A day after his son died in a car crash, Max Townsend drove his pickup truck onto the sidewalk and into a group of high school cross-country runners this week, killing two and injuring four. Townsend, 57, hit two more cars before his arrest. Police said he appeared intoxicated. Investigators hadn’t determined whether Townsend’s maniacal driving was motivated by the death of his son Cody, 28. Shortly after school let out, dozens of students saw Townsend’s truck racing far faster than the 25 mph limit, killing Rachel Freeman, 17, and Yuridia Martinez, 16, who was thrown over a fence and into a pond. Classmates raced to pull her out. Townsend has multiple prior convictions, including for driving under the influence and child abuse. Four of the runners he hit, including Freeman, were set to accept college scholarships the next day.
Republican leaders have embarked on a plan to sabotage the Feb. 29 Democratic presidential primary by encouraging conservatives to vote for Sen. Bernie Sanders, the Charleston, S.C., Post and Courier reported this week. South Carolina has an open primary system, and Greenville GOP Chairman Nate Leupp said that Sanders, “the most socialistic, liberal candidate running,” would be the weakest challenger to President Trump. GOP leaders believe they can swing the race in a state where Republicans outnumber Democrats roughly 2 to 1. Former Vice President Joe Biden has banked on winning South Carolina, buoyed by black voters. Yet a poll this week showed Biden leading Sanders by just 5 percent. Activists behind the plan say it was inspired in part by Rush Limbaugh’s unsuccessful 2008 “Operation Chaos,” in which he urged Republicans to vote for Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama.
Six new countries will be subjected to President Trump’s crackdown on immigrants—including Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation. The U.S. announced the expanded immigration-ban list, which also includes Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, and Myanmar. In addition, would-be Sudanese and Tanzanian immigrants will be barred from the green-card lottery. The countries allegedly fail to meet “baseline” security criteria, though critics say Trump is acting on his 2016 pledge of a “shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” All six countries have substantial Muslim populations; the predominantly Muslim Rohingya minority in Myanmar has been fleeing from genocide. Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama said his country was “blindsided” by being included. Trump previously complained of Nigerians overstaying visas, saying they’d never “go back to their huts.”
West Palm Beach, Fla.
Conservative radio firebrand Rush Limbaugh revealed this week that he’s been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. “I can’t help but feel that I’m letting everybody down,” said Limbaugh, 69. “I’m going to be here as often as I can.” A day later, President Trump brought Limbaugh in as a surprise guest at the State of the Union address and presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Limbaugh is paid $50 million annually for his syndicated daily show, which he’s hosted for 31 years. He lost sponsors in 2012 after calling law student Sandra Fluke a “slut” and “prostitute” for supporting birth control. A cigar smoker, he said in 2015 it’s a “myth” that secondhand smoke is harmful, adding that smokers should be thanked for generating tax revenue. “I would like a medal for smoking cigars,” he said.
Writer E. Jean Carroll requested last week that President Trump submit a DNA sample to substantiate her allegation that Trump raped her in the mid-1990s. Carroll, a longtime Elle advice columnist based in Warwick, says she kept unwashed in her closet the black Donna Karan dress she was wearing when Trump forcibly penetrated her in a Manhattan department store dressing room in late 1995 or early 1996. A lab test found DNA on the dress’s sleeves belonging to at least four people, at least one of whom was male. No semen was detected. Carroll, 76, sued Trump for defamation after he vehemently denied raping her, saying he’d “never met this person in my life” and that Carroll was “not my type.” Trump has tried unsuccessfully to get the lawsuit thrown out in New York. Carroll’s lawyers requested that the DNA sample be delivered March 2. Some 20 other women have publicly accused Trump of sexual misconduct.
New York City
Harvey Weinstein accuser Jessica Mann was left sobbing uncontrollably in court this week after defense attorneys accused the former aspiring actress of manipulating Weinstein during their “loving relationship.” Mann says he raped her twice in 2013, yet defense attorney Donna Rotunno questioned why the hairstylist continued to seek Weinstein’s company. Mann said she had “compassion” after Weinstein, 67, needed a penis injection to become erect. “I thought he was deformed and intersex,” Mann said. Jurors were shown nude photographs of Weinstein taken by a detective. Rotunno asked why Mann wanted Weinstein to meet her mother, suggesting that she exploited Weinstein for access to A-list parties. Asked to read a letter to her boyfriend in which Mann called Weinstein a “pseudo father,” Mann suffered a panic attack and the court adjourned. Later, she was unwavering. “I do want the jury to know that he is my rapist,” she said. ■