Keystone XL blocked again
Great Falls, Mont.
A federal judge stayed construction of the Keystone XL pipeline last week, ruling the Trump administration didn’t do its due diligence before reversing an Obama-era decision to halt the project. Two days into his presidency, Trump greenlighted the pipeline, which would connect Canadian oil sands with Texas Gulf Coast refineries, transporting up to 830,000 barrels of crude oil a day. It would run through Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska. Government lawyers argued the pipeline’s impact on climate change “would prove inconsequential,” in response to a legal challenge from environmental groups. But the judge said the government didn’t provide a “reasoned” explanation for its about-face. Moreover, he ruled the administration used outdated or incomplete information, or simply ignored “inconvenient” facts. The government, he added, “appears to have jumped the gun.”
Heroic guard killed by cops
Jemel Roberson successfully apprehended a shooter this week at a suburban Chicago nightclub where he worked as a security guard, only to be fatally shot by police. After an early-morning shooting left four injured, an armed Roberson, 26, pinned the gunman on the ground outside as he waited for police. A white officer fired multiple shots at Roberson, who was black. The officer, a seven-year veteran of the Midlothian Police Department, is on administrative leave while the shooting is investigated. Roberson’s family sued the officer and the village of Midlothian, calling the shooting “unprovoked” and “unreasonable.” Illinois State Police say that some witnesses claim Roberson received multiple orders to drop his gun and get on the ground. He had a 9-month-old son, and Roberson’s partner is pregnant with their second child.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg fractured three ribs in a fall in her chambers at the Supreme Court last week, but the justice was back at work several days later. The court’s oldest justice, Ginsburg, 85, went home after the evening fall, but was later hospitalized for pain in her left side. Her health has been the subject of intense public interest, both because of her popularity—the documentary RBG received a theatrical release this year, garnering a raft of good reviews—and because of dread among liberals that she would be succeeded by a far more conservative jurist. Nominated by Bill Clinton in 1993, Ginsburg underwent surgery for colon cancer in 1999 and was treated for pancreatic cancer in 2009. She broke two ribs in 2012 and had a stent placed in 2014. Ginsburg, who has said she plans to serve beyond 2020, didn’t miss a single day on the bench for her cancer treatments.
President Trump wants to cut off additional federal aid to Puerto Rico for its recovery from Hurricane Maria, Axios.com reported this week. White House officials told congressional leaders that Trump believes Puerto Rico is using disaster relief money to pay off the territory’s enormous public debt—a claim the president hasn’t substantiated. He wrote on Twitter last month, “The U.S. will NOT bail out long outstanding & unpaid obligations with hurricane relief money!” Trump reportedly wants to claw back some funding already set aside for rebuilding after Maria, which struck in September 2017 and killed roughly 3,000 people, though Trump contests that government estimate. The federal government still funds relief for Hurricane Katrina, which hit the Gulf Coast in 2005. The president cannot cut off aid unilaterally, but Puerto Ricans hope for more help in spending bills that Congress will address in December.
El Chapo on trial
New York City
Mexican drug kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán’s trial began this week, after an occasionally dramatic jury selection that saw one potential panelist rushed to the hospital after a panic attack. Prosecutors hope to prove that, as head of the Sinaloa cartel, Guzmán oversaw the largest drug-trafficking organization in the world and smuggled thousands of tons of illicit drugs into the U.S. The defense countered that El Chapo, or “Shorty,” was just a middle manager, while the real boss, Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, remains at large, thanks to hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes paid to Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and others. Peña Nieto’s office called the accusation “false.” Seating the jury was difficult, as potential jurors expressed terror they would be targeted by Guzmán’s sicarios, or hitmen. One, a Michael Jackson impersonator, was excused because his job would make it too easy to identify him.
White House turmoil
Nielsen: Next to go?
President Trump plans to fire Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in the near future, multiple outlets reported this week—potentially also spelling the departure of Trump’s chief of staff, John Kelly. The president has blamed Nielsen for the increasing flow of asylum seekers to the U.S.-Mexico border and berated her at Cabinet meetings for failing on immigration enforcement. This week, he canceled a trip with Nielsen to visit U.S. troops at the border in South Texas. Kelly is notoriously protective of Nielsen, his protégée and onetime lieutenant at Homeland Security. Trump also appears ready to oust the deputy national security adviser, Mira Ricardel. Ricardel has managed to arouse the ire of both Kelly and Melania Trump. The first lady called directly for the national security aide to be fired; her spokesperson said that Ricardel “no longer deserves the honor of working in this White House.” ■