Botched Executions in the US Reached a Record High in 2022
According to a report released on Friday by a non-profit capital punishment research group, the number of botched executions in the United States reached a record high in 2022, even though the overall number of inmates executed remained near a five-decade low.
According to the Death Penalty Information Center’s annual report, seven of the 20 executions attempted this year were “visibly problematic,” including one lethal injection attempt that resulted in an unprecedented three-hour struggle to insert an intravenous (IV) line into an Alabama man.
Two of this year’s 20 execution attempts – both lethal injections in Alabama – were called off midway after officials attempted and failed to establish IV lines, prompting the state’s Republican governor to call for a “top-to-bottom” review of the execution process.
Other scheduled executions in Tennessee, Idaho, and South Carolina were canceled after state officials discovered flaws in execution preparation or protocol, according to the report.
Except for the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021, when many states paused or slowed executions, the 18 executions in 2022 were the fewest in three decades. Outside of the pandemic years, the 22 death sentences issued in 2022 were the fewest in any previous year.
Because 37 U.S. states have abolished the death penalty or have not executed anyone in more than a decade, this year’s executions were concentrated in a few states, with more than half taking place in Oklahoma and Texas.
Oregon’s Democratic governor commuted the death sentences of the state’s 17 death-row inmates on Tuesday, sending them to life in prison with no chance of parole, and directed officials to dismantle the state’s execution chamber.
In the United States, public support for executing prisoners had hovered this year just one percentage point above a five-decade low reached in 2021, when 54% of respondents said they supported capital punishment in a Gallup poll.
In 2022, a Rasmussen Reports poll found even lower support for the death penalty, with only 46% of respondents supporting it.
Mississippi executes man for rape, murder of a 16-year-old girl
Meanwhile, a man who raped and killed a 16-year-old girl in Mississippi was executed by lethal injection on Wednesday, becoming the state’s second execution in ten years.
Sunflower County Coroner Heather Burton pronounced Thomas Edwin Loden Jr., 58, dead at 6:12 p.m. He’d been on death row since pleading guilty to capital murder, rape, and four counts of sexual battery against Leesa Marie Gray in 2001. In June 2000, she was stranded with a flat tire when Loden forced her into his van.
Wanda Farris, Gray’s mother, was present at the execution at the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman, about 130 miles (210 kilometers) north of the state capital, Jackson. The most recent execution in Mississippi occurred in November 2021.
A federal judge declined to stay Loden’s execution earlier this month, despite a pending lawsuit by him and four other Mississippi death row inmates challenging the state’s use of three drugs for lethal injections, which they claim is inhumane.
Loden wore a red prison jumpsuit and was covered by a white sheet during the execution. Brown leather straps restrained him on a gurney.
Loden expressed “deep remorse” before the injection began.
“I’ve tried to do a good deed every single day for the past 20 years to make up for the life I took from this world,” Loden said. “I know these are just words, and they won’t undo the harm I’ve done. If nothing else comes from today, I hope it brings you peace and closure.”
According to officials, his final words were “I love you” in Japanese.
Grey had spent the summer before her senior year of high school working as a waitress at her uncle’s restaurant in northeast Mississippi. She left work after dark on June 22, 2000, and got a flat tire.
Loden, a Marine Corps recruiter with relatives in the area, pulled over around 10:45 p.m. and began discussing the flat with her. “Don’t be concerned. I’m in the Marine Corps. “This is something we do,” he explained.
Loden told investigators that after Gray allegedly said she would never want to be a Marine, he became enraged and ordered her into his van. He told investigators that he sexually assaulted her for four hours before strangling and suffocating her.
According to court records, “Loden was discovered lying by the side of a road with the words ‘I’m sorry’ carved into his chest and apparent self-inflicted lacerations on his wrists” the following afternoon.
Farris described her daughter as a “happy-go-lucky, always smiling” adolescent with aspirations of becoming an elementary school teacher.
“She wasn’t perfect, mind you,” Farris admitted. “However, she worked hard to do the right thing.”
Farris refused to speak to reporters after the execution.
A week earlier, U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate granted the execution, citing a U.S. Supreme Court decision seven years ago that upheld a three-drug lethal injection protocol in Oklahoma.
After a string of failed lethal injections, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey called for a moratorium on executions and a “top-to-bottom” review of the state’s capital punishment system in November.
Mississippi conducts “mock executions and drills” every month to avoid a botched execution, according to Jeworski Mallett, deputy commissioner of institutions for the Mississippi Department of Corrections.
