A mother who raised tens of thousands of dollars in 2017 to fulfill the dying wishes of her 6-year-old daughter, Olivia, was charged last week with first-degree murder and fraud. Kelly Renee Turner allegedly invented Olivia’s rare disorders, made her get needless treatments, and ultimately left her to die in hospice care. Turner, 41, who denies wrongdoing, had created a GoFundMe page for Olivia, her “sweet little princess.” The girl’s handwritten “bucket list” went viral, and TV crews filmed her helping firefighters and dressing up in a Disney fantasy courtesy of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. But doctors flagged doubts about her medical problems, and her remains were exhumed last year. Turner allegedly concocted a similar scheme for her older daughter, who is alive. Prosecutors, who have not disclosed Olivia’s true cause of death, charged Turner with defrauding Medicaid of $539,000, GoFundMe donors of $22,700, and Make-A-Wish of about $11,000.
Nine tornadoes ripped through densely populated north Dallas this week, tossing trees into houses, ripping off roofs, lifting debris 20,000 feet into the sky—yet somehow causing no serious injuries. More than 150,000 homes and businesses lost power as the tornadoes, which caused winds of up to 140 mph, destroyed 104 buildings and did major damage to 286. One tornado passed by the home of former President George W. Bush and crossed two major highways. Residents described shocking close calls, such as that of Rebecca Cruz, 20, who held her 8-month-old son, Jude, in a downstairs bathroom during the storm, then went upstairs to see that the roof had caved in on her son’s crib. A local TV station apologized for waiting six minutes before interrupting a Dallas Cowboys football game to warn viewers of the impending windstorms.
About 25,000 striking public school teachers and staff protested outside City Hall this week, canceling classes for more than 300,000 students in the nation’s third-largest school district. The teachers, who earn an average salary of $78,500, ask for a 15 percent raise over three years, not the 16 percent over five years they’ve been offered. They also want smaller classes and more nurses, librarians, and social workers, plus housing assistance—noting that Chicago helps police officers and firefighters buy homes. Teachers said their demands go beyond personal needs, as they seek protections for immigrant students and resources for schools in poor neighborhoods; one school social worker told CNN that she has to split her time between four buildings and 1,039 students. Mayor Lori Lightfoot dismissed many of the demands as “aspirational,” saying the public schools were not “flush with cash.”
Clinton email investigation ends
There’s no evidence that Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state caused the “deliberate mishandling of classified information,” the State Department concluded in a report given to Congress last week. The State Department said 38 department employees sent messages that were retroactively marked classified to Clinton’s server, holding them culpable for 91 security violations and potentially affecting future security clearances. Relentless scrutiny of Clinton’s emails haunted her 2016 presidential campaign, yet investigators who spent three years reviewing roughly 33,000 of her emails and collecting statements from hundreds of past and present department officials found that the private server was merely used for expediency, though it did increase the risk of hacking. Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said the report confirms that the email investigation was a “pointless” GOP crusade.
New York City
Challenging the NBA’s tepid response to Chinese pressure, a section of about 100 spectators at a Brooklyn Nets preseason basketball game last week wore black T-shirts that read “Stand With Hong Kong” and joined in pro-democracy chants. Another row of fans near the court wore “Free Tibet” shirts. The Nets’ new owner, Joseph Tsai, a co-founder of the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, had scolded Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey for tweeting in support of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters, opening a rift between China and the NBA. After NBA Commissioner Adam Silver disclosed last week that China wanted him to fire Morey, Chinese state TV said Silver had “defamed” China and would face “retribution.” The state broadcaster blacked out the NBA games played this week in Los Angeles and Toronto, where some fans also wore shirts supporting Hong Kong.
Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Fla.) became the first House Republican last week to say he would consider voting to impeach President Trump, calling the allegations related to Ukraine “very egregious.” The two-term congressman from a solid-red district announced a day later that he won’t run for re-election, denying that the two were related. Rooney said he’d see how the Ukraine probe unfolds before calling for Trump’s ouster, but he declared he wouldn’t be bullied by Republican leadership, saying, “I’ll be looking at my children a lot longer than I’m looking to anybody in this building.” Rooney, a wealthy businessman, former Vatican ambassador, and major Bush family donor, said he’s been thinking about how Watergate was initially dismissed as a “witch hunt.” After White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney conceded that Trump withheld security funds to get political favors from Ukraine, Rooney said, “I would say game, set, match on that.”
The Denver Post/AP, Reuters, AP, Newscom ■