The week at a glance...United States

United States

Mariposa, Calif.

Waterfall tragedy: Three hikers were swept to their deaths off Yosemite National Park’s 317-foot-high Vernal Fall last week. Ramina Badal, 21, Hormiz David, 22, and Ninos Yacoub, 27, ignored warning signs and climbed over a guardrail so that they could pose for photographs near the edge of the waterfall. “Other visitors were pleading with them to come out of the water,” said park spokesman Scott Gediman. According to onlookers, Badal was the first to lose her footing and slide into the Merced River. David and Yacoub tried to save her, only to tumble into the freezing, fast-flowing water. “We had to watch the fear on their faces as they knew they were plunging to their death,” said witness Jake Bibbee, 28. The hikers’ bodies have not yet been recovered, but officials are certain all three are dead. “It’s a 317-foot vertical drop over rushing water,” said Gediman. “It’s not something that somebody can survive.”

Los Angeles

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New arrests in baseball beating: Two men were arrested and charged last week in the brutal beating of a San Francisco Giants fan on opening day at Dodger Stadium. Marvin Norwood, 29, and Louie Sanchez, 30, were charged with mayhem, assault, and battery in connection with an attack that left Santa Cruz paramedic Bryan Stow partially paralyzed and unable to speak. Sanchez’s sister Doreen, who is Norwood’s longtime girlfriend, was also arrested but hasn’t been charged. The charges meant the exoneration of a previous suspect, Giovanni Ramirez; police originally suspected Ramirez of being one of the two men who blindsided Stow in the stadium parking lot and kicked him repeatedly while he lay on the ground. Sanchez and Norwood allegedly bragged about their actions to co-workers. Sanchez’s lawyer, Gilbert Quinones, acknowledged that his client had attended the game with his family, but said “he doesn’t fit the profile of someone who would commit this type of crime.”

Cape Canaveral, Fla.

Last shuttle landing: The space shuttle Atlantis and its four astronauts touched down for the last time at Kennedy Space Center last week, ending NASA’s 30-year shuttle program. “The space shuttle has earned its place in history,” said commander Christopher Ferguson, after a 5-million-mile round-trip flight to resupply the International Space Station. The landing was bittersweet for NASA employees. Of the 15,000 people who worked on the shuttle program, 9,500 have now been laid off. “You guys are such a special workforce,” astronaut Sandy Magnus told NASA staffers gathered at the landing strip. “You have to do everything right all the time. You do, and you make it look easy.” Private companies are now set to take over manned spaceflight from NASA.

Washington, D.C.

Congressman Wu resigns: Facing charges of sexual impropriety, Oregon Rep. David Wu resigned from Congress this week, just six weeks after the resignation of fellow Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner. Wu, 56, a seven-term congressman and the first Chinese-American to serve in the House, was accused of initiating an “unwanted sexual encounter” with the 18-year-old daughter of a childhood friend. Oregon’s Democratic Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden called for Wu to step down, saying that he had lost his ability to serve effectively while facing charges that “are both jarring and exceptionally serious.” Wu then announced that he would leave Congress after the debt-ceiling crisis was resolved. Questions about Wu’s mental stability arose last year after a series of outbursts and bizarre late-night e-mails to aides, one of which included a photo of Wu in a tiger costume.

New York City

DSK maid speaks: The hotel maid who claims she was sexually assaulted by former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn went public with her story last week. Nafissatou Diallo, 32, gave her first interview to Newsweek, insisting that the alleged assault began when Strauss-Kahn appeared naked, “like a crazy man,” in his hotel suite after she had entered to clean it. “I was so alone. I was so scared,” said Diallo, a Guinean immigrant, who says Strauss-Kahn then forced her to perform oral sex. “I want justice. I want him to go to jail,” she told reporters. Diallo later spoke to other media outlets and appeared in a series of interviews on ABC News. Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers, William Taylor and Benjamin Brafman, dismissed the maid’s media campaign as “theater” and said they were confident that District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. would “move to dismiss all charges.” Strauss-Kahn’s next court appearance has been delayed until Aug. 23, to allow for further investigation by the D.A.’s office.

Niagara Falls, N.Y.

First gay marriage: Hundreds of gay and lesbian couples across New York said “I do” last weekend, as the state’s landmark same-sex marriage law came into effect. Among the first to get hitched were Kitty Lambert, 54, and Cheryle Rudd, 53, who wed in Niagara Falls at the first possible moment—just past the stroke of midnight on Sunday, July 24. “This is one of the most incredible moments of my personal life,” said Lambert, “but it’s also an incredible moment for New York.” The majority of Sunday’s marriages took place in New York City, where 659 couples picked up licenses and 484 wed at city marriage bureaus. Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined in the celebrations by officiating at the wedding of two of his top aides, Jonathan Mintz, 47, and John Feinblatt, 60.

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