Rubio On The Defensive After Conservative Outcry On Immigration 180˚

Tea Party conservatives have been hammering Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) this week as the Senate hammers out its own version of the immigration bill he helped craft.

Amnesty and a path to citizenship have been points of outrage among conservatives who believe only immigrants who’ve legally entered the U.S. should have a shot at attaining to the rights and privileges of American citizenship. Rubio, after demonstrating he agreed with that view in 2010, has shifted his stance so dramatically that many conservatives lament he’s not the same candidate they voted for.

So, on Wednesday, Rubio stood before the Senate and directly addressed his critics, appealing to them to see his amity with the Senate’s Gang of Eight as the lesser of two evils. The Daily Caller summarized the pith of his remarks:

“I have received numerous emails and calls from conservatives and Tea Party activists. Their opinions and concerns really matter to me because they stood with me during my election. To hear the worry, anxiety and growing anger in the voices of so many people who helped me get elected to the Senate, who I agree with on virtually every other issue, has been a real trial for me,” he said.

But he said he told them that he would go to Washington to “fight to stop what is bad for America,” and that what we have now is, in fact, hurting America. ”I simply wasn’t going to leave it to Democrats alone to try to figure out how to fix it.”

“I got involved because I knew that if conservatives didn’t get involved in shaping this legislation, it would not have any border security reforms our nation desperately needs,” Rubio said.

Rubio asked tea party conservatives who are upset to understand that he honestly believes “it is the right thing for our country.”

And he assured them he would continue to fight alongside them for “real tax reform, lowering the debt, balancing our budget, reducing regulations, rolling back job-killing environmental policies and repealing the disaster of Obamacare,” and to defend “the sanctity of life and traditional marriage.”

If you’re interested in knowing how that played with nonplussed conservatives, head on over to the Daily Caller’s original story and browse the reader comments.

Calgary Zoo Flooding Lets Hippos Out Of Enclosure

CALGARY, Alberta (UPI) — Workers at Canada’s Calgary Zoo said the flooding during the weekend allowed two hippos to escape from their enclosure into a pedestrian area.

Dr. Jake Veasey said more than 160 animals were relocated Thursday night while several animals thought to be better prepared to handle the flooding, including the hippos, were left behind, the Calgary Herald reported Wednesday.

Veasey said the floodwaters, which reached as high as 13 feet in some areas, allowed the hippos to break out of their indoor pool and wander around the pedestrian area of the African Savannah area of the zoo.

“We could have had hippos god knows where. They could have been 20 or 30 miles downstream,” Veasey said.

He said zookeepers moved concrete blocks into the area to keep the hippos from leaving the zoo.

Veasey said it will be at least two weeks until the zoo is ready to reopen.

Scottish Woman Finds Scorpion In Her Bed

ABERDEEN, Scotland (UPI) — A Scottish woman who discovered an Asian forest scorpion in her bed said the animal may have stowed away during her recent trip to Borneo.

Vicky Raitt, 23, an Aberdeen zoology student, told the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals she was in bed Friday night when she discovered the 3-inch-long scorpion crawling just inches from her head.

Raitt was able to capture the scorpion in a plastic tub and contact the SPCA.

The student said the scorpion may have hitched a ride in her suitcase during a recent trip to Borneo.

“My suitcase was damaged on the way home from Borneo so I think it crawled inside through the hole. I’d been back for five days before I found the scorpion so it must have been living with me all that time,” she told the SPCA. “Once I got over the initial shock of finding it I was OK, but it’s still quite scary to think what could have happened if I hadn’t woke up and it had stung me.”

The Scottish SPCA said the scorpion was taken to the Animal Rescue and Rehoming Center in Drumoak and will soon be transferred to Nick Martin’s exotic animal rescue charity in Inverness.

The SPCA said Asian forest scorpions aren’t deadly, but their stings can cause discomfort to humans.

Couple Have Starbucks Customers Vote On Baby Names

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (UPI) — A Connecticut couple said they decided to let Starbucks customers vote on names for their expected son when they were unable to settle on a moniker.

