An Oklahoma court on Tuesday postponed the scheduled executions of two inmates due to a shortage of lethal injection drugs. The decision came one day after the state said it could not find two of the drugs needed to carry out executions.
Oklahoma is hardly alone in its inability to find an adequate supply of death row drugs. As we noted last month, the sole U.S. manufacturer of the common execution drug sodium thiopental stopped producing the compound in 2011, and increased regulation of other would-be European producers has kept foreign supplies from taking its place.
As a result, Missouri last month delayed an execution due to a drug shortage. And Ohio controversially executed a man in January with an untested drug cocktail that resulted in a 25-minute death "accompanied by movement and gasping, snorting and choking sounds," as The New York Times put it. That execution drew condemnation from human rights groups and international observers, which may explain why other states aren't racing to test out new execution methods themselves. Jon Terbush
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) saw numerous signs that becoming speaker of the House just wasn't meant to be. There was the Benghazi gaffe about Hillary Clinton and the impossible demands of the House Freedom Caucus. But perhaps his biggest red flag was the comment from "a lot of friends that were really supportive that said, 'Why do you want to do it during this time? This time will be the worst time. They're going to eat you and chew you up,'" McCarthy recounted in an interview with Politico, shortly after he abruptly announced Thursday that he was dropping out of the speakership race.
Although many thought McCarthy could gather the requisite 218 votes to become speaker, he knew that he "was never going to be able to get 247," he said, referring to the total tally of Republicans in the House. And, Politico reports, he wondered if he could be an effective speaker with "essentially the bare minimum" of support.
McCarthy said he wasn't so sure. "The conference is an odd place," McCarthy said. "Sometimes you gotta hit the bottom to be able to come back. This gives us a real fresh start — a new start gives a fresh start. Having a fresh face brings the conference together."
Choreographer Ryan Heffington has a talent for putting together some unusual, breathtaking dances — remember the video for Sia's "Chandelier"? This time, Emma Stone is Heffington's leading lady in the music video for "Anna," by Arcade Fire's Win Butler.
Filmed on the supposedly haunted Queen Mary ocean liner, Billboard reports that the music video was partly inspired by stories of the Lady in White, "a young and beautiful woman who, it has been reported, likes to dance to unheard music in the Queens Salon." While you really need the sound on for the full effect, Stone's performance is mesmerizing just about any way you look at it. Watch it in full below. Jeva Lange
Some Republicans were caught actually sobbing after Kevin McCarthy dropped out of the House speaker race
Everyone had just finished saying the Pledge when House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) stood up and announced he would be withdrawing his bid for speaker of the House — a decision that has thrown a wrench into the plans of the confused and scattered GOP Congressional leadership. In fact, McCarthy's announcement came as such a surprise that Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.) said some members were actually sobbing afterward. "The person next to me was crying," Rooney told The Hill.
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) had the same story for The Washington Post's Robert Costa:
Rep. Peter King tells me that members are crying in cloakroom, unable to handle the unrest and confusion. "A banana republic," he says.
— Robert Costa (@costareports) October 8, 2015
Likewise, Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) told The Hill that fans of McCarthy's were in shock. "They lined up to give him a hug," Huelskamp said. "I saw tears in eyes. It's the strangest thing I've seen in a long time." Jeva Lange
The Federal Reserve released the minutes from its September meeting today. We learned the results of that meeting the day it ended, but the minutes can still provide a window into what's going on in the heads of the Fed officials who vote on monetary policy. Take this quote:
To some [members], the continued subdued trend in wages was evidence of an absence of upward pressure on inflation from current levels of labor utilization. Several others, however, noted that weak productivity growth and low price inflation might be contributing to modest wage increases. A number of participants reported that some of their business contacts were experiencing labor shortages in various occupations and geographic areas resulting in upward pressure on wages, with a few indicating that the pickup in wages had become more widespread.
Consider that line against something you'd never read in the Fed minutes. Something like: "Other members responded that their contacts amongst the unemployed and low-income workers saw no evidence of rising wage pressure at all."
Fed officials understandably rely on their contacts throughout the world of business owners to gauge regional changes in the economy. Those contacts have vested interests in having monetary policy prioritize low inflation over low unemployment. That doesn't mean the stress and worries they're under are not genuine. But with the exception of recent activism efforts, people who desperately need job growth to continue have no equivalent access to Fed officials' ears. Cold aggregate data is all that speaks for them.
That's bound to have an impact on how the Fed weighs it priorities. Hearing from people on the ground may be qualitative, not quantitative, but it can help parse the quantitative data. Human beings are social creatures, after all, and Fed officials are only human. Jeff Spross
U.S. officials reported Thursday that Russian missiles aimed at Syria fell short of their target and crashed in a rural area of Iran. Intelligence estimates that at least four missiles crashed, though it remains unclear where they landed. Russian ships were positioned in the South Caspian Sea, and officials say that missiles' flight path would have "taken them across the northern sections of Iran and Iraq on the way to Syria," The New York Times reports.
Facebook will be adding some flexibility to how users choose to "like" a post — but it won't be a "dislike" button, as some people have speculated. Instead, Facebook is testing emoji "reactions," where users can pick emotions such as "sad," "haha," "love," and "wow" to express how they feel about a post. "As you can see, it’s not a 'dislike' button, though we hope it addresses the spirit of this request more broadly," Facebook's Chief Product Officer Chris Cox wrote in a post introducing the feature.
— ABC News (@ABC) October 8, 2015
The experiment is limited to Spain and Ireland for the time being, but after a short test run, it will likely expand worldwide on both mobile and desktop devices. Jeva Lange
It's still a bit of a mystery what happened behind closed doors on Thursday when House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) unexpectedly decided to drop out of the race for speaker of the House. Though details are scarce, McCarthy elaborated in a tweet:
We're public servants. I have always put this Conference and Country ahead of myself. We need to unite behind one leader and get to work.
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) October 8, 2015
McCarthy also held a short news conference, part of which you can watch below. Jeva Lange
— CBS News (@CBSNews) October 8, 2015