In court papers filed in July 2021, the Department of Corrections revealed that it had acquired three drugs for its lethal injection protocol: midazolam, a sedative; vecuronium bromide, which paralyzes the muscles; and potassium chloride, which stops the heart.
Only Alabama, Oklahoma, Mississippi, and Tennessee have used a three-drug protocol since 2019, according to Jim Craig, a MacArthur Center attorney, who spoke at a November court hearing.
Craig stated that in 2008, most death-penalty states and the federal government used a three-drug protocol, but the federal government and most of those states have since switched to a single drug.
According to the Death Penalty Information Center, the death penalty is used in 27 states. Mississippi has 36 inmates on death row.
Death Penalty Action, a group opposed to the death penalty, held a press conference in front of the state capitol on Tuesday.
“Something snapped in him for him to commit such a horrific crime,” said Mitzi Magleby, a spokesperson for the Mississippi chapter of Ignite Justice, a criminal justice reform advocacy organization. “Mr. Loden was immediately repentant. Isn’t there room for grace and mercy in this situation?”
Loden hoped his execution would be the country’s last, according to his attorney, Mark McDonald, in a statement issued after the execution.
At a Wednesday news conference, Burl Cain, the Mississippi Department of Corrections commissioner, stated that Loden cooperated with officials.
“He expressed his grief. “But he was upbeat and ate well,” Cain said. For his last meal, he had two bone-in-fried pork chops, sweet potatoes, and peach cobbler with ice cream.
The victim’s mother, Farris, told The Associated Press on Friday that she had forgiven Loden years ago but did not believe his apology.
“I don’t want to see anyone die,” Farris explained. “However, I believe in the death penalty… I believe in justice.”
Biden’s DOJ Criminally Charges Former President Donald Trump
Former President Donald Trump has been charged with federal crimes as a result of Special Counsel Jack Smith’s months-long investigation. Trump is charged with at least seven felony offences, including document tampering and obstruction of justice. He has been summoned to federal court in Miami on Tuesday.
Trump announced the indictment on his Truth Social social media site. According to sources, federal prosecutors told Trump’s attorneys of the charge shortly before he publicized it.
Trump stated that he has “been summoned to appear at the Federal Courthouse in Miami on Tuesday, at 3 PM.”
Trump has been indicted for the second time this year. Trump pleaded not guilty in April after Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg charged him with 34 counts of falsifying business documents in the first degree.
Smith was appointed in November 2022 by Attorney General Merrick Garland to examine Trump’s suspected inappropriate retention of secret records at his Mar-a-Lago estate.
Trump home raided
In February 2022, NARA informed Congress that Trump had taken 15 boxes of presidential records to his personal property in Florida. The 15 boxes were seized from Mar-a-Lago by NARA, who “identified items marked as classified national security information within the boxes.” NARA sent the case to the Justice Department.
These boxes purportedly held “classified national security information,” as well as official correspondence between Trump and foreign heads of state.
Among the classified materials seized by the FBI during the August raid were a letter from former President Obama to Trump, a letter from Kim Jong Un, a birthday dinner menu and a cocktail serviette.
Last year, Trump claimed that the National Archives did not “find” the records, but that they were “given, upon request.” According to sources close to the former president, he was cooperating and there was “no need” for the raid.
The FBI inquiry “established that documents bearing classification markings, which appear to contain National Defence Information (NDI), were among the materials contained” in the 15 boxes Trump first gave over to the NARA, according to the affidavit.
“A preliminary triage of the documents with classification markings revealed the following approximate numbers: 184 unique documents bearing classification markings, including 67 documents marked CONFIDENTIAL, 92 documents marked SECRET, and 25 documents marked TOP SECRET,” according to the affidavit.
According to the unsealed and heavily redacted affidavit used to justify the raid, the FBI stated that it had “probable cause to believe” that additional records containing classified information, including National Defence Information, would be discovered on the premises of the Mar-a-Lago home, in addition to what he had previously turned over to the NARA.
According to the property receipt from the FBI raid on August 8, 2022, agents took around 20 boxes of things from the premises, including one set of documents labelled “Various classified/TS/SCI documents,” which refers to top secret/sensitive compartmented information.
Top secret papers
Records protected by that government classification level may contain human intelligence and information that, if exposed, could jeopardise relations between the United States and other countries, as well as the lives of intelligence operations abroad. However, the classification also includes national security material pertaining to the president of the United States’ daily operations.
