Mayors Against Illegal Guns today announced a new television ad holding Senator Jeff Flake accountable for not keeping his word to Arizonans Caren and Tom Teves, whose son Alex was killed in the Aurora theatre shooting while shielding his fiancée. The Teves, who voted for Senator Flake in 2012, sent a letter to their Senator asking him to vote for background check legislation and he responded that, "strengthening background checks is something we agree on." Just one month later, Senator Flake voted against bipartisan legislation proposed by NRA A-rated Senators Pat Toomey and Joe Manchin -- and supported by Senator John McCain -- that would have closed loopholes that make it easy for dangerous people to get guns.
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- Aaron Swartz
- Aaron's Law
- Alex Teves
- Anti-McConnell ad
- Ashley Judd
- Aurora Theatre shooting
- Bank on Students Loan Fairness Act
- Big banks
- Bureau of Alcohol
- CATO Institute
- Caren and Tom Teves
- Computer Fraud and Abuse Act
- Congressman Barney Frank
- Democratic Party
- Dodd-Frank Act
- Eurpean Union
- Federal Reserve
- Federal prosecutors
- Gay marriage
- Gun Control
- Harry Reid
- House Oversight Panel
- Mayors Against Illegal Guns
- National Rifle Association
- Obama Administration
- Progressive Change Campaign Committee
- Rep. Darrell Issa
- Rep. Jared Polis
- Rep. Zoe Lofgren
- Rodney Kendrick
- Second Amendment
- Senate Minority Leader
- Senator Elizabeth Warren
- Senator Jeff Flake
- Senator Joe Manchin
- Socialist President Francois Holland
- Stafford Loans
- Supreme Court
- The Heritage Foundation
- Tobacco and Firearms
- US Attorney General Eric Holder
- anti-gay violence
- assault weapons ban
- background checks
- bipartisan amendment
- campaign donations
- federal ban
- federal gun regulations
- federal license
- federal oversight
- financial reform
- financial watchdog
- gay adoptions
- gun manufacturers
- gun safety
- gun violence
- semi-automatic weapons
- senator chris dodd
- senator mitch mcconnell
- student loans
- terms of service violations
- universal background checks
By Jesse Eisinger, ProPublica
This was co-published with The Washington Post.
President Obama signed the Dodd-Frank financial reform law in July 2010, hailing it as an overhaul to prevent the kind of crisis that hit the world economy in 2008 and one of the signature achievements of his first term. Almost three years later, much of the big stuff the law calls for is on hold, under legal and legislative assault, or still working its way through the regulatory intestines. According to a law firm that tracks the legislation, only 38 percent of the 398 Dodd-Frank rules have been imposed, while regulators haven't yet publicly put forward versions of almost a third of them.
Is this the face of success? A new book, "Act of Congress," by Robert Kaiser, an associate editor and senior correspondent for The Washington Post, gives that question a qualified yes. "The story of Dodd-Frank does demonstrate that Congress still can work," he writes, "and it shows how, but only in extreme circumstances."
Senator Warren Introduces the Bank on Students Loan Fairness Act, her first piece of stand-alone legislation, on Wednesday, May 8, 2013. The bill would enable students who are eligible for federally subsidized Stafford loans to borrow at the same rate the big banks get through the Federal Reserve discount window.
From her floor speech:
“Some people say that we can’t afford to help our kids through school by keeping student loan interest rates low,” said Senator Warren. “But right now, as I speak, the federal government offers far lower interest rates on loans, every single day–they just don’t do it for everyone. Right now, a big bank can get a loan through the Federal Reserve discount window at a rate of about 0.75%. But this summer a student who is trying to get a loan to go to college will pay almost 7%. In other words, the federal government is going to charge students interest rates that are nine times higher than the rates for the biggest banks–the same banks that destroyed millions of jobs and nearly broke this economy. That isn’t right. And that is why I’m introducing legislation today to give students the same deal that we give to the big banks.”
“Big banks get a great deal when they borrow money from the Fed,” Senator Warren continued. “In effect, the American taxpayer is investing in those banks. We should make the same kind of investment in our young people who are trying to get an education. Lend them the money and make them to pay it back, but give our kids a break on the interest they pay. Let’s Bank on Students… Unlike the big banks, students don’t have armies of lobbyists and lawyers. They have only their voices. And they call on us to do what is right.”
You can view the full text of Senator Warren's speech here.
By Lois Beckett, ProPublica
In mid-April, Kansas passed a law asserting that federal gun regulations do not apply to guns made and owned in Kansas. Under the law, Kansans could manufacture and sell semi-automatic weapons in-state without a federal license or any federal oversight.
Kansas' "Second Amendment Protection Act" backs up its states' rights claims with a penalty aimed at federal agents: when dealing with "Made in Kansas" guns, any attempt to enforce federal law is now a felony. Bills similar to Kansas' law have been introduced in at least 37 other states. An even broader bill is on the desk of Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell. That bill would exempt any gun owned by an Alaskan from federal regulation. In Missouri, a bill declaring federal gun laws "null and void" passed by an overwhelming majority in the state house, and is headed for debate in the senate.
