- The Washington Times - Friday, March 16, 2007

Eight plead guilty after ICE raids

AMARILLO, Texas — Eight persons pleaded guilty this week to felony charges stemming from raids Dec. 12 by federal immigration agents at the Swift & Co. meat-processing plant in Cactus, Texas, including one man who admitted to illegally re-entering the United States after he had been deported.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents raided the plant and rounded up dozens of illegal aliens who had been employed at the firm.

Two persons pleaded guilty to falsely representing a Social Security number as belonging to them in order to obtain employment at Swift, and five pleaded guilty to using fraudulently obtained identity documents, including a Social Security card, to make it appear as though they were U.S. citizens legally authorized to live and work in the United States to gain employment at Swift.

Those pleading guilty will first serve their sentences before they’re removed to their countries of origin. Forty-five other cases are pending.

FEC dismisses complaint against Reid

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) has dismissed a complaint a conservative group filed against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid over his use of campaign money to pay holiday bonuses at the hotel where he lives.

FEC staff concluded that partly because of the small dollar amount involved — $3,300 — the complaint did not merit pursuing, according to a report by commission staff released yesterday by Mr. Reid’s office. Based on that report, the commission voted Feb. 21 to dismiss the complaint, which was filed by Citizens United.

Mr. Reid, Nevada Democrat, reimbursed the money to his campaign committee after the Associated Press reported on the matter in October.

McCain apologizes for ‘tar baby’ remark

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa — Republican presidential contender John McCain yesterday used the term “tar baby,” considered by some a racial epithet, and later said he regretted it.

Answering questions at a town hall meeting, the Arizona senator was discussing federal involvement in custody cases when he said, “For me to stand here and … say I’m going to declare divorces invalid because of someone who feels they weren’t treated fairly in court, we are getting into a tar baby of enormous proportions and I don’t know how you get out of that.”

After the event, Mr. McCain told reporters: “I don’t think I should have used that word and I was wrong to do so.”

The term dates to the 19th-century Uncle Remus stories, referring to a doll made of tar that traps Br’er Rabbit. It has become known as a way of describing a sticky mess and has been used as a derogatory term for a black person.

Lawmakers seek recognition for Pluto

SANTA FE, N.M. — Astronomers may have stopped calling Pluto a full-fledged planet, but it’s on its way to regaining that status whenever it’s visible over New Mexico.

A nonbinding memorial approved this week by the state House declares that Pluto be designated a planet whenever it “passes overhead through New Mexico’s excellent night skies.”

The International Astronomical Union reclassified Pluto as a dwarf planet last August because its orbit overlaps with Neptune’s. That caused hard feelings in New Mexico, home of Clyde Tombaugh, the astronomer who located Pluto in 1930.

The measure was pending in the Senate as lawmakers go into their final day of work today.

Teen’s hiccups are back

MIAMI — A Florida teenager’s intractable hiccups are back, just when she thought it was safe to return to school after the almost uninterrupted diaphragm spasm that had plagued her for five weeks subsided.

On her second day back at school since the unusual condition started on Jan. 15, Jennifer Mee had to leave class again, as her nose started to bleed and the almost nonstop hiccups set in again, the St. Petersburg Times reported yesterday.

“I’m at my wit’s end,” said Rachel Robidoux, the girl’s mother, adding that her daughter is upset, discouraged and in pain.

Jennifer had started hiccuping on Jan. 23, nearly 50 times a minute. All of a sudden, on Feb. 28, she took a deep breath and appeared to have been cured, until the hiccups set in again on Thursday.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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