Lethal Injection Stay Denied for Inmate with Rare Birth Defect

Missouri Execution Bucklew
Russell Bucklew Missouri Department of Corrections/AP

Russell Bucklew's lethal injection, scheduled for 12:01 Wednesday morning, will be the first since the April 29 botched execution of Clayton Lockett

A federal judge denied a request to stay the execution of Missouri death row inmate Russell Bucklew on Monday. Bucklew’s lawyers had argued a rare birth defect would make his pending lethal injection extremely painful and therefore unconstitutional.

Bucklew is a convicted murderer and rapist with a medical condition that causes tumors, which cause bleeding and difficulty breathing, to grow in his head and neck. As a result of the tumors, his lawyers say the lethal injection drugs will fail to circulate and Bucklew will end up choking to death. Bucklew reportedly asked that his execution be videotaped and used as evidence in a civil lawsuit in the state. NBC reports that request was also denied.

His lawyers said in a statement issued Monday that they would “immediately appeal” the judges decision. Bucklew’s execution is scheduled for 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, May 21. His execution will be the first since the botched lethal injection in Oklahoma on April 29.

“We will immediately appeal the denial of a stay of execution because the courts must fully consider Mr. Bucklew’s claim that he will die a prolonged tortuous death in violation of the Eighth Amendment during his execution,” his lawyers said in a statement.

TIME Congress

Rep. John Lewis Opposes Obama Judicial Nominee Michael Boggs

Obama State of the Union
U.S. Representative John Lewis Ron Sachs—picture-alliance/dpa/AP

The Georgia Congressman and civil rights hero publicly denounced President Obama's judicial pick for his state. The former state lawmaker's voting record, said Lewis, is "in direct opposition to everything I have stood for during my career”

Civil rights icon and Georgia Congressman John Lewis said Monday he would not support President Obama’s controversial choice for district judge in his state.

In a statement issued Monday, Lewis said he opposed the nomination to the federal bench of Michael Boggs, who as a state lawmaker voted to pass a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and to keep the Confederate insignia on the Georgia state flag. His record, said Lewis, is “in direct opposition to everything I have stood for during my career.”

Boggs’ selection has been openly criticized by progressives, given his stance on gay marriage, abortion and other civil rights issues. The Congressional Black Caucus opposes his confirmation, as does Senate majority leader Harry Reid.

Lewis, however, had been expected to support the President’s nomination. During an appearance on CNN on Sunday, Senator Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, said the Congressman believed Boggs’ nomination would be a “good ticket.”

But Lewis, a former leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the youngest person to speak at the 1963 March on Washington, refuted that claim Monday. “I have worked tirelessly to rid Georgia, the South and this nation from the stain of racial discrimination in any form, including the display of Confederate emblems in the Georgia state flag,” Lewis said. “I am not about to change that position now.”

Home-state Senators typically offer their opinions on judicial nominees, and the two Republican Senators from Georgia support Boggs’ nomination. But Lewis’ opinion may carry more weight among Democratic Senators; some, including Illinois’ Dick Durbin, have said they would consult with the Congressman before confirming Boggs.

President Obama’s press secretary Jay Carney said last week that the President thinks Boggs’ judicial background qualifies him for the job. “What I would say is that the President believes that Judge Boggs is qualified for the federal bench,” Carney said. “The criticisms of him are not based on his 10-year track record as a state trial and appellate-court judge.”

TIME Civil Rights

Oregon’s Same-Sex Marriage Ban Ruled Unconstitutional

"I believe that if we can look for a moment past gender and sexuality, we can see in these plaintiffs nothing more or less than our own families," Judge Michael McShane wrote in his opinion on Monday

A federal judge in Oregon ruled Monday that a statewide ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Michael J. McShane said in his opinion that “no legitimate state purpose justifies the preclusion of gay and lesbian couples from civil marriage.”

