The week at a glance...United States
Oso, Wash. Deadly mudslide: At least 24 people were killed and more than 150 were missing after a huge mudslide wiped out the tiny community of Oso, Wash., this week, tearing down houses and leaving buildings and roads covered with up to 12 feet of mud and debris. Rescuers combed through the square-mile site in the pouring rain, using dogs, ground-penetrating radar, and aircraft to look for survivors. The landslide came after weeks of heavy rain, and local officials had regularly warned Oso residents of the “high risk” of slides. Survivor Robin Youngblood said that it felt like being caught in a washing machine filled with mud and trees. “We were tumbled inside and had mud in our eyes and nose and mouth,” she said. Families were giving up hope. “I think it’s going to be a long search,” said Doug Massingale, who lost his granddaughter. “Big area and a little body.”
Phoenix Pit bull spared: A Phoenix judge this week spared the life of a pit bull that had savagely mauled the face of a 4-year-old boy. Kevin Vicente was in his babysitter’s front lawn when he was attacked by the chained-up pit bull, named Mickey, and left with numerous injuries requiring extensive reconstructive surgery. A witness filed a vicious-animal petition to have the dog put down, but dog lovers blamed Kevin’s careless babysitter and launched a campaign to “Save Mickey.” Judge Deborah Griffith declared Mickey a vicious dog but spared his life, ordering him to be kept in a rehabilitation center. The boy’s mother said she was saddened that Mickey’s defenders “placed more value on an animal than on a child.”
Galveston, Texas Oil spill: A barge collision in the busy Houston Ship Channel sent up to 170,000 gallons of tar-like oil spilling into the waters of the Gulf Coast, threatening the bird habitats of Galveston Bay. The channel was shut for three days this week as Coast Guard workers traveled along the bay, picking quarter-size “tar balls” out of the sand and lining up oil booms to keep the slick away from the shoreline. The spill happened at the height of roosting season, and at least 50 birds of six different species needed treatment. Three days after the collision, officials partially reopened the 52-mile waterway; at that point, they said, most of the oil had drifted out into the Gulf of Mexico and was heading southwest.
Orlando Shooting justified: An FBI agent who shot and killed a Chechen associate of one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects during a violent confrontation was cleared this week by a Florida prosecutor. The agent had been questioning Ibragim Todashev, a friend of Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s, in his Orlando apartment last May as part of an investigation into an unsolved triple murder in Waltham, Mass.—a crime in which Tsarnaev was also a suspect. The 27-year-old mixed-martial-arts fighter had just calmly confessed to a role in the homicides, said State Attorney Jeffrey Ashton, when he suddenly became violent, propelling a coffee table “into the air” that struck the FBI agent in the head. Todashev then grabbed a “long pole,” intending to use it to “impale rather than strike.” The agent fired seven shots, killing Todashev in “self-defense,” concluded Ashton. The Justice Department is conducting its own inquiry.
New York City Bin Laden son-in-law guilty: A son-in-law of Osama bin Laden was convicted this week of supporting terrorism and conspiring to kill Americans. Kuwaiti-born cleric Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, 48, is the most senior al Qaida member to be convicted since 9/11 and could face life in prison. Last week he testified that bin Laden met with him in an Afghan cave hours after the attacks, claimed credit for them, and asked Abu Ghaith to “deliver a message to the world.” Abu Ghaith subsequently made videos exhorting Muslims to kill Americans. In one, less than a month after the attacks, he said, “The storm of airplanes will not abate,” and that there were thousands of Muslim jihadis who longed for death, “just as the Americans yearn to live.”
Detroit Gay marriage: In another victory for same-sex marriage, a federal judge last week declared Michigan’s ban on such marriages unconstitutional, but an appeals court issued an emergency stay that left about 300 newly married couples in legal limbo. The couples rushed to get married last weekend after U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman declared the ban unconstitutional. But the stay on the ruling by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals left it unclear whether the unions would be legally recognized. Employees at Secretary of State offices were told, meanwhile, not to accept applications to change names on the driver’s licenses of same-sex couples. “I feel like it’s been a constant yo-yo,” said Bethany Joy Rozeboom, who married partner Mary Winn in last weekend’s brief window of legality. “We felt this is as official as it gets. Now what?”