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NRA, other gun proponents, play down increase in violent crimes by ‘law abiding’ citizens

While gun ownership proponents like the National Rifle Association claim increased availability of firearms does not affect the threats of violence by ‘law-abiding’ gun owners, a study of crime records show an increasing number of such crimes involve those who purchased guns legally and had no previous run-ins with the law. Relaxed gun laws that allow holders of concealed carry permits to carry guns in bars have resulted in upturns of violent acts by gun owners in such establishments. And the NRA is taking steps to ignore or conceal such statistics from the public and press by slanting their own
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GOP threats of cuts lead to voluntary downsizing by governments

Republicans and other fiscal conservatives keep insisting on more federal austerity and a smaller government. Without much fanfare or acknowledgement, they’ve already gotten much of both. Spending by federal, state and local governments on payrolls, equipment, buildings, teachers, emergency workers, defense programs and other core governmental functions has been shrinking steadily since the deep 2007-2009 recession and as the anemic recovery continues. This recent shrinkage has largely been obscured by an increase in spending on benefit payments to individuals under “entitlement” programs, including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and veterans benefits. Retiring baby boomers are driving much of this increase. Another
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Oregon gov. will brief other state leaders on health overhaul plan

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber will brief other state leaders this weekend on his plan to lower Medicaid costs, touting an overhaul that President Barack Obama highlighted in his State of the Union address for its potential to lower the deficit even as health care expenses climb. The Oregon Democrat leaves for Washington, D.C., on Friday to pitch his plan that changes the way doctors and hospitals are paid and improves health care coordination for low income residents so that treatable medical problems don’t grow in severity or expense. Kitzhaber says his goal is to win over a handful of other
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Older folks not protected by this year’s flu shots

It turns out this year’s flu shot is doing a startlingly dismal job of protecting older people, the most vulnerable age group. The vaccine is proving only 9 percent effective in those 65 and older against the harsh strain of the flu that is predominant this season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday. Health officials are baffled as to why this is so. But the findings help explain why so many older people have been hospitalized with the flu this year. Despite the findings, the CDC stood by its recommendation that everyone over 6 months get flu
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Obama may step up support of gay marriage through Supreme Court

Facing heightened expectations from gay rights supporters, the Obama administration is considering urging the Supreme Court to overturn California’s ban on gay marriage — a move that could have a far-reaching impact on same-sex couples across the country. The administration has one week to file a friend-of-the-court brief with the justices outlining its opinion on the California ban, known as Proposition 8. While an administration brief alone is unlikely to sway the high court, the government’s opinion does carry weight with the justices. Opponents of the Proposition 8 ban believe the president signaled his intention to file a brief when
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Sen. Domenici fathered out-of-wedlock child with another senator’s daughter

For nearly 40 years, Sen. Pete Domenici‘s reputation was that of a well-respected — some might say staid — conservative Republican and honorable family man. But the 80-year-old New Mexico political giant’s persona was shaken Wednesday with the revelation that he had an out-of-wedlock child in the 1970s and became embroiled in what might be described as an inside-the-Beltway soap opera. While his wife Nancy was raising their eight children, Domenici had the affair and secret child with a woman about half his age — and who happened to be the daughter of one of his Senate colleagues. The woman
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Biden to speak at conference on gun violence

Vice President Joe Biden was scheduled to speak Thursday at a gun violence conference a few miles from the scene of last year’s Newtown school shooting massacre. The conference, in Danbury, is to push President Barack Obama’s gun control proposals. It was organized by members of the state’s congressional delegation including U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who said the proximity to Newtown was of “symbolic significance.” “There will be people with enormous expertise speaking but also Connecticut and Newtown residents who have felt the full burden and brunt of this horrific tragedy,” Blumenthal said. Other officials including U.S. Education Secretary Arne
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National Rifle Association padding membership claims while hiding losses

Insiders at the embattled National Rifle Association say the organization is padding its claims of recent increases in membership and say more members are leaving amid criticisms over strident positions taken by controversial leader Wayne LaPierre. “In reality, our membership is probably dropping,” says one embittered NRA staffer, who asked not to be identified.  “It’s hard to say because our membership department is always playing games with the numbers.” Capitol Hill Blue has received several hundred emails from persons who identify themselves as “former NRA members” who have left the organization in protests over the group’s hard-core positions following the
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Biden: Shotguns work just fine for home protection

  Vice President Joe Biden said Tuesday that Americans don’t need semi-automatic weapons to protect their homes because a couple of blasts from a shotgun will scare off intruders. “Buy a shotgun, buy a shotgun,” the vice president encouraged those worried about defending themselves. He was speaking in an online video as part of a Facebook town hall hosted by Parents Magazine on the administration’s strategy for reducing gun violence, which he has led at the direction of President Barack Obama. Biden said he keeps two shotguns and shells locked up at home and he’s told his wife, Jill, to
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Right-winger Ted Cruz: Another Joe McCarthy?

First-term Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas on Tuesday staunchly defended his aggressive, in-your-face style that already is raising eyebrows in Washington and has led a Senate Democrat to suggest his tactics reminded her of McCarthyism. “Washington has a long tradition of trying to hurl insults to silence those who they don’t like what they’re saying,” Cruz told reporters on a visit to a Texas gun manufacturer. “I have to admit I find it amusing that those in Washington are puzzled when someone actually does what they said they would do.” Employees at LaRue Tactical near Austin cheered the senator
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