Category: Breaking News Written by Sam Stein and John Rudolf, thehuffingtonpost
WASHINGTON -- In a bold and potentially historic attempt to stem the increase in mass gun violence, President Barack Obama unveiled on Wednesday the most sweeping effort at gun control policy reform in a generation.
"This is our first task as a society: keeping our children safe. This is how we will be judged," Obama said. “We can’t put this off any longer."
The proposal, which comes at the end of a month-long review process spearheaded by Vice President Joe Biden, is broken down into four key subsections: law enforcement, the availability of dangerous firearms and ammunition, school safety and mental health.
In an effort to touch on all four of those elements, the president recommended requiring criminal background checks for all gun sales; reinstating the assault weapons ban; restoring a 10-round limit on ammunition magazines; eliminating armor-piercing bullets; providing mental health services in schools; allocating funds to hire more police officers; and instituting a federal gun trafficking statute, among other policies. The cost of the package, senior officials estimated, would be roughly $500 million, some of which could come from already budgeted funds.
Because these recommendations require congressional approval, the administration is supplementing its proposal with 23 executive actions that will be taken immediately. Those actions include requiring federal agencies to hand over relevant data for a background check system; providing law enforcement officials, first responders and school officials with better training for active shooting situations; directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence; and many more.
"I intend to use whatever weight this office holds to make them a reality," said the president, speaking about his full set of recommendations. "If there's even one life that can be saved, then we've got an obligation to try."
The approach is so sweeping that what would have otherwise been a headline-grabbing announcement received second billing. The president on Wednesday will nominate Byron Todd Jones, the acting director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, to take over the post permanently.
In total, the proposal goes beyond what most gun control advocates were hoping for at the start of Biden's review process, during which he held 22 different meetings with 229 different organizations and 31 elected officials.
"This is a monumental moment. It's a long time coming and we're thrilled the president's putting the full weight of his office behind this," said Josh Horowitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. "We're ready to push this thing through."
But putting together ideas is the easy part. Selling them on the Hill will take a bit of legislative craft.
Seasoned political observers have questioned whether it makes more sense to break the package into separate bills or push for one comprehensive proposal. A senior administration official said that the president's proposal shouldn't be considered finalized legislative language, but rather a series of recommendations for Congress to consider. The president would be working with lawmakers to move the process forward, the official added, and would be trying to build up public opinion as well.
"I will put everything I've got into this and so will Joe [Biden]. But I tell you, the only way we can change is if the American people demand it," said Obama. "We are going to need voices in those areas and congressional districts where the tradition of gun ownership is strong."
"It can't just be the usual suspects," he continued. "This will not happen unless the American people demand it."
The gun-rights lobby has already signaled that it will try to block the administration's effort. A spokesman for the National Rifle Association did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the president's proposal. But the organization has already harshly criticized the Obama administration for overreach.
"It is unfortunate that this administration continues to insist on pushing failed solutions to our nation's most pressing problems," the NRA said after meeting with Biden last week. "We will not allow law-abiding gun owners to be blamed for the acts of criminals and madmen."
The group continued its offensive this week, launching an advertising campaign attacking Obama as an "elitist hypocrite" for opposing the NRA's widely-criticized proposal, made after the Newtown, Conn. shooting, to place armed guards in all of the nation's schools.
But that attack appeared a bit premature. As part of its policy recommendations, the White House called on Congress to act on an old administration proposal to spend $4 billion to keep 15,000 cops on the streets. In addition, the president is proposing a new initiative that would incentivize police departments to hire more school resource officers and encourage schools to hire more mental health professionals. The president's plan also calls on Congress to allocate resources to help schools, other educational institutions and houses of worship develop emergency management plans.
The White House proposals, even officials there admit, are not a cure-all for mass shootings. Among the suggested recommendations on the gun-policy front, only the ban on high-capacity magazines could have had a tangible impact on the shooting in Newtown, and it's unclear what, exactly, the effect would have been.
