Feature

The week at a glance ... United States

United States

Escondido, Calif.‘Bomb factory’ discovered: Authorities announced plans this week to set fire to a suburban home filled with the largest arsenal of homemade explosives ever found in the U.S. Police said the cache of munitions, many of them highly unstable, belonged to George Jakubec, 54, an unemployed software consultant, who was arrested and held on $5 million bail. Authorities discovered the arsenal after a gardener was injured in the yard of Jakubec’s rented home when he stepped on explosive powder. The “bomb factory” included 9 to 12 pounds of chemical explosives, including PETN—often used by terrorists—and 13 unfinished shrapnel grenades. Police said the only way to remove the explosives was to burn down the house and detonate them. Nearby residents will be evacuated.

San DiegoAnother drug tunnel found: Authorities last week discovered 20 tons of marijuana and a tunnel running from Tijuana, Mexico, to San Diego—the second major drug tunnel uncovered in the past month. Equipped with fluorescent lighting, a ventilation system, and a rail cart to ferry contraband, the tunnel stretched half a mile from a Tijuana residence to a San Diego warehouse. Authorities unearthed the tunnel, located within one block of a tunnel discovered earlier in November, after stopping a nearby tractor-trailer loaded with marijuana. Officials entered the tunnel in San Diego and emerged in a kitchen in Tijuana. The family living there was “very surprised,” said Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Tim Durst. Eight people were arrested. Both tunnels are believed to be the work of Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, head of the Sinaloa cartel.

Austin Tom DeLay guilty: Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was convicted last week of illegally steering $190,000 in corporate money to Republican candidates for the Texas state legislature. A jury deliberated for 19 hours before finding DeLay, 63, guilty of money-laundering to circumvent a state law forbidding corporate campaign contributions. DeLay—nicknamed “the Hammer” for his aggressive political and fundraising tactics—called the verdict a “miscarriage of justice” and said he would appeal. Prosecutors said the corporate money helped Republicans win control of the state legislature; they then redrew the state’s legislative and congressional districts to favor Republican candidates. Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg said the verdict showed the public wants “honesty and ethics in their public officials.”

Marinette, Wis.Teen takes hostages, then life: A 15-year-old Boy Scout held his sophomore class at gunpoint this week before shooting himself dead. Samuel Hengel’s Western Civilization class was watching a film when he pulled a gun from a duffel bag and shot the projector. After demanding that his 24 classmates toss their cell phones to the floor, Hengel, armed with two guns, held them for nearly six hours while a teacher and classmates distracted him with talk of hunting and fishing. “We just wanted to be on his good side,” said student Zach Campbell. After police heard gunshots, they broke down the classroom door. But the shots had not been directed at anyone. As police approached, Hengel shot himself. His family said the teen had said nothing “to make us think something was wrong.”

South Bend, Ind.Sex-assault allegation: Notre Dame failed to notify county police that a college freshman committed suicide after telling friends and authorities that she had been sexually assaulted by one of the college’s football players, prosecutors said this week. Elizabeth Seeberg, 19, a student at neighboring St. Mary’s College, filed a report with campus authorities in September saying that a Notre Dame football player had assaulted her in her dorm room. Seeberg attended rape-counseling sessions, but spiraled into depression. Ten days after the reported attack, she overdosed on antidepressants. County police say they were never informed about the allegations, and prosecutors are weighing whether further action is “warranted.”

Washington, D.C.Don’t ask, don’t care: A Pentagon report released this week concluded that repealing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy banning openly gay members of the military would have minimal impact on military readiness or unit cohesion. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the 17-year-old policy ought to be repealed “before the end of this year.” Nearly 70 percent of 115,000 troops surveyed said they had already served alongside someone they believed to be gay or lesbian; 89 percent of Army combat units said they’d had positive or neutral experiences working with gay men and lesbians. Repeal of the policy is now up to Congress. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has promised a vote on repeal in the current lame-duck session, but it’s unclear whether repeal has enough support to overcome opposition from conservative lawmakers.

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