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The synthetic painkiller fentanyl has been the driving force behind the nation’s opioid epidemic, killing tens of thousands of Americans last year in overdoses. Now two states want to use the drug’s powerful properties for a new purpose: to execute prisoners on death row.
As Nevada and Nebraska push for the country’s first fentanyl-assisted executions, doctors and death penalty opponents are fighting those plans. They have warned that such an untested use of fentanyl could lead to painful, botched executions, comparing the use of it and other new drugs proposed for lethal injection to human experimentation.
States are increasingly pressed for ways to carry out the death penalty because of problems obtaining the drugs they long have used, primarily because pharmaceutical companies are refusing to supply their drugs for executions.
The situation has led states such as Florida, Ohio and Oklahoma to turn to novel drug combinations for executions. Mississippi legalized nitrogen gas this s…

Japan marks 22nd anniversary of Tokyo subway sarin gas attack

Sarin gas attack on Tokyo’s subway, March 20, 1995
Sarin gas attack on Tokyo’s subway, March 20, 1995
TOKYO — Japan on Monday marked the 22nd anniversary of a fatal nerve gas attack on Tokyo’s subway.

About 20 Tokyo Metro staff at Kasumigaseki subway station on the Hibiya line held a moment of silence at 8 a.m. to remember two former colleagues who died in the attack. Memorial services were held at five other subway stations.

In all, 13 people died and 6,300 were sickened after the Aum Supreme Truth cult released sarin in five subway trains during co-ordinated rush-hour attacks on March 20, 1995.

Thirteen Aum members, including cult leader Shoko Asahara, remain on death row, while others are serving prison sentences. The last fugitive was arrested in 2012.

In what some believe was an attempt to divert the authorities that Asahara thought were closing in on his base in the foothills of Mount Fuji, he sent five teams of two people to attack the Tokyo subway.

Five adherents—among them a senior medical doctor and several physicists—dumped packages of sarin on busy trains, puncturing them with sharpened umbrella tips, before being driven away from a pre-determined station by their co-conspirators.

The nerve gas, so toxic that a single drop can kill a person, evaporated over the following minutes as thousands of unwitting commuters got on and off each train.

Staff and passengers were among the dead. Many of those sickened only realised what had happened as their symptoms worsened throughout the day and news broadcasts began piecing events together.

Aum was never officially disbanded. It went bankrupt because of the massive damage payments it was forced to make to victims of its crimes.

Former members have continued under different groupings with new names, such as Aleph.

Source: Agence France-Presse, March 20, 2017

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