Unprecedented unity? Members of the Evangelical Immigration Table and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will announce later today a joint letter to Congress, urging lawmakers to adopt a comprehensive immigration reform package. They describe the Protestant-Catholic unity on immigration as unprecedented. But it’s not likely to have much effect on the stalled legislative process. Yesterday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and 636 business organizations made a similar appeal. But after announcing a slate of GOP immigration principles last month during the caucus retreat, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said earlier this month he does not expect to have enough votes to move any legislation this year. Boehner said at the time he couldn’t understand the difficulty. But this year’s elections are to blame. Moderate Republicans facing Tea Party challenges in contentious primaries could be doomed by an immigration vote that could be described as offering anything like amnesty to the country’s estimated 11 million illegal residents.
One month to go. President Barack Obama announced 4 million people have signed up for healthcare coverage under the Affordable Care Act, a dramatic increase in the last two months but still well short of the 7 million goal the president set for the March 31 deadline. People who do not have health insurance by then will be fined. Obama blamed the slow start to enrollments on the now-famous glitches that rendered the federal healthcare exchange website all but inoperable for weeks. But he also blamed conservatives’ vocal opposition to Obamacare for making people delay their decision to sign up.
Drug deaths? Officials investigating the mysterious deaths of two former Navy SEALS aboard the container ship made famous by last year’s Oscar-nominated film Captain Philips, say drug use might have been a factor. Crew members found the bodies of Jeffrey Reynolds and Mark Kennedy in their cabin aboard the Maersk Alabama, which they were tasked with protecting against pirates, while the ship was docked at Port of Victoria in the Seychelles. Police reports now reveal investigators found a syringe in Kennedy’s hand and brown heroin powder in the room. Friends of both men say they would not do drugs. Autopsy results are pending. But illegal drug use is rampant in the Seychelles, where heroin is often cut with other substances to make the limited supply go further. Before dying in their cramped cabin, the men spent the night on the town, partying at two bars and two casinos. When the second casino closed at 3 a.m., surveillance footage shows the pair meeting two women and disappearing with them down a dark corridor.
Buried treasure. A California couple who stumbled over a can sticking out of the dirt on their property ended up discovering the largest stash of buried treasure ever discovered on U.S. soil. The couple, identified only as John and Mary, dug up the can and found it filled with gold coins dating back to the late 1800s. They eventually found a total of eight cans containing more than 1,400 rare and perfectly preserved coins. The treasure has a face value of about $28,000 but experts say the coins could fetch close to $10 million. One coin alone—an 1866-S No Motto Double Eagle—is valued at around $1 million. The couple plans to keep some of the coins and sell some, giving part of the proceeds to charity. No word yet on how or when the coins came to be buried in their back yard or who might have left them there.
Art as leadership? Former President George W. Bush has become quite the artist since leaving the White House and his life in the limelight. Like many of the old masters, Bush has become a virtual recluse in order to devote himself to his work. Or maybe he was just really sick of having his every word harpooned by a vociferously unfriendly media. But the president-turned-painter is throwing caution to the wind and opening himself up for scrutiny again, this time for his artistic ability. Bush will put his paintings on display at his presidential library in Dallas. The exhibit will be called “The Art of Leadership: A President’s Personal Diplomacy.”