Jennifer James, 25, and Mark Dixon, 24, both of West Haven, said they decided to put the question to customers at the Starbucks they frequent in New Haven when they were unable to decide whether to name the boy, who is due to be born in September, Jackson or Logan, the New Haven Register reported Wednesday.

The couple said a winner was declared Tuesday.

“Logan — by far. At least by 400 or 500,” Dixon said.

They said Jackson will be the boy’s middle name.

James and Dixon said they also received several write-in votes during the contest, including Obama, Lincoln, Jebediah and Webster.

The couple said they are keeping the scraps of paper used in the voting to present to Logan Jackson Dixon when he gets older.

Shark Bites Kayak, Occupant Unharmed

PACIFICA, Calif. (UPI) — Police in California said a shark took a bite out of a kayak but its male occupant, who was fishing, was not harmed during the encounter.

Pacifica police Capt. Joe Spanheimer said the man was fishing off Pacifica State Beach around 4:55 p.m. when a shark approached, “bit the kayak, then briefly circled around the craft before swimming away,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported Wednesday.

Spanheimer said authorities are not sure what kind of shark it was, possibly a great white, which are more common along the Bay Area’s ocean coast when the water is warm during the summer and fall.

The captain said signs were being posted at the beach to inform people of the encounter.

San Antonio Zoo Dubs Two-Headed Turtle Thelma And Louise

SAN ANTONIO (UPI) — The San Antonio Zoo announced the birth of a two-headed turtle dubbed Thelma and Louise at the facility.

The zoo said the turtle, part of a litter of Texas cooters born June 18, will be revealed to the public at the zoo’s Friedrich Aquarium at 10 a.m. Thursday, KENS-TV, San Antonio, reported Wednesday.

“Everyone is abuzz with the announcement of our newest arrival! A two-headed turtle named ‘Thelma & Louise!'” the zoo said on its Twitter page.

Survey: Negative Online Evidence Ruins Job Chances For Many Applicants

CHICAGO (UPI) — An increasing number of U.S. employers say they are finding photos or statements online that ruin an applicant’s chance at getting a job, a survey indicated.

In a Feb. 11-to-March  6 survey of 2,100 hiring managers, Harris Interactive, which conducted the survey on behalf of CareerBuilder, found that 43 percent or respondents who used social websites in researching a candidate indicated they had found content online that had ended the person’s chances of being hired.

In a survey a year earlier, the 34 percent of hiring managers who used social websites to research candidates indicated they had found negative content online that stopped them from hiring someone.

In addition, a larger percentage of respondents this year indicated they used social websites to do research on job candidates than the previous year — 39 percent to 37 percent.

What was so revealing on social sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, that might derail a job applicant’s chances of landing a job?

Fifty percent of hiring managers who browsed social websites indicated they found inappropriate photos. That was followed by evidence of drug use or drinking (48 percent), negative comments about former employers (33 percent) and the discovery that the candidate had poor communication skills (30 percent).

Those discoveries were followed by indications of racism or another form of discrimination and evidence the candidate had lied about job qualifications.

One the flip side, 19 percent of hiring managers indicated they had found evidence online that helped a candidate’s chances of landing a job.

Job applicants were helped by evidence of their professional image, a better understanding of their personality and even better qualifications than the hiring managers had believed.

There was also evidence online that indicted candidates were creative or generated favorable comments from others about themselves.

Harris Interactive said the survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.1 percentage points.

Mortgage Activity Slips On Rising Rates

WASHINGTON (UPI) — U.S. mortgage application activity declined last week as interest rates rose, the Mortgage Bankers Association said Wednesday.

Mortgage activity involving new loans dropped 3 percent and refinancing fell 5 percent, the MBA said.

The organization said average interest rates for standard 30-year, fixed-rate conforming loans increased from 4.17 percent to 4.46 percent. Average points for 30-year, fixed rate loans fell from 0.41 to 0.35, the MBA said.

For loans of more than $417,500, called jumbo loans, rates rose from 4.23 percent to 4.52 percent, the highest rates since March 2012. Points for long-term jumbo loans fell from 0.34 to 0.28.

