The U.S. at a glance ...
Tragic fire: The death toll from a devastating fire that broke out at an Oakland warehouse rose to 36 this week, as authorities said they were investigating whether anyone could be held criminally liable for the tragedy. The fire began at around 2 a.m. during a dance party at the warehouse turned art space known as the Ghost Ship. As the flames ripped through the building, blocking the few exits, trapped victims frantically tried to flee. Some texted their friends and family, saying, “I’m going to die,” and “I love you.” Authorities had to work their way through huge amounts of debris to get to the victims’ remains, and some bodies were “protecting each other, holding each other,” a police spokesman said. The warehouse’s manager, Derick Almena, has faced angry accusations that he allowed people to live in the warehouse, violated numerous city codes, and bears responsibility for the deaths. Officials said the building was filled with exposed wires and makeshift heating from propane tanks.
San Bernardino, Calif.
Attack anniversary: Victims’ families and survivors marked the first anniversary of the San Bernardino terrorist attack this week in somber ceremonies, as new details about the mass shooting emerged. Fourteen people were killed and 22 injured on Dec. 2 last year, when Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, both Muslims, opened fire at a holiday party at the Inland Regional Center. The attack may have been triggered because Malik was angry that her husband was forced to attend the event, which included Christmas festivities, reported ABC News. A newly released photo shows Farook posing with coworkers inside the conference room where he and Malik later opened fire. Another video shows the couple at a gun range two days before. The pair died in a shootout with police hours after their rampage.
New York City
Muslims targeted: Three Muslim women—one of them an off-duty NYPD officer—were attacked in alleged hate crimes in New York City this week. In one incident, a transit worker wearing a Muslim head covering was allegedly pushed down the stairs at Grand Central Terminal by a man who called her a “terrorist.” In another, three intoxicated white men reportedly tried to rip the hijab off a young woman riding the subway as they shouted “Donald Trump!” and “Get the hell out of the country!” Yasmin Seweid, 18, who was born in Brooklyn, said she got off the train crying and shaken. “I’m an American, you know?” she said. Days later, an off-duty Muslim cop who was born and raised in New York City was allegedly abused by a man on the street who said to her, “ISIS [expletive], I will cut your throat.” The Southern Poverty Law Center says there has been a surge in hate crimes since Trump’s election.
McCrory backs down: A month after the election, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory this week conceded the governorship to Democratic rival Roy Cooper—bringing a tense legal battle over one of 2016’s closest races to an end. McCrory was the only major Republican to be defeated in the battleground state— the GOP’s presidential nominee Donald Trump and incumbent Sen. Richard Burr both secured convincing victories—and supporters of the governor filed controversial vote challenges in dozens of counties in a bid to overturn Cooper’s slim victory. But a recount in Durham County pushed Cooper over the 10,000-vote margin of victory needed to avoid a mandatory statewide recount. “The majority of our citizens have spoken,” said McCrory. Cooper, the state’s attorney general, had campaigned against McCrory for the governor’s controversial support of a law known as HB2, which restricted transgender access to public bathrooms.
New York City
Trump meets Gore: President-elect Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka had a sit-down with former Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore this week, in a bid to find “common ground” over the issue of climate change. Trump, who has called climate change a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese, was not originally expected to attend the meeting at Trump Tower, which was arranged by his daughter. A close adviser to Trump, Ivanka doesn’t share her father’s views on climate change and is reportedly interested in making the issue one of her signature projects during the Trump administration. She has also met with actor and climate change activist Leonardo DiCaprio to discuss his recent documentary on global warming. But Gore, who has campaigned on the issue of climate change for the past decade, said that he spent the bulk of the “productive” 90-minute sit-down with the president-elect himself. “I found it an extremely interesting conversation, and to be continued,” said Gore.
Walter Scott case: The murder trial of a former North Charleston police officer who was videotaped fatally shooting an unarmed black man in April 2015 ended this week when the judge declared a mistrial. After four days of deliberations, jurors indicated they were one vote shy of a unanimous guilty verdict against former patrolman Michael Slager, who was filmed by a bystander shooting black motorist Walter Scott five times in the back as Scott tried to flee a routine traffic stop. The footage also showed Slager dropping an object near Scott’s dead body, which prosecutors argued was a Taser that Slager planted to suggest Scott had been aggressive. Slager testified that Scott tried to grab his stun gun, and that he felt “total fear” as he backed away and opened fire. Prosecutors said they will pursue a new state trial, but Vice President–elect Mike Pence said the incoming attorney general would decide whether pending federal civil rights charges against Slager would be dropped.