** US Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii Dies at 88**
The longest-serving member of the U.S. Senate and the man who was third in line for the presidency, Hawaii's Daniel Inouye, has died. He was 88 years old.
Inouye, a decorated World War II veteran, had been hospitalized in Washington since December 6, when he fainted in his office at the U.S. Capitol. His death on Monday was attributed to respiratory complications.
Senate Majority Leader and fellow Democrat Harry Reid announced Inouye's death on the floor of the Senate.
In a written statement, President Barack Obama said the country had "lost a true American hero." Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell called Inouye "an iconic political figure" who "had every reason to call attention to himself but who never did."
At the time of his death, Inouye was the Senate's president pro tempore, the designation for the person who is third in line for the presidency after the vice president and the speaker of the House of Representatives. Inouye also chaired the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee.
When Hawaii became a state in 1959, Inouye was elected the first representative from the state, and was reelected to a full term in 1960. He was first elected to the Senate in 1962 and was serving his ninth consecutive term.
He was one of the most influential Democratic senators on Capitol Hill.
**Report: Fewer US States Execute Inmates **
A group that tracks death penalty data says nine states in the U.S. carried out executions this year, the fewest number in two decades.
The findings were released Tuesday in an annual report by the Death Penalty Information Center(( based in Washington)).
The group says more than three-quarters of the 2012 executions were clustered in four states -- Texas, which executed 15 inmates, and six each in Arizona, Oklahoma and Mississippi.
The group says a total of 43 inmates were executed in the U.S. this year, the same as in 2011.
Capital punishment has remained a highly contentious issue in the U.S. since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. The Death Penalty Information Center says more than half of the 50 states in the U.S. now have no death penalty or have not carried out an execution in five years.
However, Amnesty International said the U.S. was among five countries with the highest reported number of executions in 2011. In a March report, the rights group said China carried out the most executions, followed by Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and the U.S.