Average rates for 30-year, fixed rate contracts backed by the Federal Housing Administration rose from 3.85 percent to 4.2 percent, the highest rate since August 2011, with points increasing from 0.22 to 0.4.

The average interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages increased from 3.3 percent to 3.55 percent, the highest rate since November 2011. Points increased to 0.43 from 0.39 in the week.

For short-term, adjustable-rate contracts, interest rates rose from 2.81 percent to 3.06 percent with points averaging 0.43, up from 0.39.

For short-term loans, the average rate is the highest it has been since October 2011, the MBA said.

U.S. First-Quarter GDP Growth Trimmed In Final Estimate

WASHINGTON (UPI) — The U.S. Commerce Department trimmed its first-quarter gross domestic product estimate sharply down to 1.8 percent in its final revision released Wednesday.

With weaker business investment and personal spending than previously considered, the department, in the third of its three estimates, cut its economic growth estimate for January through March from the previous figure of 2.4 percent.

Economists had expected the earlier estimate to hold up. But the Commerce Department said consumer spending rose 2.6 percent in the quarter. That was an improvement over the fourth quarter, when spending rose 1.8 percent, but it was a downgrade from the first-quarter estimate of 3.4 percent released a month ago.

Investment in non-residential structures was also revised, showing a spending decline of 8.3 percent. Previously, that spending on business structures was estimated at a decline of 3.5 percent.

Exports, previously listed as a 0.8 percent increase, were revised to indicated a decline of 1.1 percent. Imports were also revised lower, but imports count as a negative in the GDP figure, so fewer imports is an improvement.

The Commerce Department said investments in residential structures rose 14 percent, a slowdown from fourth-quarter growth of 17.6 percent but an improvement over the estimate in the previous GDP report that pegged spending on new homes up by 12.1 percent.

Watch: Prosecution In Trayvon Martin Case Uses Martin’s Racist Comments To Benefit Case Against Zimmerman

During a mumbling testimony in the George Zimmerman trial, prosecution witness Rachel Jeantel, 19, who claims to have been on the phone with Trayvon Martin moments before he was shot, said Martin told her a “creepy ass cracker” was following him before his fatal encounter with Zimmerman.

Jeantel also claimed that Martin’s remarks made her think that Zimmerman was a rapist and said Trayvon then informed her that the “nigger is now following” him.

Jeantel is a star witness for the prosecution, as her version of events portrays Zimmerman as the aggressor in the case.

“That a man just kept watching him,” she replied.

Following an objection from Zimmerman’s attorney, the prosecutor prodded, “Did you say anything back to him or did he say anything back to you?”

“Yes,” Jeantel answered. “I asked him how the man looked like. He just told me the man — the man looked creepy.”

“He said the man looked creepy?” the prosecutor asked.

“Creepy, white, kill-my-neighbors cracker,” Jeantel replied, adding after the court complained that her mumbling was making her testimony inaudible, “He looked like a creepy ass cracker.”

“He told me the man was looking at him,” she added, “so I had to think it might have been a rapist. Might have been a rapist.”

H/T: Mediaite

Adult Dogs Behave Towards Caregivers Like Human Children Do

VIENNA (UPI) — The relationship between owners and dogs is similar to the deep connection between young children and their parents, researchers in Vienna said.

Scientists at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna said human infants use their caregivers as a secure base when it comes to interacting with the environment — a toddler stands by a parent and gingerly takes a few steps to investigate his or her environment knowing a parent is nearby.

Lisa Horn of Vetmeduni’s Messerli Research Institute at the University of Veterinary Medicine examined the reactions of dogs under three conditions: absent owner, silent owner and encouraging owner. The dogs could earn a food reward by manipulating interactive dog toys.

The study, published in the journal Plos One, found the dogs seemed much less interested in working for the food, when their caregivers were not present. However, an owner encouraging the dog during the task appeared to have little influence on the animal’s level of motivation, Horn said.

In a follow-up experiment, Horn and colleagues replaced the owner with an unfamiliar person. The scientists observed the dogs hardly interacted with the strangers and were not interested in trying to get the food reward.

