TIME

Lethal Injection Execution Halted in Texas

Robert Campbell is pictured in this undated handout photo
Robert Campbell is pictured in this undated handout photo courtesy of Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Texas Department of Criminal Justice/Reuters

A federal appeals court issued a stay of execution on Tuesday just two hours before Robert Campbell, who is on death row for rape and murder, was set to be executed in the first lethal injection since Oklahoma’s botched execution in late April

With only two hours to spare, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday to delay the execution of Texas inmate Robert James Campbell. The 41-year-old inmate, who is on death row for murder and rape, would have received the first lethal injection since Oklahoma’s botched execution in late April.

Though Campbell’s lawyers filed appeals citing the Oklahoma debacle, the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided Campbell’s low IQ should be fully considered before an execution takes place, NBC News reports. The Supreme Court deemed executions of the mentally retarded unconstitutional in 2002.

The circuit court judges called the fact that the IQ information was passed along so close to the scheduled execution “regrettable,” and blamed the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for dragging its feet.

“It is regrettable that we are now reviewing evidence of intellectual disability at the eleventh hour before Campbell’s scheduled execution,” the court wrote, according to NBC. “However, from the record before us, it appears that we cannot fault Campbell or his attorneys, present or past, for the delay.”

The victim’s family members, however, expressed discontent over the court’s decision.“He’s intelligent enough to commit a crime,” Israel Santana, the cousin of Alejandra Rendon who was raped and murdered in 1991, said. “It’s a joke.”

[NBC]

TIME celebrities

Searching for Casey Kasem

Celebrity Dads Honored With "Golden" Award
Casey Kasem arrives at the Golden Dads Awards ceremony at the Peterson Automotive Museum on June 15, 2005 in Los Angeles, Ca. Amanda Edwards—Getty Images

A judge ordered a court investigator and adult protective services to find the 82-year-old radio legend, who suffers from advanced Parkinson's disease, after Kasem's wife's lawyer said he wasn’t sure where the ailing disc jockey was being treated

A Los Angeles judge called for an investigation into legendary DJ Casey Kasem’s whereabouts Monday, after a lawyer for his wife told the judge he wasn’t sure where the ailing disc jockey was being treated.

Kasem, 82, can’t speak due to advanced Parkinson’s disease and has reportedly been moved to a variety of medical facilities at the request of his wife, Jean Kasem. Fox News reports Jean’s lawyer, however, failed to tell a Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge where Kasem currently is, sparking Judge Daniel S. Murphy to order a court investigator and adult protective services to locate the former “American Top 40” host.

“I have no idea where he is,” said Jean’s attorney Craig Marcus on Monday.

Kasem’s daughter Kerri, from a previous marriage, is seeking control of the elderly DJ’s care and medical records, in part of an ongoing feud between Kasem’s wife and his children. In late 2013, his daughter Julie reached a visitation settlement with Jean, the details of which were not released. The DJ’s kids have repeatedly complained that Kasem has been moved a number of times without their knowledge and they haven’t been able to visit. Kerri reportedly filed the latest complaint last week.

[Fox News]

TIME Religion

‘Black Mass’ on Harvard Campus Canceled

Critics of the re-enactment that was planned as an educational demonstration of a historical "black mass," a ritual that mocks the Roman Catholic Church, included the university's president and Roman Catholic Archbishop of Boston, who called the idea "repugnant"

Updated 8:45 p.m. ET

A Harvard University student club’s planned re-enactment of a satanic ritual was canceled at the last minute, amid backlash from students, alumni and the Archdiocese of Boston.

The “black mass,” to be hosted by the Harvard Extension School’s Cultural Studies Club, would have taken place at a pub on the school’s Cambridge campus Monday night. The club called it a “re-enactment” that was intended solely for educational purposes. The ritual was historically performed to mock the Roman Catholic Church.

