WASHINGTON – The National Rival Association opposes any new legislation that puts an age restriction on firearm purchases despite a parent’s request to President Trump to do so and some new bipartisan efforts to raise the age, reports The Hill.
NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker says in a statement that a law that makes it illegal for a 20-year-old to purchase a shotgun for hunting or adult single mother for self-defense… punishes law-abiding citizens for the evil acts of criminals.”
During a listening session at the White House, a parent of a survivor at last week’s high school shooting asked President Trump to impose age restrictions on gun purchases, saying if an individual can’t purchase alcohol, they shouldn’t be able to buy a gun.
GOP Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona says he is working on legislation with Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California to increase the minimum age to buy a rifle.
Trump tiptoes toward possible fight with NRA
President Trump is publicly tiptoeing toward support for gun-control measures that could put him at odds with the National Rifle Association, reports The Hill.
At a White House listening session with survivors from the Florida high school shooting, Trump vowed to be an agent of change and said he would look at age restrictions on gun purchases — something opposed by the NRA, which calls him the “most pro-Second Amendment president in recent history.”
Trump reiterated support for background-check legislation and signaled the possibility that he could go further a day after directing Attorney General Jeff Sessions to issue a memo banning bump stocks and other devices that allow guns to operate like automatic weapons.
But it’s unclear exactly how far Trump intends to go, and the NRA, for the moment, does not see any distance between itself and a president it strongly supported in the 2016 campaign.
‘Fix it’: Students and parents tell Trump about gun violence at schools
President Trump listened intently at the White House as students, parents and teachers begged him to do something, anything, to prevent another mass shooting, The Washington Post reports.
The group offered several suggestions — bolster school security, drill students on what to do during a shooting and raise the age at which someone can buy an assault rifle — but in the end, Trump remained focused on what he often proposes after a mass shooting: Increase the number of people with guns so they can quickly stop shooters.
By hosting the event Wednesday, Trump signals he wants to take ownership of addressing the vexing problem of gun violence at American schools.”
Tearful student asks Trump, ‘How do we not stop this?
With wrenching tales of lost lives and stolen security, students and parents appealed to President Trump to set politics aside and protect America’s school children from the scourge of gun violence, the Associated Press reports.
Trump listened intently to the raw emotion and pledged action, including the possibility of arming teachers.
A tearful Samuel Zeif, a student at the Florida high school where a former student’s assault left 17 dead, said “I turned 18 the day after. Woke up to the news that my best friend was gone. And I don’t understand why I can still go in a store and buy a weapon of war. An AR. How is it that easy to buy this type of weapon? How did we not stop this after Columbine? After Sandy Hook?”
Trump promises to be “very strong on background checks” and suggested allowing teachers to carry concealed weapons. Mostly he listened, holding handwritten notes bearing his message to the families. “I hear you” was written in black marker.
President searches for school safety answers
President Trump is scheduled to meet with state and local officials on school safety at the White House today, reports USA Today.
The meeting is part of an ongoing dialogue following the shooting at a Florida high school that left 17 people dead.
Trump promised tougher background checks and mental health screens for gun buyers in an emotional forum at the White House Wednesday with students and parents who were personally affected by mass school shootings in the U.S.
The president also seemed to endorse changes in state concealed-carry laws to allow teachers to be armed.
Trump vows to push comprehensive gun background checks: ‘Raise age to 21’
President Trump today says he will push for comprehensive background checks “with an emphasis on mental health” on gun sales, saying that the age of purchasers should be raised to 21 and bump stocks should be banned, The Hill reports.
Lawmakers and activists are pushing for gun control after 17 people were killed at a school shooting in South Florida last week. The 19-year-old suspect in the shooting allegedly used a legally purchased AR-15 to carry out the attack, placing the rifle in the center of the debate.
During a listening session at the White House on Wednesday, a parent of one of the survivors of the shooting asked Trump to enact age restrictions for gun purchases, a move the president is reportedly considering for weapons like the AR-15.
NY Daily News cover features Trump with NRA duct tape over his mouth
The New York Daily News cover today features a photo of President Trump with National Rifle Association duct tape over his mouth, reports The Hill.
Below the image, the cover says, “He spoke about background checks. He spoke about mental illness. He spoke about arming teachers.”
President Trump, who earned major support from the NRA in his 2016 campaign, has been criticized for his tepid response on gun rights issues after the Valentin’s Day shooting at the school in Parkland, Fla., where 17 people were killed.