The researchers concluded that the owner’s presence was important for the animal to behave in a confident manner — the so-called “secure base effect” in parents and children.

“One of the things that really surprised us was adult dogs behave towards their caregivers like human children do,” Horn said in a statement.

Excavation Reveals 1,800-Year-Old Roman Road In Israel

JERUSALEM (UPI) — Archaeologists in Israel say they’ve uncovered a section of a 1,800-year-old Roman road that once ran from Jerusalem to the ancient port city of Jaffa.

The road was discovered by the Israel Antiquities Authority in the Israeli-Arab neighborhood of Beit Hanina in northern Jerusalem during excavations in advance of the installation of a drainage pipe, the Jewish Daily Forward reported Tuesday.

The presence of badly worn curbstones indicates the road was heavily used and underwent several periods of repair, the archaeologists said.

“The Romans attached great importance to the roads in the empire,” excavation director David Yeger said. “They invested large sums of money and utilized the most advanced technological aids of the period in order to crisscross the empire with roads.”

Other stretches of the road had been discovered previously by the Antiquities Authority but the section recently unearthed was by far the best preserved, Yeger said.

New Jersey May Have Been Hit By A Tsunami In Mid-June

MOUNT HOLLY, N.J. (UPI) — A freak wave in Barnegat Inlet on the New Jersey Shore may have been caused by a tsunami, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration says.

The 6-foot wave June 13 knocked three people from a jetty, injuring two of them severely enough to be hospitalized, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Tuesday. NOAA’s Tsunami Warning Center said 30 gauges recorded information suggesting a tsunami, a widespread wave usually associated with earthquakes.

In most areas, the tsunami — assuming that is what it was — would have been barely noticed. In Barnegat Inlet, it was pulled into the narrow entrance to Barnegat Bay.

In this case, the tsunami may have had its origins in a derecho in New Jersey, a narrow storm with straight-line winds.

The Jersey Shore has had earlier experience with tsunamis. A report by a retired National Weather Service staffer, Harry Woodworth, said a 1938 hurricane that devastated New England did considerable damage in New Jersey even though the eye of the storm was far out to sea, possibly because of a hurricane-generated tsunami.

New Bird Species Found In Cambodian City Of 1.5 Million People

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (UPI) — An international team of scientists says it discovered a new species of bird living in a city of 1.5 million people in Cambodia.

Dubbed the Cambodian tailorbird, the species with distinct plumage and a loud call was discovered in Cambodia’s urbanized capitol Phnom Penh and several other locations just outside the city including a construction site, the Wildlife Conservation Society reported Wednesday.

The wren-sized gray bird with a black throat lives in dense, humid lowland scrub in Phnom Penh in an area where the Tonle Sap, Mekong and Bassac Rivers come together, scientists said.

Only tiny fragments of such scrub remain in Phnom Penh, they said, urging the species be classified as Near Threatened under the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List.

“The modern discovery of an undescribed bird species within the limits of a large populous city — not to mention 30 minutes from my home — is extraordinary,” WCS scientist Simon Mahood said. “The discovery indicates that new species of birds may still be found in familiar and unexpected locations.”

Recent decades have seen a sharp increase in the number of new bird species emerging from Indochina as explorations move into ever more remote areas, the researchers said.

“This discovery is one of several from Indochina in recent years, underscoring the region’s global importance for bird conservation,” Colin Poole, director of WCS Singapore, said.

Study: Having Friends Increases Disaster Survival Chances

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (UPI) — Living by the maxim “a friend in need is a friend indeed” can help some animals live through natural disasters, South African researchers say.

A study of Barbary macaques in Morocco, published in the journal Biology Letters, suggests those with lots of friends were more likely to have lived through an unusually harsh winter in 2008-09.

Endangered Barbary macaques are no strangers to cold, but the 2008–09 winter was devastating, with a 64 percent mortality rate, researchers reported.

The study showed the more friends a monkey had — measured in social contacts involving shared grooming or bodily contact — the better its chances of survival.

