The U.S. at a glance ...
Blistering summer: Temperatures soared past 100 degrees in parts of the Pacific Northwest last week, after a highpressure system known as a heat dome produced a scorching heat wave across the region. In Portland, where the mercury hit 105 degrees—breaking a 65-year-old record—the excessive heat sparked service problems across the metro area’s publictransit system. In Seattle, where 70 percent of residents don’t have air-conditioning, temperatures reached 94 degrees—a daily record in a city that usually experiences highs in the mid-70s this time of year. The soaring temperatures put 15 million people under excessive-heat advisories, and animals were sent inside at zoos. “We are not used to the heat,” said one manager of an ice cream truck that had to shut down for worker safety. “We can handle rain, but we are not so great with this amount of sun.”
Mosque attack: A bomb was thrown through the window of a suburban Minneapolis mosque last week as worshippers were preparing for prayers, in what Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton called “an act of terrorism.” Witnesses at the Dar Al Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington said they saw a device being thrown from a van or truck in the early hours of the morning. None of the worshippers was injured, but the imam’s office was damaged. A preliminary FBI investigation concluded the blast was caused by a homemade explosive device. As calls grew for President Trump to denounce the attack, one of his national security advisers, Sebastian Gorka, told MSNBC that Trump was withholding comment because the bombing could have been a false-flag operation perpetrated “by the Left.” So far this year, 63 mosques have been targeted in publicly reported incidents. During the same time period in 2016, there were 46 incidents.
Sanctuary city lawsuit: Chicago escalated its feud with the Trump administration this week, suing the Justice Department to prevent it from withholding funds from so-called sanctuary cities. Under new rules outlined by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, cities that refuse to give federal officials information about undocumented detainees will lose certain federal grants. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the city uses those grants to buy SWAT equipment, police vehicles, and stun guns, and likened the Justice Department’s action to “blackmail”—adding, “Chicago will not let our residents have their fundamental rights isolated and violated.” In a blistering response, Sessions attacked the “political leadership of Chicago” and the city’s “culture of lawlessness.” Three other sanctuary cities—Seattle, San Francisco, and Santa Clara, Calif.—have filed lawsuits to block the Justice Department from withholding funds.
Pence 2020? Vice President Mike Pence this week vehemently denied claims he is running a “shadow” campaign for the presidency, after The New York Times reported that Pence is preparing to run in the 2020 election should President Donald Trump not be on the ballot. The former Indiana governor recently embarked on a packed schedule of political events and has already launched a political fund-raising operation, the Great America Committee. Pence also installed campaign operative Nick Ayers as his new chief of staff in June. Pence said the article was “disgraceful and offensive,” and that it was “laughable and absurd” that he was working on anything other than Trump’s agenda. The potential 2020 Republican field is already looking crowded, with Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Ben Sasse of Nebraska making recent trips to Iowa, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich refusing to rule out a third presidential run.
Groundbreaking texting case: Michelle Carter, 20, was sentenced to two and a half years in prison last week after being convicted of involuntary manslaughter for urging her boyfriend to commit suicide over text message. Conrad Roy III killed himself in 2014 at age 18, following a long struggle with depression. On the day before his suicide, Carter, then 17, criticized Roy for not going through with previous suicide attempts. “You’re just making it harder on yourself,” texted Carter. “If u don’t do it now you’re never gonna do it.” Following Carter’s instructions, Roy filled his pickup truck with deadly carbon monoxide. When he stepped out of the truck, she told him to “get back in.” A Taunton court ruled that Carter had put “constant pressure” on Roy that amounted to involuntary manslaughter. But the Massachusetts ACLU said it wasn’t illegal under state law to encourage someone to commit suicide, and that Carter’s conviction will “chill important and worthwhile end-of-life discussions.”
Climate change report: Government scientists said this week that they feared the Trump administration would attempt to alter or bury an alarming new federal report that claims U.S. temperatures have risen rapidly since 1980. “Evidence for a changing climate abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans,” reads a draft of the report, compiled by 13 federal agencies for the National Climate Assessment and obtained by The New York Times. The report concludes that Americans are already feeling the impact of climate change and that it is “extremely likely” that more than half of the global mean temperature increase since 1951 was caused by human influence—contradicting President Trump and members of his Cabinet, who have voiced doubts that human activity is the primary cause of rising temperatures. The National Academy of Sciences has signed off on the draft, but the authors are awaiting permission from the Trump administration to publish it.