By David Schwartz PHOENIX (Reuters) - Lawyers for a double-murderer whose lethal injection in Arizona dragged on for two hours called for an outside review of the "horrifically botched execution" and prompted new calls on Thursday for the United States to abandon the death penalty. The ordeal in putting Joseph Wood to death on Wednesday at a prison facility southeast of Phoenix followed lethal injections that went awry this year in Ohio and Oklahoma, renewing the U.S. debate over capital punishment. Corrections officials said Wood was never in pain but Rob Freer, a U.S. researcher with human-rights group Amnesty International, asked, "How many more times do officials need to be reminded of the myth of the 'humane execution' before they give up on their experiment with judicial killing?" States that impose the death penalty have been scrambling to find new suppliers of chemical combinations to use in lethal injections after their former suppliers, primarily European drug makers, objected to having their products used to put people to death.
By Sharon Bernstein SACRAMENTO Calif. (Reuters) - California's attorney general has personally asked several major law firms to provide pro bono services to unaccompanied immigrant children flooding the U.S. border with Mexico, a signal that California views the growing crisis as a humanitarian issue. The move comes amid escalating political tension in the United States over how to deal with the thousands of children fleeing violence in their Central American homelands. "We've convened a group of law firms to make sure these children, some of them as young as 8 years old, have access to due process," California Attorney General Kamala Harris said on Thursday. By the end of June, about 3,000 of the children had been sent to California, and more have come since.
By Patricia Zengerle WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Jade and rubies from Myanmar will remain banned from the United States unless the Asian nation moves to end a provision in its constitution that bars opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from running for president, a senior U.S. senator said on Thursday. Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican party's leader in the Senate, said there is little appetite in the U.S. Congress to reinstate stiff trade sanctions that were imposed on Myanmar during its decades of tough military rule. "It is hard to see how those provisions get lifted without there being progress on the constitutional eligibility issue and the closely related issue of the legitimacy of the 2015 elections," said McConnell, who has taken a long-term interest in Myanmar and visited two years ago. Improving relations with Myanmar has been a priority with the U.S. government, but lately Washington has been concerned that the Asian nation also known as Burma is backing away from its reform agenda.
By Brendan O'Brien MILWAUKEE (Reuters) - A Milwaukee barber received a 3-1/2-year prison sentence on Thursday for supplying a stun gun used in the theft of a 300-year-old Stradivarius violin from a concert violinist. Universal Knowledge Allah, 37, was also sentenced by Milwaukee County Circuit Court to 3-1/2 years of extended supervision after his release for being party to felony robbery in the theft of the violin, which was made in 1715. "I just want to humbly apologize to you and everyone for making this mistake," Allah told the court before the sentence was handed down. Allah, who has been a barber for 18 years in Milwaukee, was found guilty of supplying the stun gun to Salah Jones, who faces trial on charges he incapacitated Frank Almond with the weapon as the musician left a performance in a Milwaukee suburb on Jan. 27.
By Aaron Foley DETROIT (Reuters) - Widespread water shutoffs in Detroit have led to the creation of a website that allows donors to anonymously pay the overdue bills of residents in the bankrupt city, a site organizer said on Thursday. Recent efforts by the cash-strapped municipal water authority to collect tens of millions of dollars in overdue bills has attracted international attention and critics say the disconnections are inhumane and unfair to the poor. The donor site, DetroitWaterProject.org, was born from a Twitter conversation between programmer Tiffani Bell of Fayetteville, North Carolina and designer Kristy Tillman of Boston who were concerned about the water issue, Bell said in an email. Customers with delinquent bills share their account information with the site, where they are matched with donors.
It is a potentially deadly maneuver that New York police have been banned from using for 21 years, but on Thursday the force confirmed it was probing what seemed to be a second case of an officer using a choke hold within a single week. The investigation of the incident comes just days after videos emerged showing police using a choke hold on a Staten Island man, Eric Garner, as he was being arrested for selling untaxed cigarettes. While trying to handcuff the suspect, identified as Ronald Johns, a police officer can be seen in the videos punching him in the head and using an arm to grip Johns around his neck during a struggle on the station floor.