June 27, 2012

A taped 'X' marks the spot for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney as introductions are made at a rally in Cornwall, Pa., on June 16. The stop was one of many during Romney's six-state "Believe in America" bus tour, during which the GOP presidential candidate tried to connect with undecided voters and brush up on his "small talk" skills.  The Week Staff

4:34 a.m. ET
AP Photos/Gillian Flaccus

Portland resident Jeremy Christian will be arraigned Tuesady on at least two counts of aggravated murder for his alleged stabbing of three men on a MAX light-rail train on Friday. Two of the men — Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, 23, and Rick Best, 53 — died, and a third, David-Cole Fletcher, 21, was wounded and is expected to live. On Monday, The Oregonian's Maxine Bernstein posted a detailed report of the fatal encounter, mostly as recounted by eyewitness Rachel Macy, a 45-year-old passenger on the train.

The man now identified as Christian boarded the eastbound train at the Lloyd Center shopping mall and immediately started "screaming that he was a taxpayer, that colored people were ruining the city, and he had First Amendment rights," then began spewing anti-Muslim slurs, Macy said. "He was just being really belligerent and loud." Best was standing closest to Christian, and was the first to try to calm him down. A train operator said over the loudspeaker that the person causing the disturbance needed to get off at the next stop, threatening to call the police, Macy recalled, and that's when Namkai-Menche stepped up and urged Christian to get off the train.

At some point, someone tried to physically move Christian away from the two teenage girls he was harassing, earning a warning from Christian, Macy told The Oregonian. Namkai-Menche was holding his phone up, either showing Christian something or recording the incident, and Christian knocked the phone away and stabbed him in the neck. "It was just a swift, hard hit," Macy said. "It was a nightmare." She doesn't remember who was stabbed in which order, she said, but Christian left the train after cursing the passengers, Best took a few steps and collapsed, Fletcher stumbled off the train holding his neck, and Namkai-Menche walked by her. Macy tended to him, giving him her tank top to hold against his neck.

Best, an Army veteran, died at the scene, while Namkai-Menche died at the hospital. When he was on the stretcher, Macy said, Namkai-Menche had a final message: "Tell everyone on this train I love them." Read her entire timeline of events, and statements from other witnesses, at The Oregonian. Peter Weber

3:50 a.m. ET
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"If Donald Trump leaves office before four years are up, history will likely show the middle weeks of May 2017 as the turning point," writes Elizabeth Drew, author of a book about Watergate, in The New York Review of Books. His firing of FBI Director James Comey, who was overseeing the main investigation into Russian election-meddling and any ties to the Trump campaign, led to the hiring of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel. Mueller has already set up shop in a Justice Department building and is building up his staff and working on a budget for what could be a long, painful slog for the Trump White House.

Already, the investigation has reportedly reached the perimeter of the Oval Office, ensnaring Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner. "If Trump has nothing to hide, he is certainly jumpy whenever the subject comes up and his evident worry about it has caused him to make some big mistakes," Drew writes, predicting that Trump's "troubles will continue to grow as the investigators keep on investigating and the increasingly appalled leakers keep on leaking." She continues by comparing Trump with Richard Nixon, who she says "was a lot smarter than Trump is" but made some similar mistakes:

Trump, like Nixon, depends on the strength of his core supporters, but unlike Nixon, he can also make use of social media, Fox News, and friendly talk shows to keep them loyal. Cracking Trump's base could be a lot harder than watching Nixon's diminish as he appeared increasingly like a cornered rat, perspiring as he tried to talk his way out of trouble ("I am not a crook") or firing his most loyal aides as if that would fix the situation. Moreover, Trump is, for all his deep flaws, in some ways a cannier politician than Nixon; he knows how to lie to his people to keep them behind him. The critical question is: When, or will, Trump's voters realize that he isn't delivering on his promises, that his health care and tax proposals will help the wealthy at their expense, that he isn't producing the jobs he claims? [Drew, NYRB]

Drew doesn't answer that question, which is likely unknowable. "What is knowable is that an increasingly agitated Donald Trump's hold on the presidency is beginning to slip," she concludes. You can read her entire argument at The New York Review of Books. Peter Weber

2:11 a.m. ET
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Frank Deford, a sportswriter who began his career at Sports Illustrated in 1962 and didn't quit until right before his death on Sunday, was "a dedicated writer and storyteller" who "offered a consistent, compelling voice in print and on radio, reaching beyond scores and statistics to reveal the humanity woven into the games we love," reads his citation for the National Humanities Medal former President Barack Obama awarded him in 2013, the first such honor for a sportswriter. It was one of many awards Deford won over his long career. He died at his home in Key West, Deford's wife, Carol, confirmed on Monday. He was 78.

Benjamin Franklin Deford III was born in Baltimore in 1938, and along with 30-plus years writing for Sports Illustrated he was a regular on HBO's Real Sports and on NPR's Morning Edition, from which he retired only on May 3, after 1,656 commentaries about the human side of sports. Hired as a researcher at Sports Illustrated, he made his bones writing about basketball, hardly a focus of sportswriters in the 1960s.