Earlier on Monday, the ninth circuit court of appeals denied a motion filed by an anti-gay marriage organization, National Organization for Marriage, to stay the judge’s decision pending an appeal, making the judge’s order effective immediately. “I believe that if we can look for a moment past gender and sexuality, we can see in these plaintiffs nothing more or less than our own families,” said Judge McShane in his opinion.

In 2013, four plaintiffs filed a suit to allow same-sex marriage in the state. Before Monday’s ruling only domestic partnerships were legal for gay and lesbian couples. The 2004 law, known as Measure 36, which effectively banned same-sex marriage in Oregon, was struck down as a result of McShane’s ruling.

One of the case’s plaintiffs said he was “thrilled” by the judge’s decision in a statement issued by the American Civil Liberties Union.

“I am so thrilled to have the freedom to marry the love of my life. Marriage strengthens families like mine, and for me, it’s as simple as treating others as one would hope to be treated,” said Paul Rummell. “No one should be told it is illegal to marry the person they love.”

The Oregon ruling is the latest in a string of victories for same-sex couples looking to marry or have their marriages recognized in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling on gay marriage.

TIME Congress

House GOP Eyes Option for Schools to Skip Healthy Lunches

Nutritional changes in schools
A student selects an apple as he goes through the line during lunch at East Cary Middle School in Cary, North Carolina, on Wednesday, July 10, 2013. Nutritional changes are coming for snack foods and sweets sold a la carte on school lunch lines. (Chris Seward/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT via Getty Images) Raleigh News & Observer—MCT via Getty Images

The proposed 2015 agricultural appropriations bill would offer some schools a temporary waiver from the USDA's healthy school lunch standards that call for less sodium and more veggies in school cafeterias

House Republicans floated a proposal Monday to give schools the ability to opt out of program championed by First Lady Michelle Obama: healthy lunches.

The House Appropriations Committee’s 2015 agricultural budget proposal would allow cash-strapped schools to receive a temporary waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture healthy lunches standards. The standards, which were created following the passage of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, require school lunch programs to ramp up offerings of fruits and vegetables, while placing caps on sodium, trans fats and calories in cafeteria food. The Maryland-based School Nutrition Association, which has asked Congress to allow schools more flexibility under the nutrition standards, says the standards have caused a financial burden for some of the 55,000 school nutrition professionals it represents.

The organization commended the Appropriations Committee’s proposal on Monday, saying the one-year waiver would help “ease the burden on school meal programs.”

“A temporary waiver would ease the burden on school meal programs, preventing more schools from dropping out of the National School Lunch Program altogether,” SNA president Leah Schmidt said in a statement.

About 30 million kids in the U.S. participate in the National School Lunch program daily,which provides free and reduced-cost lunches to needy kids, many of whom consume about half of their daily calories at school. But about 18% of U.S. kids and teens are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And while Congress and other groups support addressing childhood obesity by providing healthier food to kids, SNA says the standards have had an undue impact on financially strained schools.

“Since these standards took effect, more than one million fewer students choose school lunch each day, reducing revenue for school meal programs already struggling to manage the increased cost of preparing meals under the new standards,” Schmidt said.

Democrats on the committee have been generally supportive of the standards, and at least one sounded skeptical of the GOP proposal, calling it unnecessary.

“Schools need time to adjust to serving healthier food under the new standards and USDA has put a solid plan into place, which gives them necessary support,” Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) said in a statement. “The vast majority of American schools—over 90 percent—are serving healthier foods, and most of the students the Government Accountability Office spoke with for a recent report indicated they like to eat the healthy food their schools are serving. To not fully support seeing through this improvement in school nutrition would be to abandon our children.”

The vast majority of schools were meeting the standards by 2013, though many faced challenges due to lack of equipment and issues with food cost, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts.

“It’s not easy, but it can be done and it is being done,” said Mark Bishop, the vice president of policy at the Healthy Schools Campaign. “What I don’t want to see is schools take a step back in serving healthy food to children.”

