Good morning, and happy Thursday. Here are some of the stories we're following today:
1. ‘Horrible to watch’: Execution of Arizona inmate took two hours
Arizona officials have called for an investigation into why it took two hours to execute double-murderer Joseph Wood by lethal injection Wednesday. “I’ve never witnessed an execution that took that long,” Wood’s federal public defender, Dale Baich, told NBC News. “The state of Arizona today conducted a failed experiment. ... It was horrible to watch.” After a few minutes, Wood had gasped more than 600 times over the course of an hour and 40 minutes, witnesses said. Gov. Jan Brewer said she was “concerned” about the execution length and ordered a review but insisted Wood did not suffer “in stark comparison to … his two victims.” Read more in NEWS.
2. Dozens of bodies in MH17 crash still not turned over
A State Department spokesman said as many as 100 of the victims’ remains are still in the hands of pro-Russian separatists who control the crash site-area in eastern Ukraine. The international community has demanded investigators get full access to the site and that all of the 298 passengers’ and crews’ bodies are sent to the Netherlands, the country with the most victims on board Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17. On Wednesday, 40 of the victims were flown back to the Netherlands as the country observed a national day of mourning.
3. Official warns truce in Gaza unlikely as fighting rages on
As Secretary of State John Kerry tries to broker a cease-fire between Israel and Palestine, an Israeli Cabinet member said Thursday that the country’s army won’t stop trying to take down Hamas’ network of tunnels — even if there is a truce. Meanwhile, fighting is raging on and residents of southern Israeli border towns are fleeing as their communities turn into mini army bases. Read more in NEWS.
4. Algerian plane disappears from radar over Africa
The Air Algerie plane lost contact about 50 minutes after takeoff Thursday as it headed from Burkina Faso to Algeria. In a statement, Madrid-based Swiftair confirmed it had chartered the McDonnell Douglas MD-83. The jet would have been over Mali, a nation that has been in turmoil since an influx of arms and fighters from the 2011 Libyan civil war and an attempted coup in 2012. Read more in NEWS.
5. Thunderstorms only hamper firefighters in Washington state
The massive wildfire in central Washington is the largest in state history, spreading over a quarter-million acres and forcing the evacuation of hundreds of homes. The blaze is also blamed for one death. Strong thunderstorms carrying high winds and causing flash floods on Wednesday were slowing down the firefighters’ progress, although officials are hopeful they can gain traction. Read more in NEWS.
6. Bad weather could be culprit behind Taiwan plane crash
Forty-eight of the 54 people aboard the TransAsia flight were killed Wednesday when the plane crashed while attempting to land on the island of Penghu in the Taiwan Strait. The region was experiencing heavy rain in the wake of Typhoon Matmo, which closed Taiwanese financial markets and schools Tuesday before moving onto China. The plane’s black boxes were recovered in the crash, and have been turned over for review. Read more in NEWS.
… What’s trending today?
A parody video of Kim Jong Un busting a move in various situations has Pyongyang furious, according to reports in South Korea. The silly clip “seriously compromises Kim’s dignity and authority,” according to the Chosun Ilbo newspaper. The video was reportedly made by a Chinese college student who studied in South Korea, and it also pokes fun at President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin.