Lethal injection facility in San Quentin, California. Photo: California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation via Getty Images

The first execution carried out by the federal government since 2003 took place on Tuesday at a federal prison in Indiana after an early-morning Supreme Court decision allowed it to move forward, the Washington Post reports.

The big picture: A lower court had delayed the execution, saying inmates had provided evidence the government's plan to carry out executions using lethal injections "poses an unconstitutionally significant risk of serious pain."

Daniel Lewis Lee was a former white supremacist who was convicted in 1999 for robbing and murdering a family of three, including an 8-year-old girl. His execution was originally scheduled to take place on Dec. 9, 2019, but has been held up in court.

  • Three family members of the victims sought this month to delay the execution because traveling across the country to attend would put them at risk of contracting the coronavirus. 
  • Lee was pronounced dead at 8:07 a.m. on Tuesday.
  • "I've made a lot of mistakes in my life but I’m not a murderer. ... You’re killing an innocent man," he said in a final statement.

The big picture: Attorney General Bill Barr instructed the Federal Bureau of Prisons to reinstate the death penalty last year after a 17-year informal moratorium, which was first established so the Justice Department could review its lethal injection protocols.

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Why it matters: The arms control era that began after the Cuban Missile Crisis may now be coming to a close. The next phase could be a nuclear free-for-all.

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Why it matters: Testing shortages and backlogs underscore a need for improved mass testing for COVID-19. Diagnostic tests based on CRISPR — which Doudna and colleagues identified in 2012, ushering in the "CRISPR revolution" in genome editing — are being developed for dengue, Zika and other diseases, but a global pandemic is a proving ground for these tools that hold promise for speed and lower costs.