Obama: ‘Shame On Us If We’ve Forgotten’

WASHINGTON, (UPI) — President Obama, standing with families of victims of gun violence, Thursday made an emotional appeal for Congress to act on gun control.

“Shame on us if we’ve forgotten,” Obama said in the White House East Room referring to the 26 children and adults killed by a gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14.

“It’s been barely 100 days since 20 innocent children and six brave educators were taken from us by gun violence – including Grace McDonnell and Lauren Rousseau and Jesse Lewis, whose families are here today,” the president said.

“I haven’t forgotten those kids. Shame on us if we’ve forgotten.”

Also there was the mother of Hadiya Pendleton, the 15-year-old honor student killed in January at a park less than a mile from Obama’s home in Chicago. The cheerleader had attended Obama’s second inaugural in Washington.

“Everything they lived for and hoped for, taken away in an instant,” he said. “We have moms on this stage whose children were killed as recently as 35 days ago.”

Seeking to build momentum for new gun control measures to be debated in the Senate, Obama said that’s why in January he asked Vice President Biden to lead a task force to develop common-sense proposals to “reduce the epidemic of gun violence and keep our kids safe.”

The measures include expanded background checks on firearm purchases, tougher penalties on straw purchases of firearms and new funding for school security.

“Why wouldn’t we want to make it more difficult for a dangerous person to get his or hand on a gun?” he asked. “Why wouldn’t we want to close the loophole that allows as many as 40 percent of all gun purchases to take place without a background check?”

The White House event came on a “National Day to Demand Action” in which gun-control advocates planned more than 140 public events in 29 states to call for universal background checks.

U.S. Reaffirms Commitment To South Korea

WASHINGTON, (UPI) — The United States has reaffirmed its commitment to South Korea as North Korean threats increase tensions in the region, the Pentagon says.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel expressed the commitment in a phone call to South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin, the Defense Department said in a statement released Thursday.

“Secretary Hagel and Minister Kim reaffirmed the strength of the alliance, which has been, and continues to be, instrumental in maintaining stability on the Korean Peninsula,” said Pentagon press secretary George Little.

In the Wednesday night conversation, Hagel highlighted the additional military support provided to Seoul as a sign of the U.S. commitment to defend South Korea. He also mentioned a counter-provocation plan recently signed by the two allies that set up a procedure to improve coordination in the event of a North Korean attack.

Army Gen. James D. Thurman also received a vote of confidence from Hagel for the steps he has taken to integrate command and control functions with the South Koreans.

Gov. Christie Files Re-Election Petition

TRENTON, N.J., (UPI) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie filed the formal paperwork to run for re-election in the June 4 primary, election records show.

The (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger said Thursday Christie and his main Democratic challenger, state Sen. Barbara Buono, both turned in the petitions required to be on the ballot ahead of Monday’s pending deadline.

The petitions must still be confirmed by the state Division of Elections, but the newspaper said Christie and Buono both have far more than the 1,000 signatures needed to make the ballot.

Christie has been touted in the U.S. media as a potential Republican candidate for president in 2016. The Star-Ledger said Christie’s popularity has thus far resulted in raising about $5 million in campaign contributions, according to state records. Buono’s war chest stood at about $1 million.

Report: Obama Issued 149 Orders So Far

WASHINGTON, (UPI) — President Obama is on track to issue about as many executive orders in his two terms as his predecessor George W. Bush, records indicated.

As of Wednesday, records showed Obama issued 149 executive orders, 147 from his first term and two this year, The Hill reported Thursday.

Bush issued 173 executive orders through the end of his first term, the American Presidency Project said. President Bill Clinton issued 200 executive orders through his first term.

Comparing Obama’s use of executive power to his predecessors is thorny, since such orders are only part of a president’s authority arsenal, experts said.

“They’re not the only measure of presidential assertion of authority,” said Kenneth Mayer, a University of Wisconsin political science professor who studied the presidency extensively. “He’s actually been pretty aggressive on a number of fronts.”

