The week at a glance...United States
Anti-Asian ranter quits: A UCLA student last week withdrew from college because of death threats she received after posting an offensive monologue on YouTube. Undergraduate Alexandra Wallace was vilified around the world for her three-minute rant, “Asians in the Library,” which was viewed more than a million times in just a few weeks. She railed against the “hordes of Asians” on campus and mimicked Asians talking on cell phones: “Ching chong ling long ting tong.” Wallace apologized via the UCLA newspaper, the Daily Bruin, last week, saying that she did not know what prompted her to post the incendiary video. “In an attempt to produce a humorous YouTube video, I have offended the UCLA community and the entire Asian culture,” she wrote in a farewell letter published in the paper. “I would do anything to take back my insensitive words.”
Police corruption detailed: A scathing U.S. Justice Department report released last week found the New Orleans police department to be riddled with corruption and favoritism. Issued as part of a court order placing the police department under federal supervision, the report noted that police ignored or covered up complaints of rapes and sexual assaults, and regularly resorted to racial profiling, arresting 16 blacks for every one white. The Justice Department also condemned the force’s tolerance of police moonlighting, a practice it called “an aorta of corruption within NOPD.” Officers commonly made their private employers, often businesses or professional athletes, their first priority over police work. City officials said they would implement the report’s recommendations.
Return of the fugitive: A woman who fled to Nigeria after a fire in her Houston day-care center killed four children was returned to the U.S. this week to face charges in the case. Jessica Tata, who holds Nigerian and U.S. citizenship, left the country just two days after a Feb. 24 fire at the day-care center she operated out of her Houston home. Nigerian police arrested her based on tips and her appearance on Interpol’s international list of wanted fugitives. Tata originally told police she was in the house when the blaze broke out, but police say a surveillance tape from a nearby Target store shows she had left seven children unattended to go shopping. While she was out, a pan of cooking oil left over a lit stove burner ignited the blaze. Tata has been charged with manslaughter and reckless injury to a child, among other crimes.
‘Designer drug’ death: A 19-year-old died and 10 others were hospitalized after they apparently overdosed last week on a legal hallucinogen at a house party in a Minneapolis suburb. Police arrested Timothy Lamere, 21, who is suspected of distributing the drug, 2C-E, popularly known as “Europa.” It is one of several close variants of an illegal drug called 2C-B that are available over the Internet. “They’re all just a molecule away from each other,” said Carol Falkowski of the Minnesota Department of Human Services. The dead teen, Trevor Vance Robinson, was one of 11 young partygoers admitted to local hospitals after ingesting the drug, which can be dangerous when combined with prescription drugs, especially antidepressants. At least two other people have died in the U.S. after taking variants of 2C-B.
Budget bill blocked: A county judge last week temporarily blocked a controversial state law that strips public-sector workers of most collective-bargaining rights. The procedural ruling grew out of the weeks-long standoff over Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s bid to rein in unions’ powers. After senate Democrats absconded to Illinois to deny Republicans a quorum to vote on the bill, the Republican majority altered the bill in a way that allowed them to pass it without Democrats present. But a Democratic district attorney said that in their rush, the Republicans had breached open-meeting requirements. Judge Maryann Sumi concurred, saying that those laws were “not a minor detail.” State Republicans vowed to appeal, declaring the judge’s ruling “a significant overreach.”
Face transplant: Surgeons at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital have performed the first U.S. transplant of an entire face, in a 15-hour operation on a Texas construction worker badly burned in an electrical accident. Dallas Wiens, 25, received a new nose, lips, skin, muscle, and nerves from an unidentified donor. The team of 30 doctors, nurses, and other technicians couldn’t restore Wiens’s sight, but he said he was looking forward to feeling the kiss of his 3-year-old daughter, Scarlette. Surgeons noted that Wiens’s new features will not resemble either his former face or the donor’s. “The tissues are really molded on a new person,” said Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, a plastic surgeon on the operating team. The U.S. Defense Department, aiming to learn more about treating soldiers’ facial wounds, funded the operation.