Moreover, the administration is pointedly not going after those weapons and ammunition clips that are currently and lawfully owned. The proposal would instead affect the future production and sale of military-style weapons or high-capacity magazines.
"We are not going to go after existing stock of weapons or magazines," said a senior administration official. "We are going to limit it to the manufacturing of assault weapons and clips going forward."
The White House nevertheless insists that its package of proposals has teeth. It would provide law enforcement with the mechanisms needed to go after the illegal transfer of weapons and help prevent those weapons from falling into the wrong hands. It would also stem the use of military-style weapons -- the White House says its proposal would improve on the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban, which was riddled with loopholes -- and give schools and communities resources to address violence when it occurs.
The question, in some respects, is not what's missing from the set of ideas, but what took the administration so long to get to this point.
"It is not as though we had this whole policy paper sitting on the shelf somewhere," said a senior administration official. "[We worked] 24/7 for the past month. And we met with a lot of groups and we learned a lot of ideas that came as a result of this process. We tried to be as comprehensive as possible. We are hoping that as the process goes on and as the debate goes on, we might come up with some other ideas."
Last Updated on Thursday, 17 January 2013 08:44
Category: Breaking News Written by WWJ
DETROIT (WWJ) – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is coming to Detroit on Friday to make “a major fundingannouncement” that is expected to involve plans for a light rail system between the city’s downtown and the cultural, medical and educational center a few miles north.
LaHood’s office said in a statement that Mayor Dave Bing, U.S. Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow and others will be at Wayne State University to reveal details of a plan “that will significantly expand transit options in downtown Detroit.”
Last Updated on Thursday, 17 January 2013 08:17
Category: Breaking News Written by WWJ
LANSING (WWJ) - Hundreds of protesters made their presence known outside the Capitol in Lansing ahead of Governor Synder’s address.
Pat Hartzel traveled to Lansing to voice her opposition to fracking, a process of extracting natural gas from miles underground through high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing.
“Temporarily people come from out-of-state with their oil rigs, and all of their machinery, they stay for a year or two … and they leave when the oil is gone … it is a lie that it’s all going to stay here and that we are going to have millions of job,” said Hartzel.
Hunter Genia, a Native American from Saginaw Michigan joined the rally:
“The reason why we are here is to bring awareness .. and support to our Canadian relatives, indigenous nations, that are asking for their land rights, treaty rights, water rights to be respected by the Canadian government,” said Genia who is part of the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe.
Genia says a Tribe Chief in Canada is on a 30-day plus hunger strike as part of their protest.
“Just all the lame duck bills he has signed, the right-to-work bill and all the rest of them that are not doing anything for the middle-class people in the state of Michigan. Just all for big corporations and he needs to know that we are ashamed of him,” said a protestor from Ironwood holding a sign which read,’Shame on Snyder.”
Last Updated on Thursday, 17 January 2013 08:10
Category: Breaking News Written by Marcus Amick
SPECIAL TO THE CHRONICLE
It was only a few years ago that the idea of General Motors or Chrysler even talking about high-performance cars would be the subject of criticism considering the dark cloud that loomed over the Detroit auto industry.
This year, which marks the debut of the new 2014 Corvette Stingray featured at the North American International Auto Show along with the new SRT Viper, the tone is much different with both GM and Chrysler recently posting some of their best sales numbers in years and earning car and truck of the year awards.
The new Corvette and Viper on display at the show, which opens to the public Jan. 19, have been the buzz of Cobo Center since media and industry executives started pouring into Detroit for the event.
The center of attention has been the new Corvette, which was first unveiled Sunday at an exclusive media event in Detroit’s Russell Industrial Complex, a warehouse district just north of downtown.
Ed Welburn, GM VP of Global Design, said the reveal of the 2014 Stingray in Detroit has been one of the most memorable events of his 40-year tenure with the company.
