- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized to Israel's Arab citizens yesterday for remarks he made during last week's parliament election that offended members of the community.
The move appeared to be an attempt to heal rifts and mute criticism at home and in the United States. Netanyahu drew accusations of racism in Israel, especially from its Arab minority, and a White House rebuke when, just a few hours before polling stations were to close across the country, he warned that Arab citizens were voting "in droves."
But President Obama's chief of staff, Denis McDonough, rejected Netanyahu's attempt to distance himself from his comments, telling an Israel advocacy group yesterday that the U.S. can't just overlook what Netanyahu said on the eve of his re-election.
SALT LAKE CITY
- Utah yesterday became the only state to allow firing squads for executions as Gov. Gary Herbert signed a law approving the method's use when no lethal-injection drugs are available.
Herbert has said he finds the firing squad "a little bit gruesome," but Utah is a capital-punishment state and needs a backup execution method in case a shortage of the drugs persists.
"We regret anyone ever commits the heinous crime of aggravated murder to merit the death penalty, and we prefer to use our primary method of lethal injection when such a sentence is issued," Herbert spokesman Marty Carpenter said. "However, when a jury makes the decision and a judge signs a death warrant, enforcing that lawful decision is the obligation of the executive branch."
- The World Health Organization denied yesterday that politics swayed the decision to declare an international emergency over the spread of the Ebola virus last year, despite evidence that senior staffers repeatedly discussed the diplomatic and economic fallout of such a move.
A year after WHO declared that Ebola had been found in Guinea, the agency is on the defensive over reports that it dragged its feet when raising the international alarm over the disease. Internal communications published by the Associated Press last week documented senior agency staff discouraging the move about two months before the international alert was finally raised, citing diplomatic relations, mining interests and the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.
Dr. Margaret Harris, a WHO spokeswoman, said yesterday that "political considerations did not play a role" and that notions to the contrary were due to a misinterpretation of the leaked documents.