The U.S. at a glance ...
Indians targeted: The FBI has opened a hate crime investigation into a shooting that left one Indian engineer dead and another injured at a Kansas bar last week. Accused gunman Adam W. Purinton, 51, allegedly approached Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, and Alok Madasani, 32, while they were at Austin’s Bar and Grill in Olathe and asked the two men about their visa status and whether they were in the country illegally. Purinton allegedly returned later with a gun and, yelling, “Get out of my country,” opened fire—killing Kuchibhotla. A third man, Ian Grillot, tried to stop the attack, and was also shot and injured. Hours later, a bartender in Clinton, Mo., called 911 and said a man had walked in and announced he had “killed two Iranians.” Both Kuchibhotla and Madasani were educated in the U.S. and worked at a nearby tech firm on valid work permits.
Douglas County, Ga.
Confederate flag pair jailed: A couple who stormed an African- American child’s birthday party while waving the Confederate flag and threatening partygoers with a gun, were this week sentenced to lengthy prison terms. Prosecutors said Jose Torres, 26, and Kayla Norton, 25, were driving around Douglas County in 2015 in a convoy of pickup trucks when they spotted the festive group, who had erected a bouncy castle and were grilling hamburgers for an 8-year-old boy’s birthday. The drivers, who were connected to a group called Respect the Flag, parked their trucks nearby, and hurled racial slurs. Then Torres pointed a shotgun at partygoers and threatened to kill them. “The little ones can get one, too,” Torres added. Norton was accused of making similar threats. A state judge sentenced Torres to 13 years in prison and Norton to six years, saying their actions “were motivated by racial hatred.”
War on leakers: White House press secretary Sean Spicer launched a crackdown on leakers last week, demanding that about 10 staffers hand over their cellphones for inspection—only to have his surprise meeting immediately leaked to the press. A number of unflattering accounts of White House life have been divulged to the media during the first few weeks of the Trump administration, including private conversations, arguments between senior advisers, and intimate portrayals of President Trump’s daily habits, such as the hours he spends watching cable TV news shows. Spicer expressed his frustration to the staff over the leaks and warned them that the use of encrypted messaging apps like Confide was a violation of the Presidential Records Act. In an interview with Fox News, Trump said he “was OK” with Spicer’s inspection of staffers’ phones, but said he would “have done it differently,” maybe “one-on-one.”
Soldier’s father speaks out: The father of a U.S. Navy SEAL killed during an anti-terrorism raid in Yemen demanded an investigation into his son’s death this week, and revealed that he refused to meet with President Trump when the soldier’s casket arrived on U.S. soil. Bill Owens told The Miami Herald that he sat in a separate room when Trump arrived at Dover Air Force Base to receive the body of Officer William “Ryan” Owens, 36. The elder Owens said “there were no boots on the ground in Yemen” until Trump took office and wanted to make a “grand display.’’ Owens was killed at an al Qaida compound when the commandos became embroiled in a 50-minute firefight with militants that left at least 14 civilians dead, including some children. Trump said this week the raid was something the generals “wanted to do” and assigned them responsibility for the firefight’s outcome. “They lost Ryan,” said Trump.
Marijuana crackdown looms: The Trump administration said last week that it expects to begin enforcing federal law banning marijuana sales in states that have legalized recreational use of the drug. The Obama administration had announced that the federal government wouldn’t interfere in states that had legalized weed, saying it had “bigger fish to fry.” Eight states have legalized recreational use of marijuana: Colorado, Washington, Alaska, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Oregon. White House press secretary Sean Spicer said President Trump sees “a big difference” between medical and recreational use, and that there would probably be “greater enforcement” against the latter. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a longtime opponent of weed legalization, reinforced Spicer’s comments, saying he opposed “marijuana being sold at every corner grocery store.” U.S. cannabis stocks immediately slumped.
Ali’s son interrogated: The son of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali was detained by immigration officials at a Florida airport last week and questioned extensively about his Muslim faith and name, in an incident he said was tied to President Trump’s controversial travel ban. Muhammad Ali Jr. was returning from a Black History Month event in Jamaica with his mother, Khalilah Camacho Ali, when the two U.S. citizens were pulled aside in Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport and taken to separate rooms for questioning. Ali Jr., who was born in Philadelphia, said he was questioned for nearly two hours about the origins of his name and his religion. “I thought to myself, ‘That’s kind of odd. He asked about my religion, and I’m traveling back into the country where I came from?’” Immigration officials said they were just verifying Ali Jr.’s passport.