News briefs for July 14

Judge blocks federal executions; administration appeals

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — A U.S. district judge on Monday ordered a new delay in federal executions, hours before the first lethal injection was scheduled to be carried out at a federal prison in Indiana. The Trump administration immediately appealed to a higher court, asking that the executions move forward.

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U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan said there are still legal issues to resolve and that “the public is not served by short-circuiting legitimate judicial process.” The executions, pushed by the administration, would be the first carried out at the federal level since 2003.

Chutkan said the inmates have presented evidence showing that the government’s plan to use only pentobarbital to carry out the executions “poses an unconstitutionally significant risk of serious pain.”

Chutkan said the inmates produced evidence that, in other executions, prisoners who were given pentobarbital suffered ”flash pulmonary edema,” which she said interferes with breathing and produces sensations of drowning and strangulation.

The inmates have identified alternatives, including the use of an opioid or anti-anxiety drug at the start of the procedure or a different method altogether, a firing squad, Chutkan said.

The Justice Department appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

More than 200 schools back lawsuit over foreign student rule

BOSTON — More than 200 universities are backing a legal challenge to the Trump administration’s new restrictions on international students, arguing that the policy jeopardizes students’ safety and forces schools to reconsider fall plans they have spent months preparing.

The schools have signed court briefs supporting Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as they sue U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in federal court in Boston. The lawsuit challenges a recently announced directive saying international students cannot stay in the U.S. if they take all their classes online this fall.

A wide range of colleges and state and local officials are standing up to the policy, which faces mounting legal opposition. Massachusetts filed a federal suit Monday that was joined by Democratic attorneys general in 16 other states and the District of Columbia. Other suits have come from Johns Hopkins University and the state of California. The University of California system has said it will sue.

A judge is scheduled to hear arguments Tuesday in the case brought by Harvard and MIT. If the judge does not suspend the rule, colleges across the U.S. will have until Wednesday to notify ICE if they plan to be fully online this fall.

UN: Pandemic could push tens of millions into chronic hunger

ROME — The United Nations says the ranks of the world’s hungry grew by 10 million last year and warns that the coronavirus pandemic could push as many as 130 million more people into chronic hunger this year.

The grim assessment was contained in the latest edition of the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, an annual report released Monday by the five U.N. agencies that produced it.

Preliminary projections based on available global economic outlooks suggest the pandemic “may add an additional 83 (million) to 132 million people to the ranks of the undernourished in 2020,” the report said.

Also compounding the situation is what the report’s authors described as “unprecedented Desert Locust outbreaks” in Eastern Africa.

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The U.N. agencies estimated that nearly 690 million people, or nearly 9% of the world’s population, went hungry last year, an increase of 10 million since 2018 and of nearly 60 million since 2014.

The report noted that after steadily declining for decades, chronic hunger “slowly began to rise in 2014 and continues to do so.”

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