Mobilizing the pre-Civil-War doctrine of "nullification," these bills assert that Congress has overstepped its ability to regulate guns — and that states, not the Supreme Court, have the ultimate authority to decide whether a law is constitutional or not.
The head of the Kansas's State Rifle Association, an affiliate of the National Rifle Association, says she put the bill together and found it a sponsor. While the NRA regularly lauds passages of states' gun-rights laws, it stayed silent on Kansas' law, and, so far, has kept a low profile on nullification. (The group did not respond to our requests for comment.)
France approved a bill legalizing same-sex marriage and gay adoptions -- and Socialist President François Holland is expected to sign it -- despite those in the country who remain fiercely opposed to it and attacks against gays rising as the debate has raged. Polls show a majority of the French favor equal rights for same-sex couples, but center-right politicians have embraced the protests as a way of opposing Hollande. Anti–gay marriage protesters have begun calling their movement the “French spring,” with about 45,000 marching in Paris in a mostly peaceful protest that included some wrapping themselves in the French flag and others carrying children or pushing baby carriages with the sign “All born of a mom and dad.” Meanwhile, there have been several high-profile attacks against gays in the country, including the beating earlier this month of a Dutch man who was walking hand-in-hand with another man in Paris.
Opponents shouted slogans against Mr. Hollande and wrapped themselves in the red, white and blue of the French flag. Some carried children or pushed baby carriages under a slogan that read, “All born of a mom and dad.” Opposition leaders condemned any targeting of homosexuals. The numbers on Sunday were down considerably from the 300,000 who marched last month.
But on Monday, Manuel Valls, the interior minister, accused protesters and political opponents on the right of “unleashing homophobic speech.” Speaking to Europe 1 radio, Mr. Valls conceded that opponents of the bill were “numerous,” but said they represented “a minority compared to the millions” who voted for Mr. Hollande as president a year ago, when he promised to pass a same-sex marriage bill in his first year in office.
Also on Monday, the president of the National Assembly received a letter threatening “war” and attacks on Socialist lawmakers if the lower house approved the legislation, the French news media reported. The letter was said to have contained gunpowder.
In general, politics has come to overshadow the moral and religious questions around the bill, which Roman Catholic, Muslim and Jewish leaders oppose. The bill promises “marriage for all” and more contentiously, polls show, would legalize adoption by same-sex couples. The bill does not mandate state aid for artificial insemination or other assistance in procreation for same-sex married couples, however, which many French oppose. Such a bill may be proposed separately.
France has had a "civil solidarity pact" -- a form of civil union -- since 1999, which gives couples some rights and protections, but falls short of marriage and is more often used by heterosexual couples who see it as a form of "marriage light."
Over half of the countries in the European Union have either some sort of civil union, if not marriage, that is open to same-sex couples.
Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) declares his support for an assault weapons ban on the floor of the Senate on Wednesday.
As support for a background-check deal collapses in the Senate, Harry Reid broke with the National Rifle Association and declared his support for an assault-weapons ban. “We must strike a better balance between the right to defend ourselves and the right of every child in America to grow up safe from gun violence,” the A-rated Nevada Democrat said on the Senate floor. Unfortunately for him, the outlook for gun-control legislation looks bleak. A bipartisan amendment on background checks that is a vital ingredient in a passable gun bill appears to lack the necessary votes. Sen. Joe Manchin, one of the bill’s cosponsors, said on the floor that he knows they’re close but doesn’t know what the outcome will be.
Reid added “I’ll vote for the ban because maintaining the law and order is more important than satisfying conspiracy theorists who believe in black helicopters and false flags,” he said. “I’ll vote for the ban because saving the lives of police officers, young and old, and innocent civilians, young and old, is more important than preventing imagined tyranny.”
The Senate will vote Wednesday afternoon on gun measures that may determine the shape of legislation inspired by the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut.
The video ad above was put together by VoteVets.org, and is currently running on various social media. It asks viewers to contact Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona and urge him to support universal background checks for all firearms. Glenn Kunkel, an Iraq War veteran who received two Purple Hearts during two tours of duty, is featured in the ad firing an AR-15 at a water-filled mannequin.
"I had to pass a background check to join the Marine Corps, before I could carry a weapon similar to this one in Iraq. Here at home, anyone can purchase this weapon, no questions asked."
"I support the Second Amendment, but we've seen what can happen when these fall into the wrong hands."
"I needed a background check to carry similar weapons in combat. We should require the same here at home. Call Senator Flake and tell him to support Universal Background Checks."
VoteVets says there are other versions available for other Senators, as well.
The U.S. Senate is set to vote on universal background checks in early April, and despite the fact that 92% of Americans support the measure, its passage remains in doubt. Watch VoteVets video ad, and tell your Senators that you support universal background checks.