“This in many ways is the best of American design, the Corvette, and to do it right here in Detroit is huge,” said Welburn. “We never for a second thought about doing the reveal any place else but here.”
The new Corvette is the most powerful standard model ever, with an estimated 450 horsepower and 450 lb.-ft. of torque. It is also the most capable standard Corvette model ever, able to accelerate from 0 to 60 in less than four seconds. It’s also expected to be the most fuel-efficient Corvette, exceeding the EPA-estimated 26 mpg of the current model.
The car shares only two parts with the previous generation Corvette and incorporates an all-new frame structure and chassis, a new powertrain and supporting technologies.
However, the most striking element of the 2014 Corvette, which is sure to leave auto show attendees starstruck, is the new exterior and interior designs.
“I can’t say enough great things about what the sculpturers have done in the whole execution of the forms throughout the car,” said Welburn. “I think everyone will be pleasantly surprised.”
The 2014 Corvette represents the seventh generation of the car. Each has been defined by all-new or significantly revised design, architecture and technology features — including powertrain and chassis/suspension technologies — that have helped Corvette maintain its iconic status.
The 2014 model is only the third to be honored with the iconic Stingray name in the 60-year history of Corvette.
“We knew we couldn’t use the Stingray name unless the new car truly lived up to the legacy,” said Welburn. “The result is a new Corvette Stingray that breaks from tradition while remaining instantly recognizable as a Corvette the world over.”
The new Viper, which was first unveiled in 2012 at the New York Auto Show, includes a new clamshell, all carbon fiber hood, LED taillamps and the redesigned Viper badge. The new Viper also features a new GTS model with some additional unique styling elements.
Scott Burgess, Detroit editor for Motor Trend magazine, said the new Stingray and Viper represent a new era for GM and the Chrysler Group.
“These cars may connect Detroit’s carmakers to their muscle car past, but they represent the future as well,” said Burgess. “Both are halo vehicles for their respective brands. The Corvette sells a lot of other Chevys and the Viper will continue to further all of Chrysler’s products.”
Ralph Gilles, president of Chrysler’s SRT division, said the idea that the new Viper is still being built in Detroit at the Conner Avenue Assembly Plant makes the raves about the vehicle even more significant.
“There is not a better location on the planet than in Detroit for the hand-built assembly of the fifth generation SRT Viper,” said Gilles. “This plant has produced Vipers since 1995. We couldn’t be prouder that our flagship American supercar will be meticulously assembled inside a modern, state-of-the-art and legendary facility.”
Both the new Corvette Stingray and SRT Viper represent the fighting spirit of the Detroit auto industry, said Burgess.
“The Corvette and Viper are unashamed Detroit,” he said. “They are in your face and aren’t going to apologize for it. Both companies should be proud of them.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 January 2013 10:15
Category: Breaking News Written by Zack Burgess
It’s one of those rare events where everyone comes together for one night, to pay tribute to African Americans who are certainly in need of being recognized.
This evening, Wednesday, January 16th, at the Cobo Center Riverview Ballroom, more than 1,500 automotive executives will come together to be honored by Real Times Media and the Michigan Chronicle at its third annual event DRIVEN – a place where trailblazers in the industry; car designers, advertisers, marketing executives, automotive suppliers, dealers and those from the race car industry – come together for a night of celebration.
For over a century now, African Americans have been a vital part of the car industry, whether it has been manufacturing cars, building unions, or owning dealerships, Blacks have been pioneers in building one of the backbones and heart centers of the American Industry.
The automotive industry has been a leader in offering Blacks a wide range of job opportunities that many other companies did not and would not provide. The contributions of African Americans in America’s automobile industry are immeasurable, and may never receive the full accolades that are warranted. However, as the automobile industry continues to evolve and thrive, one thing is for sure, Blacks will have a major impact on the industry for as long as there an automobile.