Obama, Mayer told The Hill, has enacted policy shifts through informal “executive actions” on issues such gun control, immigration and drone strikes overseas.

For example, his 2011 decision to halt the deportations of hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants was communicated by memo from Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

While Obama isn’t the first U.S. president to bypass Congress to exert authority, his actions — such as the halting of deportations — have drawn Republican ire.

“He’s circumventing Congress with a directive he may not have the authority to execute,” Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said when the immigration decision was announced.

Poll: Teachers Love Their Job

PRINCETON, N.J., (UPI) — Teachers in the United States rate their lives better than all other occupations except physicians, a Gallup poll released Thursday indicated.

However, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index results indicate that teachers rank their work environment eighth of 14 occupation types.

Teachers have an average Life Evaluation Index score of 68.8, ahead of workers in most other types of jobs, including managers and executives, nurses and business owners, Gallup said.

Other than work environment, teachers scored higher than almost all occupational groups on in a number of areas, including emotional health, healthy behaviors, basic access and physical health, the Princeton, N.J., polling agency said.

Teachers also reported high levels of stress, second only to physicians, with 47 percent saying they experience stress daily, Gallup said.

Results are based on nationwide telephone interviews conducted as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index survey with a random sample of 172,286 workers from Jan. 2-Dec. 30, 2012. The margin of error is 3.5 percentage points for the smallest sample group (physicians) and less than 1 percentage point for larger groups such as professionals, service workers or managers/executives

Sandy Hook Shooting Information Released

NEWTOWN, Conn., (UPI) — It took Adam Lanza less than 5 minutes to fire 155 bullets at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., the lead prosecutor in the massacre said Thursday.

State’s Prosecutor Stephen Sedensky said 154 rounds were fired from a Bushmaster .223-caliber rifle and one bullet was fired from a Glock handgun Lanza used to kill himself Dec. 14, NBC News reported.

Some of the information from warrants and an accounting of what police recovered in Lanza’s home and vehicle were released Thursday, a week before state lawmakers were to take up bipartisan reforms to Connecticut’s gun laws, as well as and mental health and school safety reform.

Authorities said three samurai swords were recovered at the home that Lanza shared with his mother, Nancy Lanza, whom he killed before heading to the elementary school, where he killed 20 children and six adults before shooting himself.

Also recovered were a National Rifle Association certificate and boxes of Lanza’s papers and writings, authorities said.

Police also recovered nine 30-round magazines, three of which were full, for the Bushmaster Lanza took to Sandy Hook, NBC News said.

Besides the Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle with a 30-round magazine and the Glock 10mm handgun, authorities said they found a Sig-Sauer 9mm semiautomatic pistol in the school.

Police found a shotgun in the car Lanza drove to the school.

All of the weapons were legally owned by his mother, authorities have said.

Reports indicated Lanza was obsessed with mass killings, including the 2011 massacre in Oslo, Norway, in which 77 people died in a shooting and bomb attack.

A law enforcement official told NBC News in February Lanza collected material on mass shootings, although the official said there was no indication whether the material had a role in the school massacre.

State Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, D-New Haven, has said next Wednesday is the date planned for a vote on a bipartisan package of gun reforms and mental health and school security legislation in the works for weeks since the Dec. 14 tragedy, the New Haven Register reported Thursday.

The bipartisan legislation is expected to include a ban on future sales of magazines with greater than 10 rounds; universal background checks stronger penalties for gun violations and new registration rules, the Register said.

Theater Killing Suspect Offers Guilty Plea

CENTENNIAL, Colo., (UPI) — The man accused of killing 12 people in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater would plead guilty if he can avoid the death penalty, court documents indicate.

In a motion filed Wednesday, lawyers for James Holmes said Holmes offered to plead guilty if he could avoid a death penalty and serve a sentence of life in prison without parole, The Denver Post reported.

The same offer was made before an arraignment hearing earlier this month, the motion said.