It’s almost unspeakable. Three young sisters aged 5, 9, and 11 were walking home from school on Valentine's Day when they disappeared. Now, it’s being reported that the girls were found raped and murdered two days later, and the police never launched a proper investigation. After discovering the sisters’ bodies in an old well, police recorded their deaths as “accidental.” It was only after the people from the girls' remote village staged a protest that blocked a national highway Wednesday did officials look into the matter, leading to a medical investigation that revealed the rape and murder. The girls’ mother was offered one million rupees in compensation, but she says, “No amount of money is going to bring my girls back.”
The Guardian reports:
The young mother's tragedy in a remote village once again demonstrated how the police in India often fail to adequately respond to major crimes, especially when it involves women and children.
When a young physiotherapist was brutally gang-raped in a moving Delhi bus in December, the extraordinary public outrage across the country forced Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government to promise better policing and faster legal action to protect Indian women at home and outside.
But even as lawmakers prepared to discuss a new law against sexual offences on Friday, news of the latest atrocity, involving three young girls in a village more than a thousand kilometres from the Indian capital, was kept under a veil of silence until villagers rioted and blocked the national highway demanding a proper investigation.
"There was no nationwide outrage in response to the latest heinous incident of rape," said a CNN-IBN news anchor. "Why is the nation silent? Or have we become numb?"
A recent study released by Human Rights Watch that said one in three reported rape victims in India were children.
A group whose aim is to elect progressive Democrats to Congress released an ad Tuesday hitting Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for opposing gun control legislation while receiving campaign donations from gun manufacturers.
The ad from the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, is backed by a $27,700 buy and will run on broadcast and cable television in McConnell's home state, as well as in Washington, D.C.
The PCCC ad features Kentuckian Rodney Kendrick addressing the camera with his grandson on his lap, calling it “unthinkable that guns meant for war could be used on civilians and children.”
"I was born and raised right here in Kentucky," Kendrick says in the spot. "I served my country as a marksman and we were trained to use guns safely. It's unthinkable that guns meant for war could be used on civilians and children. As a gun owner and a veteran, I support the plan to ban assault weapons and keep guns out of the wrong hands, because I know these guns. I know what they can do."
"Senator Mitch McConnell has taken thousands of dollars from gun manufacturers, and he opposes common sense reforms," he continued. "Senator McConnell, whose side are you on?"
McConnell, who is serving his fifth term in the Senate, faces re-election next year, and is hoping to fend off any possible conservative primary challenges. Actress Ashley Judd has been mentioned as a potential Democratic rival.
The Hill reports:
The group also commissioned polling from Democratic firm Public Policy Polling that indicates Kentuckians do want to see movement on gun control, despite McConnell’s outspoken opposition to the measures proposed by President Obama.
Eighty-two percent of likely Kentucky voters support background checks “to keep guns out of the wrong hands,” while 13 percent oppose them, the poll found.
There is less consensus in the state, however, about proposals to ban assault weapons. Fifty percent of likely Kentucky voters surveyed support a ban, while 42 percent oppose one.
Adam Green, a former staffer for MoveOn.org and co-founder of the PCCC, said the group’s effort reflects a discrepancy between the senator’s legislative views and his constituents’ demands.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) introduced “Aaron’s Law” on Tuesday night, announcing it via the user-generated site Reddit. The piece of legislation would modify the the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to exclude terms of service violations. “There’s no way to reverse the tragedy of Aaron’s death, but we can work to prevent a repeat of the abuses of power he experienced,” Lofgren wrote. “The government was able to bring such disproportionate charges against Aaron because of the broad scope of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) and the wire fraud statute.” Read the full bill here.
Meanwhile, The Hill reports that federal prosecutors came under fire yesterday by lawmakers for their "ridiculous and trumped-up" charges against Aaron Swartz:
“The charges were ridiculous and trumped-up,” Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) told The Hill. “It's absurd that he was made a scapegoat. I would hope that this doesn't happen to anyone else.”
Polis called Swartz — a co-creator of Reddit who was accused of stealing articles from a computer archive at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — a "martyr" for why Congress should limit the discretion of prosecutors.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) said the government's handling of the case was “pretty outrageous.”
“Based on what I know, I think the Department of Justice was way out of line on the case,” she told The Hill.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has said that his Oversight panel will take a look at the case to determine if the federal prosecutors acted inappropriately:
Issa expressed sympathy with some of Swartz’s goals. While “cybercrime and hacking has to be taken seriously,” he said, Congress should take up Swartz's cause of making more information freely available to the public.
“We're looking at the real question of open government,” Issa said. “Has the government or even MIT been holding back materials that the public has a right to know?”
Issa said he wanted to make sure “that what is paid for is as widely available as possible to the American people.”
Many materials on JSTOR are funded by public universities or government research grants. Subscriptions to JSTOR cost thousands of dollars.
He also said “whether or not there was excessive prosecution is something we’ll look at.”
All three lawmakers -- Issa, Polis, and Lofgren -- serve on the House Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over the Justice Department. They also worked with Swartz and his group "Demand Progress" in 2012 to defeat online piracy legislation that was backed by the entertainment industry.