“Every year that we have done this event I am continuously overwhelmed by the excitement this event brings to African Americans…as a community,” said Hiram Jackson, CEO of Real Times Media and Publisher of the Michigan Chronicle. “The people who are honored have helped to shape the world and represents a change in the way African Americans – past, present and future – have contributed to our society as a whole.“
Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 January 2013 09:17
Category: Breaking News Written by WWJ
DETROIT (WWJ) – While Detroit takes center stage for the international auto show, city officials are hunkered down and working to get finances in order and to avoid an emergency financial manager.
WWJ’s Stephanie Davis reports that Detroit City Council has voted to approve a change in how much non-union city employees pay for health care.
Workers will now pay 30 percent instead of the 20 percent they are currently paying. The increase takes effect February 1 as part of a series of moves council is making to work with the Bing administration in an effort to avoid the appointment of an emergency manager to the city.
“Yeah, the council is making some unpopular decisions but rather it should be us and not some emergency manager appointed from somewhere else who may not live here, who may not be here beyond their decision,” said Council President Charles Pugh.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 January 2013 08:52
Category: Breaking News Written by Dana Bash, Jessica Yellin and Tom Cohen, CNN
Washington (CNN) -- President Barack Obama will unveil Wednesday a package of gun control proposals that, according to a source, will include universal background checks and bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will announce the proposals, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters on Tuesday.
They will be joined by a group of children who wrote letters to the president in the aftermath of the December 14 shooting rampage by a lone gunman who killed 20 students and six adults at a Newtown, Connecticut elementary school, Carney said.
Obama will propose legislative steps he previously has backed, such as a ban on assault weapons, restrictions on high-capacity ammunition magazines and strengthening federal background checks of people attempting to buy guns, according to Carney.
Obama considers executive action on guns Thompson: Gun control should be priority Adviser: GOP must show gun control plan Behind the
The president also will push for other steps that could include executive actions on his part that don't require congressional approval, Carney noted.
More specifically, the source -- an official familiar with the process -- said the president's proposal will press for a ban on high capacity magazines with more than 10 rounds, universal background checks and a request that funds be made available to help treat mental illness and provide schools with support to enhance their safety.
Biden led a panel assembled by Obama to examine gun control steps after the Newtown shootings, which sparked a fierce public debate over how to prevent such mass killings with guns.
Opponents led by the powerful National Rifle Association promise a political fight against gun control measures that they say will violate the constitutional right to bear arms.
An NRA spokesman said Tuesday the group has experienced what he called an "unprecedented" spike in membership numbers since new calls for gun control began in the past month.
Approximately 250,000 people have joined the organization's existing 4.25 million members, according to NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam.
"This is in direct response to the threats and accusations coming from" Obama and other political leaders, Arulanandam said, adding that "if anyone is wondering if the American people cared about the Second Amendment ... those numbers give a very clear answer."
In addition to new members, the NRA is also receiving an influx of financial contributions, he said.
"This is going to be a very expensive and hard-fought fight," Arulanandam noted.
The federal government estimates that more than 300 million non-military guns are owned or available for purchase in the United States.
At the White House, Carney acknowledged the challenge, saying: "If these things were easy, they would have been achieved already."
"It's something we have to do together," he said. "It's something that cannot be done by a president alone. It can't be done by a single community alone or a mayor or a governor or by Congress alone. We all have to work together."
Carney also reiterated Obama's belief in the Second Amendment right of citizens to be armed.
Cracking down on guns Why Rob Lowe owns 3 guns Walsh on gun permits, background checks Walden: U.S. needs effective gun laws
"He has made clear that he believes we ought to take common sense, and enact common sense measures that protect Second Amendment rights but prevent people who should not have weapons from obtaining them," he said.
Carney said the proposals Obama will present Wednesday would be his final version of the package recommended by Biden's team.
The recommendations by Biden's panel included as many as 19 executive actions, such as tougher enforcement of existing laws, legislators briefed by the vice president said Tuesday.