“Mr. Holmes is currently willing to resolve the case to bring the proceedings to a speedy and definite conclusion for all involved,” the motion said.

The prosecution said it would announce during a court hearing Monday whether it would seek the death penalty. Prosecutors said they wanted to consult with survivors and victims’ families.

Holmes is accused of killing 12 people and wounding 58 others when he opened fire in the movie theater July 20. He has been charged 166 counts of murder, attempted murder and other offenses.

In the motion, Holmes’ attorneys said prosecutors haven’t accepted the offer, the Post reported.

His attorneys say in the document they thought the case could be closed Monday.

“It appears the only impediment to a resolution of this case would be if the prosecution chooses to seek the death penalty,” the lawyers wrote.

If prosecutors reject the offer, Holmes’ lawyers said they may launch a mental health defense and would defend Holmes “vigorously.”

A representative from the prosecutor’s office said he couldn’t comment on the motion because of a gag order.

A judge earlier this month entered a plea of not guilty to the charges on Holmes’ behalf after his attorneys refused to enter a plea.

Holmes’ trial is scheduled for Aug. 5 and is expected to last about a month.

McCain And Gang Tweet Immigrant’s Pain, Gold Can’t Save You?, Mainstream Media=Robot Reporting, Dodgeball Breeds Psychopaths, Snail Sex Is Worth Your Money : Thursday Morning News Roundup 3-28-2013

Here is a collection of some of the stories that Personal Liberty staffers will be keeping an eye on throughout the day. Click the links for the full stories.

  • Gang-of-Eight RINO John McCain hung out around Nogales, Ariz., and allegedly watched someone try to scale an 18-foot border fence into the United States. He allegedly took a picture Johnny-on-the-spot, tweeted it and then tweeted again that the poor soul allegedly had been caught.

 

  • Global bank larceny has gotten so out of hand that financial seer Marc Faber is now warning investors not even gold will suffice as a haven to abide the coming meltdown. “My concern is that we are going to have a systemic crisis where it is going to be very difficult to hide,” Faber explains. “Even in gold. It will be difficult to hide.”

 

  • Finally, they’re carrying one of the de facto truths of mainstream media to its logical conclusion: Computers are starting to robo-report the news in place of mainstream media journalists. The Los Angeles Times is doing it (though another paper, of course, reported the story.) May the droids fare better.

 

  • A local school board in New Hampshire is getting tough on dodgeball and other “human target” recreational mainstays. Drawing a line between the childhood staple and bullying, aggression and violent tendencies that carry over into adulthood, the board voted to ban the playground and street games — over the opposition of some parents who called the vote a “nanny state” move.

 

  • Priorities: The University of Iowa is spending nearly 1 million Federally awarded dollars to study whether New Zealand mud snails get anything more than kids out of having sex. It’s been ongoing since 2011; but, you know, with snails, these things take time.

Check back for updates, news and analysis throughout the day. Like us on Facebook. And follow our improved Twitter feed.

What’s This? Healthcare Premiums Could Rise Under Obamacare?

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — you know it as Obamacare — inches closer and closer to revealing itself as the social-engineering bill of goods many Americans saw it for, from the moment it first passed in 2010.

This week’s revelation? That coverage premiums will actually rise — for the demographic most in need of the so-called affordable care — as the new law comes online.

That admission comes from no less than a member of President Barack Obama’s cabinet: Kathleen Sebelius, secretary for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Next year is the first fiscal cycle that many of the Obamacare plan’s most sweeping provisions are set to take effect. Ahead of the changes, insurance companies are due to start making their 2014 rates known in coming weeks.

“As a former insurance commissioner I have watched what transparency does to a market. This is the first time ever in the history of the United States that insurance companies have to file their rates, it has to be very transparent, they have to offer the same kind of coverage without 5,000 tiny little lines and internal caps, and they have to compete for customers,” Sebelius told reporters Tuesday. “And I am a believer in the market strategies that in and of itself will minimize the rate impact.”

