The U.S. at a glance ...
Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, N.D.
Pipeline protest turns violent: At least 141 Native American protesters and environmental activists were arrested near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation last week during a confrontation with riot police, who moved to push occupiers off private land where a controversial oil pipeline is being constructed. People from across the country have traveled to the area to demonstrate against the Dakota Access pipeline—which would snake 1,172 miles from North Dakota to Illinois—arguing that it threatens the Standing Rock Sioux’s water supply and burial sites. Police used beanbag rounds, rubber bullets, and pepper spray to push demonstrators to their main encampment on public land— prompting some angry protesters to set fire to pipeline workers’ vehicles. In an interview, President Obama said that the Army Corps of Engineers was examining possible alternate routes for the pipeline. 07 us
Baylor scandal: Baylor University officials revealed this week that the school’s “horrifying” sexual assault scandal is much larger than previously disclosed. The officials told The Wall Street Journal that at least 17 women have reported domestic violence or sexual assaults involving 19 football players since 2011— including four incidents that involved alleged gang rapes. The string of sexual assault claims has rocked the Christian university, and led to the departure of both celebrated football coach Art Briles and school president Kenneth Starr this summer. Regents who oversee the university provided details about an investigation completed by Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton and revealed that on at least one occasion Briles knew about a complaint but didn’t alert the proper authorities. Another alleged victim said she reported an assault to Baylor’s Office of Judicial Affairs, and was given a lecture on drinking. Briles’ lawyer said his client was being scapegoated by t he university.
Police ambush: Two police officers sitting in their patrol cars were shot dead in the Des Moines area this week in what police called “ambush-style attacks.” A suspect identified as Scott Michael Greene, 46, was taken into custody the same day after a brief manhunt. The first officer was gunned down while sitting in his patrol car in Urbandale in the early hours of Wednesday morning; about 30 minutes later, two miles away, a Des Moines officer was shot and killed at another intersection. Des Moines Police Sgt. Paul Parizek said there appeared to be no interaction between the officers and “the coward that shot them while they sat in their car.” In a YouTube video posted last month, Greene can be seen arguing with Des Moines officers after he said he had been assaulted at a high school football game; in another video, he appears to be holding a Confederate flag in front of African-American spectators at that game.
Justices consider transgender rights: The Supreme Court agreed last week to weigh in on one of the most contentious cultural disputes of the year by accepting the case of a transgender student who wants to use the boys’ bathroom in a Virginia high school. Gavin Grimm, 17, was born female but identifies as male, and used the boys’ bathroom at Gloucester High School until the local school board required students to either use the bathroom corresponding with their “biological sex” or a private bathroom if they had “gender identity issues.” A federal appeals court ruled the school’s policy unlawful in April, and the U.S. Department of Education warned that schools would lose federal money if they discriminated against transgender students. Courts are split on how to deal with the issue, and states like North Carolina have passed laws requiring people to use public bathrooms corresponding to the gender on their birth certificate.
Brazile dropped: CNN severed all ties with longtime Democratic strategist and former contributor Donna Brazile this week, hours after newly released hacked emails showed Brazile had shared questions with the Clinton campaign ahead of a CNN debate in Flint, Mich. In the emails, posted by WikiLeaks, Brazile tells Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta that “one of the questions directed to [Clinton] tomorrow is from a woman with a rash,” adding: “Her family has lead poison and she will ask what, if anything, will Hillary do as president to help the people of Flint.” Brazile, who is serving as the acting chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, stepped back from CNN in October after it emerged she had apparently sent the Clinton campaign another question ahead of a CNN town hall in March between Clinton and Democratic challenger Sen. Bernie Sanders. CNN denied that its staffers gave Brazile the questions. But CNN president Jeff Zucker said her behavior threatened the network’s impartiality and was “disgusting.” Waco, Texas
New York City
Dodgy tax move: Donald Trump used a “legally dubious” tax loophole that was later outlawed to potentially avoid paying tens of millions of dollars in taxes in the 1990s, according to documents analyzed by The New York Times this week. The maneuver was so controversial that Trump’s own lawyers advised him that the IRS would probably declare it improper. In 1995, Trump declared a $916 million loss connected to his bankrupt Atlantic City casinos, which had been built with money borrowed from investors. When the casinos failed, Trump’s creditors were forced to forgive hundreds of millions of dollars in debt he could not pay. Forgiven debt is usually treated as taxable income, but Trump erased his obligation by giving his investors potentially worthless bonds in exchange. The taxable debt disappeared, and Trump avoided a massive tax bill. The loophole was “stretched beyond any recognition,” said Steven Rosenthal, a senior fellow at the nonpartisan Tax Policy Institute.