Trump is now reportedly in talks with administration officials about implementing a new age restriction on assault rifles like the one that authorities say was used in the shooting last week.
The Daily News cover comes after the paper called out GOP lawmakers last week for the campaign donations they accepted from the NRA when they expressed their condolences for the loss of life in the Florida community, citing some lawmakers’ “A+” grades from the gun lobby.
Rubio breaks with Trump, doesn’t support arming teachers
GOP Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida says he opposes arming teachers with weapons to prevent future school shootings, hours after President Trump indicated his administration would look into the idea, reports The Hill.
Rubio at a CNN town hall event in the aftermath of last week’s Florida high school tells the audience that arming teachers makes him uncomfortable as a parent, that there are problems with that solution, including not being able to determine whether an armed teacher might be the problem.
Trump met with parents, students and family members with a connection to past school shootings, including survivors of the Florida shooting, and suggested that arming teachers might be a solution to school shootings.
Trump: I never said ‘give teachers guns’
President Trump in a series of tweets early this morning denies that he suggested giving teachers guns, saying he would consider giving trained teachers concealed weapons, reports The Hill.
Trump pledged to look “very strongly” at the proposal for arming educators, saying, “If you had a teacher who was adept with the firearm, they could end the attack very quickly,” adding that schools could arm up to 20% of their teachers to stop “maniacs” who may try and attack them.
Trump says he only suggested giving concealed guns to “teachers with military of special training experience,” adding that a gun free school is a “magnet for bad people.”
The tweets come after Trump held a listening session Wednesday at the White House with students and teachers who survived the Florida high school shooting last week, which left 17 people dead.
Teachers are not meant to carry AR-15s, student survivor says
Florida school shooting survivor Alfonso Calderon says that President Trump’s suggestion of arming teachers and school staff with weapons to enhance school safety is a “terrible idea.”
Calderon told CNN’s Don Lemon on “CNN Tonight,” “I don’t know if Donald Trump has ever been to a public high school, but as far as I’m aware, teachers are meant to be educators.”
The 16-year-old added, “They’re meant to teach young minds how to work in the real world. They are not meant to know how to carry AR-15s. They are not meant to know how to put on Kevlar vests for the other students or themselves.”
Trump pledged to look “very strongly” at the proposal for arming educators, at the White House after listening emotional stories and pleas to enhance school safety.
Social media goes after Trump for notes at session with shooting survivors
Social media users went after President Trump after photos revealed he was holding a note card that included the bullet point “I hear you” during a White House listening session with Florida shooting survivors, reports The Hill.
Multiple news outlets shared photos of Trump holding the note, which was captured by photographers at the event. The photo quickly went viral on social media.
Some Twitter users criticized Trump for the note, while others questioned the image’s authenticity.
Kids lead, adults follow
Conventional wisdom says grown-ups spark social change and the kids merely follow, but if you read between the lines of history books, the opposite is often true, CNN reports.
Kids get out front on issues and it’s the adults who follow, according to Sasha Costanza-Chock, an associate professor of civic media at MIT.
Costanza-Chock says history books credit Rosa Parks with kicking off the civil rights movement when she refused to give up her seat to a white person on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Ala., but it was a teenager, 15-year-old Claudette Colvin, who had taken the brave step nine months earlier in the same city,
Teenagers confronting water hoses and police attack dogs turned the tide in the 1963 civil rights campaign in Birmingham, Ala. Young people drove the Arab Spring protests that toppled dictatorships in Tunisia and Egypt.
And 23-year-old immigrant Clara Lemlich started a strike involving 15,000 factory workers in New York City in the early 20th century that helped spark the modern labor movement.
Costanza-Chock says of the fight for more gun control, “If anyone can do it, it’s going to be young people.”
600 face tuberculosis threat from infected Michigan health care worker
Health officials are notifying people in three Michigan counties that they may have been exposed to tuberculosis, a potentially fatal bacterial disease, through a health care worker, according to USA Today.
The worker may have had contact with more than 600 people while working in three facilities — two hospitals and a senior rehabilitation and long-term care facility — in Oakland, Livingston and Washtenaw counties between May 1, 2017, and Jan. 31, 2018, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
The worker was only recently diagnosed, officials say, and is receiving treatment and no longer working.
Blood tests and medical treatment are being offered and provided as necessary by St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor and Livingston hospitals to affected patients and staff who have learned they may have been exposed, officials say.