About an hour before the ritual would have been held, the dean of student affairs at Harvard’s Extension School said in a statement that the black mass had been moved to an off-campus location. Fox Boston later reported that the group then canceled the event because it was unable to secure a new location.

Dean Robert Neugeboren said he was glad that the students finally decided to cancel, given religious leaders’ and other students’ firmly expressed reservations about the event.

Earlier on Monday, the Cultural Studies Club had faced strong criticism of its plans. Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Boston, called the event “repugnant” in an interview with the Boston Globe. He added, “There’s a great fascination with evil in the world, but you know, it doesn’t lead to anything good.”

University president Drew Faust denounced the event in a statement, saying that “the decision by a student club to sponsor an enactment of this ritual is abhorrent.” She then said that students still have a right to free expression: “Vigorous and open discussion and debate are essential to the pursuit of knowledge, and we must uphold these values even in the face of controversy.”

A petition started by a member of the school’s Catholic Students group had hundreds of signatures, the Harvard Crimson reports, and a prayer vigil would have coincided with the black mass.

TIME movies

Octavia Spencer Joins Divergent Sequel, Insurgent

The actress, who won an Oscar for her role in The Help, will have a starring role in the upcoming sci-fi flick

Actress Octavia Spencer is joining the cast of the Divergent franchise for the upcoming film Insurgent.

The Academy Award winner will play Johanna, the leader of a peace-loving faction within the novel-turned-film franchise’s dystopian future, Variety reports. The film is slated for release in March 2015, with the third installment “Allegiant” following in two parts, in the vein of other popular teen film franchises including Twilight and The Hunger Games.

Robert Schwentke, who also directed the Time Traveler’s Wife and 2010’s RED, will direct the film. The Divergent franchise is based on the best-selling novels by Veronica Roth, which center on a teenage heroine of the future battling a government that divides young adults into factions based on virtue.

[Variety]

TIME 2014 Election

Clay Aiken Challenger in North Carolina Dies

North Carolina Primary
Congressional candidate Keith Crisco addresses supporters at Lumina Wine & Beer, Tuesday, May 6, 2014, in Asheboro, N.C. Robert Willett—The News & Observer/AP

Keith Crisco, a 71-year-old businessman who was battling the former American Idol contestant in a congressional primary, died following a fall at his home just days after saying he wasn't ready to concede to Aiken after last week's close-call democratic vote

Keith Crisco, a North Carolina businessman who was locked in a tight congressional race against former American Idol contestant Clay Aiken, died Monday, bringing an unexpected and tragic end to the race.

Crisco died at his home after an accident, the president of the textile company he founded said. He was 71, the Associated Press reports, and his death was confirmed by the city of Asheboro. He sustained a fall while in his home, WTVD reports.

Crisco was trailing Aiken in last week’s too-close-to-call Democratic primary. The two were fighting for the nomination to take on Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers in November. Crisco released a statement Wednesday saying he wasn’t ready to concede; he trailed Aiken by more than 300 votes.

Asheboro, where Crisco served on the City Council, called him “an excellent leader and public servant.”

“His service to the City of Asheboro and the State of North Carolina serves as a testimony to his love of family, community, and our State,” Mayor David Smith in a statement.

Ellmers said she was “deeply saddened by this sudden and painful tragedy and wish God’s blessings for Keith’s family through the coming days.”

“His kindness and dedication to his principles were models we should all strive toward, and he will be dearly missed,” she said in a statement. “My thoughts and prayers are with Keith’s family, friends and loved ones during this difficult time.”

TIME Markets

Dow Jones, S&P 500 Reach New Peaks

It was the fourth straight day of gains for the Down Jones

The Dow Jones Industrial Average and Standard & Poor’s 500 Index reached record highs Monday thanks to investors looking for bargains on shares that lagged last week.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose by 112 points, about 0.7% to close at 16,695.02, after peaking at 16,704.84 earlier in the afternoon. The S&P 500 gained 18.13 point, or 1%, beating its previous record to close at 1,896.65.

