Overlooked Stories of the Week: Torture Report, Venezuela & More
Between the Boston bombing, attempted political poisonings, the Senate’s defeat of gun-control legislation, and a deadly Texas plant explosion, we haven’t heard much about, well, basically anything else. If these last few days have you fatigued and wondering what is wrong with the world (or nodding along with a recent Onion article aptly titled “Jesus, This Week,” here are some other news stories that managed to slip under the radar.
We can’t guarantee these overlooked events are any less depressing, but at least you’ll have an extra bit of knowledge to throw around at this weekend’s cocktail parties. And hey, once the dust settles, you may want to actually know these things.
Immigration Reform Was Announced
On Tuesday, the Senate’s Gang of Eight unveiled highly anticipated legislation: an overhaul of the immigration process for the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. Formally known as the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013, the proposal outlines a 13-year path to citizenship for those undocumented immigrants who arrived before Dec. 31, 2011. The bill also aims to stop 90 percent of illegal crossings by spending billions of dollars on new security measures along U.S. borders. It’s already been slammed by conservatives as “amnesty,” but it’s a long way from law either way: the proposal faces months of debate in the Republican-controlled House.
London Held Margaret Thatcher’s Funeral
On Tuesday, the Iron Lady was remembered with a lavish procession through London; the former prime minister died of a stroke last week at age 87. A reported 4,000 of Scotland Yard’s finest guarded the two-mile route to Saint Paul’s Cathedral. Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip paid their respects—and attended their first prime-minister funeral since Winston Churchill’s in 1965. David Cameron and Amanda Thatcher, Margaret’s 19-year-old granddaughter, delivered speeches and readings. Among the mourners were political power players Dick Cheney, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Henry Kissinger. Meanwhile, in South Yorkshire, anti-Thatcher activists burned an effigy of the controversial leader.
Official’s Wife Charged in Texas Prosecutor Murders
After a month of back and forth (He did it! He didn’t do it!), it turns out the murder of two Texas officials may have been the doing of not one man, but a married couple. On Wednesday disgraced former justice of the peace Eric Williams was charged in the murders of two prosecutors in Texas—with the help of his wife. Kim Williams named her husband as the gunman—and confessed to her own role as the getaway driver. Both prosecutors, Mike McLelland and Mark Hasse, had apparently helped convict Eric Williams on burglary and theft charges in a court battle in March 2012 (talk about a vendetta!). McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, were shot and killed last month; Hasse was killed in January. Eric and Kim Williams are being held under a combined $33 million bail at the Kaufman County Jail.
Chávez Legacy Won the Venezuelan Election
Surprise, surprise. On Tuesday, Nicolás Maduro, Hugo Chávez’s handpicked successor, slid into power in Venezuela’s presidential election, with a victory margin of 1.8 percent. Maduro snagged 50.8 percent of votes during the Sunday polling; opponent Henrique Capriles Radonski refused to concede and demanded a recount. Protesters took to the streets in Caracas, and in the ensuing violence, seven died and more than 60 were injured. Maduro claimed that the opposition was planning a coup and forbade Capriles’s planned rally, while Capriles claimed Maduro’s government troops were planning to frame him for the violence.
Report Says U.S. Tortured After the 9/11 Attacks
On Tuesday a nonpartisan think tank published a nearly 600-page report that cited “indisputable” evidence that America tortured prisoners in the intelligence community’s rendition program after the 2001 terrorist attacks—at the orders of the nation’s highest officials. The study reported the rendition program was granted cooperation abroad by the U.K., Canada, Italy, Germany, and Sweden, along with a number of Middle Eastern countries. In Poland, Lithuania, and Romania, the CIA operated secret prisons, according to the investigation. The authors, many of whom were former government officials, wrote that “there is no evidence there had ever before been the kind of considered and detailed discussions that occurred after 11 September, directly involving a president and his top advisers on the wisdom, propriety, and legality of inflicting pain and torment on some detainees in our custody.”
Mark Sanford’s Comeback Fail
Did this week spell the end of Mark Sanford 2.0? On Wednesday the National Republican Congressional Committee decided not to partake in funding his special-election bid, shortly after it was revealed that Sanford’s ex-wife filed a complaint the he trespassed at her home, violating the terms of their divorce. “This is an unfortunate situation, but this is what happens when candidates aren’t honest and withhold information,” one GOP insider told Politico. Looks like his opponent, Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch, might have a better chance at snagging that House seat than previously thought.
Friends of Cannibal Cop Arrested
In case you were feeling relieved that the so-called Cannibal Cop, the now infamous Gilberto Valle, is behind bars, more potential attackers in our midst may have emerged this week. And yes, they’re public servants. On Monday, two additional suspects were accused of plotting to kidnap and kill women and children—a librarian and a police chief. They were arrested Sunday and Monday with the help of Michael Van Hise, who is accused of conspiring with Valle, who was found guilty last month. Christopher Asch was a librarian at several New York City schools, including the prestigious Stuyvesant; Richard Meltz was the police chief at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Bedford, Massachusetts. According to indictments filed by U.S. attorneys, they planned to kidnap and kill family members and women, including Van Hise’s young daughter. The two are being held without bail and face life imprisonment if found guilty. (Lawyers for Asch and Meltz couldn’t be reached for comment.)