The state of California has indefinitely postponed the execution of convicted killer Michael Morales after his killing was put off for a second time. The case has raised concerns over the role of doctors in the death chamber and spawned a court battle over lethal injection methods. Morales was initially supposed to have been executed just after midnight Tuesday. But his execution was put off after doctors withdrew from the process, claiming their role threatened to be “medically unethical.” A second attempt to put Morales to death also passed late Tuesday when state officials could not find any medical professionals willing to take part. The doctors were originally brought in to provide Morales with anesthesia after his attorneys argued that the three-part lethal injection process violates the 8th Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.
One of Iraq’s most sacred Shiite shrines suffered major damage today in a bomb attack in the city of Sammara. The Askariya shrine contains the tombs of two revered descendants of the Prophet Muhammad. The attack destroyed the shrine’s golden dome. Police say they believe several bodies are buried beneath the rubble. Thousands of Shiites across the country protested the attack, which threatens to further inflame Iraq’s Shiite-Sunni sectarian divide. The bombing marked the third attack on Shiites in as many days. On Tuesday, a car bomb targeting a Shiite area of downtown Baghdad killed 22 people and wounded dozens more.
In his first public comments since the election of his former protégé Rene Preval, ousted Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide said he would like to return home as soon as possible. Aristide has been living in temporary exile in South Africa for most of the period since his ouster nearly two years ago. Aristide indicated he intended to stay out of politics, saying QUOTE: “I will continue to teach as I did before my first election as President… I always knew that when I was elected my mandate would come to an end. My mandate ended and that is that.”
Back in the United States, the Justice Department has charged three Ohio men with conspiracy to kill US troops in Iraq and other countries. The three — Mohammad Zaki Amawi, Wassim I. Mazloum, and Marwan Othman El-Hindi — are originally from Jordan and Lebanon. Amawi is also charged with making threats to kill President Bush. They each pled not guilty Tuesday. El-Hindi’s attorney, Steve Hartman, said: “It doesn’t help that he’s Jordanian. I think he’s caught up in the Justice Department’s vigorous work.”
In education news, the U.S. government is blocking an indigenous Bolivian professor from entering the country to teach at the University of Nebraska for what it’s calling security reasons. The professor, Waskar Ari Chachaki, is a member of the Aymara indigenous people in Bolivia and is a leading authority on religious beliefs and political activism in Bolivia. The American Historical Society has called on the U.S. government to reconsider. The group’s president-elect Barbara Weinstein called the situation “very disturbing.” Weinstein said “It would have to be unimaginable circumstances for someone from Bolivia to be classified as a security risk.” A State Department official told the Chronicle of Higher Education that the government has “derogatory information ” about Ari that renders him ineligible for the visa. But the government has not shared that information with Ari or the university. Ari is considered to be a moderate voice within the Aymaran community and some of his critics have accused of being too “pro-U.S.” He received his doctorate from Georgetown. Two years ago, another foreign-born professor, Tariq Ramadan, one of the leading Muslim scholars in Europe, was denied a visa to teach at the University of Notre Dame.
And the Supreme Court announced Tuesday it will consider reinstating a federal ban on late-term abortion. Recent President Bush appointee Samuel Alito could hold the tie-breaking vote when the court hears the case. The court last ruled on the issue in the year 2000, when Judge Sandra Day O’Connor cast the deciding vote to strike down a state law banning the procedure. Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said: “Today’s action means the core principle of protecting women’s health as guaranteed by Roe v. Wade is in clear and present danger.”