Gymnastics in crisis
Three members of USA Gymnastics’ senior board resigned this week, as scores of girls and women offered harrowing testimony about the sexual abuse they suffered at the hands of former team physician Larry Nassar. Nearly 160 young women provided victim statements in court about Nassar, 54—including Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman. Some sobbed as they recounted how Nassar molested them during physical therapy sessions; others commanded him to look at them as they described their subsequent struggles with depression and self-harm. “We, this group of women you so heartlessly abused...are now a force,” said Raisman. “You are nothing.” Nassar had already been handed a 60-year prison sentence for federal child pornography charges. Judge Rosemarie Aquilina sentenced Nassar to another 40 to 175 years for criminal sexual conduct and told him, “I just signed your death warrant.’’ She also called for a “massive investigation” into the inaction and silence that enabled Nassar’s 25 years of abuse.
A prayer vigil for the victims
A 15-year-old boy opened fire with a handgun inside his high school this week, killing two fellow students and wounding 18 others. The shooting began around 8 a.m. in the school’s atrium, where students were gathering before the start of classes. Sheriff’s deputies responded within minutes and tackled the shooter, who was arrested without further struggle. At least four students were wounded in the panicked rush to escape. Police haven’t determined a motive, but the shooter is expected to face two charges of murder and multiple counts of attempted murder. There have been at least 11 shootings on school campuses in the U.S. since Jan. 1. “We have absolutely become numb to these kinds of shootings,” said Katherine Schweit, a former senior FBI official who co-authored a study of active shooter incidents. “I think that will continue.”
Federal agents last week arrested a man for making menacing calls to CNN and threatening to massacre its employees for spreading “fake news.” The FBI alleges that Brandon Griesemer, 19, made 22 calls to the main CNN switchboard in Atlanta between Jan. 9 and Jan. 10. “Fake news. I’m coming to gun you all down,” he said in one call. In another, he used anti-Jewish slurs while threatening to come to CNN headquarters and shoot “every single last one of you.” Griesemer was charged with transmitting interstate communications with the intent to extort, threaten, or injure and was released on a $10,000 bond. CNN anchor Don Lemon explicitly blamed President Trump’s frequent attacks on CNN for inciting the threats. “There’s nothing random about this. Nothing,” Lemon said on air. Just hours after CNN reported on the arrest, President Trump tweeted about “Crazy Jim Acosta of Fake News CNN.”
The ongoing nationwide battle over partisan gerrymandering heated up this week when Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court struck down the state’s congressional map, ruling that it “clearly, plainly, and palpably” violates the state’s constitution by giving Republicans an unfair political advantage. The GOP-controlled legislature drew up the current map in 2011. The League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania and other plaintiffs subsequently sued, alleging that some of the bizarrely shaped districts—one of which was nicknamed “Goofy kicking Donald Duck”—marginalized Democratic voters, potentially allowing Republicans to pick up two or three additional House seats. Lawmakers have until Feb. 9 to submit a new map; the new district lines could help Democrats capture as many as half a dozen now-Republican seats in the state—boosting their efforts to flip 24 seats nationwide and recapture the House in the midterms.