Conservatives to stall immigration
WASHINGTON (AP) — Conservative Republicans on Wednesday ruled out any immigration legislation in the House this year, insisting that the GOP should wait until next year when the party might also control the Senate.
House GOP leaders unveiled their broad immigration principles last week that gave hope to advocates and the Obama administration that the first changes in the nation’s laws in three decades might happen in the coming months.
Immigration legislation is one of the top priorities for Obama’s second term.
But several of the conservatives were adamant that the House should do nothing on the issue this year, a midterm election year when the GOP is angling to gain six seats in the Senate and seize majority control. Democrats currently have a 55-45 advantage but are defending more seats, including ones in Republican-leaning states.
“I think it’s a mistake for us to have an internal battle in the Republican Party this year about immigration reform,” Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, told reporters at a gathering of conservatives. “I think when we take back the Senate in 2014 one of the first things we should do next year after we do certain economic issues, I think we should address the immigration issue.”
Labrador’s comments were noteworthy as he was one of eight House members working on bipartisan immigration legislation last year. He later abandoned the negotiations.
Released exotic animals moved
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The widow of an exotic animal owner who released dozens of creatures from their eastern Ohio farm before killing himself has told state officials that she has relocated five animals that survived the 2011 incident.
The animals were among those at the Zanesville farm in October 2011 when Terry Thompson released dozens of dangerous, wild creatures before committing suicide. Authorities killed 48 animals — including black bears, African lions and Bengal tigers — fearing for the public’s safety in the rural area.
In a letter dated Dec. 30, Thompson’s widow, Marian, said she transferred the surviving animals — two adult leopards, two primates and a bear — to another Ohio farm. The Associated Press obtained the letter Wednesday through a public records request.
The state had released the animals to Marian Thompson in May 2012 after initially holding them at a Columbus zoo. The zoo had to euthanize one other leopard.
“After two years of constant consideration and emotional turmoil, it is with deep sorrow that I inform you of the rehoming of my exotic animals,” she wrote in the letter to an administrator at the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
Lawsuit over teen found in gym mat
SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — The parents of a south Georgia teenager found dead last year inside a rolled-up gym mat at school are suing the funeral home that handled his body.
Attorneys for the parents of 17-year-old Kendrick Johnson of Valdosta accuse Harrington Funeral Home of fraud, negligence and intentional mishandling of a corpse in the civil suit filed in State Court late last week. The family is seeking unspecified damages.
Johnson was found dead Jan. 11, 2013, at his school. Authorities ruled the death a freak accident, but Johnson’s parents believe he was slain.
They had the body exhumed for a second autopsy last summer and discovered his internal organs were missing and the body was stuffed with newspaper.
Navy to rename site of shooting
WASHINGTON (AP) — Officials are renaming the Washington Navy Yard building where a gunman fatally shot 12 people in September before he was killed by police.
Navy Vice Adm. William Hilarides said in an email to employees on Tuesday that Building 197 will be named after Joshua Humphreys, who designed the Navy’s first six frigates. Hilarides said officials are also “exploring renumbering the building.”
“I feel this is a critical step towards establishing a new sense of place as we return to the Navy Yard next year,” Hilarides wrote of the change to the building’s name and number.
Officials are currently working on renovations to the building, the headquarters for Naval Sea Systems Command, and its approximately 3,000 employees have not worked in the building since the shooting.
Hilarides, the head of Naval Sea Systems Command, said officials have already started the process of naming the five-story red brick building after Humphreys, who was born in Pennsylvania in 1751. He wrote that the fact that one of Humphreys’ ships, the USS Constitution, is still floating more than 200 years after it was built shows Humphreys’ shipbuilding skill. The ship, called “Old Ironsides,” is now on display in Charlestown, Mass.
“Like Humphreys’ frigates, NAVSEA is resilient and still afloat in spite of the events of 16 Sept.,” Hilarides wrote, using the Navy’s acronym for Naval Sea Systems Command. “The name will be a testament to the incredible talent and skill of the entire NAVSEA workforce.”
Douglass Gaarde, whose wife Kathleen was killed in the shooting, said in an email Wednesday he believed renaming the building is “a good idea” because the name “Building 197” will always be associated with the shooting.
The Navy has said that when the building re-opens in 2015 it will include a remembrance area as well as a new visitors’ entrance, new carpeting and furniture and renovations to the cafeteria. A $44 million contract for the work was awarded Friday to CH2M Hill Constructors Inc. of Englewood, Colo.