Archives for News

Senate committee approves expanded background checks on gun sales

Democrats gave a boost Tuesday to the pillar of President Barack Obama’s plans for reducing gun violence, pushing a bill requiring nearly universal federal background checks for firearms buyers through the Senate Judiciary Committee over solid Republican opposition. The proposal still faces a difficult path through Congress, where GOP lawmakers say it would have little impact on crime and warn that it is a precursor to a federal registry of gun owners. Such a listing is forbidden by federal law and is anathema to conservatives and the National Rifle Association. The committee approved the bill 10-8, supported by every Democrat
Read More

Once again, mixed signals from obstructionist Republicans

House Republicans are sending mixed signals in agreeing to meet with President Barack Obama for talks over the budget impasse. On the one hand, many Republicans who long have chided Obama for failing to engage their party on the nation’s biggest problems are applauding his newfound outreach — part of a concerted effort by the president to mend ties with Congress in hopes of reaching a grand compromise on fiscal issues. On the other hand, neither side is backing down from entrenched positions that have prevented deals in the past. Exhibit A: the House GOP’s new budget proposal, crafted by
Read More

Grand bargain? More like a another grand debacle

For all the talk of a presidential “charm offensive” and possible thaw in partisanship, ample signs show that Congress is far from reaching a “grand bargain” to shrink the deficit. The Senate’s top Republican, standing just outside the Capitol room where President Barack Obama was meeting with Democratic senators Tuesday, said he will push for trims to Medicare and Social Security without yielding another dollar in new tax revenues. Democrats have long insisted that higher taxes — chiefly on the wealthy — must accompany any reductions in those entitlement programs. There must be a “balanced approach” to reducing the deficit,
Read More

Maine town voters overwhelmingly reject mandatory gun ownership

Voters in a small Maine town unanimously rejected a proposal on Monday that would have required every household to own a firearm and ammunition. More than 60 residents of Byron, Maine, packed into the tiny Coos Canyon Schoolhouse and quickly voted to make the symbolic measure the first order of business during the town’s annual meeting. After a brief discussion, residents elected to skip debate and vote. Not even Bruce Simmons, the resident who originally came up with the proposal, voted to support it. Backers said the point of the measure, which was considered unenforceable, was to send a message
Read More

New gun control laws pass Colorado Senate

A gun control package pushed by Colorado Democrats cleared the state Senate on Monday, as sponsors described it as a needed response to Colorado’s blood-soaked history of mass shootings. One Democrat after another rose Monday to talk about restricting gun rights after last July’s shooting at a suburban Denver movie theater. The vote came on the eve of an expected plea by the alleged gunman, James Holmes, who is accused of killing 12 people and injuring dozens more. The measures approved by the Senate included a limit on the kinds of high-capacity ammunition magazines Holmes is accused of using in
Read More

Senate panel ready to OK background checks, other gun control measures

  Democrats are ready to muscle expanded background checks and other gun curbs through a Senate committee, giving President Barack Obama an initial if temporary victory on one of his top priorities. The Senate Judiciary Committee was to debate a bill Tuesday that would broaden the requirement for federal background checks to nearly all firearms purchasers. It was also considering a ban on assault weapons and an increase in federal aid for school security, though senators may not consider the assault weapons measure until later in the week. Requiring background checks for private gun transactions between individuals — they’re currently
Read More

Republicans once again target Obamacare, Medicaid, etc.

House Republicans are sticking to their guns on the federal budget, promising to try to repeal so-called Obamacare, cut domestic programs from Medicaid to college grants and require future Medicare patients to bear more of the program’s cost. The point is to prove it’s possible to balance the budget within 10 years by simply cutting spending and avoiding further tax hikes, even as the fiscal blueprint to be released Tuesday by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., will be dead on arrival with the White House and Democrats controlling the Senate. Senate Democrats promise to offer a counterproposal on Wednesday
Read More

Hagel’s Afghan trip: A disaster that went way off script

It was a harrowing international debut for Chuck Hagel, whose first trip to Afghanistan as U.S. defense secretary went dramatically off-script and challenged the American narrative about the 11-year-old war. His first full day in Afghanistan began with the sound of suicide bomb attack about a kilometer away from his morning meetings at a NATO facility. But the real damage came the next day when Washington’s mercurial ally in the war, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, accused the United States of colluding with the Taliban hours before the two met. Put in an awkward position, Hagel appeared cautious and at pains
Read More

Military finds widespread combat stress, some far from front lines

The gritty combat in Afghanistan is thousands of miles away. But the analysts in the cavernous room at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia relive the explosions, the carnage and the vivid after-battle assessments of the bombings over and over again. The repeated exposure to death and destruction rolling across their computer screens is taking its own special toll on their lives. The military has begun to grapple with the mental and emotional strains endured by personnel who may never come face to face with a Taliban insurgent, never dodge a roadside bomb or take fire, but who nevertheless may
Read More

Maine town set for symbolic vote on mandatory gun ownership

Residents of a Maine town are expected to vote on Monday on whether each household should be required to own a firearm, a decision that has thrust the tiny town of Byron into the heated national debate on gun control. The vote is scheduled to take place on Monday evening in a potentially rancorous annual town meeting for the rural western Maine town’s 140 residents, and will be largely symbolic. The town’s head selectman says the vast majority of households in Byron already have at least one gun, and a requirement to possess guns and ammunition would be unenforceable because
Read More