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.”


TIME White House

Inside The Obama Administration Fight Over The Drone Memo

The Obama Administration, under pressure from liberals and libertarians who threaten to sink a judicial nomination, is inching closer to the release of classified legal memos it claims justify the use of drone strikes against Americans fighting for al-Qaeda

Under pressure from liberals and libertarians that threatens to sink a judicial nomination, the Obama Administration is moving closer to releasing a classified legal justification for the use of drone strikes against Americans fighting for al-Qaeda, Administration officials tell TIME.

David Barron, who previously worked at the Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice Department, has seen his nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit stalled by an alliance of liberals like Democratic Sen. Mark Udall ­and libertarian Republican Sen. Rand Paul. Barron was the principal author of at least one memo that provided the legal basis for the extrajudicial killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen and senior figure in the terrorist group al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Last month, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Barron memo must be made public in response to lawsuits filed by the New York Times and the American Civil Liberties Union. Under court rules, the Obama Administration was given 60 days to decide whether to appeal the ruling or release the document, a deadline that has sparked a vigorous debate inside the Administration.

The U.S. intelligence community and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence want the Administration not to release the memo. Also against release is the Office of Legal Counsel, which serves as the in-house legal expert on executive branch powers and which vigorously guards its opinions.

On the other side are Administration liberals, who make the case for releasing the document on the basis of increased transparency. They also argue that last year’s release of a Justice Department report outlining the reasoning for the formal justification makes its continued classification irrelevant.

“Whatever protection the legal analysis might once have had has been lost by virtue of public statements of public officials at the highest levels and official disclosure of the DOJ White Paper,” Judge Jon Newman wrote in the Second Circuit’s opinion, referring to the Justice Department report on the legal rationale for the administration’s drone policy.

The Solicitor General will nominally make the decision whether to ask the full bench of the appeals court or the Supreme Court to hear the case. But the White House is involved because Barron’s nomination may hang in the balance, and because other agencies, like the CIA, feel strongly about the issue. Last week the administration made the memo available to all senators in one of the Senate’s Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities in the Capitol.

“The Administration has made available unredacted copies of all written legal advice issued by Mr. Barron regarding the potential use of lethal force against U.S. citizens in counterterrorism operations,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said.

But several lawmakers, including Paul, are demanding that a redacted version of the memo be made public, as ordered by the appellate court, before a vote on the nomination.

“The decision to provide, at least to the full Senate, the drone memo is an indication of some folks in the administration leaning in favor of transparency,” said an Administration official familiar with the internal debate.

The debate whether to release the memo is a familiar one for President Barack Obama. In the opening months of his presidency, he faced the decision whether to release the legal justification memos for Bush-era enhanced interrogation techniques—the so-called “torture memos.” Obama’s intelligence team opposed releasing the memos, while liberals pushed for transparency. In a sign of the shifting political climate surrounding the fight against terrorists, the President’s political advisors opposed the earlier memos’ release, but now support making the drone memos public.

For Obama, who has proclaimed his to be the “most transparent administration ever,” the politics around the memo are fraught with pitfalls. If the President, a constitutional lawyer by training, decides to withhold the memo, it will be used a political cudgel by opponents of his drone policy, and it could all be for naught if the opinion is upheld. If he releases it, he will face criticism from some in his administration and from national security hawks.

Paul, a Kentucky Republican eyeing the White House in 2016, has used the drone issue as a way to bolster his political fortunes. He filibustered the nomination of CIA Director John Brennan last year over the Administration’s initial unwillingness to rule out drone strikes on American soil.

TIME Religion

‘Black Mass’ at Harvard Canceled Amid Outcry

The planned re-enactment of a satanic ritual intended to mock the traditional Catholic mass had been widely denounced by school administrators and Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley


Harvard’s reputation for elite students and world class education generally doesn’t include satanic worship.

Harvard Extension School’s Cultural Studies Club wanted to perform a black mass reenactment on the school’s campus until an uproar forced it to change plans. The club’s planned re-enactment of a satanic ritual was canceled, amid backlash from students, alumni and the Archdiocese of Boston.

