Georgia prosecutor deputy AG pick

President Obama announced Monday that he would nominate Sally Q. Yates, the U.S. attorney in Atlanta, to be deputy attorney general, the person in day-to-day charge of the Justice Department.

If the Senate confirms Yates and Loretta Lynch of New York, already nominated by Obama to become the next attorney general, the department will be run by two women who are both former U.S. attorneys.

Yates is a career federal prosecutor in Georgia known for taking on public corruption. She was the lead prosecutor of Eric Rudolph, a longtime fugitive who was convicted of several antiabortion and anti-gay bombings, including in Atlanta during the 1996 Olympics.

“Sally’s leadership in combating public corruption has rightfully earned the accolades of her colleagues at every level of law enforcement,” Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said in a statement.

The Justice Department said Yates would start work in an acting capacity on Jan. 10, even before she is confirmed. She replaces James M. Cole.

The No. 3 official at the Justice Department, Tony West, recently left, meaning the three top jobs will have turned over in a period of several months.


Arizona to change its execution drugs

Arizona officials said they are changing the drugs they use in executions after an inmate in July gasped repeatedly over the course of nearly two hours while being put to death.

According to a letter from Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan to Gov. Jan Brewer, the department no longer will use the combination of midazolam, a sedative, and hydromorphone, a pain killer.

Instead, the agency will try to obtain pentobarbital and sodium pentothal, the powerful but obsolete sedative that was used in most lethal injections in Arizona until it became difficult to obtain. If the state cannot obtain those drugs, it will use a three-drug combination that includes midazolam and potassium chloride, among others.

The July 23 execution of Joseph Rudolph Wood, convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend and her father, called into question the efficacy of the drugs used. He gasped over and over before taking his final breath and was given 15 doses of the drugs.


Orangutan has rights, court says

An orangutan that has lived 20 years at the Buenos Aires zoo is entitled to some legal rights enjoyed by humans, an Argentine court has ruled, a decision the ape’s attorney called unprecedented and a ticket to greater freedom.

The ruling comes a month after a local animal rights group filed a habeas corpus writ in favor of Sandra, who was born in Germany but has lived in captivity in Buenos Aires most of her life.

“Following a dynamic … judicial interpretation, it is necessary to recognize that the animal is subject to rights, and should be protected,” said the Dec. 18 ruling.

Andres Gil Dominguez, who represented the orangutan, said the “unprecedented” ruling paves the way for Sandra to be released at a sanctuary.


Judge OKs protocol for executions

A federal judge says Oklahoma’s lethal injection protocols are constitutional and that the state can proceed with the executions of four death row inmates early next year.

U.S. District Judge Stephen Friot ruled against a group of condemned inmates who say the state’s use of the sedative midazolam in a three-drug method presents a risk of cruel and unusual punishment.

They sued after the April 29 execution of Clayton Lockett, who writhed on the gurney, mumbled and lifted his head during his 43-minute execution that the state tried to halt before it was over.

The state has purchased new equipment, adopted new protocols and ordered more training, and prison officials say they’re ready for the next execution on Jan. 15.


NYC congressman to plead guilty

U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm of New York City reportedly will plead guilty Tuesday to tax evasion instead of going to trial next month.

Two people familiar with the case said that the politician plans to plead guilty to a single count of aiding in the filing of a false tax return.

The Staten Island Republican and former FBI agent was charged in May. He won re-election in November.

GLASGOW, Scotland

Truck kills 6 pedestrians, injures more

Six people were killed and several others injured when a garbage truck crashed into a group of pedestrians in downtown Glasgow.

The truck veered out of control along a crowded road in the city center, Superintendent Stewart Carle of Police Scotland said.

He said the incident was “a road traffic accident, nothing more sinister.”

Carle said at least seven people had been seriously injured.

– From news service reports

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