Obama could demand that agencies provide data for background checks that are supposed to accompany gun sales, ensuring that information included in the checks is as "comprehensive and complete as possible," Democratic Rep. Mike Thompson of California told CNN.
The president also could immediately appoint a director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which has been without a permanent chief for six years, Thompson said.
A Democratic member of Congress who was briefed on the recommendations said some of the 19 executive actions discussed included improving the way the government administers current law.
The legislator, speaking on condition of not being identified, cited loopholes in the federal database for background checks on gun sales as well as issues involving mental health checks as possibilities for executive action.
Across the country, more than a million people failed background checks to buy guns during the past 14 years because of criminal records, drug use or mental health issues, according to FBI figures. That figure, however, is a small fraction of overall gun sales.
None of the legislators mentioned the NRA's call for armed guards at school as an option under consideration.
Obama has not ruled out issuing executive orders on some gun control measures to enforce laws already on the books, such as bolstering the way gun sales are tracked.
The president reiterated his desire on Monday for more robust background checks for gun buyers, keeping high capacity magazines away from criminals, and a ban on assault weapons.
"Will all of them get through this Congress? I don't know," Obama said. "But what's uppermost in my mind is making sure that I'm honest with the American people and members of Congress about what I think will work, what I think is something that will make a difference."
Working with Congress will be paramount in curbing gun violence, Thompson said, singling out a ban on high capacity magazines as an example of a measure that could garner Republican support. A full-scale assault weapon ban would be tougher to pass the GOP-controlled House, he argued.
Obama also said on Monday that the gun lobby was "ginning up" fears the federal government will use the Connecticut tragedy to seize Americans' guns. At least part of the frenzy is little more than marketing, he implied.
"It's certainly good for business," the president said, responding to a question about a spike in weapons sales and applications for background checks since the December killings.
Biden has said he's found widespread support for universal background checks and restrictions on the sale of high capacity magazines, which gun control advocates believe contribute to more bloodshed at mass shootings.
The influential NRA, among other gun rights groups, has vowed to fight any new gun restrictions -- like an assault weapon ban.
Gun control advocates, gun violence victims, the NRA, video game makers and others have met with the Biden-led task force.
In New York, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday signed into law a series of new gun regulations -- the nation's first since the Newtown shootings.
Both New York's GOP-controlled Senate and Democrat-controlled Assembly approved the measure by overwhelming margins.
It includes a statewide gun registry and adds a uniform licensing standard across the state, altering the current system, in which each county or municipality sets a standard.
Residents are also restricted to purchasing ammunition magazines that carry seven bullets, rather than 10.
"The changes in New York are largely cosmetic," said CNN legal analyst Paul Callan, who described existing regulations as "the toughest gun laws in the United States."
Lawmakers in at least 10 other states are reviewing some form of new gun regulations in the new year.
Meanwhile, new national polls indicated a majority of Americans support some or most gun control measures.
By a 51%-45% margin, Americans questioned in a new Pew Research Center poll said it was more important to control gun ownership than to protect gun rights.
And by a 52%-35% margin, a new ABC News/Washington Post survey indicates the public says it is more likely to support some forms of gun control after last month's massacre. However, the polls showed continuing divisions on political and gender lines.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 January 2013 08:41
Category: Breaking News Written by Gary Lundy, WWJ
DETROIT (WWJ) – So, how does Detroit’s auto show compare to other shows around the country, and around the world?
Well, its not the largest. That distinction goes to the Frankfurt Auto Show in Germany, and that is held every two years.
WWJ’s Gary Lundy tells us the Paris Auto Show was the first show … starting in 1898.
The Chicago Auto Show is the “largest” in the U.S.A. … with more than a million square feet of exhibit space.
The New York Auto Show gets the largest attendance.
But the North American International Auto Show, here in the Motor City, has more unveilings and more introductions of new cars and trucks.