Monkeys with more friends had more opportunities to huddle against the cold, the researchers suggested, and those in large networks featuring social contact may have been able to look for food — seeds and grasses on the ground — with fewer interruptions from non-friended group members.

The more friends, the more chances of surviving a catastrophe, said Richard McFarland, a behavioral ecologist at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

An individual who loses his few close friends is “left with nothing” with which to cope with disaster, he said.

“Compare that to someone who has 10 relationships,” he said. “If one of their friends perishes during the winter, they still have nine more friends to go to.”

U.N. Weather Agency Says No El Nino Or La Nina This Year

UNITED NATIONS (UPI) — The Pacific Ocean will probably not have an El Nino effect or its La Nina opposite number through the end of the year, the U.N.’s weather agency said Wednesday.

The World Meteorological Organization said forecasts predicted climate patterns in the Pacific are likely to remain neutral, a United Nations release reported.

Temperatures, sea level pressure, cloudiness and trade winds have generally been at neutral levels, the WMO said, indicating that neither warming El Nino nor cooling La Nina conditions have been present.

El Nino conditions occur every two to seven years, causing a significant shift in rainfall patterns, often causing floods in usually arid countries in western South America and drought in the western Pacific.

El Nino events are often followed by La Nina conditions, a swing to unusually cool ocean surface temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific.

The far eastern tropical Pacific Ocean temperatures cooled to well below average during May and early June, approaching “a borderline La Nina level,” the WMO said, but “the ocean-atmosphere system as a whole did not remain in a La Nina state for long enough to be considered a weak La Nina event.”

Study: Higher Education A Plus During Tough Economic Times

PARIS (UPI) — Well-educated people are faring better in these tough economic times than those who left school without a good education, a think tank in Paris concluded.

The international Organization for Economic Coordination and Development released a study showing a widening gap between young people with a good education and those who left school early.

“Leaving school with good qualifications is more essential than ever,” OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria said.

The study covering 34 countries, including 21 EU states, found unemployment rates were nearly three times higher for low-skilled people than their highly educated counterparts between 2008 and 2011.

Salaries were also affected.

OECD found the average earnings difference between the highly educated and the lower educated rose 75 percentage points in 2008 to 90 percentage points in 2011.

Unfortunately, the economic crisis halted a long-term trend of rising investment in education, the report said.

Public spending on educational institutions from 2009 to 2010 as a percentage of gross domestic product fell by 1 percent on average.

Second IRS Official Invokes 5th Amendment Before House Panel

WASHINGTON (UPI) — A second IRS employee invoked the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination Wednesday in an appearance before the U.S. House oversight committee.

Gregory Roseman, who was a deputy director of acquisitions at the Internal Revenue Service, invoked his right when Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., began to question him about panel findings that he helped a friend procure IRS contracts potentially worth $500 million.

Issa: “Before I continue, and because this committee is acutely aware that one or more on the panel may choose to assert their Fifth Amendment rights, and because this chair does not want to have anyone waive that right accidentally, involuntarily, or in any other way, does anyone here at this time intend to invoke their Fifth Amendment rights?

Mr. Roseman?”

Roseman: “Yes, sir, I do intend to waive my — I intend to invoke Fifth Amendment right to be silent.”

“Mr. Chairman, on the advice and counsel, I respectfully decline to answer any questions, invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege to remain silent,” Roseman said when asked to whom he reported.

The committee Tuesday released a report alleging Roseman’s “cozy relationship” with Strong Castle Inc. President Braulio Castillo helped the company secure contracts worth a possible $500 million.

In May, Lois Lerner, who led the IRS division on tax-exempt organizations before she was placed on administrative leave, invoked her right to remain silent during a hearing on the agency’s scandal last month.

When Issa asked Roseman when he became aware of a company called Strong Castle Inc., Roseman, who since has been removed from his position, again invoked his Fifth Amendment right.

In his opening statement, Issa said: “Our investigation is still in its infancy. Today, we are working with the I.G. [inspector general] and hope to work with others within the IRS to end this problem.”

Ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings of Maryland said the evidence obtained by the committee “indicates at least an appearance of impropriety, because Mr. Roseman did not disclose this relationship or recuse himself from the contracting process.”