The idea that Obamacare “forces” insurers to be transparent in their rates schemes, and thereby introduces a self-correcting bit of market competitiveness that’s supposed to drive coverage prices down, has been a major point of contention. From Day One, the Obama Administration has put its full faith in the idea that insurers will reduce their prices in order to stay competitive.

But then, according to The Wall Street Journal, Sibelius said this of young people and others who are currently either without healthcare coverage, or who are underserved by their current insurance:

These folks will be moving into a really fully insured product for the first time, and so there may be a higher cost associated with getting into that market. But we feel pretty strongly that with subsidies available to a lot of that population that they are really going to see much better benefit for the money that they’re spending.

Truth is, no one knows what insurers’ rates will look like for customers new to the Obamacare-influenced market next year; but there’s a lot of reason to start saving now. A study released this month indicates that per-person medical claim costs under individually insured plans could jump 32 percent, on average, once the law is in full effect. Add to that a separate WSJ report last week that insurance companies are already cautioning brokers to get ready for a steep increase in individual and small business-sponsored healthcare plan premiums in 2014.

Sibelius’ comments Tuesday simply mark her as one of the first Obama officials to actually acknowledge that plain fact — however grudgingly.

NYPD’s UnConstitutional Stop-And-Frisk Game

Imagine walking down the street in some less-traveled part of Manhattan — say, the Morningside Heights neighborhood. You’re enjoying the mild weather and urban hum of an early April evening. Maybe you’re a visitor who wants a street-level view of residential life in the big city. Maybe you’re a Columbia University student, walking to the bus stop after a day in the classroom.

Or maybe you’re a run-of-the-mill native New Yorker, one of millions of city dwellers whose parents or grandparents put down roots in the Nation’s greatest ethnic melting pot, all in a bid to realize the American dream.

Now imagine a squad car pulling up and a pair of NYPD’s finest pouncing out of the vehicle with their guns drawn — on you. Imagine being thrown against a wall, your pockets emptied, the contents of your backpack dumped on the ground, the feel of pistol steel against the back of your head. Imagine not knowing a thing about why it happened, having no inkling of what was about to happen — or why. It just happened, and then you’re back on your way.

Oh, and imagine that every bit of that happened less than a block from your own home.

That’s the stop-and-frisk experience for many New Yorkers each day, as it has been since 1971, when the policy was first allowed under a court-established legal precedent. The city has come under increased criticism in recent years for allowing the police to rely more heavily on the policy than in the past.

Now, police testimony in a class-action lawsuit against the city confirms what many already knew: The cops are targeting minorities and using a quota system that’s driven from the top down. The Guardian describes the testimony of two New York Police Department officers who testified in Federal court last week, noting the stop-and-frisk program is “driven by a high-pressure quota system imposed upon lower-ranking officers.”

One of the cops, officer Adhyl Polanco, said Tuesday that “there’s a difference” between what the police are supposed to do and “what goes on out there.” He also said cops in his Bronx precinct had been expected to issue 20 summonses and make one arrest every month, with tangible repercussions for failure. If they couldn’t, a senior officer would hop in the squad car with them, take them out into the streets and show the younger cop how it’s done.

“We were handcuffing kids for no reason,” he added.

There’s an undeniable connection between the jump in residents’ stop-and-frisk complaints over the past decade and the tenures of both Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and nanny Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Stop and frisk has seen its search count increase by 600 percent since Bloomberg became mayor. Since it began, the program has accounted for more than 5 million impromptu searches, a dubious honor it acquired just last week.

While crime has declined in New York City, plaintiffs in the lawsuit point out that it’s not an exceptional trend, that crime in most U.S. urban centers has experienced similar declines — without policies in place that authorize unConstitutional searches.

The lawsuit understandably seeks an end to stop-and-frisk on 4th Amendment grounds. Nearly 90 percent of all stop-and-frisk searches end with no arrest, summons or citation. By far, most of those who’ve been searched have been black or Hispanic. The Guardian article references one cop who described the target demographic for stop and frisk as “male blacks 14 to 21.”