The week at a glance...United States
Los AngelesBaseball fan attacked: A San Francisco Giants fan suffered brain damage when he and two friends were attacked by Los Angeles Dodgers fans at that baseball team’s home opener last week. Bryan Stow, 42, was walking through the Dodger Stadium parking lot wearing Giants paraphernalia when two Dodgers fans began taunting him. Witnesses said that one suddenly started hitting Stow in the neck and head. He fell to the ground, where the two Dodgers fans kicked and punched him despite the efforts of Stow’s friends to intervene. The attackers then fled, and authorities have offered $100,000 for help in identifying them. Admitted to a Los Angeles hospital, Stow, a father of two, was placed in a coma and had part of his skull removed to relieve pressure on his brain. Doctors said there is evidence of permanent “brain injury and dysfunction.”
Yuma, Ariz.Flight shock: A Southwest Airlines flight from Phoenix to Sacramento was forced to make an emergency landing last week when a 1-by-5-foot slice of the roof tore open at 34,000 feet. Shelley Coleman—one of 118 passengers onboard the Boeing 737—reported hearing a “loud bang” soon after takeoff, and then looked up to see “blue sky” through the ceiling. Cabin pressure plunged and one flight attendant was slightly injured, but the plane safely touched down at an Arizona military base. Southwest subsequently grounded its fleet of old 737s and inspected their fuselages for signs of fatigue. Stress cracks were found in five passenger planes. The Federal Aviation Administration has now ordered emergency inspections on 175 Boeing 737s worldwide, including 80 in the U.S.
PhoenixTubby tax: Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has proposed charging obese Medicaid patients a $50-a-year fee, to raise money to restore coverage for organ transplants for desperately ill poor people. Brewer cut transplant coverage last year, producing a wave of negative publicity as 98 Medicaid recipients were denied lifesaving kidney transplants and other operations. So, to raise $500 million, Brewer wants to levy a fee on obese Medicaid patients who fail to follow a doctor-prescribed weight-loss plan, as well as on patients who continue to smoke and diabetics who fail to get their condition under control. Critics have dubbed the new proposal a “fat tax.”
Huntsville, TexasExecution delayed: Just hours before he was to die, convicted murderer Cleve Foster, a former Army recruiter, was granted a stay of execution this week by the U.S. Supreme Court. The court agreed to review Foster’s appeal, which claims he is innocent of the 2002 rape and murder of 28-year-old Nyanuer Pal, and that he received poor legal representation during his trial. Texas prosecutors have 30 days to respond to the petition, after which the Supreme Court will decide if the appeal has merit. Foster, 47, would have been Texas’s first inmate to be executed via an injection of pentobarbital—a sedative normally used to euthanize animals—as part of a three-drug cocktail. The sedative is being used in place of sodium thiopental, which is in short supply across the U.S.
La Crosse, Wis.Recall battle: The battle over public labor unions entered a new round when Democratic activists announced last week they had gathered enough signatures to recall Republican state Sen. Dan Kapanke. If more than 15,588 of the 20,000-plus signatures are found to be valid, Kapanke will become the first Wisconsin state legislator to face a recall vote since Gov. Scott Walker’s bill curbing public unions’ collective-bargaining rights was passed last month. Democrats are targeting another seven GOP state senators who backed Walker’s controversial act, but Republicans are also trying to force recall elections on eight Democratic state lawmakers who fled to Illinois during the legislative tussle.
Long Island, N.Y.Bodies discovered: Police are hunting a serial killer who is targeting prostitutes in the New York City area, after investigators this week discovered three more bodies on a remote stretch of beach on Long Island. Police have found a total of eight heavily decomposed corpses near Gilgo Beach since they began searching in December for missing Jersey City call girl Shannan Gilbert, 24. The four sets of remains identified so far belong to prostitutes in their 20s, who advertised their services on Craigslist. So far, there is no sign of Gilbert, who was last seen running from a house in Oak Beach, just two miles from Gilgo Beach, shouting, “They’re trying to kill me.” Police have been conducting multiple interviews of residents of Oak Beach, a gated community.