However, a scaled-down version of the event was apparently held at the last minute late Monday by members of the New York-based Satanic Temple off campus at a local lounge, according to the Boston Globe. That event was not sponsored by the Harvard club.

Watch the video above for more on the ritual that was historically performed to mock the Roman Catholic Church.

TIME Infectious Disease

2 Hospital Workers Treating MERS Patient Show Virus-Like Symptoms

Ken Michaels
Ken Michaels MD talks at a Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) press conference at Dr. Phillips hospital on May 13, 2014 in Orlando, Florida. Reinhold Matay—AP

Flu-like respiratory symptoms have been seen in health care workers exposed to Middle East Respiratory Syndrome patient in Orlando, Fla. A total of 20 are being tested for the disease

Two health care workers at the Orlando, Fla. hospital treating a confirmed Middle East Respiratory Sydrome patient are showing symptoms associated with the virus.

Dr. P. Phillips Hospital, where the MERS patient is being treated, confirmed to TIME that two health workers are experiencing flu-like symptoms. One has been hospitalized, while the other is currently isolated at their home, and is being monitored. Neither has yet been diagnosed with MERS, the hospital said.

A total of 20 health care workers at Dr. P. Phillips Hospital are now undergoing testing for MERS after being exposed to the patient, the hospital confirmed to TIME. The virus is not a severe risk to the general public, but human transmission appears to happen among people who interact with those who are infected, typically in a health care setting.

Like the first patient in Indiana, the new patient lives in Saudi Arabia and is a health care worker there. The patient flew from Jeddah to London, and then to Boston, before traveling to Atlanta and finally Orlando to visit family. The patient started feeling ill during the flight from Jeddah to London, and had symptoms like fever, chills and a slight cough. The patient visited the emergency room at an Orange County hospital, and was isolated.

MERS is a respiratory virus that is in the same family as the common cold and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The disease appeared two years ago in Saudi Arabia, and to date, there are over 500 total cases, and over 100 deaths. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the risk to Americans is extremely low, and there are currently no travel restrictions in place.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said earlier today that President Obama has been briefed on the two cases of MERS in the U.S, and that the White House is “watching this very closely.”

The MERS patient is Florida is said to be in stable condition, and the first patient in Indiana has already been discharged from the hospital.

TIME Foreign Policy

U.S. Says No Ransom For Kidnapped Nigerian Girls

Kidnapped schoolgirls are seen at an unknown location in this still image taken from an undated video released by Boko Haram

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the United States would not support ransom or prisoner exchange as part of a deal to release more than 250 Nigerian schoolgirls who have been held captive by the extremist group Boko Haram since last month.

The United States would oppose any ransom payment or prisoner exchange to free more than 250 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped last month by the extremist group Boko Haram, the Obama Administration said Tuesday.

“It is the policy of the United States to deny kidnappers the benefits of their criminal acts, and that includes ransoms or concessions,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters when asked whether Obama would support negotiations with Boko Haram, which abducted the girls last month.

The Nigerian government also rejected releasing prisoners this week.

“What I can tell you is that we’re focused on working with the Nigerian government to locate and bring home those girls,” Carney said. “That includes a team of [U.S. officials in the country]. It also includes manned reconnaissance flights that I can confirm we are conducting in cooperation with the Nigerian government.”

The kidnapping has sparked global condemnation of Boko Haram and criticism of Nigeria’s government for how it handled the aftermath. The U.S. recently sent a team of officials from the FBI, the Department of State and the Department of Defense to aid in the search. Carney wouldn’t say whether the team of U.S. hostage negotiators in Nigeria wold encourage the government to negotiate with Boko Haram.

Some senior lawmakers are floating the idea of sending special forces to help find the girls, who appeared for the first time since their kidnapping in a video released by Boko Haram on Monday.

“The Nigerians ought to be handling things in their own backyard, but frankly it’s a big vast country with a bunch of bad guys acting like cowboys and running around,” Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) told TIME. “They can’t handle it. I think that’s why we’re treading very carefully, but we’ve got to be more forceful than what we’ve been thus far.”

