Immigration misinformation. Unchecked violence in Central America is not the chief cause of the surge of unaccompanied minors crossing the border, according to a new report by the El Paso Intelligence Center (EPIC). Officials with the government outpost, which is focused on border security, interviewed hundreds of migrants who recently crossed the southern border. Of those interviewed, 95 percent said their reason for coming was the perception that the United States now grants free passage to underage immigrants and women traveling with minors.
Florida outbreak. Chikungunya, the debilitating, mosquito-borne virus from the Caribbean, has officially spread to the United States. Though travelers for months have been arriving in the U.S. already infected, two people in Florida have contracted the virus locally, health officials reported this week. The disease has likely spread farther in Florida and just gone unreported. Chikungunya is not fatal, but causes crippling joint pain and fever lasting about a week. The virus has nearly saturated many Caribbean islands in the past year.
Gender blur. Convicted national security leaker Chelsea Manning can receive rudimentary treatment for gender dysphoria while in military prison, defense officials said Thursday. Manning, the man formerly known as Bradley Manning, is serving a 35-year-sentence for giving more than 700,000 pages of secret government documents to WikiLeaks in 2009 and 2010. After the conviction, Manning asked to live as a female and use the name Chelsea. The Army tried to transfer Manning to a civilian prison, which it said would be better equipped to handle his medical care. The Bureau of Prisons rejected the request. The Army has not described the treatment it will provide, but Manning’s lawyer said he hoped it would include hormone replacement therapy.
Suspicious packages. Federal prosecutors have criminally charged FedEx with knowingly delivering medications from illegal online pharmacies. An indictment handed down yesterday alleges the shipping company ignored government warnings starting in 2004 that illegal pharmacies were using the company to traffic controlled substances, including sleeping pills and painkillers. FedEx responded to the charges by saying it was impossible to check the legal status of all its clients or the contents of all its packages. A FedEx spokesman also claimed the company asked the Drug Enforcement Agency for a list of suspicious pharmacies in the past, but the agency did not provide it. Rival shipping company UPS Inc. paid $40 million last year to resolve similar allegations from the Justice Department.
Open case. The No. 2 Justice Department official was in the hot seat Thursday on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers demanded answers from Deputy Attorney General James Cole about the department’s probe of the IRS political targeting scandal. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform pressed Cole to explain why nothing has come of the year-long investigation. In January, unnamed officials were quoted saying the investigation was going nowhere and indictments were unlikely. But with the Justice Department probe still open, committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., wanted Cole to admit investigators had found something. Cole wouldn’t say what investigators had found, but he confirmed the department is also looking into the alleged crashed hard drive of former IRS employee Lois Lerner, who has been accused of using her position to single out conservative groups for IRS audits.