Gold Star deportee
The border at Nogales
Immigration officials deported the husband of a female U.S. soldier killed in Afghanistan, but allowed him to return to the U.S. this week when his plight was publicized. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials pulled over and arrested Jose Gonzalez Carranza, 30, on the way to his welding job and deported him to Nogales, Mexico, leaving his 12-year-old daughter, Evelyn, with her grandparents. Carranza immigrated to the U.S. illegally as a teenager and in 2007 married Barbara Vieyra, who he says joined the Army to provide for their family. After her death, Carranza was granted “parole in place,” allowing him to remain in the U.S. without threat of deportation. ICE did not explain its reversal. Cecillia Wang, deputy legal director of the ACLU, called the initial deportation “the height of cruelty.”
St. Landry Parish, La.
Aftermath of hate
Prosecutors charged the son of a deputy sheriff with hate crimes and arson this week after he allegedly burned down three black churches over 10 days. Holden Matthews, 21, pleaded not guilty and was denied bond after the sheriff’s office said “another fire was imminent.’’ Authorities said they found photos and videos on Matthews’ phone linking him to gasoline-fueled fires that destroyed St. Mary Baptist on March 26, Greater Union Baptist on April 2, and Mount Pleasant Baptist two days later. Nobody was inside when the century-old buildings were destroyed. Authorities noted that Matthews is lead singer in a “black-metal’’ band called Vodka Vultures; the genre is known for its nihilistic themes. Sheriff Bobby Guidroz said his deputy, Roy Matthews, had “no knowledge” of his son’s alleged crimes. The NAACP called the arsons “domestic terrorism.”
New York City
Investigations into President Trump’s hush payments and “tax dodges” earned Pulitzer Prizes this week. The New York Times won the “Explanatory Reporting” category for exposing “dubious tax schemes” and “outright fraud” that helped Trump and his relatives avoid some half a billion dollars in taxes in the 1990s. Honors for “National Reporting” went to The Wall Street Journal for revealing that Trump personally played a central role in illegal payoffs made during the 2016 campaign to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel earned awards for coverage of mass shootings at the Tree of Life Synagogue and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, respectively. The Pulitzer Board also praised Stoneman Douglas student newspaper reporters for their obituaries of the 17 people murdered.
The Russian aluminum company Rusal announced plans this week to invest $200 million in a Kentucky plant—the home state of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. In January, McConnell joined the Trump administration in lifting sanctions on Rusal. The company, partially owned by Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, will supply aluminum from Siberia to the new $1.7 billion rolling mill. The U.S. removed Rusal from its sanctions list after agreeing that Deripaska, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, would reduce his stake and voting rights. Yet news broke earlier this month that the Treasury Department allowed the transfer of about $78 million worth of Rusal shares to Deripaska’s children. Craig Bouchard, CEO of Braidy Industries, the U.S. owner of the mill, called partnering with Rusal “noncontroversial,” adding, “I’m not a politician. It’s all about the business.”
President Trump this week vetoed a bipartisan resolution that would have ended U.S. military aid for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen’s civil war. All Democrats and several Republicans in both chambers of Congress voted to cut off U.S. logistical support for the Saudis, who’ve fought for four years to suppress Iran-backed Houthi rebels trying to overthrow Yemen’s government. Thousands of civilians are dead and millions face famine in what the United Nations calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Yet the first successful invocation of the War Powers resolution drew the second veto in office from Trump, who’s called for an end to U.S. involvement in other foreign entanglements. “This resolution is an unnecessary, dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities,” he said. In October, after Saudi Arabia’s murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the U.S. military ceased providing in-flight refueling for Saudi aircraft.
House of torture
After clearing trees downed by Hurricane Michael, workers discovered 27 possible clandestine graves about 165 yards from the infamous Dozier School for Boys, a government report revealed last week. Researchers had already excavated 55 graves from a burial site on the 1,400-acre rural campus, far more than any official tally of deaths at the school. Florida shuttered its oldest reform school in 2011 following reports of horrific abuse by school staff during Dozier’s 111-year history, during which delinquent and orphaned boys sent to the “White House” were chained or tied up, sexually abused in a “rape room,” and beaten mercilessly or killed if they tried to escape. Graves previously exhumed were found to be misidentified or filled with comingled bodies. Jerry Cooper, 74, says guards lashed him 135 times as punishment one night in 1961. “Mark my words,” he said, “there are more bodies out there.”