The Dow’s Monday close surpassed the record 16,583 hit on Friday. Monday’s boost follows an uptick in shares for Internet companies including Twitter, Yahoo, and Facebook, according to CNBC. Hillshire Brands’ acquisition of Pinnacle Foods, which owns Aunt Jemima among other brands, helped push the company’s stock 13,4%, according to the Associated Press.

TIME Congress

House Committee Scrutinizes D.C. Pot Law Despite Mayor’s Refusal To Comply

Vincent Gray
District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray pauses during a prayer after he delivered the State of the District address at Kelly Miller Middle School in Washington on March 11, 2014. Evan Vucci—AP

Members of Congress stressed that they were well within their rights to review the law, despite Mayor Vincent Gray's claim that D.C. was being singled out in its effort to reduce fines for possession of small amounts of marijuana

Conservatives in the House of Representatives grilled a panel of Washington D.C. law enforcement officials on Friday about a pending law that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana in the nation’s capital, despite Mayor Vincent Gray’s refusal to send council members to testify.

Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C.’s non-voting congresswoman, testified representing the district at a House Oversight subcommittee hearing, telling lawmakers Gray believed D.C. was being singled out in its effort to enact legislation reducing fines for possession of small amounts of marijuana similar to laws passed in 18 states.

Norton said the decision to hold the hearing was “quaint,” stressing that D.C. has the ability to self-govern. But subcommittee chairman Rep. John Mica (R—Fla.), who held a fake joint after his opening statements, stressed Friday’s hearing was not intended to single out the District. “We are not here to negate the District’s laws. We’re here to review its principles,” he said.

Mica expressed concern over a potential crossover between federal and local law enforcement agencies. ‘This particular change in law does effect a number, in fact 26 federal agencies in the District of Columbia that are charged the responsibility of law enforcement,” he said. He questioned which agency would be responsible for his arrest if he was caught in possession of marijuana with one foot in a U.S. National Park and the other just outside.

Norton said that the law would address racial disparities in arrests for possession of marijuana within the District. She rejected claims made by some lawmakers that the law would interfere with existing federal policies regarding public use and sale of the drug.

“D.C. residents and elected officials were stunned by two recently released studies,” Norton said citing a July 2013 American Civil Liberties Union study that found blacks were nearly eight times as likely to be arrested for possession than whites in D.C., although drug usage rates are broadly similar. “The District, like many other jurisdictions, has taken a very practical step to reduce the outsized arrest and incarceration rates of minorities.

Republican members of the subcommittee, however, called into question whether the law would really impact racial disparity. “I anticipate there will still be arrests for intent to distribute,” Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky said Friday. “Will the disparity continue?”

Assistant Chief of D.C. Metropolitan Police Peter Newsham, who also answered questions as a courtesy to the mayor, said later that the law’s full impact would be hard to predict. “Arrests for possession will likely decrease,” he said. “But whether or not enforcement action [on more serious drug crimes] will be taken is hard to say.”

Mayor Gray signed the bill in March, but because Congress has authority over the district—every law passed in D.C. is subject to their approval—there is a 60-day window of Congressional review. Most bills sail through this period with ease, .

Friday’s hearing was the third held by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform examining the impact that state marijuana laws have had on federal law. Though none of the other hearings jeopardized the implementation of a jurisdiction’s policy

When asked whether or not he rolled the faux joint himself, Mica responded that his staff members did. “They have more experience,” he said.

 

TIME Environment

White House Announces New Action on Solar Energy

President Barack Obama will announce over 300 new public and private sector commitments to clean, solar energy — but his decision to include Walmart in his plans angered some labor groups

The White House is announcing executive actions to advance clean energy on Friday, including $2 billion worth of upgrades to federal buildings to make them more efficient over the next three years.

