10 lowlights of the week

Commentary Writer

American killed in Algeria

1| Hostage crisis

The details: Islamic militants tied to al Qaeda reportedly took 132 hostages, including seven Americans, associated with the oil industry. According to reports, two Americans have escaped but one has been killed.

State Department leaves American hanging

2| Backing down from Iran

The details: State Department officials are hesitant to intervene on behalf of a U.S. citizen facing trial in Iran for his Christianity, in part because Iran refuses to recognize his U.S. citizenship, according to congressional sources.

New York botches gun control law

3| Police lost in the rush

The details: New York lawmakers, in their haste to pass the first gun control bill since the shooting in Newtown, Conn., created a new class of lawbreakers by failing to exempt on-duty police officers from the mandate limiting magazines to seven rounds.

Fat Sandy

4| Pork snuck into relief bill

The details: Despite opposition from fiscal hawks, the House of Representatives passed a $50 billion Sandy relief bill loaded down with spending on projects unrelated to the disaster. The lawmakers chose to add that money to the debt rather than cut spending.

Rob the gun owners!

5| Newspaper published handy map

The details: Two of the houses publicly identified by the suburban New York Journal News as belonging to gun permit holders have since been burglarized by people seeking the weapons inside. In one case, burglars stole the owner's guns along with his gun permits. In the other, they tried but failed to open the owner's gun safe.

Taking its toll

6| Proposal to buy Greenway

The details: Virginia House Transportation Committee Chairman Joe May, R-Leesburg, is leading the push to purchase the private Dulles Greenway from its owners. The proposal would have the commonwealth spend hundreds of millions of dollars to buy the toll road so it could supposedly keep the tolls down.

Nepotism at MWAA

7| FBI investigates

The details: The FBI is investigating allegations that Arl Williams, former vice president of human resources at the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, steered a no-bid contract eventually worth as much as $432,000 to a company that employed his wife and daughter.

Double indemnity

8| Cop guilty of killing wife, baby

The details: D.C. Police Officer Richmond Phillips was found guilty of murdering his 20-year-old mistress in an Oxon Hill park, then leaving their 11-month-old daughter to die in a sweltering car, still strapped into her car seat. He faces two life sentences without parole.

Four more years

9| No letup in Metro track work

The details: Metro officials say the ongoing track work that has closed stations and caused long delays for transit riders will continue for at least the next four years as the 36-year-old transit system attempts to make up for years of neglected maintenance.

Take it back

10| Nominee's name withdrawn

The details: Weeks after Greg Hall's criminal background was disclosed, the Prince George's County Democratic Central Committee finally withdrew his nomination to succeed former Del. Tiffany Alston in the Maryland legislature. Alston was convicted of using state funds to pay an employee in her private law firm.

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