TIME boston bombing

Boston Bombing Suspect’s Alleged Accomplices to Face Trial

Dias Kadyrbayev, Azamat Tazhayakov, Robel Phillipos
This courtroom sketch shows defendants Azamat Tazhayakov, left, Dias Kadyrbayev, center, and Robel Phillipos, right, college friends of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, during a hearing in federal court Tuesday, May 13, 2014, in Boston. Jane Flavell Collins—AP

A federal judge set a trial date for alleged Boston bombing accomplices Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov, both Kazakh nationals, who are charged with aiding Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to get rid of incriminating evidence and flee authorities

Two Kazakh nationals will stand trial for allegedly helping Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev evade authorities and jettison incriminating evidence.

USA Today reports that Federal Judge Douglas Woodstock rejected the defense team’s request to have all charges against Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov dropped, saying he would not weigh the evidence and act as “fact finder” before the trial dates.

Woodstock also rejected the defense team’s request to relocate the pair’s trials outside of Boston, where emotions might not run as high among selected jury members. Woodstock argued that the defense team’s concerns could be resolved through the usual jury vetting process.

Kazakh nationals Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov stand accused of obstructing police investigations by removing a laptop from the Boston bombing suspect’s dorm room and taking a backpack filled with firework shells emptied of explosive powder in the days after the April 15, 2013 bombings.

Tazhayakov will stand trial on June 30, and Kadyrbayev on Sept. 8. A third suspect, Robel Phillipos, will stand trial on charges of lying to investigators on Sept. 29.

[USA Today]

TIME Infectious Disease

What Is MERS? Here’s What You Need To Know

CDC has confirmed a second case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in the United States. The virus, which has over 500 lab-confirmed cases of the disease worldwide with 145 fatalities, most of them in Saudi Arabia, belongs to the same family of viruses as SARS


Updated May, 17 5:45 p.m

The CDC confirmed last week that there was a second case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in the U.S.. [Update: And today, a third case was confirmed in Illinois. The patient was someone in contact with the first U.S. MERS patient.] You may be wondering what the hoopla is about if there are only three cases in the U.S. Let me tell you.

What is MERS?
MERS is a respiratory disease that is caused by the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus” (MERS-CoV). MERS is in the same family of viruses as SARS and the common cold, but it appears so far to be less transmissible. The virus first appeared in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and to date, there are over 500 lab-confirmed cases of the disease worldwide and more than 145 people have died. The virus has spread to other countries in the Arabian Peninsula, and it’s thought to have originated from camels.

What are the symptoms?
Shortness of breath, fever, and coughing. In some cases it can be fatal, with 30% of people contracting the disease dying, but the first U.S. patient in Indiana has fully recovered and is discharged from the hospital. How severe a case is likely depends on the initial health of the person who contracts it.

How did the virus get to the United States?
In both cases, the virus was imported into the United States by people living in Saudi Arabia who work in health care settings. The second patient in Florida flew from Jeddah to London, and then Boston. From there, the patient traveled to Atlanta and then Orlando. During travel, the patient and started feeling symptoms. When the patient arrived at the emergency room of a Florida hospital on May 8, they were put into isolation, and the patient is currently in stable condition. The CDC has frequently said that cases of MERS in the U.S. have been expected, so the arrival is not a surprise. The third case, as mentioned, was someone in contact with the first U.S. MERS patient, in Illinois.

On desktop, roll over this graphic to get a closer look; on mobile, click to zoom.

Heather Jones

How is the virus transmitted?
What we know about the virus is that human transmission appears to only occur when someone has direct contact with an infected person. That could mean treating a patient in their home or in a hospital setting. Still, the health care workers in Indiana who interacted with the MERS patient have twice tested negative for the virus.

Am I at risk?
The CDC says the risk for Americans is extremely low. The CDC released a travel alert for the Arabian Peninsula, reminding travelers to pay attention to their health before and after their trip. However, health care workers serving in the Middle East are recommended to take necessary precautions to protect themselves from infection. The CDC currently has a team in Indiana and Florida to monitor the infection, as well as a team in Saudi Arabia studying the disease.