Bishop said he hopes the waiver provision does not make it to the final version of the appropriations bill. The House Appropriations subcommittee on Agriculture will consider the bill on Tuesday.

TIME Morning Must Reads

Morning Must Reads: May 19

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

In the News: Putin calls for troop withdrawal; Obama is 'madder than hell'; Tuesday primaries will shape 2014 climate; and new poll shows grim outlook for Dems in 2014

  • GOP: Hillary Clinton’s health and age are ‘fair game’ [TIME]
  • A new poll shows there would be trouble for Democrats if the 2014 election were held today [Politico]
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered military forces to return to their permanent bases after drills in three regions bordering Ukraine, the Kremlin said on Monday.” [Reuters]
  • Front-runner in Ukraine election may be shifting Putin’s stance [NYT]
  • Tuesday primaries will shape critical 2014 contests [USA Today]
  • “Tuesday’s primary here in Kentucky, along with others in Georgia, Idaho and Oregon, represents the most important moment on the 2014 calendar to date in the tug of war between GOP leaders and conservative activists. From the beginning, Mr. McConnell has highlighted his conservative stances, but never at the expense of his main message—that his perch as a party leader gives Kentucky more clout in Congress.” [WSJ]
  • Glass ceilings in statehouses in the Northeast [NYT]
  • San Antonio mayor Julian Castro is being considered for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development [Washington Post]
  • White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough defended the White House reaction to the scandals emerging from Veterans Administration (VA) hospitals around the country, saying on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that President Obama “is madder than hell – I’ve got the scars to prove it.” [CBS]
  • VA’s Chinese water torture continues [TIME]



TIME Companies

Darden Restaurants Selling Red Lobster for $2.1 Billion

Olive Garden and Red Lobster Locations Ahead of Darden Restaurants Inc. Earning Figures
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Golden Gate Capital will purchase the seafood chain from its current owner

Darden Restaurants announced the sale of its Red Lobster business for $2.1 billion on Friday. San Francisco based private equity firm Golden Gate Capital will purchase of the popular seafood franchise and related assets. The bulk of the sale’s proceeds will be used to settle outstanding debt.

“Today’s announcement is the culmination of a highly competitive process designed to maximize the value of the Red Lobster business and better position Darden for success,” said lead director of Darden’s board Chuck Ledsinger in a statement.

According to the announcement, the purchase price is nine times Red Lobster’s 12-month earnings ending on April 27. The sale is expected to close in early 2015 and provide the company with $1.6 billion in cash. About $1 billion will be used to retire debt, the remaining funds will be used to repurchase shares.

The company has been mulling either the sale or spin-off of its Red Lobster brand due to the chain’s inability to move up-market. On a December conference call with shareholders, Darden CEO Clarence Otis announced the pending sale of Red Lobster as part of an effort to increase the company’s value.

Golden Gate Capital has stakes in California Pizza Kitchen, Payless ShoeSource, and Express clothing stores.


TIME Kenya

Kenyan Red Cross: Nairobi Blasts Injure At Least 10

The explosions occurred near a popular market in the country's capital as British vacationers were being evacuated due to high terror threat from Al Shabaab extremist group

Explosions in Nairobi injured as many as 10 people on Friday, the Kenya Red Cross said, as European tourists were being evacuated from Kenya due to a high terror threat. At least four people were killed in the twin blasts, the Associated Press reports.

The Kenyan National Disaster Operations Center tweeted that the explosions occurred near a popular Nairobi market.

No group has yet taken responsibility for the bombings, although Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta issued a vague statement about “terrorism” after the blasts.

“Many countries are faced with this particular problem (terrorism). All of us must be united to ensure that we fight it,” reads the statement, posted by the International Business Times. “We will do what we can as a government. We in Kenya, are committed to this fight and we urge Kenyans to work with us.”

