Nation & World Briefly
January 16, 2012
Environmental fears mount after ship crash
ROME (AP) – Italy’s cruise liner tragedy turned into an environmental crisis Monday, as rough seas battering the stricken mega-ship raised fears that fuel might leak into pristine waters off Tuscany that are part of a protected sanctuary for dolphins, porpoises and whales.
The ship’s jailed captain, meanwhile, lost the support of the vessel’s Italian owner as he battled prosecutors’ claims that he caused the deadly wreck that killed at least six and left 29 missing.
Earlier, authorities had said 16 people were missing. But an Italian Coast Guard official, Marco Brusco, said late Monday that 25 passengers and four crew members were unaccounted for three days after the disaster. He didn’t explain the jump, but indicated 10 of the missing are Germans. Two Americans are also among the missing.
At least three families of Italian passengers have said that despite their loved ones’ being listed among those safely evacuated, they hadn’t heard from them.
There still is “a glimmer of hope” that there could be survivors on parts of the vast Costa Concordia that not have been searched by rescuers, Brusco said. A search of the above-water portion of the ship last yielded a survivor, a crewman who had broken his leg, on Sunday.
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House Republicans map election-year strategy
WASHINGTON (AP) – When last seen in Washington, House Republicans were furious with their own leader, Speaker John Boehner, and angry with their Senate Republican brethren over how the showdown over the Social Security tax cut turned into a year-end political debacle.
The holidays and three weeks away from the Capitol have tempered some of the bad feelings, but several GOP lawmakers’ emotions are still raw as Congress returns for a 2012 session certain to be driven by election-year politics and fierce fights over the size and scope of government and its taxing, spending and borrowing practices.
In the week before Christmas, House Republicans revolted against the Senate-passed deal to extend the payroll tax cut for two months for 160 million workers and ensure jobless benefits for millions more long-term unemployed. Facing intense political pressure, Boehner, R-Ohio, caved, daring tea partyers and other dissenters to challenge his decision to pass the short-term plan without a roll-call vote. None stepped forward to stop him.
“A lot of us who went into battle turned around and no one was behind us,” freshman Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., said last week, sounding like the fight was still fresh and insistent that leadership had abandoned them.
“A lot of us are still smarting,” he added.
Mount Rainier snowshoer found alive
ASHFORD, Wash. (AP) – A 66-year-old snowshoer missing on Mount Rainier since Saturday has been found alive.
Park spokeswoman Lee Taylor says Yong Chun Kim, of Tacoma, Wash., was alert and conscious when a team of three rescuers found him Monday afternoon. She says he was cold but otherwise in stable condition.
Rescuers are working to bring him out.
Kim was leading a group on a snowshoe hike on the mountain when he slid down a slope and became separated from his party. He radioed to the group twice to say he was OK. But when he failed to meet up with them in the parking lot, a search was launched.
Jon Huntsman quits presidential race
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (AP) – Republican Jon Huntsman has dropped out of the GOP presidential race and has endorsed Mitt Romney.
Huntsman said the former Massachusetts governor gives the Republican Party its best shot at defeating President Barack Obama in the November general election.
After staking his candidacy on New Hampshire, Huntsman finished third in the primary there last week. He faced a likely defeat in South Carolina’s primary on Saturday.
Huntsman’s resume had suggested he could be a major contender for the GOP presidential nomination. But the former Utah governor and diplomat found a poor reception for his brand of moderate civility, which he had hoped would draw support from independents as well as Republican moderates.
Huntsman announced his decision Monday in Myrtle Beach, S.C.