The week at a glance...United States
Thompson wins GOP primary: After barnstorming for months and “shaking hands like I’ve never shaken before,” former Gov. Tommy Thompson held off Tea Party challengers this week to win the Republican primary to run for an open Senate seat. Thompson, 70, a four-term governor, emerged as one of the rare GOP establishment candidates to prevail in recent hard-fought primaries. Thompson’s critics tried to cast him as too old and too centrist for today’s GOP, but he benefited from wide name recognition and endorsements from Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, and Ted Nugent. In November, he will run against Democrat Tammy Baldwin for the seat vacated by retiring Democratic Sen. Herb Kohl, in what is sure to be a closely watched race. The candidates are ideological opposites; the liberal, 50-year-old Baldwin, if she prevails, would become the first openly gay U.S. senator.
Campaigns trade ugly charges: Presidential politics took on an angry edge this week as Mitt Romney charged President Obama with making “wild and reckless accusations that disgrace the office of the presidency.” On the last stop of a five-state bus tour, the GOP nominee lashed out at Obama’s campaign, which had mounted a fierce rebuttal to recent Romney charges that the president had “quietly ended work requirements for welfare,” a statement that Democrats said was false and had malicious racial overtones. Romney then reacted to Vice President Joe Biden’s remarks at a campaign rally in Virginia, where he warned that Republicans would unshackle big banks from regulations to the detriment of consumers. “They’re gonna put y’all back in chains,” Biden said. The reference to slavery was a “new low,” said Romney. The Obama campaign countered that the “hypocritical” Romney was “pouring tens of millions of dollars into negative ads that are demonstrably false.”
State College, Pa.
Sandusky sex-ring probed: U.S. Postal Service inspectors are leading a joint federal investigation to determine whether former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky exchanged child pornography with other pedophiles and shared boys with a wealthy donor to the school’s football program, it was reported last week. After an analysis of Sandusky’s computer, authorities are looking for evidence that the former coach, now in jail awaiting sentencing, used the U.S. mail to send “seductive letters” across state lines for sexual purposes. FBI officials are also looking into claims by a witness who said he saw Sandusky and a football-program booster sexually abusing boys on a private plane. “His claim is being taken seriously by investigators,” said one source. “The investigation is in its early stages. They have not yet cast a wide net, but it is ongoing and it is serious.”
Immigration reform: The first wave of an estimated 1.7 million young, undocumented immigrants this week began applying for the temporary right to live and work openly in the U.S. without fear of deportation. The controversial program, signed into law two months ago by President Obama as an executive order, amounts to one of the most sweeping changes in immigration policy in decades. Under the program’s guidelines, those born after June 15, 1981, who came to this country before they were 16 are eligible if they are in school, have graduated from high school, or have been honorably discharged from the U.S. armed forces. Critics of the program call it an election-year ploy to sway Latino voters and grant amnesty to undocumented immigrants without congressional authority. “They’re going to have permission to work here, they’re going to have a Social Security number, and, for all intents and purposes, they’ll have permanent residency in the United States,” said Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies.
Record python captured: The largest Burmese python ever caught in Florida’s wilderness was captured this week, said scientists at the University of Florida. The female snake, measuring 17 feet 7 inches long and weighing 164 pounds, was found in Everglades National Park, a lush breeding ground for pythons that have been released, or escaped, into the wild after being brought to this country. The female python was pregnant with 87 eggs, which scientists believe to be another record. Non-native Burmese pythons like this have been blamed for a staggering decline of native mammals in the Everglades. Scientists claim that this week’s discovery proves how pervasive the Southeast Asian snakes have become in South Florida. Finding a python this big “means these snakes are surviving a long time in the wild,” said Kenneth Krysko of the Florida Museum of Natural History.
College Station, Texas
Texas A&M shooting: A gunman, apparently enraged over an eviction notice, shot six people this week, killing two, before he was fatally shot by police. Thomas Alton Caffall, 35, allegedly opened fire on Constable Brian Bachmann, 41, who had come to his rented home to serve eviction papers. In the 30-minute gun battle that followed, Bachmann, Caffall, and a bystander were killed in this quiet neighborhood near the campus of Texas A&M University. Officials at Texas A&M, a 50,000-student school that dominates this city, said Caffall was neither a student nor a school employee. An attorney for the gunman’s family said he had been suffering from “mental issues,” and his Facebook page indicated that he idolized legendary snipers from World War II and the Vietnam War. Courtney Clark, Caffall’s sister, said the family is “just distraught by the havoc that he has caused.”