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Washington (AFP) — The U.S. Supreme Court is under increasing pressure to consider halting death sentences by lethal injection after a convicted Arizona killer took two hours to die.

Opponents and supporters of capital punishment alike say they believe the highest U.S. court will agree to consider the issue.

Double murderer Joseph Wood gasped and snorted as he lay on a gurney for 117 minutes after officials from the U.S. state of Arizona injected him with a relatively untested lethal drug cocktail.

His was the third execution this year to have been drawn out far beyond the usual 10 minutes, as states face a shortage of tried and tested drugs after European manufacturers halted exports.

Arizona Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan on Thursday refuted suggestions Wood’s execution had been “botched,” insisting he was “comatose and never in pain” during the procedure.

But amid growing international uproar, opponents of the death penalty allege that the lengthy execution of Wood and others amount to a form of torture or the “cruel and unusual” punishment forbidden by the U.S. Constitution.

“It is one of a pattern of botched executions that has resulted from an unacceptable level of secrecy on the part of the Department of Corrections,” said Law Professor Deborah Denno of Fordham University.

AFP Photo/Mark Wilson

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Actor as Donald Trump in Russia Today video ad

Screenshot from RT's 'Trump is here to make RT Great Again'

Russia Today, the network known in this country as RT, has produced a new "deep fake" video that portrays Donald Trump in post-presidential mode as an anchor for the Kremlin outlet. Using snippets of Trump's own voice and an actor in an outlandish blond wig, the ad suggests broadly that the US president is indeed a wholly owned puppet of Vladimir Putin– as he has so often given us reason to suspect.

"They're very nice. I make a lot of money with them," says the actor in Trump's own voice. "They pay me millions and hundreds of millions."

But when American journalists described the video as "disturbing," RT retorted that their aim wasn't to mock Trump, but his critics and every American who objects to the Russian manipulations that helped bring him to power.

As an ad for RT the video is amusing, but the network's description of it is just another lie. Putin's propagandists are again trolling Trump and America, as they've done many times over the past few years –- and this should be taken as a warning of what they're doing as Election Day approaches.

The Lincoln Project aptly observed that the Russians "said the quiet part out loud" this time, (Which is a bad habit they share with Trump.)