President Obama will announce the planned upgrades on Friday in California, where he has been fundraising for Democrats running for the Senate since Wednesday. At the core of Obama’s announcement is a renewed focus on solar energy, including 300 new public and private sector commitments to make solar power more accessible. According to the White House, the commitments represent enough solar energy to power 130,000 homes.

Among the commitments are proposals to use more solar energy in affordable and low-income housing units, and expansion of solar energy at retail stores including Walmart, Apple, and Ikea. The decision to include Walmart angered some labor groups, who say the retailer pays low wages and offers few benefits to its workers. Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich openly criticized the inclusion of Walmart in a Facebook post Thursday.

The attention to solar energy follows a White House summit held in mid-April, where the administration urged business owners and local leaders to use more solar energy. At the so-called “solar summit,” the administration launched a $15 million program to help local, state governments combat climate change and utilize solar energy.

Obama is also set to announce the installation of solar panels at the White House residence on Friday. According to the LA Times, White House spokesman Matt Lehrich said the installation of solar panels, “helps demonstrate that historic buildings can incorporate solar energy and energy efficiency upgrades.”

TIME Morning Must Reads

Morning Must Reads: May 9

Capitol
The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

In the News: The White House residence has solar panels; House establishes select committee on Benghazi; U.S. officials arrive in Nigeria to aid search; FEC allows PACs to accept bitcoin

  • A Benghazi Scandal that’s already been revealed: The CIA believed a media mistake [TIME]
  • House votes to establish select committee on Benghazi [Fox News]
  • “Democratic members of the US House of Representatives are weighing whether to participate in a new investigation of the deadly attack in Benghazi, Libya, or boycott the election-year inquiry of a tragedy they accuse Republicans of politicising. Party leaders will meet rank-and-file members on Friday to decide the next step…” [Al Jazeera]
  • “President Obama will promote his record on energy efficiency on Friday by touting several initiatives he says are taking hold across the country – as well as the completion of one very close to home. After years of delay, solar panels have been installed on the first family’s residence at the White House, according to aides, who say Obama will make the announcement at a speech in Mountain View, Calif., on Friday.” [LA Times]
  • Six Democrats decide to reject Senate plan to overhaul Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac [Bloomberg]
  • FEC voted to allow political committees to accept small amounts of bitcoin [Reuters]
  • U.S. officials arrive in Nigeria to aid in search for missing girls [CNN]
  • House to hold hearing on D.C. marijuana policy [AP]
  • Recalled cars roam the roads as federal legislation stalls [NYT]
  • The woman who is likely to oversee the ongoing implementation of the Obama administration’s healthcare law faced little opposition from Republicans at her first confirmation hearing Thursday, as they focused on her qualifications to serve rather than the law they uniformly despise.” [TIME]

 

TIME Crime

Elderly Georgia Man Found Beheaded, Wife Still Missing

Russell Dermond's headless body was discovered by worried friends after he and his wife failed to attend a party and answer calls. Authorities worry his wife Shirley, 87, may have been abducted

Federal authorities have joined the investigation of the brutal murder of an elderly Georgia man and the disappearance of his wife, CNN reports.

Russell Dermond, 88, was found decapitated in his suburban Atlanta home on Tuesday by friends concerned about his and his wife’s whereabouts. Shirley Dermond is reportedly missing, while Dermond’s head has not yet been recovered.

The gated community where the couple shared a million-dollar home is typically safe, authorities and residents have told news outlets. But when the Dermonds failed to attend a Kentucky Derby party last weekend, friends and neighbors grew worried.

Investigators, however, do not believe the act was random. Valuables including wallets, a purse, and both of their cellphones were found in the house. Shirley Dermond, 87, is described as a 5-foot-2 gray haired woman who weighs about 148 pounds. Authorities believe she was abducted and have begun searching for her.

“I don’t think it’s a random incident,” Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills said, according to CNN. “I think for whatever reason these people were singled out for this.”

[CNN]

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