United Nations expected to vote on Syria cease-fire
Sweden and Kuwait call for a vote today on a United Nations resolution ordering a 30-day cease-fire throughout Syria.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says a suspension of fighting must allow for humanitarian aid to reach all in need and the evacuation of some 700 people needing urgent medical treatment.
U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley supports the U.N. chief saying, “it is time for us to realize that we can’t continue to look away.”
Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia calls a 30-day cease-fire unrealistic. Since the Syrian conflict began nearly seven years ago, the Security Council has been deeply divided.
33% of Americans have more credit card debt than savings
Setting aside emergency savings is a key piece of personal finance advice that many struggle to follow, but more Americans are boosting savings, a survey released today says.
According to personal finance site Bankrate.com, 33% of Americans say they do not have more emergency savings than credit card debt, reports USA Today.
While one in three Americans is financially ill-equipped for an emergency, that’s down from 41% in 2017 and 43% in 2016, and it’s the lowest level in the eight years of the survey.
58 percent say their emergency savings fund exceeds their credit card debt, which is up from 52 percent from the year before.
SpaceX plans launch to test global satellite Internet service
SpaceX hopes to take to the skies yet again today, assuming the weather is right, USA Today reports.
CEO Elon Musk tweets that the company hopes to launch a Falcon 9 rocket with two test satellites for the company’s planned global satellite Internet service called Starlink.
The company last May announced plans to launch more than 4,420 small satellites into low orbit around the Earth beginning this year, with full network deployment expected by 2024.
Team USA wins handful of medals early, including women’s hockey’s golden redemption
For the first time in 20 years, Team USA is at the top of the Olympic women’s hockey world after a thrilling overtime victory against rival Canada, according to USA Today.
The U.S. continues its dominance in trick competitions today with a handful of medals.
Jamie Anderson won silver in the Olympic debut of snowboarding big air. David Wise defended his gold medal from Sochi on the halfpipe. And Alex Ferreira took the silver.
On the slopes, Mikaela Shiffrin had a strong run in her specialty, the slalom, to earn the silver medal in Alpine combined.
Lindsey Vonn, however, skied out as the final competitor in the race and did not finish.
Twitter suspends thousands of suspected bot accounts, and the pro-Trump crowd is furious
Twitter is believed to have suspended thousands of accounts for being automated bots or for other policy violations, drawing outcry from fringe conservative media figures who lost followers in the move, reports The Washington Post.
Many of these figures, such as pro-Trump host Bill Mitchell and white nationalist Richard Spencer, complain about losing a small portion of their followers in the move. Other conservative accounts were suspended pending verification that they are run by people.
Twitter did not confirm the number of accounts that it suspended but released a statement saying that it was continuing to identify “suspicious account behaviors” that represented automated activity or other violations of its terms of service.
Twitter, along with other leading social-media and technology companies such as Google and Facebook, is under increased scrutiny nationally for its role, however unintentional, in becoming a platform for false, misleading and hateful information in the run-up to the 2016 election. The companies are also chief targets of a sophisticated and illegal propaganda operation run by a Kremlin-linked troll farm.
Syria ‘massacre’ goes on as UN urges ceasefire vote
The deadly bombardment of eastern Ghouta in Syria killed at least 13 more civilians early today, ahead of a potential UN vote on a 30-day ceasefire, the Associated Press reports.
The UN reports that at least 346 people had been killed and hundreds more wounded since President Assad’s forces stepped up their offensive at the start of the month.
At least 92 people died in just one 13-hour period, the UN adds, with Secretary General Antonio Guterres calling it “hell on Earth” and urging an immediate suspension of “all war activities.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel added to the international outcry today, calling the situation a “massacre” and noting that the Syrian regime was “fighting not against terrorists, but against its own people, the killing of children, the destruction of hospitals, all this is a massacre which needs to be condemned.”
Drive to ban library books with LGBTQ content erupts in Iowa
More than 300 people have signed a petition to either ban or label and group materials related to homosexual and transgender content in the Orange City Public Library, USA Today reports.
The Rev. Sacha Walicord of Grace Reformed Presbyterian Church spoke before an overflow crowd of more than 100 at the Orange City Public Library Board of Trustees meeting, saying said that LBGTQ books and other library content are “pushing an agenda” that is counter to those in the faith community.
Others defended the selections, saying that a library is a place of diverse ideas and that library patrons are free to choose what to view or ignore.
