The U.S. at a glance ...
Macy’s shooting: Five people were killed when a gunman opened fire at the Cascade Mall in Burlington last week, gunning down a teenage girl, three women, and another man at a Macy’s makeup counter before calmly setting his rifle down and walking out of the store. After an hours-long manhunt, alleged shooter Arcan Cetin, 20, was arrested while walking in a “zombie-like” state close to his home in nearby Oak Harbor. Authorities said that Cetin—who emigrated from Turkey as a young boy and is a legal permanent U.S. resident—confessed to the shooting, but that they didn’t yet know his motive. The suspect’s family said he had “mental health issues” and had been diagnosed with anxiety and depression in 2015 after being charged with assaulting his stepfather. Cetin has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder, each carrying a minimum of 20 years in prison.
9/11 law: Congress overwhelmingly rejected one of President Obama’s vetoes for the first time in his presidency this week, voting to override his opposition to a controversial bill that allows 9/11 victims’ families to sue Saudi Arabia for any purported role in the 2001 terrorist attacks. In true bipartisan fashion, the Senate voted 97-1 to overturn the veto, while the House of Representatives voted 348-77. The Obama administration and other critics of the legislation, which amends a 1976 law that gives foreign nations some immunity from lawsuits in U.S. courts, say it would leave U.S. military service members, diplomats, and businesses vulnerable to legal retaliation overseas for U.S. foreign policy decisions. “This is not about severing our relationship with any one ally,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas). “This is simply a matter of justice.”
Bridgegate trial: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie “laughed” as he was told that lanes leading up to the George Washington Bridge had been closed as an act of political retribution against a local mayor, a former ally testified in federal court this week. Former Port Authority executive David Wildstein, once known as Christie’s “enforcer,” said he was at a 9/11 memorial in 2013 with the governor when he told him about the ensuing days-long traffic gridlock—designed to punish Fort Lee’s Democratic mayor for failing to endorse Christie, a Republican, for re-election. Christie reacted with glee, Wildstein testified. Two other former Christie allies, Bill Baroni and Bridget Anne Kelly, are on trial over the scandal. Wildstein also testified that Christie, who denies having any knowledge of the scheme, treated the Port Authority as a “goody bag” to reward those who endorsed him with money, jobs, or private tours of the World Trade Center.
Shooting rampage: A disgruntled lawyer wearing a vintage military uniform emblazoned with Nazi insignia opened fire near a shopping center in Houston this week, injuring at least nine people, before being killed in a shoot-out with police. Using a .45 caliber pistol and a .45-caliber semi-automatic “tommy gun,” Nathan DeSai fired off more than 75 bullets during his rampage, and had more than 2,500 rounds of ammunition either on him or in his car, parked nearby. DeSai, 46, was reportedly upset about some “issues” involving a law firm he had helped establish and which subsequently failed, his family said. But police said they were also looking into the fact that DeSai had several vintage military collector’s items dating back to the Civil War at his home, including many with Nazi emblems. “At this point we are very openminded as to the motive,” said acting Houston Police Chief Martha Montalvo.
Baseball star dies: The Miami Marlins held an emotional tribute to star pitcher Jose Fernandez this week, a day after the 24-year-old and two friends were killed in a late-night boating crash near Miami Beach. Fernandez’s 32-foot fishing vessel was found by the Coast Guard upside down on a rocky jetty shortly after 3:15 a.m. Friends said Fernandez was “distraught” and had been drinking on the night of the crash following an argument with his pregnant girlfriend; authorities were awaiting the results of toxicology reports. Fernandez defected from Cuba at 15, making the dangerous journey to Mexico by boat and saving his mother from drowning when she fell overboard; an earlier attempt at defecting had landed him in jail. In the Marlins’ first game since the tragedy, players wore jerseys with Fernandez’s number and name. Several players broke down—including infielder Dee Gordon, who sobbed after he hit a home run in the team’s first at-bat.
Climate plan challenge: A federal appeals court appeared split along partisan lines over the centerpiece of President Obama’s climate change agenda this week, during oral arguments on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan. Twenty-seven states and coal industry groups have challenged the plan, claiming the Obama administration overstepped its authority when it mandated that U.S. power plants cut emissions to 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. The Clean Power Plan is the core of Obama’s effort to meet the emissions-reduction target pledged at the Paris climate talks in December. During arguments before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, several of the judges on the 10-person panel—which includes six Democratic appointees—suggested the regulations were constitutional. But Republican appointee Judge Brett Kavanaugh said that Congress should weigh in. This case, said Kavanaugh, “has huge economic consequences.”