---- — WASHINGTON (AP) — Concerned that ethical problems inside the military might run deeper than he realized, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered service leaders Wednesday to add urgency to their drive to ensure “moral character and moral courage” in a force emerging from more than a decade of war.
Almost a year into his tenure as Pentagon chief, Hagel had been worried by a string of ethics scandals that produced a wave of unwelcome publicity for the military. But in light of new disclosures this week, including the announcement of alleged cheating among senior sailors in the nuclear Navy, Hagel decided to push for a fuller accounting.
Last month the Air Force revealed it was investigating widespread cheating on proficiency tests among nuclear missile launch officers in Montana, and numerous senior officers in all branches of the armed forces have been caught in embarrassing episodes of personal misbehavior, inside and outside the nuclear force. The Air Force also is pursuing a drug use investigation, and a massive bribery case in California has ensnared six Navy officers so far.
Pope Francis under added pressure toact on abuse
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis came under new pressure Wednesday to punish bishops who covered up for pedophile priests when a U.N. human rights panel accused the Vatican of systematically protecting its reputation instead of looking out for the safety of children.
In a scathing report that thrilled victims and stunned the Vatican, the United Nations committee said the Holy See maintained a “code of silence” that enabled priests to sexually abuse tens of thousands of children worldwide over decades with impunity.
Among other things, the panel called on the Vatican to immediately remove all priests known or suspected to be child molesters, open its archives on abusers and the bishops who covered up for them, and turn the abuse cases over to law enforcement authorities for investigation and prosecution.
The committee largely brushed aside the Vatican’s claims that it has already instituted new safeguards, and it accused the Roman Catholic Church of still harboring criminals.
Texas executes woman for slaying ofmentally impaired man
HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) — A woman convicted of torturing and killing a mentally impaired man she lured to Texas with the promise of marriage was put to death Wednesday evening in a rare execution of a female prisoner.
The lethal injection of Suzanne Basso, 59, made the New York native only the 14th woman executed in the U.S. since the Supreme Court in 1976 allowed capital punishment to resume. Almost 1,400 men have been put to death during that time.
Before being put to death, Basso told a warden who stood near her, “No sir,” when asked to make a final statement. She appeared to be holding back tears, then smiled at two friends watching through a window. She mouthed a brief word to them and nodded.
GOP conservativesruling out immigrationoverhaul in 2014
WASHINGTON (AP) — Conservative Republicans on Wednesday ruled out any immigration legislation in the House this year, insisting that the GOP should wait until next year when the party might also control the Senate.
House GOP leaders unveiled their broad immigration principles last week that gave hope to advocates and the Obama administration that the first changes in the nation’s laws in three decades might happen in the coming months.
Immigration legislation is one of the top priorities for Obama’s second term.
But several of the conservatives were adamant that the House should do nothing on the issue this year, a midterm election year when the GOP is angling to gain six seats in the Senate and seize majority control. Democrats currently have a 55-45 advantage but are defending more seats, including ones in Republican-leaning states.
“I think it’s a mistake for us to have an internal battle in the Republican Party this year about immigration reform,” Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, told reporters at a gathering of conservatives. “I think when we take back the Senate in 2014 one of the first things we should do next year after we do certain economic issues, I think we should address the immigration issue.”
Police say bad weather, distinctive eyes led to fugitive’s arrest after 37 years on run
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Police say Judy Lynn Hayman’s luck ran out after 37 years on the run not because of an intense manhunt but rather two disparate factors: bad weather that kept an investigator at his desk and her distinctive eyes that had never changed since her mug shot was taken.
San Diego police arrested the 60-year-old woman Monday at her San Diego apartment after receiving a mug shot from Michigan, where an officer staying off icy roads sent fingerprint cards for all old escapees to the FBI.
Authorities had been searching for Hayman since she escaped from Ypsilanti prison in 1977. Hayman served eight months of an 18- to 24-month sentence for attempting to steal clothes from a Detroit-area store.
San Diego police say Hayman identified herself as Jamie Lewis and produced government documents with the name. Officers, however, remained suspicious because of inconsistencies in her story and her resemblance to an old Michigan mug shot they were holding.
“Her eyes gave her away,” San Diego police Lt. Kevin Mayer said. “The eyes in the picture matched the eyes of this woman.”
Mysterious outdoor noises traced to rare ‘frost quakes’ that crack ground, startle homeowners
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Chuck Herron heard the loud thud, then another and another. It sounded like someone was dropping big snowballs on the roof of his home.
The house is more than 100 years old and creaks, Herron said, but he had “never heard anything like that before.”
As his neighbors in tiny Paris, Mo., huddled around televisions Sunday for the Super Bowl, many were startled by similar strange noises. Some even saw flashes of light and called 911.
Scientists say the community experienced a rare natural phenomenon known as a “frost quake,” which happens when moisture in the ground suddenly freezes and expands. If conditions are just right, the soil or bedrock breaks like a brittle frozen pipe, generating mysterious noises that range from an earthquake-like rumble to sharp cracking sounds sometimes mistaken for falling trees.
This winter has been ripe for frost quakes, known technically as cryoseism. Temperatures have been frigid, but occasional warm-ups have allowed for thawing. And the temperature swings have sometimes been abrupt.