But what if I recently traveled to the Arabian Peninsula? How do I know if I’m infected?
The incubation period for the disease is around five to 14 days. If within 14 days after traveling to these countries you experience symptoms of respiratory illness, you can check with your health care provider and explain your recent travel. But again, so far the disease appears to transmit when someone has direct contact with an infected person, usually caring for that person.

Is there going to be an outbreak in the U.S. soon?
Infectious disease experts don’t appear to think so. Take SARS as a model: the disease started in Southern China in the early 2000s resulted in over 8,000 cases and 774 deaths. But only eight cases made it to the United States, and none of those patients died from the disease. MERS is less virulent than SARS, and the spread of SARS was aided by the existence of “superspreaders” who were people who spread the virus in much more excessive amounts than others, according to Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease physician with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center who specializes in pandemic policy. There are currently no MERS superspreaders. “This disease doesn’t spread efficiently. It’s hostile, but it seems casual contacts have not been becoming ill,” says Dr. Adalja.

So, I don’t need to freak out right now?
Take a deep breath. The fact that there are three cases of MERS in the United States is more of a message to health care workers. If a patient comes in complaining of severe respiratory symptoms, it’s a good idea to ask them where they’ve traveled. As for the rest of us, the usual hygiene rules come into play. The CDC recommends the following:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, and help young children do the same. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact, such as kissing, sharing cups, or sharing eating utensils, with sick people.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs.
TIME animals

Photos: Inside a Hospital for California’s Stranded Seals and Sea Lions

The Marine Mammal Center, currently dealing with a record number of starving sea lion pups, has been caring for stranded sea animals since volunteers started the animal hospital with kiddie pools nearly 40 years ago

TIME Environment

Sea Lions Are Starving to Death—and We Don’t Know Why

America's busiest marine mammal rehab facility is trying to figure out why mothers seem to be abandoning their young along the Pacific

On a sunny, windy morning in the rolling hills outside San Francisco, a pickup truck parks on what was once a missile site for the U.S. military. In the bed of the truck is a big white crate holding a little sea lion pup, an animal about half the size he should be, shaking with weakness. Pacheco—named for the road that runs by the stretch of nearby Ocean Beach where members of the public found the animal stranded—is the newest “patient” at the Marine Mammal Center. But, like nearly half of the other animals who arrive there, he might not be at the center long. “You can see his backbone,” says Shawn Johnson, director of veterinary science. “He’s not surviving.”

The Marine Mammal Center, situated in part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, is the largest rehabilitation facility of its kind, and Pacheco is the latest in a record number of patients who have been delivered to their door this year. “It was like hitting a wall,” Executive Director Jeff Boehm says of the swell that started this spring. “The animals hit us fast and furious.” The influx of nearly 500 ailing sea lions, elephant seals and harbor seals is straining the resources of the non-profit Center. But it’s also providing opportunities to learn more about diseases that affect seals, sea lions—and land animals like humans.

Many of the patients currently in the care of the center’s 50 staff members and 1,100-member volunteer network are pups like Pacheco. In a normal year, the veterinarians might see 20 California sea lion pups who are malnourished and undersized. Since the beginning of this year, they’ve already treated around 100. “There’s a disturbance in the ocean right now,” says Johnson. “For some reason, they’re being abandoned by their moms.”

Each summer, such pups are born in the Channel Islands, a string off the southern coast of California, where they’re reared for nearly a year. The islands are hundreds of miles from San Francisco, which is why pups like Pacheco “shouldn’t be here,” as Johnson puts it. His best theory is that something is causing a food shortage, and so the mothers, unable to feed themselves, are deserting their offspring in search of food elsewhere. The pups then set out on their own, but they’re too inexperienced and weak to reach foraging grounds, eventually getting swept off course and washing up in places like Ocean Beach, sick and starving.

That’s just a theory for now, but the center is piloting a project that could help provide answers. The Marine Mammal Health Map will standardize data from all the marine mammal rehab facilities that care for stranded animals along America’s coasts—cataloging where the animals appear and how they’re diagnosed—and then overlay that information with oceanographic data already being collected by the government. That could allow experts to link patterns in strandings to temperature changes or ocean swells or the spread of toxins in the sea.

