The U.S. at a glance ...
Trump with code talkers(Getty, AP, Newscom, AP)
Masseuse assaults: More than 180 women nationwide have accused therapists working at Massage Envy—by far the largest chain of massage franchises in the country— of sexual assault, BuzzFeed.com reported this week. The accusations were made in lawsuits, police reports, and state board complaints over the past 15 years, according to public records. One of the victims told BuzzFeed how a Massage Envy therapist at a West Chester, Pa., location groped her and penetrated her vagina with his fingers. When she reported the incident, the manager refused to pull the therapist out of a session with another female client. The therapist later pleaded guilty to molesting nine women. The Scottsdale-based corporate headquarters of the spa chain, which has nearly 1,200 locations, says it is not liable for sexual assaults that take place at franchises, and requires franchise owners only to conduct internal investigations of abuse claims.
Budget crisis looms: Louisiana could be forced to make draconian cuts to education, childwelfare programs, and other state services if lawmakers don’t figure out how to replace $1 billion worth of temporary tax measures that expire next year. The end of the tax measures on June 30 will blow a huge hole in the 2018-19 budget, and Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards and the Republicancontrolled state legislature have limited time to strike a deal, because state law prevents the legislature from adding new revenue in next year’s regular legislative session. But conservatives are reluctant to extend the taxes, and nearly all revenueraising measures require the support of two-thirds of the legislature. The state has already covered repeated budget shortfalls with multiple rounds of spending cuts. “Every single cut is in the marrow now,” said Marketa Garner Walters, secretary of the state’s Department of Children & Family Services.
Digital privacy case: A majority of Supreme Court justices this week voiced concern about the amount of personal information that the government is able to access about citizens thanks to technology, in a case that could have broad implications for privacy rights in the digital age. The case involves a man convicted of armed robberies in Ohio and Michigan. Police used cell location data requested from the man’s wireless carrier—which tracked which cellphone towers relayed his calls—to link him to the crimes. The man’s lawyers argued that because the location requests did not accompany a warrant, they constituted unconstitutional searches. Chief Justice John Roberts appeared sympathetic to that position, as did several liberal justices. “Most Americans, I think, still want to avoid Big Brother,” said Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
Suspected serial killer: Police this week charged a 24-year-old man with a series of fatal shootings that have terrorized a Tampa neighborhood for more than a month. Howell Donaldson III was charged with four counts of first-degree murder in connection with the four deaths between Oct. 9 and Nov. 14 within a half-mile area in Seminole Heights. All of the victims were alone and shot at night while doing seemingly ordinary things, including waiting at a bus stop or crossing the street. Since the shootings began, many residents have stopped walking their dogs and going for walks, saying they no longer feel safe. Donaldson was arrested at the McDonald’s restaurant where he worked, after he asked the manager to hold a pistol for him; the manager then alerted police. Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan said authorities believed they could connect the gun to each of the murders, though they had yet to identify a motive. “I had a feeling that we were going to get a break,” Dugan said.
New York City
Today host fired: NBC News fired Matt Lauer for “inappropriate sexual behavior” this week, making the longtime Today host the latest high-profile man to lose his job over harassment allegations. NBC News President Andrew Lack said in a statement the network fired Lauer, who has been co-host since 1994, shortly after it received a “detailed complaint” about Lauer’s behavior and determined that it “may not have been an isolated incident.” Variety reported that Lauer allegedly exposed himself to a female colleague and reprimanded her for not engaging in a sexual act. He allegedly gave another a sex toy along with an explicit note. Several women said they complained to NBC executives about Lauer’s behavior but were ignored because Lauer continued to attract high ratings. Lauer’s colleagues found out about the firing shortly before Today went live on Wednesday. “I’m heartbroken,” co-host Savannah Guthrie said on air, her voice shaking.
‘Pocahontas’ insult: Native American leaders rebuked President Trump this week after he used a ceremony honoring the Navajo code talkers of World War II to mock Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas.” “You were here long before any of us were here,” Trump said, standing next to three elderly Navajo veterans, who were recruited into the Marine Corps in the 1940s to send crucial coded messages in their native language. “We have a representative in Congre ss who, they say, was here a long time ago. They call her Pocahontas.” Trump was referring to Warren, who once listed herself as a minority while working at Harvard University, citing Native American roots. The comments drew silence from the veterans but were later condemned by Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye, who called Trump’s words “derogatory” and “disrespectful to Indian nations.” ■