The week at a glance...United States

United States

Los Angeles

Tangled shooting tale: A police investigation into the shooting of a Los Angeles school police officer has uncovered what investigators say is a multilayered hoax perpetrated by the alleged victim. Officer Jeffrey Stenroos prompted a lockdown of nine schools on Jan. 19 when he reported that he’d been shot by an assailant outside one of the schools. Questioned about inconsistencies in his account, Stenroos later changed his story, saying he had accidentally shot himself in the chest. But a medical examination suggested he could not have shot himself as he described. Police said Stenroos has avoided their questions. He has been charged with filing a false report and fired from his schools job.

Springfield, Ill.

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Civil unions recognized: Cheered on by a crowd of more than 1,000 gay-rights activists and their families, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law a bill allowing civil unions for gay partners. “We believe in civil rights,” Quinn said, “and we believe in civil unions.” When the law takes effect on June 1, Illinois will become the sixth state in the U.S. to recognize such unions. The law accords gay couples many of the same rights enjoyed by married heterosexuals, including hospital-visitation and joint-property rights, but stops short of marriage. Activists pledged to continue to work for the right to marry. “There is still work to be done,” said state Rep. Greg Harris, a co-sponsor of the legislation.

Chicago and the central states

Winter’s wallop: A punishing winter storm all but paralyzed the Midwest this week, burying a large swath of the country under snow and ice. Chicago closed its public schools for the first time since 1999 as wind gusts of up to 60 miles an hour pushed snow into 12-foot-high drifts. In Missouri, blizzard conditions forced the closure of a 200-mile stretch of Interstate 70, which runs the width of the state. Road crews in Tulsa struggled to clear a record 14-inch snowfall, their efforts hampered by wind chills of minus-10 degrees, and the Tulsa World suspended deliveries for the first time since 1905. With some parts of the country experiencing their worst winter in years, many municipalities have already exhausted their snow-removal budgets.

Charlotte, N.C.

Racist group barred: American Renaissance, a white-supremacist organization, has demanded an apology from Charlotte’s pro tem mayor and threatened to sue the city after a local hotel refused to accommodate the group’s conference. The Sheraton Charlotte Airport Hotel had originally reserved 100 rooms for the group, but canceled them, the hotel’s manager said, out of concern for guests’ safety, not because of political pressure. But American Renaissance head Jared Taylor cited an e-mail that interim Mayor Patrick Cannon last week sent to a constituent, saying, “I have all hotels…on notice.” Taylor said he might sue the city. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks white-supremacist organizations, called American Renaissance “the cosmopolitan face of white hate.” Cannon said he wouldn’t apologize.

Upper Darby, Pa.

Immigrant beating: Police this week made their seventh arrest in the videotaped beating last month of a 13-year-old Liberian immigrant who wound up suspended by his coat from a 7-foot-high fence. Nadin Khoury, who immigrated to the U.S. with his family in 2000, was allegedly beaten by fellow students at his high school, one of whom recorded the seven-minute assault on his cell-phone video camera. Police have arrested seven boys, ages 13 to 17, for suspected involvement in the attack. Khoury’s mother, Rebecca Wright, said her family had left Liberia to escape the bloody civil war there. “One of the reasons I came to the U.S.,” she said, “was that these horrible things wouldn’t happen to us.”

New York City

Muslim center confusion: Controversy over New York City’s so-called Ground Zero Mosque—actually a proposed Muslim community center a few blocks from the former site of the World Trade Center—has flared anew after the center’s imam and its developer publicly disagreed over the center’s proposed location. Feisal Abdul Rauf, a Muslim cleric who co-founded the project, said last week that he would move the proposed center if offered another site. But developer Sharif El-Gamal, who owns the center’s proposed site in downtown Manhattan, this week said he was determined to build the center at its original location. El-Gamal, who broke publicly with Rauf in January, said the imam would no longer solicit donations or speak for the center, which remains well short of its $100 million fund-raising goal.

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