Mount Hood, Ore.
One climber died and three others had to be rescued last week during a treacherous day on Mount Hood, Oregon’s tallest peak. Miha Sumi, 35, was descending from the mountain’s summit mid-morning when he slipped and fell 1,000 feet to his death. The three other climbers in his group decided to hunker down and await rescue rather than continue navigating the icy slopes. Conditions on the 11,240-foot peak can worsen as the sun rises, often sending ice and rocks tumbling down the mountain. Although Sumi’s group had climbing experience, the incident has reignited debate over whether climbers on Mount Hood should be required to have permits. Unlike some other tall peaks, the mountain has no “check-in, check-out” system, which left rescuers last week confused about how many people they were looking for. More than 130 climbers have died—including four last year—climbing Mount Hood, which is only a 90-minute drive from Portland.
The NCAA, rejecting an appeal by the University of Louisville, stripped the school of its 2013 men’s basketball championship this week for providing players with strippers and prostitutes. It’s the first time that a school has been forced to forfeit the men’s Division I basketball title. Louisville must also forfeit 123 wins dating from 2012 to 2015 and pay the NCAA roughly $600,000 in fines. The scandal erupted in 2015 when a woman stepped forward to say that former Cardinals’ assistant coach Andre McGee paid her escort service $10,000 between 2010 and 2014 to arrange stripteases and sex acts at dorm parties held for players and recruits. The NCAA’s ruling faulted former head coach Rick Pitino for his lax oversight of the basketball program. The decision is unrelated, however, to the FBI corruption probe of college basketball that led to Pitino’s firing last year.
Democrats saw their chances of regaining the House of Representatives increase this week after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court released a redrawn congressional district map for the state that reverses partisan gerrymandering favoring Republicans. The state Supreme Court threw out Pennsylvania’s congressional map in January, ruling that it violated the state’s constitution. The Democratic governor and Republican-controlled legislature then failed to agree on a new map, triggering the court to create its own. Although Pennsylvania is closely divided between Republicans and Democrats in statewide elections, Republicans currently control 13 of the state’s 18 congressional seats. The new map, which is designed to make districts more aligned with county borders, adds two Democratic-leaning seats. Republican leaders have vowed to fight the new map in court.
Lesbian teacher fired
Parents of children attending a private Catholic school this week protested the firing of a popular first-grade teacher just days after she married her girlfriend. About 20 parents gathered at Sts. Peter & Paul Catholic School to demand more information about why Jocelyn Morffi was abruptly terminated after her wedding in the Florida Keys, but the school has refused to provide a specific reason. One of Morffi’s colleagues told The New York Times that teachers were called into a meeting after the firing and warned not to post pictures or attend events that condoned same-sex marriage, leaving the four teachers who attended the wedding fearing for their jobs. Parents described Morffi as a model teacher who coached basketball and organized students to distribute meals to the homeless. “This teacher has made such a contribution to the school,” said Samantha Mills, whose child was in Morffi’s class last year. “She just does everything in love.”
Mueller plea deal
Former Trump campaign adviser Rick Gates has agreed to a plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller in exchange for his testimony against Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, the Los Angeles Times reported this week. Gates is expected to plead guilty to fraud-related charges connected to his consulting work with Manafort on behalf of pro-Russia politicians in Ukraine between 2006 and 2015. Both men have been indicted for conspiracy and money laundering, and are accused of hiding millions of dollars of Ukraine-based payments from federal authorities while acting as unregistered agents of the Ukrainian government. Gates served as Manafort’s top aide while he was managing Trump’s presidential campaign. Although Manafort was fired from the campaign in August 2016, Gates remained on through Election Day and assisted Trump’s inaugural committee. CNN also reported this week that the special counsel’s office is investigating Jared Kushner’s efforts during the presidential transition to secure foreign financing for his family’s company.
VA travel scandal
The White House stood by embattled Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin this week despite an inspector general’s report accusing him of misusing taxpayer money to pay for his wife to join him on a 10-day trip to Europe. The report, released last week, found that Shulkin spent half of last summer’s taxpayer-funded trip to the U.K. and Denmark sightseeing and that his chief of staff doctored official emails to justify having the government pay for his wife’s travel. The report also said that Shulkin improperly accepted a gift of Wimbledon tickets and ordered an aide to act as a “personal travel concierge.” Altogether, the trip cost taxpayers $122,000. Shulkin, who has since reimbursed the government for his wife’s airfare, called the report’s characterization of the trip “entirely inaccurate” and said he believes he is the target of a coordinated effort by other Trump appointees to force him from the agency.