National briefs: California rep touted for House post

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WASHINGTON — California Republican Kevin McCarthy quickly amassed support to become House majority leader Thursday, but his likely ascent shut conservatives out of the chamber’s top leadership jobs, leaving them fuming and exposing deep fissures within the GOP.

Within 48 hours of Rep. Eric Cantor’s lightning primary-election downfall, Mr. McCarthy and his deputies aggressively rounded up votes with a pitch to Southern Republicans and pointed private conversations on the House floor in a race that occasionally had the markings of a personality-driven contest for class president.

Republicans sought to project an aura of unity but failed to quiet conservative complaints that such quick party elections after Mr. Cantor’s defeat gave them little time to rally around an alternative who better reflects the right’s ideology and the emboldened Tea Party. Votes are scheduled for next Thursday for majority leader, the No. 2 job behind Speaker John Boehner, and for majority whip, the No. 3 party post.

Bush’s 90th birthday jump

KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine — Former President George H.W. Bush celebrated his 90th birthday Thursday by making a tandem parachute jump near his summer home in coastal Maine, fulfilling a goal he made five years ago after a similar jump even though he can no longer use his legs.

The nation’s 41st president jumped from a helicopter at about 6,000 feet while harnessed to retired Sgt. 1st Class Mike Elliott, a former member of the Golden Knights, the Army’s parachute team. Mr. Elliott guided Mr. Bush to a safe landing on his 85th birthday.

Priest shot dead in church

PHOENIX — A priest was shot and killed and another was injured at a Roman Catholic church in downtown Phoenix, setting off an intense search for suspects and clues into what police called a “tragic and appalling” attack.

The surviving priest called 911 to report a burglary at the Mother of Mercy Mission near the state Capitol around 9:30 p.m. Wednesday and administered last rites to the mortally wounded clergyman while waiting for police to arrive. The Rev. Kenneth Walker, 29, died at the hospital, and the Rev. Joseph Terra, 56, is hospitalized in critical condition with unspecified injuries.

Police have no suspects at this point. They are searching the neighborhood, interviewing the injured priest and examining physical evidence from the scene. Police said they are unsure how many attackers were involved and if robbery was the motive.

Also in the nation ...

Charles Wright, 78, a retired professor at the University of Virginia, was named Thursday by the Library of Congress to be the next poet laureate. ... Jill Abramson, who was ousted as executive editor of The New York Times in May, will become a visiting lecturer in narrative nonfiction for Harvard University in the fall semester. ... Swarthmore College president Rebecca Chopp was named Thursday the new chancellor of the University of Denver.

— Compiled from news services


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