The U.S. at a glance ...
Rally violence lawsuit: A federal judge ruled last week that three protesters could move ahead with their lawsuit accusing President Trump of inciting violence at a Louisville campaign rally. The protesters said they were peacefully protesting Trump at the March 2016 event when they were physically attacked by three Trump supporters—one of them a member of a white nationalist group. Moments before the attack, Trump had pointed at the protesters and said, “Get ’em out of here.” One of the demonstrators, an African-American woman, said she was subjected to sexist and racist slurs by rally attendees. Trump had sought to dismiss the lawsuit on free speech grounds, arguing that he didn’t intend for his supporters to use force. But Judge David Hale said the protesters’ injuries were a “direct and proximate result” of Trump’s words. The three are seeking unspecified damages for incitement to riot and negligence against the Trump campaign.
Bridge collapse: A massive fire under an Atlanta bridge allegedly started by a homeless man caused a portion of Interstate 85 to collapse last week, creating traffic chaos in one of the nation’s most congested cities. Authorities accused the homeless man of causing the blaze by setting fire to a chair under the expressway. The fire spread to a stockpile of construction materials, igniting a fireball that melted the bridge’s steel reinforcements and caused the concrete structure to collapse. No one was hurt, but evening-rush-hour drivers were stuck for hours. The damaged section of I-85 usually carries about 250,000 vehicles a day; officials said it wouldn’t reopen until June. Some residents said beleaguered motorists needed to consider other commuting options anyway. “I think Atlanta needed a little kick in the butt,” said one.
Extreme vetting: The Trump administration is considering security measures that would force tourists from the U.K., France, and other long-standing U.S. allies to reveal their cellphone contacts and social media passwords when they enter the U.S., The Wall Street Journal reported this week. President Trump promised as a candidate to implement “extreme vetting” procedures to combat terrorism. The changes might apply to visitors from 38 countries that participate in the visa waiver program. The aim is to “figure out who you are communicating with,” a Department of Homeland Security official said. “What you can get on the average person’s phone can be invaluable.” Trump is also considering an “ideological test” for visa applicants that would ask them their opinions on the treatment of women and the “sanctity of human life.” Travel experts said the measures would be disastrous for the U.S. tourism industry.
‘Bathroom bill’ repeal: North Carolina lawmakers last week voted to undo the controversial “bathroom bill” that caused nationwide outrage in March 2016— though critics said the new legislation fails to fully repeal the original act. Businesses, sports groups, and entertainers boycotted the state when it passed the earlier law, known as HB2, which required transgender people to use public restrooms corresponding to their sex on their birth certificates. The compromise repeal bill, signed by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, eliminates that requirement—though it also states that only state legislators, not cities, can make rules for public restrooms in the future. It also blocks local governments from passing ordinances that expand LGBTQ protections for nearly four years. The NCAA lifted its ban on holding championship events in the basketballmad state following the repeal. But gay rights groups said that Cooper had made a “dirty deal” with GOP lawmakers.
Trump greets el-Sissi: President Trump vowed to help Egyptian President Abdel- Fattah el-Sissi fight terrorism as he welcomed the hard-line leader to the White House this week, in a meeting that was criticized by human rights advocates. The visit marked a departure from U.S. policy under President Obama, who didn’t extend a White House invite to el-Sissi after the general seized power in a 2013 coup. The Obama administration also briefly froze military aid to Egypt when el-Sissi’s military killed more than 2,000 people in a c rackdown on supporters of former president Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood leader who was elected in 2012. Trump and el-Sissi discussed designating the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group and working together against violent extremism. Trump told el-Sissi he was doing a “fantastic job,” adding, “You have a great friend and ally...in me.” El-Sissi told Trump he “had a deep admiration of your unique personality.”
Police reforms delayed:
Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered a review this week of all Obama-era agreements to overhaul troubled police departments, in order to see whether those reforms fit with the Trump administration’s agenda of promoting officer safety and morale. Since 2009, the Justice Department has enforced 14 reform agreements, known as “consent decrees,” with police departments accused of racial discrimination and excessive force—including a sweeping overhaul of the Baltimore Police Department. The Baltimore agreement was reached after the death of Freddie Gray, a black man who was fatally injured in police custody, and called for changes to officer training. Sessions’ memo also covers a pending agreement with the Chicago Police Department. Baltimore and Chicago officials expressed dismay at the delay. But Sessions has long criticized consent decrees and federal investigations into police departments— arguing they endanger officers’ lives and “undermine respect for police officers.”