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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 β€” almost one per day β€” 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 β€”and more β€” 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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Post election realities push some Congress types towards the middle

There’s a lot of political currency these days in being labeled a “problem-solver,” a title that has become highly sought-after following a polarizing election and protracted fight in Congress over raising taxes and curbing spending. With sharp divisions in Washington entering President Barack Obama’s second term, lawmakers from both parties are seeking the political middle as voters increasingly view government as bitter and paralyzed. For Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat representing conservative West Virginia, Washington has become a place where any politician faces “guilt by conversation,” in which merely raising the need to address fundamental problems can imperil their political
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Critics say too much Hurricane Sandy aid tied to other projects

Conservatives and watchdog groups are mounting a “not-so-fast” campaign against a $50.7 billion Superstorm Sandy aid package that Northeastern governors and lawmakers hope to push through the House this coming week. Their complaint is that lots of the money that lawmakers are considering will actually go toward recovery efforts for past disasters and other projects unrelated to the late-October storm. A Senate-passed version from the end of the last Congress included $150 million for what the Commerce Department described as fisheries disasters in Alaska, Mississippi and the Northeast, and $50 million in subsidies for replanting trees on private land damaged
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Biden set to meet with House members on gun control issues

Vice President Joe Biden and members of President Barack Obama’s Cabinet will meet on Monday with members of the U.S. House of Representatives as he prepares recommendations on how to curb a rash of gun violence in the United States. Biden is heading a task force due to provide Obama this week with recommendations on how to curb the gun violence. Obama formed the task force after the massacre – one month ago as of Monday – in Newtown, Connecticut, in which a gunman shot dead 20 children and six adults at a primary school. The White House said the
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RFK children: Bobby didn’t believe Warren Commission report on JFK’s death

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is convinced that a lone gunman wasn’t solely responsible for the assassination of his uncle, President John F. Kennedy, and said his father believed the Warren Commission report was a “shoddy piece of craftsmanship.” Kennedy and his sister, Rory, spoke about their family Friday night while being interviewed in front of an audience by Charlie Rose at the Winspear Opera House in Dallas. The event comes as a year of observances begins for the 50th anniversary of the president’s death. Their uncle was killed on Nov. 22, 1963, while riding in a motorcade through Dallas. Five
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Biden’s gun control proposals will spark a gunfight on Capitol Hill

Vice President Joe Biden wrapped up a series of White House meetings on Friday and prepared recommendations to curb gun violence that will call for expanded background checks on gun buyers and set up a heated, likely uphill battle in Congress to revive a ban on military-style assault weapons. Biden, who heads a task force due to give President Barack Obama recommendations next week, met with representatives of the video game industry, whose products often enable players to carry out shootings in graphically violent games. The vice president has said he will recommend “universal” background checks for all gun buyers
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