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This is America: 9 out of 10 public schools now hold mass shooting drills for students

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How "active shooter" drills became normal for a generation of American schoolchildren.
"Are you kids good at running and screaming?" a police officer asks a class of elementary school kids in Akron, Ohio.
His friendly tone then turns serious.
“What I don’t want you to do is hide in the corner if a bad guy comes in the room,” he says. "You gotta get moving."
This training session — shared online by the ALICE Training Institute, a civilian safety training company — reflects the new normal at American public schools. As armed shooters continue their deadly rampages, and while Washington remains stuck on gun control, a new generation of American students have learned to lock and barricade their classroom doors the same way they learn to drop and roll in case of a fire.
The training session is a stark reminder of how American schools have changed since the 1999 Columbine school shooting. School administrators and state lawmakers have realized that a mass shoot…

Drug company's withdrawal limits death penalty options in Alabama

Drug giant Pfizer's decision to ban the use of its products in executions won't necessarily stop capital punishment in Alabama, one expert says, but it's clear the state's lethal injection options are running out.

"The sources of drugs on the open market are gone," said Robert Dunham, director of the Death Penalty Information Center, a group that studies the death penalty. "States are going to have to go underground, as it were, to obtain the drugs for executions."

Pfizer, the New-York based pharmaceutical company, announced Friday that it "strongly objects to the use of its products as lethal injections for capital punishment" statement on the company's website.

One of the world's largest drug producers, Pfizer joins several other major drug producers in a boycott that has been slowing the pace of executions in America for years. European-owned companies have backed out due to widespread opposition to the death penalty in their home countries. In America, major medical and pharmacists' associations have declared their opposition to participation in executions, arguing that the medical arts shouldn't be used to kill.

Death penalty critics hailed Pfizer's decision last week as a major step toward cutting off all execution drugs. Pfizer spokeswoman Rachel Hooper said Monday that the company simply clarified an existing policy, 1 the company has held since it acquired Hospira, 1 of the first major American drug producers to halt sales of drugs for lethal injection.

"It's not a new policy so much as an update of a Hospira policy," Hooper said.

Hooper declined to answer questions about whether the company had sold drugs to Alabama's prison system.

Alabama has executed only 2 inmates in the past 4 years, compared to 17 in the 4 years before that.

The drug boycott was a major factor in that lull. Federal regulators seized the state's execution drugs, acquired through back channels, in 2011. Alabama switched to a new main execution drug, but its supply of that drug expired in 2014 while lawyers debated the legality of the switch.

In January, the state executed convicted murderer Christopher Brooks with injections of midazolam, rocuronium and sodium chloride. State officials have never acknowledged where they bought the drugs. One maker of midazolam, the Illinois-based company Akorn, joined the boycott after Alabama officials mentioned the company in court filings in a death penalty case.

Dunham said the Pfizer decision does close off access to mass-produced versions of the drugs typically used in executions. He said states could still turn to compounding pharmacies - specialty pharmacies that make small, customized batches of drugs - though many compounding pharmacists would likely refuse if state officials can't produce a prescription for the drugs.

Alabama seems to have had trouble with that approach. In court records filed in December, state officials said they asked every compounding pharmacist in the state to make pentobarbital - once the state's primary execution drug - and every pharmacist turned them down.

Attempts to reach Department of Corrections officials Monday for comment on the Pfizer decision were unsuccessful.

It's not clear just how much midazolam the state has on hand for future executions, where those drugs come from, or how long they'll last.

Court documents filed earlier this month again included instructions for the use of midazolam made by Akorn, which has asked that its drugs not be used for lethal injection. The court filings include photocopies of labels from boxes of midazolam.

The expiration dates on those labels weren't visible.

Source: Anniston Star, May 17, 2016

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