The U.S. at a glance ...
United: Defending its dress code
Inmates facing execution
On the march in D.C.(Newscom, AP, Reuters, Newscom)
Leggings-gate: United Airlines ignited an online firestorm this week when it barred two girls in their early teens from boarding a flight because they were wearing leggings. The drama unfolded on Twitter when a traveler at Denver International Airport began live-tweeting about a “frantic” family, who she said had been stopped by a gate agent from boarding a Minneapolis-bound plane. Another girl, age 10, was allowed on board only after she put a dress over her leggings. As the incident went viral, collecting outraged comments, United defended the agent— saying that the two teenagers had violated the company’s dress code policy for “buddy pass travelers,” a program that allows United employees and their children to travel for free. Ordinary fliers would not be barred from flying in leggings, the airline said. “The United buddy pass travel dress attire is no joke,” confirmed one person on Twitter. “I had to change from shorts to pants when I was 9.”
Little Rock, Ark.
Execution spree: Eight death row inmates sued this week to block Arkansas from staging an unprecedented four double executions over a 10-day period, as the state races to put them to death before its dwindling supply of lethal injection drugs expires. Gov. Asa Hutchinson approved the back-to-back executions— scheduled for April 17, 20, 24, and 27— despite most states having abandoned multiple executions per day because of the emotional strain they put on families, inmates, and prison staff. The batch of the drug that Arkansas plans to use in its executions, midazolam, will expire at the end of April, and has become hard to source since manufacturers ceased or limited their production. The inmates say the accelerated schedule is “cruel and unusual”—Texas holds the record for executing eight inmates in one month—and threatens their right to due process.
New York City
Hate crime charges: A white army veteran who prosecutors said came to New York City to “kill as many black men as he could” was charged this week with murder as an act of terrorism for the fatal stabbing death of Timothy Caughman. James Jackson, 28, took a Bolt Bus to New York from Baltimore and searched the city for three days for a black man to kill because of his anger over their “mixing with white women,” according to the charging documents. Spotting Caughman, 66, on a Midtown corner, Jackson allegedly stabbed the former anti-poverty program worker repeatedly with a sword. Caughman died at a nearby hospital. “Jackson regarded the killing as practice prior to going to Times Square to kill additional men,” said the indictment, but he turned himself in when he discovered his victim was “elderly.” He would rather have killed “a young thug,” Jackson later told the New York Daily News.
Trump revokes climate rules: Flanked by coal miners at the Environmental Protection Agency, President Trump this week signed a sweeping executive order that dismantles former President Barack Obama’s climate change legacy and “starts a new era of production and job creation,” said Trump. The order rescinds several Obama-era executive orders aimed at curbing carbon emissions, including a moratorium on coal mining on U.S. federal lands. It rewrites limits on methane emissions from the oil and gas industry, and directs the EPA to review and rewrite the Clean Power Plan. The order doesn’t address the landmark 2015 Paris climate accord, but makes it almost impossible for the U.S. to meet its emissions pledges under the agreement. Trump said his order would end “the theft of prosperity.” Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) called Trump’s actions “a declaration of war on American leadership on climate change and our clean energy future.”
New York City
Flynn’s Turkish plot: Former national security adviser Michael Flynn discussed removing a Turkish dissident living in the U.S. “in the dead of night” and sending him back to Turkey, according to a report published in The Wall Street Journal last week. Former CIA director James Woolsey told the newspaper he was called into a New York meeting involving Turkish officials and Flynn’s security firm in September 2016, during the Trump campaign. When he arrived, he was startled to find the group discussing ways to get 77-year-old Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, a longtime foe of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan whom Erdogan blames for last July’s coup attempt, back to Turkey without going through the U.S. extradition process. Gulen lives in Pennsylvania and has a U.S. green card. The idea was a “covert step in the dead of night to whisk this guy away,” said Woolsey. Flynn, who registered as a foreign agent for Turkey following his resignation in February, denies discussing “any illegal actions.”
Sanctuary city crackdown:
Attorney General Jeff Sessions this week announced that the Department of Justice would strip so-called sanctuary cities of up to $4.1 billion in federal funding if they refuse to comply with a particular federal immigration law. Some 200 cities and counties across the country have adopted laws or policies that limit cooperation between local police and federal immigration agents. Under the new DOJ policy, jurisdictions that block officers from telling U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) about undocumented immigrants in their custody will no longer be eligible for various law enforcement grants, worth millions of dollars each. Officials from New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, and Chicago vowed to fight back in court. “[We will] become this administration’s worse nightmare,” said New York’s city council speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito. ■