WASHINGTON

Top Republicans condemn Iowa congressman’s remarks

House Republican leaders are denouncing one of their own for remarks made last week that disparaged most illegal immigrants as drug smugglers. The comments by Rep. Steve King of Iowa came as the party is trying to improve its image and political prospects among the fast-growing Latino community.

King told the conservative website Newsmax that for every young illegal immigrant who becomes a valedictorian, “there’s another 100 out there that weigh 130 pounds, and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”

The Iowa lawmaker has been at the forefront of a group of House conservatives who are staunchly opposed to any path to citizenship for immigrants who are in the country illegally, but his rancor has begun to alarm top Republicans.

Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., condemned King on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, who was born in Puerto Rico, called King’s remarks “irresponsible and reprehensible.”

ORLANDO, Fla.

Zimmerman lawyer rejects notion that crash was staged

An attorney for George Zimmerman brushed aside suggestions Wednesday that his client’s actions in helping save a family from a car wreck were somehow staged.

Mark O’Mara told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that multiple government agencies and witnesses have backed up the account in which Zimmerman, who was recently acquitted of charges in the death of Trayvon Martin, assisted the family after their SUV flipped over on a Florida highway.

“The same people who refuse to accept the jury’s verdict, just want to be angry, just want to hate George Zimmerman, are still going to,” O’Mara said. “Even if we had a videotape of the accident, they would still say it was made up. So you can’t really respond to people who just don’t want to listen to the truth.”

Earlier, the husband and wife who were involved in the accident canceled a Wednesday news conference at O’Mara’s law office. Mark and Dana Gerstle had planned to talk about Zimmerman’s assistance.

O’Mara told Blitzer that they changed their minds, deciding they didn’t want to be in the spotlight. After discussing the situation with family and friends, O’Mara said they realized that being connected to Zimmerman right now could be toxic.

SAN FRANCISCO

Groups file petition seeking action on pesticide drift

Activists have filed another petition to force federal regulators to set safety standards that protect children from pesticides that drift from farm fields into nearby communities.

Pesticide Action Network, the United Farmworkers of America and other groups filed the petition Wednesday in federal court.

It asks a judge to force the Environmental Protection Agency to answer a petition from 2009, which demanded the agency evaluate children’s exposures to pesticide drift and adopt no-spray buffer zones around homes, schools, parks and daycare centers.

Plaintiffs say in the four years since the initial petition was filed, the EPA hasn’t responded or taken action.

EPA spokesman Bill Keener said the agency couldn’t comment.

In 1996, Congress required the EPA to set standards to protect children from pesticides.

— From news service reports