The Marine Mammal Center is part of a national stranding network set up by the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The legislation was passed in 1972 after marine animal populations had been decimated by human hunters. Elephant seals, who fill the air at the center with their signature bleats and who can weigh more than 5,000 lbs. (2,267 kg) when fully grown, were once killed for fat that was used in perfume and candles. Sea lions, who traipse around the center’s pens on their rotating front fins, were once fed to pigs because they were high in fat and easy to catch. The center was established nearly 40 years ago by a few volunteers who first tried to rehabilitate stranded marine mammals in kiddie pools. It has since grown to inhabit a $32 million complex with high-tech water filtration systems and on-site labs; veterinarians and students from around the world come there to learn about the animals. On the day Pacheco arrived, medical staff from New Zealand and Chile helped perform a procedure on a sea lion named Coco Max, whose rear flipper had swollen to twice its normal size after a bite became infected.

Sometimes that research can lead to surprising breakthroughs for humans. One toxin Johnson and his team have identified among their current patients is domoic acid. This toxin, a naturally occurring one found in algae, causes seizures among marine animals who have eaten small fish that have eaten algae blooms. In humans, domoic acid causes amnesic shellfish poisoning. Mussels filter the contaminated water through their systems, and when people eat the shellfish, the toxin can cause brain damage and memory loss. But government officials and researchers didn’t start scouring West Coast waters for domoic acid until scientists at the Marine Mammal Center identified it as a cause of a mysterious seizure outbreak among California sea lions in the late 1990s. Their discovery “led to a huge amount of research about how [amnesic shellfish poisoning] occurs, how to protect humans, a whole new department of public health,” says Johnson.

The vast majority of the center’s animal patients can’t eat or are so young they never learned how to swallow a fish whole. Volunteers blend “fish milkshakes”—made of high-fat herring, fish oil and water—that medical staff pump into the stomachs of the animals until they can be trained in “fish school” to chase and eat herring on their own. With their pens full, the Marine Mammal Center is currently grinding through 1,000 lbs. of fish per day, at a cost of $1 per pound.

And many of the patients won’t make it. Last year, about 60% of the animals admitted to the Marine Mammal Center were eventually released back into the wild. Many of the lost had cancer, or were simply too far gone from starvation by the time they were found. Even the success stories can be colored by tragedy. A sea lion named Silent Knight was found listless on a beach in Sausalito four years ago; when he was brought to the center, the veterinarians determined that he had been shot in the head, a too common practice among fisherman frustrated by the animals interfering with their catches or simply bored shooters on the beach. Though the wounds didn’t kill Silent Knight, they did blind him, and the animal couldn’t be released back into the wild. Happily, the San Francisco Zoo made a home for him instead.

That’s the kind of salvation story that employees try to impress on the 100,000 people, many of them school children, who visit each year—and whom the center might eventually depend on for donations in busy times. Right now, staff are anticipating that they might be grappling later this year with a possible El Nino, a period of abnormally warm ocean temperatures that can affect weather around the world. That could mean more storms that separate mothers from their young and less fish for marine mammals to eat. Altogether, that means busy times in the Marin Headlands. But the staff is hoping that as their research advances, they’ll be able to figure out a way to keep sea lions and seals from becoming patients in the first place. “That’s the goal,” says wildlife veterinarian Glenna McGregor. “To put this place out of business.”

TIME The Brief

Big Bad ‘Wolves’ of Russia Look to ‘Conquer Ukraine or Die Trying’

Welcome to #theBrief, the four stories to know about right now—from the editors of TIME


Here are the stories TIME is watching this Tuesday, May 13:

  • Russian paramilitary group “The Wolves’ Hundred” is vowing to “conquer Ukraine or die trying.”
  • Donald Sterling ripped Magic Johnson for his HIV and made more racist comments in what was supposed to be an apology interview on CNN.
  • The second MERS case in the U.S. has been confirmed in Orlando, while officials examine up to 500 people with whom the patient came into contact.
  • Clay Aiken’s North Carolina congressional opponent, Kieth Crisco, died after falling in his home.

The Brief is published daily on weekdays.

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