The week at a glance...United States
Los Angeles Airport shooting: A Transportation Security Administration worker was killed and three other people were injured last week in a shooting rampage at Los Angeles International Airport. Gerardo Hernandez, 39, was the first TSA officer to die in the line of duty since the agency was created in 2001. He was gunned down at point-blank range with a .223-caliber semiautomatic rifle by Paul Ciancia, 23, who returned to shoot him again after noticing he was still moving. Ciancia injured two other TSA officers and a civilian before being shot in the chest, face, and neck by airport police. This week, he was charged with first-degree murder of a federal officer. Investigators say he was carrying a handwritten note mentioning the TSA and the New World Order, the focus of a conspiracy theory based in fears of a totalitarian one-world government.
Springfield, Ill. Gay marriage: Illinois is set to become the 15th state to allow same-sex marriage after both chambers of the state legislature voted to approve the measure this week. The state already permits same-sex civil unions, but attempts to legalize gay marriage stalled in the House in May, when a leading advocate for the bill tearfully announced he had to delay the vote because he didn’t have enough support to pass it. This week, the House passed the Senate-approved bill in a 61–54 vote along party lines. The legislation will now be sent to the desk of Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, who has said he will sign it by the end of the month. “Today the Illinois House put our state on the right side of history,” said Quinn.
Bowling Green, Ky. Paul’s plagiarism: Sen. Rand Paul announced that he was “restructuring” his office after being accused of plagiarism. The reports first surfaced last week when the Republican senator was found to have lifted passages from a Wikipedia page for the 1997 science-fiction movie Gattaca. Paul blamed “haters” for challenging his integrity, saying, “If they keep it up, you know, it would be a duel challenge.” But BuzzFeed.com reported this week that parts of a recent Paul column in The Washington Times were copied nearly word for word from an article in The Week, and that a passage in his book Government Bullies was lifted from a Forbes article. Paul acknowledged that “mistakes” had been made, and that he would be putting a new approval system in place. He would even include footnotes, he said, “if it will make people leave me the hell alone.”
Miami Bullying scandal: The Miami Dolphins suspended player Richie Incognito this week amid a growing bullying scandal. Incognito is accused of verbally abusing teammate Jonathan Martin, who unexpectedly left the team last week. The Dolphins’ management at first denied any improper behavior but was forced to launch a formal investigation when Martin’s agent produced a barrage of vicious and racist voice-mail messages that allegedly came from Incognito, who’s been accused of bullying behavior since college and is widely disliked in the NFL. “Hey, wassup, you half n----- piece of s---,” was one message. “I’m gonna slap your real mother across the face.... I’ll kill you.” The Dolphins’ coaches reportedly had asked Incognito to toughen Martin up after the rookie failed to attend some practice sessions. The NFL said it would review the case, while an unnamed Dolphins official said Incognito was “done” with the team.
Washington, D.C. No quarter: The White House this week rejected an appeal for clemency from National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden. The former NSA contractor, who has been granted asylum in Russia until July 2014, published an open letter to American officials last week in the German magazine Der Spiegel, arguing that his leaks about far-reaching NSA spying had provoked a positive debate in the U.S. “Speaking the truth is not a crime,” he wrote. White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer said that clemency was not an option and that Snowden “should return to the U.S. and face justice.” Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) agreed, saying that if Snowden were a true whistle-blower, he would have reported privately to her committee first. “That didn’t happen,” she said, “and now he’s done this enormous disservice to our country.”
New York City Stop and frisk: An appeals court handed outgoing New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg a temporary victory last week by blocking a ruling that declared the Police Department’s stop-and-frisk policy unconstitutional. Bloomberg is an outspoken proponent of the controversial tactic, arguing that allowing officers to stop, question, and frisk people they deem suspicious-—even in the absence of evidence that they’ve committed any crime—has lowered crime rates. In August, however, District Court Judge Shira A. Scheindlin ruled that the policy unlawfully targeted blacks and Latinos and should be used only when there is reasonable suspicion of a crime. This week, a federal appeals court stalled that decision by removing Scheindlin from the case, saying she had jeopardized “the appearance of partiality” in a series of media interviews. Newly elected Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has promised to reform the policy, said he was “extremely disappointed” by the decision.