The IRS, already embroiled in a scandal over disclosures it wrongly targeted conservative groups applying for a tax exemption, awarded the contracts to Strong Castle Inc., an information technology firm in Leesburg, Va., because of the relationship between Roseman and Castillo, the panel’s report said.

Castillo bought the business with his wife in January 2012, and within six months Strong Castle had upwards of a half-billion dollars in IRS contracts, the committee report said.

Before Castillo took over the company, it had no federal contracts, the report said.

But Roseman told Castillo on Dec. 31, 2011, shortly before he bought the business, the company would be “Fortune 500 in no time,” the report said.

“By inappropriately using a personal relationship and abusing a provision designed to help disadvantaged businesses, the IRS and Strong Castle have made a mockery of fair and open competition for government contracts,” Issa said in a statement.

Castillo had denied the friendship in an interview with CNS News in February but later told congressional investigators he and Roseman were friends.

The House Oversight report also asked why Castillo received a special designation as a “service-disabled veteran-owned small business” 27 years after being injured in military prep school.

“He was able to get this designation despite the fact that he never actively served as a member of the armed services, he played college football after the injury and 27 years went by before he sought the designation as a disabled veteran,” the report said.

“Castillo sought the disabled-veteran designation only months before he purchased the company,” the report added.

Gunman In Los Angeles Attic Dead, Police Say

LOS ANGELES (UPI) — A man who shot two police officers, then barricaded himself in a home in the Willowbrook section of Los Angeles is dead, police said Wednesday.

The unidentified man was found by SWAT officers after they entered the home they had surrounded for more than 13 hours, the Los Angeles Times reported, noting it was not clear if he was killed in an initial gun battle with police or died during the standoff.

The gunman, who shot and wounded two police officers searching the building, was found in the attic of the home, above the kitchen. Earlier Tuesday police ordered people to leave the home, LAPD Sgt. Albert Gonzalez said.

One officer suffered face and neck injuries and the other was shot in the leg, investigators said.

The incident began Tuesday when a parole officer and a LAPD gang officer were searching a home in unincorporated South Los Angeles and the gunman opened fire, the newspaper reported.

Multiple shots were exchanged in a gunfight during which bullets ripped through the ceiling and floor, authorities said.

The confrontation occurred in an area patrolled by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Authorities temporarily closed one lane and the off-ramp of the eastbound 105 Freeway near the scene, the California Highway Patrol said.

America’s Smartest City Is Pittsburgh, Analysis Says

SAN FRANCISCO (UPI) — A real estate website announced Wednesday it quantified a list of America’s Smartest Cities and placed Pittsburgh at its top.

A blog post on Movoto.com, which is based in San Francisco and bills itself as “the lighter side of real estate,” said after examining criteria that included universities and college per person, libraries per person, education level of residents, media per person (defined as newspapers, radio, television and magazines), museums per person and a rank of its public schools, and applying them to the 100 most populous cities in the United States, it identified Pittsburgh the country’s smartest.

The rest of Movoto’s top 10 list, in order, includes Orlando, Fla., Washington, Atlanta, Honolulu, Seattle, San Francisco, Cincinnati and Miami.

Senate Passes ‘Border Surge’ Amendment, 69-29; 15 In GOP Vote In Favor

WASHINGTON (UPI) — Comprehensive immigration reform advanced in the U.S. Senate Wednesday when 15 Republicans joined Democrats in approving an amendment on border security.

A “border security surge,” which includes $38 billion in security spending added to $8 billion already included in the bill to achieve full surveillance of U.S. borders, passed by 69-29.

Sponsored by Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., the plan authorizes 20,000 additional border patrol agents and the construction of 700 miles of fencing. Those measures would have to be met within 10 years for immigrants to apply for green cards, the Washington newspaper The Hill reported.

Republicans who voted against the amendment were harshly critical of the bill, saying it repeats mistakes of a 1986 immigration reform bill by offering border enforcement as a promise and offering legalization first, the newspaper noted.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said “it continues false promises of a secured border. It ought to be enforcement now and legalization later.”