The U.S. at a glance ...
Reversing Obama policy
Schumer: New pitch(AP (2), Newscom (2))
Los Banos, Calif.
Live-streamed wreck: A California teen was arrested this week after allegedly killing her younger sister in a car crash that she live-streamed in a gruesome Instagram video. Authorities said that Obdulia Sanchez, 18, was driving drunk in her 2003 Buick when she lost control of the car north of Los Banos and veered across lanes—crashing into a barbed-wire fence before rolling into a field. The footage appears to show Sanchez crashing the car, and then approaching the body of her 14-yearold sister—who wasn’t wearing a seat belt and was thrown through the back window of the vehicle. “I killed my sister, but I don’t care,” Sanchez says to the camera. “I know I’m going to prison, but I don’t care. I’m sorry, baby.” Manuela Seja, 14, who was also in the backseat but survived the crash, blamed social media for the tragedy. “That’s what life is now,” said Seja.
Smuggling deaths: The driver of a tractor trailer crammed with dozens of undocumented immigrants could face the death penalty after 10 of his passengers died in the vehicle’s sweltering heat. The truck was found parked at a Walmart in San Antonio; its occupants, many of whom came from central Mexico, had been taking turns breathing through a hole in the side of the vehicle. As people began to faint, passengers wailed and banged on the walls to attract the driver’s attention, they told investigators, but to no avail. Authorities believe more than 100 immigrants may have been packed into the truck at one point on the journey. James Matthew Bradley Jr., 60, has been charged with smuggling immigrants for financial gain, resulting in death. He is accused of transporting the immigrants on behalf of a Mexican drug cartel, but told authorities he was unaware of the trailer’s cargo and was “surprised” when he opened the door and was “run over by ‘Spanish’ people.”
Sanctions drama: The House of Representatives this week overwhelmingly passed a bill that slaps new sanctions on Russia and gives Congress the power to block any effort by the White House to weaken the penalties, setting up a potential veto battle with President Trump. The measure, which passed 419-3, came in response to Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, and includes new sanctions on Iran and North Korea. The White House had quietly lobbied against the bill, arguing it went too far in curtailing the president’s authority to lift sanctions against Moscow. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president was “supportive of being tough on Russia,” but communications director Anthony Scaramucci said Trump “hasn’t made the decision yet” to sign the bill. Senate Republicans suggested they may strip out the North Korea provisions, which would delay the bill’s arrival on Trump’s desk.
Glen Jean, W.Va.
Scouts speech: In a stark break with tradition, President Trump delivered a hyperpartisan and sometimes vitriolic speech at the National Scout Jamboree in West Virginia this week—railing against his political rivals and the “fake media” in front of 40,000 teenage Boy Scouts. While past presidents have used the occasion to exalt the values of duty and good citizenship, Trump attacked Washington, D.C., as a “cesspool” and “sewer,” and bragged about his electoral victories in Wisconsin, Maine, and Michigan. He also mocked Hillary Clinton, encouraged the crowd to boo former President Barack Obama, and jokingly threatened to oust Health Secretary Tom Price if GOP lawmakers failed to repeal Obamacare. “He better get [the votes],” Trump said. “Otherwise I’ll say, ‘Tom, you’re fired.’” As the blowback to Trump’s speech grew, the Scouts issued a statement that the group “does not promote any one political position, candidate, or philosophy.”
Transgender ban: President Trump opened a new front in the culture wars this week when he announced he would ban transgender individuals from serving in the U.S. military “in any capacity,” a reversal of an Obama administration decision. Trump tweeted that he made his decision following “consultation with my Generals and military experts,” adding that U.S. forces “cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.” The Pentagon was reportedly caught off guard, and an administration official said that the move was actually motivated by political calculations. “This forces Democrats in Rust Belt states like Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin to take complete ownership of this issue,” said the unnamed official. As many as 11,000 transgender individuals currently serve in active duty and the reserves. A Pentagon-commissioned study last year estimated medical costs for trans gender service members to be between $2.4 million and $8.4 million a year.
Comeback plan: Democrats gathered in Virginia this week to launch “A Better Deal,” the party’s new populist campaign aimed at reversing their recent electoral losses. The rebranding effort was widely seen as an attempt to unite the Democratic Party’s progressive and moderate wings and win back rural and bluecollar workers who voted for President Trump in 2016. The plan—in full, “A Better Deal: Better Jobs, Better Wages, Better Future”—includes references to corporate “monopolies” and the “rigged” economy. Days before unveiling the agenda, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer laid into Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and other Democrats for failing to learn the lessons of her 2016 defeat. “When you lose to somebody who has 40 percent popularity, you don’t blame other things—Comey, Russia—you blame yourself,” said Schumer. “People didn’t know what we stood for, just that we were against Trump. And [they] still believe that.” ■