The week at a glance...United States

United States


State gun proposed: Arizona is on the verge of designating an official state gun after a state Senate committee this week voted 9-4 to bring legislation to a vote of the full chamber. Already, 43 of 90 legislators in both houses of the legislature have co-sponsored a bill to honor the Colt single-action Army revolver, a weapon popular in the West in the late 1800s. A lobbyist for the gun-maker said the Colt had played a vital role in settling the region. In Utah, a bill designating the Browning M1911—a semiautomatic pistol—as the state gun is awaiting the governor’s signature. Arizona’s action came just weeks after the Jan. 8 shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others in Tucson. Six people died in the rampage. Doctors at the Houston rehabilitation center where Giffords is recovering say she continues to make progress, recently joining family members in singing Don McLean’s “American Pie.”


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Mosque controversy: A Tulsa police captain has been transferred within the department for refusing to assign subordinates to attend an event at a local mosque. Capt. Paul Fields disobeyed Chief Daryl Webster’s order to send at least six officers and three supervisors to the Islamic Society of Tulsa’s law-enforcement appreciation day in March, saying that the order conflicted with his religious beliefs and violated his civil rights. Webster disagreed, saying attendance was part of the police department’s community-outreach efforts. He also noted that officers had been assigned without controversy to similar events at Jewish community centers, Christian churches, and secular organizations. Fields was transferred to a different patrol district.

Gulfport, Miss.

Dolphin deaths: Dead infant dolphins have been washing up on the Gulf Coast shore in Mississippi and Alabama at more than 10 times the normal rate, say researchers from the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport. At least 26 baby dolphins have been found along the shoreline since the first of the year. All either were stillborn or died shortly after birth. “The average is one or two per month,” said institute director Moby Solangi. This is the first dolphin birthing period since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill fouled Gulf waters last spring and summer. Scientists suspect the deaths may be related to the spill. Deaths among adult dolphins also spiked, from 30 in 2009 to 89 last year.


Rahm romps: Former Obama White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel won Chicago’s mayoral election this week, avoiding an April runoff by winning 55 percent of the vote against five opposing candidates. Emanuel, who represented the city’s North Side in Congress from 2003 to 2009 after serving in the Clinton White House, succeeds Richard Daley, who led the city for 22 years. Emanuel, Chicago’s first Jewish mayor, survived a legal challenge to his candidacy after a state court ruled that he had abandoned his Chicago residency when he went to work in the Obama White House. The Illinois Supreme Court overturned the ruling in January. “All I can say is, you sure know how to make a guy feel at home,” Emanuel told supporters.


Sweeping school closures: The state of Michigan has ordered Detroit to close almost half of its 142 public schools by 2014, lay off hundreds of teachers, and increase class sizes to accommodate as many as 60 students in order to reduce costs. The Detroit system is running a $327 million budget deficit and has been unable to borrow funds to cover the shortfall. Robert Bobb, the Detroit school district’s emergency financial manager, said he is preparing a financial restructuring plan, but it depends on receiving financial guarantees from a reluctant state legislature. “I don’t feel the taxpayers of Michigan are willing to become liable for that money with all the structural and institutional problems that exist,” said Republican state Rep. Paul Scott.

New York City

No-smoking zones expand: Mayor Michael Bloomberg this week signed into law a bill that would ban smoking in city parks and on public beaches, as well as in pedestrian plazas such as Times Square. The law, which takes effect in May, calls for a $50 fine on violators, but enforcement will be left largely to park rangers, rather than police, while also relying on social pressure from New Yorkers themselves. Citizens are divided on the law’s merits. City council member Rosie Mendez, a nonsmoker, said, “I think we’ve taken a step too far today in curtailing people’s civil liberties.”

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