Unusual, yes, but cruel? Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has ordered a review of Wednesday’s execution of convicted murderer Joseph Rudolph Wood. The execution lasted one hour and 57 minutes, during which time Wood’s lawyers appealed to the state Supreme Court to halt the process. Wood died while the hearing was underway. A reporter wrote that Wood gasped for air for about 90 minutes during the execution, but other witnesses said that was not the case. Stephanie Grisham, press secretary for Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne wrote to the website BuzzFeed: “He DID NOT gasp for air. I encourage you to look at video from the families who were interviewed.” A jury convicted Wood in the 1989 murders of a woman and her father at a Tuscon auto shop. After the execution, Brewer said she believed Wood, “died in a lawful manner, and by eyewitness and medical accounts he did not suffer. … This is in stark comparison to the gruesome, vicious suffering that he inflicted on his two victims and the lifetime of suffering he has caused their family.”
Empty seat. The prime minister of Ukraine announced his resignation this morning because of a lack of cooperation between parties in parliament. The nationalist Svoboda party and the Udar party led by former boxer Vitali Klitschko pulled out of the group of legislators that took over after the ouster of former President Viktor Yanukovich. Parliament speaker Oleksandr Turchynov called on the two parties to propose a candidate for temporary prime minister to lead the government until early parliamentary elections can be held. The resignation poses yet another challenge to Ukraine’s fledgling government, which is battling a Moscow-backed rebellion in the eastern part of the country.
Flight down. An Air Algerie passenger plane en route from the West African country of Burkina Faso to Algeria’s capital crashed early today in northern Mali. There were 116 people on board, including 51 passengers from France. Conflict and revolution have beset Mali since a military coup in 2012. Though factions there continue to fight, a senior French official said none of them likely had the weaponry necessary to shoot down a plane.
Dreams dashed. An Indiana teen died in a Tuesday plane crash on one of the last legs of an around-the-world trip with his father. The duo was attempting to break the world record for circumnavigating the globe in a single-engine aircraft. Haris Suleman, 17, had a pilot’s license and had flown with his father, Babar, since age 8. They also used the trip as a fundraiser for the Citizens Foundation, which builds schools in Babar Suleman’s native Pakistan. They had just taken off from American Samoa for Hawaii when the plane went down over the ocean. Rescuers found Haris’s body but are still searching for his father.
Warning indicators. A report released Wednesday by the Heritage Foundation states American society is on the wrong track in 23 of 31 indicators. The Index of Culture and Opportunity collects data about aspects of society from economic freedom to marriage and family. On the positive side, the report found rates of divorce, violent crime, and abortion are decreasing. The 2011 abortion rate was the lowest, the report found, since 1973, the year of Roe v. Wade. But darker clouds loomed over marriage, family, and civil society. The rates of marriage, fertility, and single-parent households were all on Heritage’s “wrong track.” Teen abstinence was down, drug use was up, religious attendance down slightly, and volunteering down substantially.