Sue Kroesche, the former director of Orange City Public Library, “No one is putting a gun to anyone’s head” to read books with LGBT content.
Uber’s cheaper Express Pool service rivals transit buses
To save some money on your next Uber ride, put on your walking shoes, USA Today reports.
The ride-hailing service rolled out its Express Pool service as a cheaper version of its Uberpool option.
Express Pool more closely resembles public bus service, the newspaper reports. When you request Express Pool, Uber notifies the user of the pickup location, so they can walk to the stop. With Uberpool, users are picked up and basically carpool together.
The Express Pool ride ends at a spot near the user’s destination as chosen by the driver, requiring the user to walk another short distance. With Uberpool, users are dropped off right at their destination.
The location of the pickup can change depending on who else is being picked up, their intended direction of travel and traffic patterns.
Verizon to stop selling unlocked phones
Taking a Spring break in the Caribbean? Going abroad? If you buy a smartphone from Verizon, make sure you can use it wherever you go, USA Today reports.
Verizon Wireless is resuming electronically locking smartphones in its stores, which may lead to hiccups for subscribers who travel internationally after buying a phone.
It’s a reminder, the newspaper says, about how the phones we think we own can be made to function like somebody else’s property.
Verizon will lock phones — meaning you can’t use them on another wireless service — until a customer buys one and activates Verizon service on it.
But sometime later this spring, the nation’s largest wireless carrier will keep phones locked for an unannounced period even after subscribers put them into service, a move CNet first reported.
Verizon says a surge in thefts forced it to end its practice of selling phones unlocked, ready for use on any compatible wireless service.
Liberal think tank releases universal health-care coverage plan
The Center for American Progress today releases a universal health-care plan aimed at building on the coverage expansion from ObamaCare, The Hill reports
The leading center-left think tank enters a debate that has been accelerating among Democrats about how far to go in expanding on the Affordable Care Act with government-run insurance.
The CAP plan, called Medicare Extra, would provide government-run health insurance modeled on Medicare for people currently on Medicare, Medicaid, or in the individual ObamaCare market.
Notably, it would preserve employer-sponsored health insurance, which is popular among many middle-class Americans, although it would give employers and employees the option of joining the government-run, Medicare Extra option.
By leaving employer-sponsored insurance as an option, the plan does not go as far as the “Medicare for All” proposal of Vermont’s Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders. It could also make the CAP plan at least somewhat more politically feasible.
Amnesty International says Trump created year of ‘hate-filled rhetoric’
Amnesty International is ripping President Trump, accusing him of creating a year of “hate-filled rhetoric” through his immigration policy, reports The Hill.
The group says in its annual audit of human rights around the world that the Trump administration’s decision to implement a travel ban that barred people from several Muslim-majority countries was “transparently hateful,” CNN reports.
The report also went after world leaders for promoting “fake news” and social media companies for being “weak and inconsistent” in their efforts to stop attacks against women and minorities.
Still, the group also noted various movements that have been launched over the past year, such as the #MeToo movement and referenced the recent wave of activism from students who are demanding lawmakers act on gun control in the wake of the deadly Florida high school shooting.
State Department cuts language on women’s rights, discrimination in annual report
The State Department is reportedly cutting language regarding women’s rights and discrimination in an upcoming annual report, Politico reports.
Parts of the annual report on global human rights that talk about family planning and the amount of access women have to contraceptives and abortion have been trimmed or eliminated, Politico reports, citing five former and current department officials.
The officials say the agency has been ordered to trim sections relating to racial, ethnic and sexual discrimination, a directive, according to Politico, that comes from a top aide to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
A serving State Department official tells Politico that the directive “sends a clear signal that women’s reproductive rights are not a priority for this administration, and that it’s not even a rights violation we must or should report on.”
In the past, reports have included extensive detail on women’s reproductive rights, according to Politico, but in this year’s soon-to-be released report, the section previously called “Reproductive Rights” has been changed to “Coercion in Population Control.”
McMaster could leave White House after months of tension with Trump
Tensions between President Trump and National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster are prompting the Pentagon to consider options that would allow Trump to move the three-star general from his current role and back into the military, according to CNN.
A search is quietly being conducted by the Pentagon to see if there is a four-star military job suited for McMaster, half a dozen defense and administration officials tell CNN. Potential replacements include CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary James Mattis, who patiently answers Trump’s questions, regardless of the premise. McMaster, meanwhile, is the person who delivers the news that Trump doesn’t want to hear daily, according to the senior Republican source.