The property receipt also said that FBI agents collected four sets of top secret papers, three sets of secret documents, and three sets of confidential documents, however the document contains no information about any of those data.
The search was performed by the government in response to what it perceived to be a breach of federal laws: Gathering, transferring, or losing defence information is a violation of 18 USC 793; concealment, removal, or mutilation is a violation of 18 USC 2071; and destruction, alteration, or fabrication of data in federal investigations is a violation of 18 USC 1519.
The charge of “gathering, transmitting, or losing defence information” is a violation of the Espionage Act.
The charge follows the discovery of confidential materials in President Biden’s office at the Penn Biden Centre last year. Those records came from his time as vice president during the Obama administration, as well as his stint in the United States Senate.
Investigation into the Capitol riot
Garland initially chose U.S. Attorney John Lausch to conduct an investigation into sensitive data discovered at the Penn Biden Centre. More classified data were discovered at Biden’s Wilmington, Delaware residence in December, but the revelations were not made public until this year.
Garland later hired Special Counsel Robert Hur to investigate Biden’s unlawful retention of confidential records. Hur took up the Department of Justice probe from Lausch.
Meanwhile, secret documents were discovered at the home of former Vice President Mike Pence in Indiana.
On January 6, 2021, Smith also took over the Justice Department’s investigation into the Capitol riot. In that capacity, he investigated whether Trump or other officials hampered the peaceful transition of power following the 2020 presidential election, including the certification of the Electoral College result on that day.
The Biden White House did not respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
Last Monday, Fox News reported that the Justice Department had completed its investigation and that Pence would not be indicted.
CNN Ousts CEO Chris Licht After A Brief, Tumultuous Tenure
THE NEW YORK CNN fired Chief Executive Chris Licht, After a turbulent year in charge of the faltering news organization, culminating in a stinging magazine feature and the growing realization that he’d lost the trust of the network’s journalists, CNN fired Chief Executive Chris Licht.
Just two days after Licht declared he would “fight like hell” to earn the respect of those around him, the change was revealed at CNN’s editorial meeting on Wednesday morning.
In addition to appointing a four-person interim leadership team, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav announced during the editorial meeting that he would conduct a comprehensive search for Licht’s replacement.
Republicans had grown increasingly wary of the network due to frequent attacks by the late President Donald Trump. Thus, Licht was mandated to try and make CNN more appealing to both sides of the country’s political spectrum.
However, several network employees viewed Licht’s call for change as a rejection of their prior efforts, and a live town hall interview with Trump last month generated strong opposition.
Don Lemon was fired from the network’s morning show earlier this year after Licht tried to modernize it, but it was unsuccessful. Creating a new prime-time lineup was protracted, as Kaitlan Collins was only recently chosen to host the 9 p.m. hour, which has been without a permanent host since Chris Cuomo was let go in December 2021.
CNN fired Chief Executive Chris Licht.
Just over a year ago, Zaslav appointed Licht to succeed Jeff Zucker, a well-liked predecessor who had created shows like MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” CBS’ morning news program, and Stephen Colbert’s late-night show. Zucker was let go for failing to disclose a mutually beneficial relationship with another CNN executive.
The position “was never going to be easy, especially at a time of great disruption and transformation,” Zaslav wrote in a memo to CNN employees.
He remarked, “Chris put his heart and soul into it. It has been clear throughout his tenure that he has a great affection for journalism and this industry. Unfortunately, things did not turn out as we had intended, and in the end, I was responsible.
An inquiry for comment from Licht has yet to receive a response.
“Inside the Meltdown at CNN,” a lengthy profile of Licht that appeared in Atlantic magazine on Friday, proved embarrassing and probably sealed his demise. Before he arrived, Licht criticized some of CNN’s COVID coverage, which infuriated some journalists.
According to a Wall Street Journal piece published Tuesday night, Jake Tapper, Anderson Cooper, and Erin Burnett, three of CNN’s top anchors, reportedly privately voiced their disapproval of Licht’s management.
In the meantime, viewers were leaving. With 494,000 viewers in May, CNN’s prime-time audience was down 16% from April and fell short of MSNBC, its nearest competitor in the news market.
Amy Entelis, Virginia Moseley, Eric Sherling, and David Leavy, four current CNN executives, were chosen by Zaslav to lead the network while a replacement is sought.