Deford "understood the particular legacy he had carved out," writes Bryan Curtis at The Ringer. "He would be seen more as a great sportswriter rather than a great writer, full stop. ... And he decided  —  though he was more talented than many writers who pass through the gates of The New Yorker  —  that he was more or less comfortable with the slur." At the same time, Curtis says, "Deford wrote so well it obscured his divining-rod abilities as a reporter. He always seemed to land on just the right quote."

So, a quote from Ross Greenburg, president of HBO Sports in 2004, when he told the Los Angeles Times: "Frank Deford with a pen in his hand is like Michael Jordan with a basketball and Tiger Woods with a driver." And a quote from Deford — who leaves behind a wife, two children, and two grandchildren, having lost a daughter to cystic fibrosis at age 8 — from his 2012 collection Over Time: My Life As a Sportswriter: "I think there are more good sportswriters doing more good sportswriting than ever before. But I also believe that the one thing that's largely gone out is what made sport such fertile literary territory — the characters, the tales, the humor, the pain, what Hollywood calls 'the arc.' That is: stories. We have, all by ourselves, ceded that one neat thing about sport that we owned." Peter Weber

1:55 a.m. ET
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A zookeeper at the Hamerton Zoo in Cambridgeshire, England, was killed Monday after a tiger entered the enclosure she was in and attacked, police said.

The unidentified zookeeper died at the scene. A witness told The Sun zookeepers came running up to the enclosure "with pieces of meat trying to get whatever's attention" and it was "heartbreaking seeing them trying to help." In a statement to visitors, the zoo said the mauling was "a freak accident," and is being investigated. The zoo will be closed through Wednesday. Catherine Garcia

1:37 a.m. ET
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Manuel Noriega, who ruled Panama as a military dictator from 1983 until he was ousted by U.S. troops in 1989, has died, the government of Panama announced early Tuesday. He was 83.

Noriega was in poor health, and after undergoing brain surgery in March, he suffered a brain hemorrhage and was placed in a medically induced coma. Born in Panama City on Feb. 11, 1934, Noriega was a career soldier. Beginning in the late 1950s up until the 1980s, Noriega worked with the CIA, while at the same time trafficking cocaine. He was indicted by the United States in early 1989 on charges of racketeering, laundering drug money, and drug smuggling, and in 1990, after spending 10 days in the Vatican's diplomatic mission in Panama City, he surrendered.

Noriega was convicted and sentenced to 40 years in prison in 1992, and was convicted in absentia of murder and laundering $2.8 million in drug money by purchasing property in France. He was extradited back to Panama in 2011. Catherine Garcia

12:54 a.m. ET

In the eighth inning of Monday's game between the Washington Nationals and San Francisco Giants at San Francisco's AT&T Park, Giants pitcher Hunter Strickland slammed a 98-mph fastball into Bryce Harper's hip, in their first matchup since Harper smacked two home runs off of Strickland in the 2014 MLB playoffs. Harper, and almost everyone else watching, viewed the hit as intentional.

"Strickland hit Harper so hard the ball flew into the air and landed halfway up the first base line, so flush that one could not mistake intent, though of course the perpetrators in these cases rarely admit that they had it planned," writes Chelsea Janes at the Nats' hometown paper, The Washington Post. Harper charged Strickland, throwing his helmet and then throwing punches. "In that situation," Harper said after the game, "you see red."

And in slow-motion:

It isn't clear why Strickland would hold a grudge against Harper for three years, or what perceived injury Harper caused him, especially when the Giants went on to win the 2014 World Series. Strickland denied any retaliatory intent, saying his goal was simply "to go inside." After the punches started flying, "it took four of his own teammates to carry him off the field, one grabbing his leg to render him immobile, removing him from the fray like one might a petulant child," the Post's Janes said. The Nats won the game, 3-0. Peter Weber

12:19 a.m. ET
Olivier Douliery - Pool/Getty Images

On Sunday, the day after he returned from a nine-day trip overseas, President Trump spent a lot of time on the phone with friends and lawyers fretting about the growing investigation into Russian election meddling and the negative press it is bringing his White House, Politico reports. "Two White House officials said Trump and some aides including Steve Bannon are becoming increasingly convinced that they are victims of a conspiracy against Trump's presidency, as evidenced by the number of leaks flowing out of government — that the crusade by the so-called 'deep state' is a legitimate threat, not just fodder for right wing defenders."

Though Trump was largely silent on Twitter during his trip, he sent several tweets on Sunday railing against "fake news" and anonymous sources, and he repeatedly brought up the Russia investigation while he was overseas, Politico says, citing "an ally close to the White House." An "outside adviser who is close to the president" added, "The more people talk to him about it, the more he obsesses about it." Trump's senior aides they don't know how Trump plans to deal with the Russia investigation and its fallout, and they don't know what shoe will drop next. You can read more at Politico. Peter Weber

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