Tensions between Trump and McMaster have been on display for months and Trump publicly chided him when he said there was “incontrovertible” evidence of Russian interference in the election.
Trump’s response: “General McMaster forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians and that the only Collusion was between Russia and Crooked H, the DNC and the Dems.”
Toys R Us reportedly planning more store closings, corporate layoffs
Bankrupt retailer Toys R Us is planning to close 200 more stores and make staff cuts at its corporate headquarters in Wayne, N.J., according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.
The report triggered a new round of social media posts lamenting the death of Toys R Us, a blow for the retailer, which has been struggling to convince consumers and vendors that it has a future in the toy business.
The Bergen Record has learned that Toys R Us plans to hold a staff meeting today at its Wayne headquarters. A year ago this week Toys R Us laid off 250 employees at its headquarters, about 15 percent of its staff there.
The 200 store closings would be in addition to the approximately 170 U.S. stores where Toys R Us currently is holding going-out-of-business sales. If the retailer goes ahead with those closings, it would be reducing its stores nearly 50 percent, from approximately 880 last year to roughly 400 stores.
Trump’s plan for Energy Star sparks industry uproar
President Trump is facing strong opposition in his drive to eliminate federal funding for the Environmental Protection Agency’s popular Energy Star program.
With the Department of Energy’s help, the voluntary Energy Star program sets efficiency benchmarks for appliances, electronics, building materials, lighting and other products, and lets companies use the Energy Star label on products that meet the specifications.
In his budget request to Congress for fiscal year 2019, Trump asks lawmakers to eliminate the $42 million in federal funding for the program. He instead proposes allowing the EPA to fund the energy efficiency certification through fees charged to companies that use it. The idea has been pushed in conservative circles for years.
Manufacturers, retailers, utilities, environmentalists and others who benefit from the program are lining up against Trump’s plan.
U.S. Embassy in Montenegro attacked
An unidentified man threw a small explosive device at a U.S. Embassy in Montenegro early today before killing himself with a separate device, Reuters reports.
Embassy officials say the man threw a small device, likely a hand grenade, near the compound. The device failed to cause any injuries or casualties, according to embassy staff, who say the man then committed suicide with a second explosive device.
Reuters reports that embassy police armed with sub-machine guns were spotted patrolling the street after the attack, but that no major damage was reported.
Ford North America President Raj Nair ousted for ‘inappropriate behavior’
Ford Motor’s North American president, Raj Nair, a key company veteran and one of the first people promoted by new CEO Jim Hackett, is out after an admission of “inappropriate behavior,” USA Today reports.
The Dearborn, Mich.-based automaker announces that Nair, 53, executive vice president in the company and president, North America, “is departing from Ford effective immediately.”
It is another blow to a company hit by a recent string of sour turns. Ford has seen its stock price flatten over the past 12 months while competitors have shown strong growth.
Already this calendar year, Ford has lost its new China CEO, who abruptly quit in late January, citing unspecified “personal reasons,” said it expected weaker earnings in 2018, and Moody’s Investors Service downgraded the company’s credit rating outlook from stable to negative.
NBA champion Warriors to visit DC children instead of White House
The NBA champion Golden State Warriors will spend next week’s trip to Washington, D.C., visiting local children after the team was disinvited from the White House by President Trump.
The team tells ESPN that the players plan to attend a small event closed to media with local D.C. children during their visit to the nation’s capital.
The team turned down invitations from Democrats such as Mayor Muriel Bowser and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California to visit the U.S. Capitol, after deciding not to politicize their visit to Washington.
Forward Draymond Green tells ESPN. “It’s about something we did great. Why make it about [politics]?”
Trump publicly disinvited the team last September after star player Steph Curry said he would likely avoid the visit if the team was invited to the White House to meet the president.
Grapevines blooming early in Napa Valley
Grapevines are blooming early in Napa Valley in California, according to Accuweather, the earliest “bud break,” employees at local wineries have seen in 30 years.
Early budding isn’t necessarily good news, signaling higher risk of frost since winter cold weather isn’t over and stress on young grapevines.
Says Francisco Araujo, senior viticulturist for Atlas Vineyard Management, which
farms approximately 1,000 acres: “There is not yet generalized bud break, but growers are seeing signs of an early onset, especially in vineyards where soil is shallower, and the vines are weaker.”
Wine growers are also dealing with the effects of California wildfires and a shortage of water because of record dry months.