The U.S. at a glance ...
Thrill-ride tragedy: Theme parks from California to the U.K. shut down attractions out of caution this week, after a pendulum thrill ride broke apart at the state fair in Columbus, killing a teenager and injuring seven others. Video captured by a bystander on the fair’s opening night shows rows of seats flying off the Fire Ball—which swings riders 40 feet in the air and spins them at 13 revolutions per minute—after they smashed into one of the ride’s metal structural support beams. Tyler Jarrell, 18, was thrown from his seat and died at the scene of blunt force trauma. Ohio Gov. John Kasich said the Fire Ball had been checked multiple times by a third-party inspector, but all rides at the fair were ordered shut for several days for further inspections. KMG, the Dutch company that makes the Fire Ball, instructed amusement parks to cease operation of the Fire Ball and similar rides until further notice.
Arpaio guilty: Joe Arpaio, the former Arizona sheriff whose hard-line stance on immigration made him a conservative celebrity, was convicted of criminal contempt of court this week for defying a 2011 court order barring his officers from stopping and detaining drivers based solely on suspicion that they were illegal immigrants. The 85-year-old, who called himself “America’s toughest sheriff,” faces up to six months in jail. He intends to appeal the ruling. U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton said Arpaio showed “flagrant disregard” for another federal judge’s 2011 order to halt the roundups, which led to the detention of some Latinos who were U.S. citizens or legal residents. Bolton cited Arpaio’s own words more than 20 times in her ruling, including one interview in which the sheriff said he would “never give in to control by the federal government.” Arpaio’s 24 years as sheriff of Maricopa County, which includes the Phoenix area, ended when he was voted out in November.
Outer Banks, N.C.
Huge power outage: Thousands of residents and vacationers were evacuated from North Carolina’s Outer Banks this week, after a massive power outage left the popular tourist islands without electricity at the height of the summer season. Electricity on the islands of Ocracoke and Hatteras has been shut off since last week, when a construction company building a nearby bridge accidentally severed one of three main undersea power cables with a steel casing and “compromised” the other two. Since then, some 70,000 people have been forced to leave, under orders issued by Gov. Roy Cooper. PCL Construction, the company responsible for the accident, is facing a class-action lawsuit from hotel and restaurant owners who say they are losing millions of dollars in revenue. The Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative said that repairing the undersea cables or building a new above-ground electrical line could take until next week.
Peanut butter jailbreak: A dozen inmates escaped from an Alabama jail this week with the help of some peanut butter. The inmates saved peanut butter from their sandwiches and used it like modeling clay to alter a number above an exit door to look like the ones above their cells. A rookie guard later opened the door, thinking he was letting a prisoner back into his cell. Twelve inmates then walked through the disguised exit, scaled a barbwire fence, and scattered in less than 10 minutes. All but one of the escapees, who were facing charges ranging from disorderly conduct to attempted murder, were recaptured within eight hours. The last fugitive was caught two days later in Florida, more than 750 miles from the jail. “I can tell you this,’’ said Sheriff William D. Snyder of Martin County, where that suspect is being held. “He won’t be getting peanut butter.’’
Police push back: Law enforcement officials across the country roundly rebuked President Trump this week, after he told police officers that they shouldn’t be “too nice” when handling suspected gang members. Speaking to a room full of police recruits at Suffolk Community College in Brentwood, Trump called on officers to be “rough” with “thugs” and “animals,” suggesting they let suspects’ heads hit the doors of police vehicles when they are placed under arrest. “Please don’t be too nice,” Trump said to applause. Police departments from Boston to Los Angeles released statements condemning the remarks and suggested that the president was sending the wrong message to officers. The country’s top anti-drug official, acting DEA chief Chuck Rosenberg, issued an agencywide memo instructing agents to “always act honorably” and to disregard Trump’s remarks.
Trump’s misleading statement: President Trump “personally dictated” a misleading press statement about his son Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign, The Washington Post reported this week. President Trump reportedly crafted the statement about the June 2016 meeting while flying home from last month’s G-20 summit in Germany, overruling aides who argued for full disclosure. The press release said that Trump Jr. and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya “primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children,” which was “not a campaign issue at the time.” Several days later, Trump Jr. admitted that he sat down with Veselnitskaya because she’d promised damaging information on Hillary Clinton. Trump’s personal lawyer, Jay Sekulow, had repeatedly denied that Trump played any role in writing or reviewing the statement. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders conceded this week that the president had weighed in, “just as any father would.” ■