The U.S. at a glance ...
Good Samaritans killed: An Army veteran and a recent college graduate were fatally stabbed on a light-rail train in Portland last week when they intervened as an alleged white supremacist yelled anti-Muslim slurs at two young women. Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35, has been charged with the aggravated murder of Ricky John Best, 53, and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, 23. Christian was allegedly hurling abuse at two female passengers, one of whom wore a Muslim head covering, when the strangers jumped in to help. The suspect stabbed both men in the neck and slashed another passenger, who has since been released from the hospital. The attack caused shock waves in Portland, and the city’s mayor, Ted Wheeler, called on federal authorities to revoke permits for an upcoming “Trump Free Speech Rally,” organized by a conservative group, on a downtown government plaza. At a previous rally held by the same group, Christian was photographed giving a Nazi salute.
Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.
Warning shot: The Pentagon successfully destroyed a mock intercontinental ballistic missile thousands of miles over the Pacific for the first time this week, in a show of force aimed largely at North Korea. The mock ICBM was launched from a test site in the Marshall Islands and intercepted an hour later by a missile deployed from a silo at the Vandenberg Air Force Base, about 4,200 miles away. The Vandenberg rocket released a 5-footlong device called a “kill vehicle” that steered into the path of the incoming warhead, destroying it by force of impact. The missile defense program has been hampered by setbacks; just four of the $40 billion system’s nine previous tests have been successful. Days before, North Korea launched a short-range ballistic missile that landed off the coast of Japan.
Paris deal decision: President Trump was poised to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate change accord this week, according to reports, following his refusal to express support for the landmark deal during last week’s G-7 summit in Italy. Trump met this week with EPA head Scott Pruitt, who has said that carbon dioxide is not a primary contributor to climate change, to reportedly iron out the withdrawal. The 195-nation pact was negotiated under President Obama in 2015 and requires signatories to commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Obama administration proposed to cut U.S. emissions by 26 to 28 percent by 2025. Under the pact, a withdrawal would take three years; the Trump administration could speed up the process by withdrawing from the underlying U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. Only two other countries, Syria and Nicaragua, have refused to support the accord.
Lawmakers clash: A heated scuffle erupted on the Texas House floor this week after a Republican state representative claimed he had called U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on a group of protesters. The demonstrators had gathered in the Capitol rotunda to protest Senate Bill 4, the sanctuary city legislation signed last month that punishes local governments for refusing to comply with federal immigration laws and detention requests. Republican Rep. Matt Rinaldi said he called ICE when he spotted some protesters holding signs that read “I am illegal and here to stay.” When he told Democratic representatives what he had done, one legislator “physically assaulted” him and another threatened to “get me on the way to my car,” Rinaldi claimed. “I made it clear that if he attempted to, in his words, ‘get me,’ I would shoot him in self-defense.” Democrats denied the assault claims, calling Rinaldi a “liar.”
Travel ban ruling: A federal appeals court refused to reinstate President Trump’s travel ban last week, ruling that the revised order “drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination.” The Richmondbased 4th Circuit Court of Appeals based its 10-3 decision on Trump’s repeated promises during the 2016 campaign to implement a “Muslim ban.” The revised order cites national security in its restrictions on travel from six majority Muslim countries, but in a 205-page ruling, the court’s majority said they “remain unconvinced” that the order’s primary purpose is anything other than “to exclude persons from the U.S. on the basis of their religious beliefs.” In a dissent, Judge Paul Niemeyer predicted that the Supreme Court— which is expected to ultimately decide the case—would “shudder” at the 4th Circuit’s decision, which he said transformed criticism of a candidate’s “campaign statements into a constitutional violation.”
Bogue Chitto, Miss.
Shooting rampage: A sheriff’s deputy and seven other people were killed in southwestern Mississippi last week when a gunman carried out an overnight shooting spree on three separate properties. Willie Cory Godbolt, 35, is accused of fatally shooting Deputy William Durr as the officer responded to an emergency call regarding a domestic dispute at a house in Bogue Chitto, a small community about 70 miles south of Jackson. Godbolt is also accused of killing three females at the same house—his mother-in-law and her daughter and sister. The gunman then allegedly drove to the house of his wife’s best friend in Brookhaven, where he shot the woman’s teenage son and his cousin, before moving on to a nearby property and shooting two others. Godbolt was arrested the next morning and told reporters that he intended to die during his rampage. “Suicide by cop was my intention,” Godbolt said.