traumatic stress disorder.

The apparent plagiarism first reported by The New York Times was the second potentially damaging issue raised this year involving the Democrat’s 33-year military career, which has been a cornerstone of his campaign to keep the seat he was appointed to in February when Max Baucus resigned to become U.S. ambassador to China.

National Democrats said Wednesday they remained “100 percent behind Sen. Walsh” in his campaign against Republican Rep. Steve Daines.

Walsh told The Associated Press when he wrote the thesis, he had PTSD from his service in Iraq, was on medication and was dealing with the stress of a fellow veteran’s recent suicide.

“I don’t want to blame my mistake on PTSD, but I do want to say it may have been a factor,” the senator said. “My head was not in a place very conducive to a classroom and an academic environment.”

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Teen pilot seeking record for around-the-world flight dies in ocean crash, father missing

PLAINFIELD, Ind. (AP) - His pilot’s license fresh in his hands, an Indiana teenager set out in June for the adventure of a lifetime: an around-the-world flight with his father designed to break a record and raise money to build schools in his father’s native Pakistan.

Just days before the father and son were to return home to Indiana, the trip turned tragic when their plane crashed in the Pacific Ocean shortly after leaving Pago Pago in American Samoa on Tuesday night. The body of 17-year-old Haris Suleman was recovered, but crews were still searching Wednesday for the father, Babar Suleman.

The Sulemans left the state on June 19 in hopes of setting the record for the fastest circumnavigation around the world in a single-engine airplane with the youngest pilot in command to do so.

For more than a month, the trip was everything they’d hoped for, with visits to the pyramids and rides on camels in Egypt, a family reunion in Pakistan and much more. Even food poisoning and delays that meant they wouldn’t complete the trip in their intended 30 days couldn’t dilute the teen’s enthusiasm as he saw Europe, Africa, Asia and the South Pacific.

“There is so much beauty and culture in each country that I couldn’t possibly witness all that I want to,” Haris Suleman told The Indianapolis Star in an email recently.

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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