SAN DIEGO (AP) — Social media and text messaging have emerged as indispensable tools for advocates of a sweeping immigration overhaul, but street marches have an enduring allure.
Tens of thousands are expected to rally in dozens of cities from New York to Bozeman, Mont., on Wednesday in what has become an annual cry for easing the nation's immigration laws. The rallies carry a special sense of urgency this year, two weeks after a bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill that would bring many of the estimated 11 million living in the U.S. illegally out of the shadows.
"The invisible become visible on May 1," said Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, which is organizing what was expected to be the nation's largest rally.
The May Day crowds were not expected to approach the massive demonstrations of 2006 and 2007, during the last serious attempt to introduce major changes to the U.S. immigration system. Despite the large turnouts, many advocates of looser immigration laws felt they were outmaneuvered by opponents who flooded congressional offices with phone calls and faxes at the behest of conservative talk-radio hosts.
Now, immigrant advocacy groups are focusing heavily on calling and writing members of Congress, sometimes targeting specific lawmakers at key moments in the debate. Reform Immigration for America, a network of groups, claims more than 1.2 million subscribers, including recipients of text messages and Facebook followers.
A text-message blast during a key vote in 2010 on legislation to provide legal status to many who came to the country as children resulted in 75,000 phone calls to members of Congress in two days, said Jeff Parcher, communications director for the Center for Community Change, which works on technology-driven advocacy for the network of groups.
A phone blitz targeting Sen. Orrin Hatch produced 100 calls a day to the Utah lawmaker's office last week, Parcher said. After Hatch was quoted Sunday in The Salt Lake Tribune saying immigration reform couldn't wait, a message went out to call his office with thanks.
MILWAUKEE (AP) — The U.S. is allowing a hunter to bring a slain African rhinoceros back to Wisconsin, the first time American officials have allowed a black rhinoceros hunting trophy to be imported since the animal was listed as endangered in 1980.
David K. Reinke, 52, of Madison, killed the rhino in 2009 with the blessing of the Namibian government. He argued that the killing was an act of "conservation hunting" because he was culling an elderly rhino that was unable to reproduce but could still aggressively crowd out fertile rivals. But the decision angers wildlife supporters, who worry the decision sets a dangerous precedent encouraging trophy hunters to kill endangered animals.
"My desire is to help save the rhino through a scientific method approved by the United States and other agencies," Reinke said. "It's all about conservation."
The U.S. government has listed the black rhinoceros as endangered, making it illegal to import the animal — dead or alive — except for scientific purposes or if doing so enhances the species' survival. Other species of rhino, including the northern white rhinoceros, are protected as well.
The Fish and Wildlife Service said last month it granted Reinke's permit "in recognition of the role that well-managed, limited sport hunting plays" in the recovery of the black rhino in Namibia. The country allows five male black rhinos that are too old to reproduce to be shot each year, the service said.
The rhino that Reinke shot was 34 years old. The Fish and Wildlife Service says the rhino typically lives 30 to 35 years, grows to about 10 to 12 feet long and weighs between 1,800 and 3,000 pounds.
"The removal of limited numbers of males has been shown to contribute to overall population growth in some areas by reducing fighting injuries and deaths among males, decreasing juvenile mortality and shortening calving intervals," the service said in a statement.
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Legislature's finance committee on Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected Republican Gov. Scott Walker's plan to let the state Historical Society take over Baraboo's struggling Circus World Museum, saying the site will have to find other ways to survive.
The Republican-controlled committee's co-chairs, Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, and Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, said the state faces larger problems and lawmakers must be prudent about spending tax dollars.
"Circus World will have to make it on its own," Nygren told reporters.
The museum stands on what was once the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus's winter grounds in Baraboo, a city of 12,000 about 50 miles northwest of Madison. The museum includes original buildings from the winter camp, an extensive collection of circus artifacts, including more than 200 circus wagons, posters and ads as well as a hippodrome performance center.
The Historical Society owns the museum but a private foundation has run it for 53 years through a lease and management contract. The museum's revenue has been dwindling over the last decade due largely to declining attendance. According to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, an estimated 71,076 people visited the site last year, down more than 50 percent from 143,300 in 2000. The museum's 2013 budget assumes expenses will outpace revenues by $975,000.
In January the foundation's board informed the society that the panel planned to ask the governor and the Legislature for additional state funding. Walker responded by inserting a provision in his 2013-15 executive budget calling for the society to take over the museum's operations and setting out $2.4 million, including $1.2 million in tax dollars, to fund 10 state positions at the museum.
The foundation's executive director, Steve Freese, said after Tuesday's hearing the proposal caught the foundation completely off-guard. A turf war has since erupted. Takeover opponents argue the museum should remain in the hands of a local-operated private enterprise and current museum workers might lose their jobs under Walker's plan. Supporters counter the society could provide more stable funding and circus history is part of Wisconsin's story, not just Baraboo's.
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (AP) — Crews searching the Chippewa River in Eau Claire have been unable to find two men seen hanging on to a canoe in the water.
Authorities were called to the river at 1:40 p.m. Tuesday. An Eau Claire police spokesman says a kayaker saw two men in the river hanging on to a capsized silver canoe.
The two men are believed to be in their 20s. The kayaker tried unsuccessfully to throw a rope to the men.
The Leader-Telegram (http://bit.ly/12jhupb) reports fire crews had boats in the water, searching for the canoeists.
A Mayo Two medical helicopter joined the search by air for about an hour.
Fire boats and crews were on the water for about five hours Tuesday but did not find the canoeists or the canoe.