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Executions on hold in Mississippi after judge blocks use of two drugs

Jackson, Miss.

Executions on hold after judge blocks use of two drugs

A federal judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked the state of Mississippi from using two drugs in executions, shutting down the death penalty in the state for now. U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate issued a temporary restraining order saying Mississippi officials cannot use pentobarbital or midazolam, two drugs used to render prisoners unconscious. Mississippi law requires a three-drug process, with the sedative followed by a paralyzing agent and a drug that stops an inmate's heart. Jim Craig, a lawyer for two inmates, said Wingate gave the order verbally Tuesday in a phone conference with him and other lawyers. Grace Simmons Fisher, a spokeswoman for the Mississippi Department of Corrections, wrote in an email that the order bars the state from using any drug to execute a condemned inmate. The state quickly filed notice Tuesday saying it will ask the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal to overturn Wingate's order. Mississippi is one of a number of states facing legal challenges to lethal injections. The suit says there's no guarantee Mississippi can mix a safe and effective anesthetic to knock out prisoners, and even then, prisoners could remain conscious during execution.

Washington

White House's take on 'crazies' comment

President Barack Obama's reference to "the crazies" in Congress may have been "a little too flip" and was not about Iran, the White House said Tuesday. Obama told guests at a Democratic fundraiser near Las Vegas late Monday that he and Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada had spent time "figuring out how we are going to deal with the crazies in terms of managing some problems." Some suggested Obama was labeling opponents of the Iran nuclear deal as "crazies." White House spokesman Eric Schultz said that wasn't the case and Obama may have been "a little too flip" with his language.

San Jose, Calif.

Man guilty of sending spam via Facebook

Federal officials say a Nevada man has pleaded guilty to sending more than 27 million spam messages to Facebook users. U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag said Monday that 47-year-old Sanford Wallace of Las Vegas admitted in federal court in San Jose to accessing about 500,000 Facebook accounts and sending the unsolicited ads disguised as friend requests over a three-month period. Wallace acknowledged accessing Facebook's computer network in order to send the spam messages on three occasions between November 2008 and February 2009. Haag says Wallace also admitted that he violated a court order not to access Facebook's computer network. He was charged with fraud and criminal contempt. Wallace is free on bail and scheduled to be sentenced in December. He faces a $250,000 fine and up to three years in prison.

Pittsburgh

Student pleads guilty in noted malware case

A Carnegie Mellon University student has pleaded guilty to developing and selling malicious software that allowed others to remotely control Google Android smartphones, including using the phones' cameras to spy on their owners. Morgan Culbertson, 20, entered the plea Tuesday to a conspiracy charge in Pittsburgh federal court. He is one of 12 people living in the United States who were charged by federal prosecutors in the takedown of the Darkode.com cybercriminal marketplace in July. The online forum was a place where authorities say computer hackers bought and sold malicious software, and otherwise advertised for help in schemes designed to infect computers and cellphones with software that could cripple or illegally control the devices. Culbertson faces up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines when he's sentenced Dec. 2.

Elsewhere

Russia: Russia on Tuesday canceled a ban on the Russian-language Wikipedia, which barely lasted a few hours and caused a storm among Russian online users. The blocking was a result of a provincial court ruling that its entry on hashish contains banned information. The decision by the Federal Communications Agency was reversed early Tuesday, as authorities said the article had been edited — thus complying with the court ruling.

Nigeria: A girl suicide bomber killed at least 15 people at a bus terminal in northeastern Nigeria, hospital sources and witnesses said Tuesday. At least 30 others were injured when the girl, estimated to be 11 or 12 years old, detonated explosives strapped to her body in the town of Damaturu, said resident Haruna Ibrahim. No one claimed responsibility, but Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram was suspected.

Times wires

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