And the Charity Preview has raised more than $87 million since it began, helping local children’s charities. It takes place on the Friday night before the show opens to the general public.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 January 2013 08:19
Category: Breaking News Written by Marcus Amick
SPECIAL TO THE CHRONICLE
The first official media day of the 2013 North American International Auto Show kicked off with the Cadillac ATS wining the Car of the Year Award and the Ram 1500 Truck of the Year.
The winners, selected from three finalists in each category, are chosen by a jury of 49 automotive journalists from the United States and Canada.
In addition to the ATS, finalists for Car of the Year included the Honda Accord and the Ford Fusion. Finalists for Truck of the Year included the CX-5 and the C-Max in addition to the Ram 1500.
Don Butler, vice president of marketing for Cadillac, said the Car of the Year honor for the ATS is a major win for the brand.
“The recognition for the ATS as Car of the Year is validation of all the hard effort that the women and men of Cadillac and GM have put into this vehicle, built all-new from the ground up to take on the world’s best,” said Butler. “It’s just a testament to all the great work we are doing at Cadillac.”
Robert Hegbloom, director of Ram brand marketing, said the Truck of the Year Award caps off a big year for the company.
“To win the truck of the year in Texas, Motor Trend Truck of the Year and then this is incredible,” said. “If you go back, we started the program for this truck when we were at the lowest point in our company’s history. So here we were with our backs against the wall, but we focused on the vision of where we wanted to be and we delivered on it.”
The North American International Auto Show Car and Truck of the Year awards – now in their 20th year - are voted on by a group of automotive journalists from the U.S. and Canada who represent magazines, television, radio, newspapers and web sites.
The awards are designed to recognize vehicles that are benchmarks in their segments based on factors including innovation, comfort, design, safety, handling, driver satisfaction and value for the dollar.
The 2013 award was the first win for Cadillac and the fifth car win for General Motors. The Cadillac CTS was a finalist in 2008.
It was the third truck win for Chrysler. The Dodge Ram 1500 won in 1994.
To be eligible for the car and truck of the year awards, a vehicle must be all new or substantially changed. The jurors considered dozens of new vehicles before sending their ballots to Michelle Collins, a partner at Deloitte & Touche early in December.
The 2013 North American International Auto Show is open to the public from Jan. 19 - 27.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 January 2013 11:32
Category: Breaking News Written by Huffington Post
It's Beyonce's most personal revelation yet.
For her new HBO documentary, "Life Is But a Dream," Beyonce reveals Blue Ivy's sonogram after an intimate video confession during which she says that she knew something felt different inside her.
"I just had a feeling that something was going on," says a makeup-free Beyonce while lying in bed before the sonogram image crosses the screen. "Really? This is crazy."
Beyonce goes on to talk about the difficulty of trying to keep the pregnancy a secret from the public, before her big reveal at the MTV Video Music Awards in August 2011. "They keep putting me in these tight clothes and trying to hide it, it's very difficult," she says, showing off her growing stomach. "I don't know how I'm going to do this."
That summer, Beyonce was performing sold-out shows at New York's Roseland Theater while hiding her pregnancy. "When you're pregnant, it's a little bit harder to breathe, so it was hard doing all the choreography and singing at the same time," she told the Associated Press at the time.
The newest trailer from the documentary comes one week after Blue Ivy celebrated her first birthday on Jan. 7. Although Beyonce didn't speak publicly about her and Jay-Z's daughter turning 1 year old, she did post an adorable photo of Blue walking on a tropical beach during a vacation.
Beyonce opened up about motherhood with GQ for the magazine's "100 Sexiest Women of the 21st Century" issue. "I love my job, but it's more than that: I need it," she told GQ. "Because before I gave birth, it was the only time in my life, all throughout my life, that I was lost."
The very private superstar will offer an intimate look into her personal life in the new HBO documentary, set to premiere on Feb. 16. "I always battle with how much do I reveal about myself," Beyonce says. "How do I stay current? How do I stay soulful?"
Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 January 2013 09:17
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