Fishermen in the Philippines accidentally caught and later ate a megamouth shark, one of the rarest fishes in the world with only 40 others recorded to have been encountered, the World Wildlife Fund said Tuesday. The 1,100-pound, 13-foot megamouth died while struggling in the fishermen's net on March 30 off Burias island. It was taken to nearby Donsol in Sorsogon province, where it was butchered and eaten, said Gregg Yan, spokesman for WWF-Philippines. Shark meat is the main ingredient in a local delicacy. The first megamouth was discovered in Hawaii in 1976, prompting scientists to create an entirely new family and genus of sharks. Megamouths are docile filter-feeders with wide, blubbery mouths. Yan said the Burias megamouth's stomach revealed it was feeding on shrimp larvae. Yan said the fish was tagged "Megamouth 41" — the 41st megamouth recorded in the world — by the Florida Museum of Natural History. Others megamouths have been encountered in California, Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia, Brazil, Ecuador, Senegal, South Africa, Mexico and Australia.
From 'House' to White House
The White House has hired actor Kal Penn as a liaison between President Barack Obama's administration and Asian constituents. White House spokesman Shin Inouye said Tuesday that the actor who had a recurring role on Fox's TV show House and has starred in several movies would join the staff as an associate director in the Office of Public Liaison. His role will be to connect Obama with the Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities, as well as arts groups. Penn starred as Kumar in the movie, Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay. His House character committed suicide in Monday's episode.
Gay marriage roundup
Vermont, the state that invented civil unions, on Tuesday became a pioneer once again as the first state to legalize gay marriage through a legislature's vote. Lawmakers overrode Gov. Jim Douglas' veto of a bill that will allow gays and lesbians to marry beginning Sept. 1. Connecticut, Massachusetts and Iowa are the only other states that allow gay marriage. Each moved to do so through the courts, not legislatures. Bills to allow same-sex marriage are currently before lawmakers in New Hampshire, Maine, New York and New Jersey.
Newt Gingrich, the former Republican House speaker, said Tuesday that an Iowa Supreme Court decision Friday to legalize gay marriage was "outrageously wrong." "It's the height of judicial arrogance," he said. "You have seven lawyers who have decided, on their own, to fundamentally change Iowa." Gingrich also called the legislative veto override that made it legal in Vermont "healthier." "The people of Vermont have every right to elect the legislators they want, and if they disagree with this decision they have every right to replace them and so it is the people's branch overriding the governor, who's elected, and it's not an isolated imposition by the elite." Gingrich has been mentioned as a possible Republican presidential contender in 2012.
The District of Columbia Council on Tuesday gave preliminary approval to a bill that would require the city to recognize gay marriages performed in other states. The legislation requires a final vote next month before becoming law. It also must be reviewed by Congress, which has final say over the city's laws.
The White House is allocating tickets for Monday's Easter Egg Roll to gay and lesbian families as part of the Obama administration's outreach to diverse communities.
A record number of immigrants were naturalized in 2008, according to the Department of Homeland Security. The department has attributed the surge to a flood of applications ahead of an increase in the citizenship application fee from $330 to $595.
1,046,539 New American citizens overall in 2008, a record and 58 percent more than in 2007.
660,477 Number of people naturalized in 2007.
461,317 New American citizens in 2008 who were Hispanics.
231,815 New citizens who were born in Mexico.
65,971 New citizens who were born in India.
58,792 New citizens who were born in the Philippines.
40,017 New citizens who were born in China.
39,871 New citizens who were born in Cuba.
297,909 Newly naturalized people living in California.
128,328 Newly naturalized people living in Florida.
Newly naturalized people living in New York.