- - Monday, May 28, 2012

SAN DIEGO — Sen. John McCain, appearing with presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney at a Memorial Day ceremony on Monday, had a one-word retort to a heckler who was hustled out of the event by security after interrupting the Arizona Republican’s speech: “Jerk.”

A supportive crowd of about 5,000 roared its approval, according to a Los Angeles Times report.

Mr. McCain, who wrested the GOP nomination from Mr. Romney in 2008 in a bitterly contested race, had nothing but praise Monday for his one-time rival.

“I am honored to be on the same stage with a great friend, a great man, a great governor, and a man who I believe is fully qualified to be commander-in-chief, Gov. Mitt Romney,” Mr. McCain said.


Romney sticks with Trump on eve of fundraiser

Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney isn’t taking a position on supporter Donald Trump’s return to the controversy over where President Obama was born.

Mr. Romney said Monday evening that while he doesn’t agree with all the people who support him, he appreciates their help to get him at least 50.1 percent of the vote in November. The comments come about 24 hours before a Las Vegas fundraiser hosted by Mr. Trump.

Some Republican pundits have urged the presumptive GOP nominee to cut ties to the colorful billionaire real estate developer and reality-TV star. 


Blind Chinese activist plans to speak in Manhattan

NEW YORK — A blind Chinese activist who was the focus of a nearly monthlong diplomatic standoff has a speaking engagement in New York City this week.

Chen Guangcheng will speak Thursday at the Council on Foreign Relations in Manhattan. His mentor, New York University law professor Jerome Cohen, also will participate in the event.

The dissident and the professor have been in touch for years, since they met when Mr. Chen came to the United States for a State Department program in 2003.

Mr. Cohen advised Mr. Chen while he was in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, where he was given sanctuary after his daring escape following seven years of prison and house arrest.

That triggered a diplomatic standoff over his fate. With Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in Beijing for annual high-level discussions, officials struck a deal that let Mr. Chen walk free, only to see him have second thoughts. That forced new negotiations that led to an agreement to send him to the U.S. to study law at New York University.

Since his arrival from China this month, Mr. Chen has stayed in faculty housing with his wife and children.


First lady accepts invite to sponsor new Navy sub

First lady Michelle Obama is sponsoring a future Navy submarine named after her home state.

The White House said Tuesday that the first lady has accepted an invitation to be the sponsor of the future USS Illinois, a Virginia-class submarine being built in Groton, Conn., and Newport News, Va. The new attack submarine is expected to join the fleet in late 2015.

As sponsor, Mrs. Obama will be involved in the life of the submarine and establish a special link to the ship’s sailors and their families.

Other first ladies have sponsored Navy submarines, including Laura Bush, wife of President George W. Bush, and Hillary Rodham Clinton, wife of President Clinton and now secretary of state.


Veterans seek apology from ‘uncomfortable’ MSNBC host

The nation’s top veterans group has called for an apology from MSNBC host Chris Hayes, who said Sunday it makes him “uncomfortable” to describe fallen soldiers as heroes.

Mr. Hayes, who made the comment on his show, “Up With Chris Hayes,” said it’s “very difficult to talk about the war dead and the fallen without invoking valor, without invoking the words ‘heroes.’ “

That makes him uneasy, he said, because, “I feel … uncomfortable about the word ‘hero,’ because it seems to me that it is so rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war.”

The Veterans of Foreign Wars on Monday said the remarks were “reprehensible.”

“His words reflect his obvious disregard for the service and sacrifice of the men and women who have paid the ultimate price while defending our nation,” VFW National Commander Richard DeNoyer said on the rival Fox News Channel. “His insipid statement is particularly callous because it comes at a time when our entire nation pauses to reflect and honor the memory of our nations’ fallen heroes.”

The remarks have created a firestorm online, with conservative bloggers and pundits excoriating Mr. Hayes.


New districts may not mean more Hispanic lawmakers

SAN ANTONIO — The soaring Hispanic population in Texas may not help Hispanic congressional hopefuls in the state’s primary elections Tuesday.

Texas’ Hispanic population grew by 2.8 million in the past decade, second only to California. That drove a population boom that rewarded with Texas four new U.S. House seats, but there’s no guarantee voters will elect more Hispanics to Congress.

Two of the new districts are predominantly Hispanic. But the front-runner in one is nine-term Rep. Lloyd Doggett, who is white, while Hispanic candidates in the other face a strong opponent in state lawmaker Mark Veasey, who is black.

Hispanic leaders largely blame how the districts were drawn by the Republican-controlled Legislature. Despite the surge in Hispanic residents, Texas hasn’t sent more than six Hispanics to Congress since 1997.


Justice Department looking into prison sex-abuse claims

MONTGOMERY — Inmates past and present say rape, sexual assault and harassment from male guards are a way of life for prisoners at an Alabama women’s prison, and the Justice Department is looking into the allegations.

Stephanie Hibbett spent a year locked up at the Julia Tutwiler Prison. She said in her time there, men had unrestricted access to the showers and bathrooms and would often make comments about female inmates’ bodies, both to the women and among themselves.

She says she herself was a victim.

The Justice Department investigation comes after the legal-aid group Equal Justice Initiative filed a complaint, asking it to look into allegations at Tutwiler, a maximum-security prison.

The Alabama Department of Corrections says it aggressively pursues reports of abuse.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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