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Supreme Court Delays Three Executions in Oklahoma

The sedative midazolam has been used in several botched lethal injections, and now executions in Oklahoma are on hold while the Supreme Court considers whether use of the drug constitutes "cruel and unusual punishment." Several states began using midazolam when other lethal injection drugs became unavailable, but some say it does not properly sedate inmates before they're given drugs that stop their heart and respiration. (One expert testified that inmate Clayton Lockett may have felt "liquid fire" when he was executed following a dose of midazolam.) The stay issued by the Supreme Court delayed the execution of three Oklahoma inmates challenging the state's lethal injection protocol. Charles Warner, a fourth inmate who was initially part of the legal challenge, was executed earlier this month.


U.K. Begins Inquiry Into Real-Life Spy-Thriller Death

When the long-awaited inquiry into the painful 2006 death of Alexander Litvinenko began this week, a medical examiner described the Russian spy's autopsy as "the most dangerous post-mortem examination ever undertaken in the western world." To make the story even more engrossing: On his deathbed, Litvinenko accused Russian president Vladimir Putin of murdering him.


Polish Police Detained a Jewish Leader Trying to Escape Auschwitz

The head of Rome's Jewish community got a little more history than he bargained for on Holocaust Remembrance Day, when he was locked in the same concentration camp where his grandparents died, and then arrested while trying to escape. Riccardo Pacifici was doing a live report from Auschwitz for an Italian television station when, suddenly, he and four others found themselves in an abandoned camp with no one around to let them out. After an hour in sub-zero temperatures, they climbed out a window to get out —  and were quickly detained by Polish police.


All the Weird Stuff That’s Happened in the Silk Road Trial So Far

The dramatic Silk Road trial is still ongoing in Manhattan federal court, where 29-year-old tech dude Ross William Ulbricht is charged with several crimes related to running a drug black market on the deep web. If you thought the lead-up to the arraignment was weird, get ready because the trial itself is turning out to be even wackier. Here's some of the weirdest stuff that's happened so far.


Can Bratton’s New Policing Plans Heal the City’s Wounds?

Remember Bill Bratton? For about six weeks the police commissioner was ubiquitous, mostly for unhappy reasons. Lately, though, Bratton has pretty much disappeared. The cops went back to work after a two-week slowdown. Crime has stayed low. Political scandals and meteorological-political nuttiness have filled the news pages.

All of which has allowed Bratton to retreat to One Police Plaza and quietly put the finishing touches on his yearlong effort to analyze and reengineer the city’s 35,000-member force. Bratton will unveil his plan Thursday morning at a speech to the New York City Police Foundation. The blueprint will include some previously discussed hardware components, like millions of dollars in new internet capabilities. And some of Bratton’s speech will be about organizational wonkery, changes that are unsexy but integral to how the force functions, including revamping major Bloomberg-era policing strategy.


It Looks Like Fidel Castro Is Still Kicking

A month and a half has passed since the United States and Cuba announced a plan to resume diplomatic relations, and Fidel Castro has finally weighed in on the matter. In a letter published by Cuba's official Communist Party newspaper, Castro (who, after ruling the island for 49 years, put his younger brother Raul in charge in 2008) wrote, "I shall explain my essential position in a few words. I do not trust the politics of the United States, nor have I exchanged a word with them, but this is not, in any way, a rejection of a peaceful solution to conflicts." 


Do Companies Really Need ‘Chief Behavioral Officers’?

An article headlined "The Rise of the Chief Behavioral Officer" written by a guy who is a chief behavioral officer should be taken with a grain of salt, of course. But John Balz's piece in Re/code is worth checking out. Balz, who is the CBO of Opower, which builds cloud-based software for utility companies, says that the job of folks like him is "bringing behavioral science perspectives to strategic business decisions." About 10 to 20 percent of Fortune 500 companies have someone in this role at a high-level (and presumably high-pay) position, he writes, citing Dan Egan of the "automated investing service" Betterment.


The White House Drone Crash Ruined Everything for Washington’s Nerds

Getting drunk and accidentally crashing your drone on the White House lawn just got a little harder. The Wall Street Journal reports that DJI Technology, which manufactures the quadcopter that recently plowed into the president's yard, is altering the devices' software so they will be prevented from taking off in the nation's capital. (The change will help enforce a no-fly zone and better comply with FAA rules.) The China-based company is also adding a feature to stop its products from whirring between countries, thanks to the meth-laden DJI drone that was found last week near the United States–Mexico border. Of course, the technology has to be downloaded to work, and some say it could probably be hacked — probably fairly easily by the very people who are into flying drones.

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