In the message, Zaslav stated, “We are in good hands, allowing us to take the time we need to run a thoughtful and thorough search for a new leader.”
SOURCE – (AP)
Some ‘Diablo IV’ Players Report Invalid License Error Message After Early Access Launch
Washington, D.C. The highly anticipated action role-playing video game “Diablo IV” launched its early access on Thursday night. However, there were some delays, particularly for PlayStation players.
While many players who pre-purchased eligible “Diablo IV” editions experienced no problems with the early access launch, some PS5 users reported getting an invalid licensing error message. After initially stating that a server-side balance update had been implemented, Blizzard acknowledged the problem.
A software upgrade known as a hotfix focuses on a single problem and normally does not cause service interruptions.
The most recent game in the Blizzard “Diablo” series, which debuted in 1996, is titled “Diablo IV” and was released in May 2012. This is more than ten years after “Diablo III”‘s debut. Although the game’s early access began on Thursday, the launch is set for the following week.
Diablo’s general manager, Rod Fergusson, referred to “Diablo IV” as “our most brutal vision of Sanctuary,” the make-believe setting for the game. He continued, saying that it incorporates “the darkness of the original game” and expands on significant elements from other games in the franchise.
Activision Blizzard, the parent business of Blizzard Entertainment, announced in April that its net sales for the first quarter of 2023 increased to $2.38 billion from $1.77 billion. Activision reported that “Diablo IV” presales were robust, indicating that the game had undergone successful public testing.
What you need to know about “Diablo IV’s” upcoming official release and early access launch on Thursday is provided here.
WHEN DOES DIABLO IV COMMENCE?
Depending on your local time zone, “Diablo IV” will be formally published on Tuesday or Wednesday next week. The game will begin in the United States on Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET (4 p.m. PT).
Although “Diablo IV” is set to be on sale next week, early access started a few days earlier, on either Thursday or Friday, depending on where you are. Players who pre-purchased the game’s digital deluxe or ultimate edition were expected to have early access.
Additionally, some devices allow players who have previously purchased “Diablo IV” to pre-load the game. According to Blizzard, pre-loading is possible for Windows PC, Xbox, and PlayStation.
DIABLO IV “UNABLE TO FIND LICENCE”?
Although early access appeared to open without incident for the majority of gamers, some PS5 users reported receiving an error message that stated, “unable to find a valid licence for Diablo IV,” according to posts on Blizzard’s community forums and social media. Players on the PS5 appeared to be the ones most affected by the problem, but some other users said they also received the notice on Xbox and other platforms.
In a forum post late Thursday night, Blizzard recognized the PlayStation customers’ complaints. Adam Fletcher, director of global community development, later claimed that “Diablo IV” had received a server-side balance update implemented across all platforms.
How many early access players were affected by the problem is unknown. On Blizzard’s forum, some angry customers reported that they were still having access issues as of Friday morning.
The Associated Press requested statements from Blizzard and PlayStation on Friday morning.
WHAT CLASSES DO DIABLO IV CHARACTERS FALL INTO?
“Diablo IV” reportedly takes place decades after the events of “Diablo III: Reaper of Souls.” The angel Inarius and the demon Lilith have started a battle and are at odds.
In “Diablo IV,” players can choose from one of five classes: Druids, Rogues, Sorceresses, Barbarians, or Necromancers.
At launch, “Diablo IV” will support couch co-op and cross-platform play on Windows PC, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, and PlayStation 4, among other platforms.
Financial results for Activation for 2022, Microsoft Deal
In 2022, Activision, the company behind “Call of Duty,” “Candy Crush,” and “World of Warcraft,” recorded net revenues of $7.53 billion, a decrease from the $8.8 billion reported in 2021.
Microsoft revealed plans to buy Activision in January 2022, but the historic transaction is doubtful more than a year later. Last month, the European Union authorized the $69 billion purchase, but British regulators halted it due to concerns about competition. Authorities in the US are also attempting to block the merger.
Regulators worldwide have scrutinized the agreement because of concern that it will give Microsoft and its Xbox platform control of popular s. PlayStation maker rival Sony has led a ferocious opposition.
Activision and Microsoft have appealed to a tribunal about the U.K. ruling. Liam Deane, a gaming industry analyst at digital research and consultancy firm Omdia, previously told The Associated Press that if the appeal is unsuccessful, Microsoft would be compelled to either cancel the arrangement or carve out the U.K. as a distinct market, which appeared to be an impractical choice.
SOURCE – (AP)
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