The week at a glance...United States
New York City
Seven dead in tragic crash: An out-of-control SUV veered across three lanes of traffic on a “cursed” stretch of New York’s Bronx River Parkway, flew over a guard rail, and plunged more than 50 feet into a ravine on the grounds of the Bronx Zoo, killing all seven family members aboard, authorities said. Rescuers encountered a horrific tableau of victims and body parts in and around the mangled 2004 Honda Pilot, which had landed upside down in the ravine, according to news reports. “I lost my mom, my dad, my sisters, and my nieces,” said a stricken Ignacio Nuñez, 64. The cause of the crash was unclear, but police said the SUV was traveling nearly 70 mph. This stretch of the parkway, between Exits 5 and 6, was the scene of an equally tragic accident in 2006, in which six members of a single family were killed.
New York City
Subway bomber convicted: A Queens man who traveled to Pakistan to train with al Qaida and returned home to launch a suicide bomb attack in the city’s subway was convicted this week of multiple terrorism charges. Adis Medunjanin, 28, faces life in prison when he is sentenced on Sept. 7, after being found guilty of conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction and conspiring to murder U.S. military personnel overseas, in a plot that investigators called the biggest terror threat on U.S. soil since 9/11. The bombing was stopped just days before Medunjanin and two former high school classmates, who had traveled to Pakistan with him, planned to set off homemade bombs during rush hour, investigators said. Medunjanin, who was born in Bosnia, grew up in Flushing, Queens, and attended Queens College; he graduated with a degree in economics. “His plan, his intent, was to go to Afghanistan and fight with the Taliban,” his lawyer said during the trial.
EPA ‘crucifixion’: After an ill-chosen analogy about his “philosophy of enforcement” came back to haunt him, an Environmental Protection Agency official resigned this week under pressure from Republicans. Al Armendariz, the agency’s top official in the oil-rich South and Southwest region, came under fire for 2010 remarks in which he compared the EPA’s enforcement strategy to the Romans’ use of crucifixion as a terror tool. “They’d go in to a little Turkish town somewhere, they’d find the first five guys they saw, and they’d crucify them,” Armendariz said. “And then, you know, that town was really easy to manage for the next few years.” Republicans called for Armendariz’s firing after Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) said the speech demonstrated the EPA’s anti-business bias. “We will get to the bottom of this,” Inhofe said, “and we will continue looking into EPA’s actions on hydraulic fracturing.”
Gay Romney aide resigns: Bowing to pressure from conservative Republicans, an openly gay foreign-policy expert who was hired by Mitt Romney just a month ago stepped down this week. Richard Grenell had served as communications director to four U.S. ambassadors to the U.N., including the hawkish John R. Bolton, who is among his strongest supporters. Grenell resigned, he said, because his “ability to speak clearly and forcefully on the issues has been greatly diminished by the hyperpartisan discussion” over his sexuality. Matthew J. Franck, director of an influential right-wing think tank, called Grenell a “loose cannon” with a passion for the “gay agenda,” adding, “By his own description he is an ardent activist for same-sex marriage who went to go work for a candidate who wants to defeat same-sex marriage.”
Arrests in bomb plot: Five self-proclaimed anarchists text-messaged a four-digit code to a cellphone and waited for the blast to take down a much-traveled Ohio bridge, federal officials charged this week. There was no explosion, however; just the end of an FBI sting and the subsequent arrests of the five men on terrorism charges that include planned attacks on a Federal Reserve Bank and the Republican National Convention. Douglas Wright, 26, Brandon Baxter, 20, and Anthony Hayne, 35, have been charged with conspiracy and attempted use of explosive materials to damage physical property. Two other men were also charged. The men were targeted last year when Wright allegedly contacted an FBI informant at an Occupy Cleveland protest. U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach said the case demonstrates that “terrorism can come in many hues and from many homelands.”
Oakland, Seattle, Miami, Philadelphia, New York City
Occupy returns: The Occupy Wall Street movement that spread across the nation last fall and mobilized hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets again this week, staging May Day demonstrations in cities around the nation. But the mass demonstrations called for by its leaders failed to materialize, traffic flowed in cities targeted for shutdown, and the light turnout for protests had little impact, according to published reports. Still, 50 protesters were arrested in New York, a dozen in Seattle, three in Miami, and two in Philadelphia. In Oakland, some 5,000 people marched at dusk to protest a handful of arrests. In Seattle, the OWS protest was hijacked by anarchists who smashed bank windows and clashed with police. The disappointing May Day turnout “may not resurrect the movement,” said Chris Hedges, a journalist, blogger, and OWS supporter, but writing it off now would be “shortsighted.”