The week at a glance...United States
Buford, WyomingTown for sale: The nation’s self-proclaimed smallest town has been offered for sale by its sole resident and “mayor,” Don Sammons. After more than 30 years of living in the unincorporated community, Sammons, 60, has decided to auction off the 10-acre town, which includes the Buford Trading Post—a gas station and store—a former schoolhouse, and its own ZIP code, 82052. Sammons may be the last resident of Buford, but he claims to get plenty of visitors at the trading post every day. Buford was founded in the 1860s; it became a thriving home to an estimated 2,000 residents before the Transcontinental Railroad was rerouted. Sammons moved his family here in 1980, and 12 years later bought the trading post. Over the years, his family members drifted away, until he was finally left alone, but with no regrets. “It was a great life,” Sammons said.
Salt Lake CityAbortion bill signed: Gov. Gary Herbert signed legislation this week requiring women to wait three days before receiving an abortion, giving Utah the longest waiting period in the country. Under the new law, a woman seeking an abortion will have to wait 72 hours after a face-to-face consultation with a medical professional that describes the gestation of the fetus and provides information about alternatives, including adoption. Herbert feels “the bill appropriately allows a woman facing such a decision time to fully weigh her options, as well as the implications of the decision,” said Ally Isom, the governor’s spokeswoman. A South Dakota law passed in 2011 also imposed a three-day wait before an abortion, but it was blocked by a federal district judge, because it placed an undue burden on women. In all, 26 states require a waiting period, usually 24 hours, before an abortion is performed, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
Littleton, Colo.Blagojevich in jail: Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, the man who attempted to sell Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat in 2008, reported to federal prison last week to begin his 14-year sentence for corruption. In 2011, jurors found Blagojevich guilty of 18 counts relating to the attempted sale of Obama’s Senate seat and extortion of state funds. A year earlier, he had been convicted of lying to the FBI. Blagojevich, 55, now known as inmate number 40892-424, left behind his wife and two daughters and will share a closet-size cell with up to three other prisoners. His fellow inmates at the Englewood facility include Jeffrey Skilling, the former CEO of Enron, who is serving a 24-year sentence for fraud. “It’s horrible,” said former GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who served time at Englewood. “Being the celebrity in prison, take it from me, is not fun.”
Clintonville, Wis.Mystery booms: A series of underground booms and explosions rattled the nerves of residents in this small city this week, sending police and public officials searching for a cause. Resident Al Miller likened the sounds to “a heavy-duty thunderstorm,” while a neighbor said it “sounded like a bomb had gone off.” On three successive nights, loud sonic disturbances roused people from their beds and sent them scurrying into the streets—some in their pajamas, said city administrator Lisa Kuss. While calls flooded in to police stations, authorities consulted geologists; checked methane levels at the landfill; monitored water, sewer, and gas lines; reviewed mining permits; and inspected the Pigeon River dam next to City Hall, all to no avail. Harold Tobin, a University of Wisconsin seismologist, said, “I’m as intrigued and as puzzled as other people are.”
Washington, D.C.Iran war games: An Israeli strike on Iran is likely to set off a destructive regional war that would draw in the U.S. and leave hundreds of Americans dead, U.S. military officials said this week. Concluding a classified semiannual war game called Internal Look, Pentagon officials described a narrative in which Iran countered an Israeli attack with a missile strike on a U.S. Navy warship in the Persian Gulf, killing about 200 Americans. The U.S. would then be forced to retaliate by carrying out its own strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities. The simulation, which officials insisted was not a rehearsal, raised fears among Pentagon planners and reinforced the unpredictable nature of such a conflict, according to the report. Gen. James N. Mattis, commander of American forces in the Middle East, the Persian Gulf, and Southwest Asia, was particularly concerned, warning that an Israeli strike would have “dire consequences” across the region and for U.S. forces there.
MiamiFeds probe teen slaying: Reacting to growing national outrage, the U.S. Justice Department launched an investigation this week into the fatal shooting of an unarmed black Florida teenager by a crime watch volunteer. The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division joined the FBI in a review of the evidence in the Feb. 26 death of Trayvon Martin, 17, who was shot and killed in Sanford, Fla., where he was visiting his father. George Zimmerman, 28, a neighborhood watch volunteer, told Sanford police that he shot Martin in self-defense after a confrontation with the boy, who was unarmed. Under Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, which gives the benefit of the doubt to those who claim self-defense, police said they had no grounds to arrest Zimmerman. State Attorney Norm Wolfinger will conduct grand jury hearings in April, as the federal investigations continue. “The public is entitled to no less than a thorough, deliberate, and just review of the facts,” said Wolfinger.
Correction: An item last week on Texas’s voter ID laws incorrectly included a quote from a Wisconsin judge commenting on his state’s voter ID laws.