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New poll: Majority of Americans want stricter gun control, assult weapon ban

Nearly six in 10 Americans want stricter gun laws in the aftermath of last month’s deadly school shooting in Connecticut, with majorities favoring a nationwide ban on military-style, rapid-fire weapons and limits on gun violence depicted in video games, movies and TV shows, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll. A lopsided 84 per cent of adults would like to see the establishment of a federal standard for background checks for people buying guns at gun shows, the poll showed. Three-quarters of Americans said they reacted to the Connecticut massacre with deep anger, while 54 per cent said they felt
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Obama set to reveal new gun control initiatives

President Barack Obama’s broad effort to reduce gun violence will include proposed bans on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines as well as more than a dozen executive orders aimed at circumventing congressional opposition to stricter gun control. Obama was to announce the measures Wednesday at a White House event that will bring together law enforcement officials, lawmakers and children who wrote the president about gun violence following last month’s shooting of 20 young students and six adults at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. The broad package Obama will unveil will also include efforts to stop bullying and
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House approves $50.7 billion for superstorm aid

More than 10 weeks after Superstorm Sandy brutalized parts of the heavily populated Northeast, the House approved $50.7 billion in emergency relief for the victims Tuesday night as Republican leaders struggled to close out an episode that exposed painful party divisions inside Congress and out. The vote was 241-180, and officials said the Senate was likely to accept the measure early next week and send it to President Barack Obama for his signature. Democrats supported the aid in large numbers, while majority Republicans opposed it by a lopsided margin. “We are not crying wolf here,” said Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J.,
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Ken Salazar will leave Interior Secretary job in March

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will leave the Obama administration in March, an Obama administration official said Wednesday. Salazar has run the Interior Department throughout President Barack Obama’s first term. Before joining the Cabinet, he served as a senator from Colorado. Salazar began his tenure with a pledge to help reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil. He told his confirmation hearing he would seek to expand renewable energy on public lands and promote the “wise use” of traditional energy sources. He is the latest Cabinet secretary to leave the administration as Obama heads into his second term. Secretary of State Hillary
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For Obama, a second chance for a speech for the ages

Sixteen presidents before Barack Obama got a second chance at giving an inaugural address for the ages. Most didn’t make much of it. George Washington’s remarks the second time around were admirably succinct — only 135 words — but hardly qualify as an address. Thomas Jefferson, who laid out a masterful brief on democracy at his first oath-taking, spent much of his second complaining that the press was telling lies about him. Ulysses S. Grant also began his second term by grousing that he’d been slandered, although it’s unlikely those who had heard his first inaugural were expecting much better.
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Obama may bypass Congress, use executive action to impose gun control

Facing powerful opposition to sweeping gun regulations, President Barack Obama is weighing 19 steps that could be taken through executive action alone, congressional officials said. Those steps could include ordering stricter action against people who lie on gun sale background checks, striking limits on federal research into gun use, ordering tougher penalties against gun trafficking, and giving schools flexibility to use grant money to improve safety. Obama is expected to unveil his proposals as early as Wednesday, barely over a month since the massacre of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., thrust the
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New York state passes new, tougher gun-control laws

New York lawmakers agreed to pass the toughest gun control law in the nation and the first since the Newtown, Conn., school shooting, and now dare other states and Washington to follow. “This is a scourge on society,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday night, six days after making gun control a centerpiece of his progressive agenda in his State of the State address. The bipartisan effort was fueled by the Newton tragedy that took the lives of 20 first graders and six educators. “At what point do you say, ‘No more innocent loss of life.'” Sen. Jeffrey Klein, leader of
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Obama refusing to negoiate on debt ceiling

President Barack Obama on Monday rejected any negotiations with Republicans over raising the U.S. borrowing limit, accusing his opponents of trying to extract a ransom for not ruining the economy in the latest fiscal fight. At a White House news conference called to promote his position on the budget, Obama vowed not to trade cuts in government spending sought by Republicans in exchange for raising the borrowing limit. “What I will not do is to have that negotiation with a gun at the head of the American people,” he said. With an agreement to prevent the economy falling over a
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Military suicides continue to rise

For U.S. troops, less combat is not translating to less stress. Members of the military committed suicide at a record pace in 2012 — almost one per day — and some experts think the trend will grow worse this year. Pentagon figures obtained Monday by The Associated Press show 349 suicides among active-duty troops last year, up from 301 the year before and exceeding the Pentagon’s own internal projection of 325. Last year’s total is the highest since the Pentagon began closely tracking suicides in 2001. It exceeds the 295 Americans who died in Afghanistan last year, by the AP’s
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If debt ceiling reached, what bills won’t be paid?

In the summer of 2011, when a debt crisis like the current one loomed, President Barack Obama warned Republicans that older Americans might not get their Social Security checks unless there was a deal to raise the nation’s borrowing limit. After weeks of brinkmanship, Republicans consented and Obama agreed to a deficit-reduction plan the GOP wanted. Crisis averted, for a time. Now that there’s a fresh showdown, the possibility of Social Security cuts —and more — is back on the table. The government could run out of cash to pay all its bills in full as early as Feb. 15,
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