Nation & World briefing

Published Apr 30, 2014 at 12:01AM

Botched execution — A botched execution using a disputed new drug combination left an Oklahoma inmate writhing and clenching his teeth on the gurney on Tuesday, leading prison officials to halt the proceedings before the inmate’s eventual death from a heart attack. Clayton Lockett, 38, was declared unconscious 10 minutes after the first of the state’s new three-drug combination was administered. Three minutes later, though, he began breathing heavily, writhing on the gurney, clenching his teeth and straining to lift his head off the pillow. “It was a horrible thing to witness. This was totally botched,” said Lockett’s attorney, David Autry.

Syrian conflict — At least 50 people were killed and scores injured Tuesday in Syria during a series of mortar and car-bomb attacks targeting pro-government districts in Damascus and the central city of Homs, the state media and a pro-opposition monitor reported. The deadliest strike was a car bombing near a busy intersection in war-ravaged Homs that left at least 36 people dead and 85 injured, Syria’s official news agency reported. Some reports indicated that two car bombs may have been involved and that the death toll reached 45.

Chinese church — One of the largest churches in the Chinese coastal city of Wenzhou, an 85,000-square-foot edifice with soaring cathedral ceilings, stained glass and spires dominating the landscape, was demolished Monday on orders of Communist Party authorities. Chinese officials said the demolition of the $5 million Sanjiang Church was ordered because the church was four times the size for which the building had been permitted. However, activists say it is part of a campaign against churches taking place throughout Zhejiang province.

South Korean ferry — Under mounting public pressure, South Korean President Park Geun-hye apologized Tuesday for failing to prevent a ferry disaster that left 302 people, the vast majority of them high school students, dead or missing, and promised broad reforms. “My heart aches thinking how I can best apologize and ease the grief and pain,” she said during a Cabinet meeting, admitting to her government’s fumbling in the early stages of rescue operations. “I am sorry that so many precious lives were lost.”

Interstate tolls — Drivers on the nation’s Interstates could soon be paying more to travel. A transportation proposal sent to Congress by the Obama administration on Tuesday would remove a prohibition on tolls for existing Interstate highways, clearing the way for states to raise revenue on roads that drivers currently use at no cost. Congress banned tolls on Interstates in 1956 when it created the national highway system under President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The administration said lifting the toll ban would help address a shortfall in funding to pay for highway repairs.

Wisconsin voter ID — A federal judge on Tuesday struck down Wisconsin’s law requiring voters to produce state-approved photo identification cards at polling places, advancing a new legal basis — the Voting Rights Act — for similar challenges playing out around the nation. Judge Lynn Adelman found that the state’s 2011 law violated the 14th Amendment of the Constitution as well as the Voting Rights Act, which bars states from imposing rules that abridge a citizen’s right to vote based on race or color. Adelman’s finding seems certain to draw note from those involved in other voter identification challenges.

Bigamy lawsuit — When U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson married his wife, she was already wed to another man, according to a new court filing by the congressman’s lawyers, seeking an annulment on the basis of bigamy. In new court paperwork filed in the couple’s divorce case last week, days before their 24th anniversary, Grayson, D-Fla., accuses Lolita Grayson of fraud, unjust enrichment and misrepresentation, among other claims. He’s also suing for defamation, the new document states, stemming from a disturbance at their home in March. Lolita Grayson accused her husband of shoving her, but later dropped her petition for a domestic injunction.

Parking dispute — A New Jersey woman has admitted killing her neighbor’s small dog by throwing it into traffic during an argument over a parking space. The Star-Ledger of Newark reports that 27-year-old Haniyyah Barnes, of Newark, pleaded guilty Tuesday to breaking into her neighbor’s home in August 2011, grabbing the 2-year-old Shih Tzu named Honey Bey and throwing her into oncoming traffic. The dog was struck by a vehicle and killed. Barnes pleaded guilty to burglary, animal cruelty and theft charges and Essex County prosecutors will recommend that she receive a six-year state prison term when she’s sentenced July 14.

— From wire reports