NATIONAL HARBOR, Md., March 16 (UPI) -- Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich told conservatives Saturday the Republican Party establishment lacks new ideas and is "mired in stupidity."
Speaking at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md., Gingrich held up a candle and a light bulb to make an anti-establishment point favored by Tea Party supporters.
"[Washington lawmakers are] all trapped in the age of candles," he said.
Gingrich said the Republican establishment is "anti-idea" and "just plain wrong" in its approach to politics.
"We stand today on the edge of a great future, but Washington is blind to it in both parties," he said.
Gingrich said congressional Republicans have been "determined to avoid" learning "how to think about a new world."
"It is sobering to me to be standing here, as a senior member of this party, telling you from 1976 to 2013 we have the dominant wing of this party, which has learned nothing and is as mired in the past and mired in stupidity as it was in 1976."
He said, however, the GOP should keep to its core principles, The Hill reported.
"Now, you can hear a false attack that we don't need new ideas. Let me draw a distinction: We don't need new principles," he said. "But we need lots of ideas about how to implement those principles in the 21st century."
Tea Party favorite Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., in a speech at CPAC Saturday, castigated President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama for what she called a "life of excess" while many are without jobs and the federal budget is being cut.
"We found out there are five chefs on Air Force One," she said. "There are two projectionists who operate the White House movie theater. They regularly sleep at the White House in case the first family wants a really, really late show. I don't mean to be petty here, but can't they just press the play button?"
Pope meets, blesses press corps
VATICAN CITY, March 16 (UPI) -- Pope Francis Saturday met with, and blessed, the international press corps assembled in Rome since the conclave that elected him was convened.
Francis joked with the press corps about the long hours they've spent covering the process to pick a new pope, ANSA News Agency said.
"You've had a lot of work, eh,?" a grinning Francis told journalists inside the Paul VI Hall. "A special thanks to your valuable service in recent days."
Though reporters were not permitted to ask questions of the new pontiff, plenty of questions remain regarding clergy sex abuse in Europe and the United States, the Vatican's troubled banking system and the uproar when his predecessor Benedict XVI's butler leaked private papers to a reporter.
After the brief chat, Francis personally greeted several veteran members of the Vatican press corps.
Anglican bishop: Bless gay unions
LIVERPOOL, England, March 16 (UPI) -- The Anglican bishop of Liverpool, England, says the Church of England should bless same-sex civil unions.
Bishop James Jones said in an address to the diocese synod the gospel "is embracing and inclusive."
"How has the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in spite of its global reach become so alienating and exclusive?" Jones asked.
Jones is part of the evangelical wing of the church, which also includes the archbishop of Canterbury. He is one of the highest-ranking church leaders to break ranks with its dim view of homosexual marriages, Britain's The Daily Telegraph said Saturday.
Jones, who is due to retire this year, stopped short of endorsing same-sex marriage but predicted history will not look kindly on orthodoxy that depended heavily on "whether or not one had a generous attitude to those who are gay."
U.S., S. Korea pledge unity on sanctions
SEOUL, March 16 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se agreed Saturday to cooperate on implementing sanctions against North Korea.
Kerry and his South Korean counterpart spoke by telephone in advance of Kerry's planned visit to the nation next month, Yonhap News Agency said. The leaders pledged to move forward with implementation of a tough new round of sanctions against North Korea ordered by the United Nations Security Council following the North's most recent nuclear test explosion.
Kerry will visit the Korean peninsula, China and Japan in April. His visit to Seoul paves the way for a planned summit in May between U.S. President Barack Obama and newly elected South Korean President Park Geun-hye.