Friday’s attack happened as British tourists in the country were being urged to leave due to a high terror threat from Somali extremist group al-Shabab, particularly along the Kenya-Somali border and in areas in Nairobi.


Pinterest Valued at $5 Billion

The logo of mobile app "Pinterest" is displayed on a tablet on Jan. 2, 2014 in Paris. Lionel Bonaventure—AFP/Getty Images

A new round of funding just increased the value of the four-year-old virtual scrapbooking site, which lets people 'pin' pictures and notes to virtual 'boards' in 31 countries, by more than 30 percent since last October when it had received a $3.8 billion valuation

Pinterest announced Thursday that it has secured $200 million in financing, boosting its value to $5 billion.

To date, the virtual scrapbooking site has raised $764 million. The 4-year-old company, which lets people pin pictures and notes to boards in 31 countries, had previously received a $3.8 billion valuation following its last round in October. According to a statement released by the company, the new funds came from existing investors SV Angel, Bessemer Venture Partners, Fidelity, Andreessen Horowitz, FirstMark Capital and Valiant Capital Partners.

The site will use the funds to continue developing its recently launched paid advertising and expand its business. “Pinterest has a vision of solving discovery and helping everyone find things they’ll love. This new investment gives us additional resources to realize our vision,” said CEO Ben Silbermann.

TIME Crime

Florida Mom Convicted of Murdering Her 2 Teenage Kids

Julie Schenecker Convicted Murder
With the jury in deliberations, Julie Schenecker is escorted from Judge Emmett Lamar Battles' courtroom on May 15, 2014 in Tampa. Daniel Wallace—Zuma Press

Julie Schenecker of Tampa will face a mandatory life sentence without the possibility for parole for killing her teens in 2011.

A Florida woman was convicted Thursday of two counts of first-degree murder for killing her two teenaged kids. Jurors rejected an insanity plea for Julie Schenecker, a former Army linguist from Tampa who shot her 16-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son in 2011.

Schenecker will face a mandatory life sentence. She will not be eligible for parole.

The jury deliberated for less than two hours on Thursday, the Tampa Bay Times reports. Schenecker’s attorney’s argued that she was medicated and suffering from depression and bipolar disorder at the time of the killings. The prosecutor, however, said she deliberately drove 27 miles to purchase the gun she eventually used to kill her children. On Thursday, a jury of her peers agreed with the prosecution.

Following the conviction, a visibly distraught Schenecker addressed the court. “Your honor I’m prepared and I accept your sentence,” she said through tears, before taking responsibility for shooting her teens, Calyx and Beau. “I apologize. I apologize to every in this courtroom.”

“I know our children are in heaven,” she said. “I want people to try to find comfort in believing as I do that they are in no pain and they are alive and enjoying everything and anything heaven has to offer.”


Glenn Close Comes Back to Broadway in A Delicate Balance

Glenn Close
Glenn Close poses for a portrait at The Collective and Gibson Lounge Powered by CEG, during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, Jan. 20, 2014. Victoria Will—Invision/AP

In November, the Tony-winning actress will star alongside John Lithgow and Martha Plimpton in an upcoming revival of Edward Albee's Pulitzer Prize winning drama, A Delicate Balance, scheduled to run 18 weeks at the Golden Theatre

It’s been 20 years since Glenn Close has performed on Broadway, but the Tony-award winning actress is making a comeback this fall. Close is set to star in a revival of A Delicate Balance, which first premiered on Broadway in 1966.

Edward Albee’s Pulitzer Prize winning drama will officially open on Nov. 20, according to the Hollywood Reporter, though preview performances begin in October. Pam MacKinnon, who won a Tony Award for another Albee play “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”, will direct the play, which also stars John Lithgow and Martha Plimpton.

Close, who was a stage actress before moving to the big screen — her first feature film was 1982’s The World According to Garp — already has three Tonys to her name, including one in 1995 for her role as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard.

The revival is set to run for 18 weeks at the Golden Theatre.

[Hollywood Reporter]

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