Marine fatally shoots two colleagues, himself

A Marine who worked at a rigorous school that tests Marines who want to become officers fatally shot two of his colleagues before killing himself in a barracks dorm room.

The three Marines — two men and a woman — were part of the staff at the officer candidates school on the sprawling Marine Corps Base Quantico in northern Virginia. Their relationship and whether they knew one another was not clear, though military officials described the shootings as “isolated.” They did not release a motive or the identities of those slain.


Punxsutawney Phil accused of misrepresenting spring

A shadow of a different kind is hanging over Punxsutawney Phil.

Authorities in still-frigid Ohio have issued an “indictment” against the famed groundhog, who predicted an early spring when he didn’t see his shadow after emerging from his lair in western Pennsylvania on Feb. 2.

Spring arrived Wednesday, and temperatures are still hovering in the 30s in the Buckeye state and much of the Northeast. While it’s not the coldest spring on record, it’s a good 5 degrees below normal, said Don Hughes, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wilmington, Ohio.

So the heat is on against Phil, and the furry rodent has been charged with misrepresentation of spring, a felony “against the peace and dignity of the state of Ohio,” wrote prosecutor Mike Gmoser in an official-looking indictment.

“Punxsutawney Phil did purposely, and with prior calculation and design, cause the people to believe that spring would come early,” Gmoser declared.

So what’s the penalty?

Death, Gmoser said, tongue firmly in cheek.

That’s “very harsh,” said Bill Deeley, president of the Punxsutawney club that organizes Groundhog Day.

The backlash to Phil’s dead-wrong prognostication has not gone unnoticed in and around his hometown of Gobbler’s Knob, Deeley said, and security precautions are in place.

“Right next to where Phil stays is the police station,” he said. “They’ve been notified, and they said they will keep watching their monitors.”

As for spring, there’s no relief in sight from the wintry conditions. A storm moving into the region Sunday could bring 4 to 8 inches of snow, said meteorologist Hughes.


Line forming for free tickets to gay-marriage arguments

A line has begun forming at the Supreme Court for people who want to attend next week’s arguments in two gay-marriage cases.

Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathleen Arberg confirmed that people began lining up Thursday.

The justices will hear arguments Tuesday on California’s Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage and on Wednesday on the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

Lines frequently form in advance for the free tickets to high-profile arguments, but five days before a case is particularly early.


Congress reprimands IRS for costly TV show parodies

Nobody’s going to win an Emmy for a parody of the TV show “Star Trek” filmed by Internal Revenue Service employees at an agency studio in Maryland.

Instead, the IRS got a rebuke from Congress for wasting taxpayer dollars.

The agency said the video, along with a training video that parodied “Gilligan’s Island,” cost about $60,000. The “Star Trek” video accounted for most of the money, the agency said.

The IRS said Friday it was a mistake for employees to make the six-minute video. It was shown at the opening of a 2010 training and leadership conference but does not appear to have any training value.

— From news service reports