What’s Up: January 18, 2012?

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· Cruz: Obama ‘High on His Own Power’

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Republican senator Ted Cruz of Texas said Thursday that Barack Obama is “high on his own power” with regard to the president’s announced efforts on gun control. Speaking on Laura Ingraham’s radio talk show, Cruz, who was just elected to the Senate last November, said “this is a president who has drunk the Kool-Aid.”

“He is feeling right now high on his own power, and he is pushing on every front, on guns,” Cruz said. “And I think it’s really sad to see the president of the United States exploiting the murder of children and using it to push his own extreme, anti-gun agenda. I think what the president is proposing and the gun control proposals that are coming from Democrats in the Senate are, number one, unconstitutional, and number two, they don’t work. They’re bad policy.”

Cruz told Ingraham that he does not believe Obama will be successful in passing gun control legislation and that the political ramifications of pursuing such laws could be bad for Democrats.

“I think he’s going to pay a serious political price, and I think the price that’s going to be paid on this is going to manifest in Senate races in 2014, in some red states,” Cruz said. “And there have got to be some Democrats who are up for reelection in 2014 who are very, very nervous right now that President Obama is picking this fight.” Story Continued:

· Additions to be made to gun laws for law enforcement

NEW YORK (WABC) — It appears someone forgot to exempt police officers from the ban of ammunition clips with more than 7 bullets in New York State’s new gun control law.

It’s a big oversight that apparently happened in the haste by the Cuomo Administration to get a tough package of gun-control measures signed into law.

On Tuesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the sweeping gun measure, the nation’s toughest. It includes a ban on the possession of high-capacity magazines.

Specifically, magazines with more than 7 rounds will be illegal under the new law.

The problem as the statute is currently written does NOT exempt law enforcement officers.

The NYPD, the State Police and virtually every law enforcement agency in the state carry 9-milli-meter guns, which have a 15-round capacity.

Unless an exemption is added by the time the law takes effect in March, police would technically be in violation of the new gun measure.

Within the last hour, the Patrolman’s Benevolent Association President released a statement saying, “The PBA is actively working to enact changes to this law that will provide the appropriate exemptions from the law for active and retired law enforcement officers.”

State Senator Eric Adams, a former NYPD Captain, told us he’s going to push for an amendment next week to exempt police officers from the high-capacity magazine ban. In his words, “You can’t give more ammo to the criminals”

A spokesman for the Governor’s office called us to say, “We are still working out some details of the law and the exemption will be included.” Story Continued:

· Vulnerable Senate Democrats balk at Obama’s gun control measures

Some vulnerable Senate Democrats are balking at President Obama’s new push on gun control, reflecting he tough position many will be in if Congress takes up major firearms legislation.

Shortly after Obama unveiled the details of his policy, a number of Democrats from conservative, heavily rural states who are up for reelection in 2014 indicated they’re likely to oppose the measures.

The responses indicate how tough it will be for any legislation to move through Congress — and how tricky an issue it is for some rural-state Democrats facing reelection.

Here’s a rundown of what some of those Democrats had to say about the proposals:

Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner that he’s not eager to pass new gun control legislation.

“I think they’ve got a long haul here … There are some of us who just fundamentally believe in a Second Amendment right,” he said. “To be frank, I feel like it’s going to be hard for any of these pieces of legislation to pass at this point.”

Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) told a local television station that he opposed the proposals.

“While I appreciate the president’s efforts to keep Americans safe, I believe the place to start is to enforce the laws on the books. That being said, I will continue to look for areas of common ground, including funding for law enforcement in schools, implementing tracking systems for the mentally ill and criminals, and addressing violence in the media. Most importantly, I will be talking with my constituents in Arkansas as I vote on these issues in the future,” Pryor said.

Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) indicated he was hesitant about supporting new legislation.

“Enforcing the laws we already have on the books is good first step, and it’s clear more needs to be done to address access to mental health care,” he said in a Wednesday statement. “Before passing new laws, we need a thoughtful debate that respects responsible, law-abiding gun owners in Montana instead of a one-size-fits all directives from Washington.”

Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) said on Tuesday, before the proposals came out, that he didn’t want to see a “one-size-fits-all” approach.

“We in South Dakota have far fewer problems with guns than they do in New York or New Jersey, and it makes common sense to not have one size fits all,” he said in a Tuesday news conference in South Dakota. “I believe in the Second Amendment, and I’m a hunter myself, but I think something should be done — but what, I don’t know.”

Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) was cautious regarding whether or not she supported the proposals, though she said she would look at the proposals with “an open mind.”

“We need to ensure that there are laws in place to prevent a tragedy like Sandy Hook from ever happening again. First and foremost, that will require a serious commonsense debate in Congress that looks at access to guns, access to mental health care and violent video games,” she said in a statement to The Hill. “While respecting the rights of responsible gun owners, I am committed to working with my Republican and Democratic colleagues toward a comprehensive approach that ensures our communities are safe.

“As I have said, I will look at any proposal with an open mind, including the President’s proposals to make schools safer and grant law enforcement additional tools to prosecute gun crime,” she continued.

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) similarly didn’t take a concrete stance on Obama’s proposals, though she sounded slightly more open to new legislation.

“My record of support for the Second Amendment is strong. In Louisiana and many places across the country, hunting, target shooting and gun collecting are time-honored sports and popular hobbies,” she said in a statement to reporters after Obama rolled out his proposals.

“That said, last month’s tragedy in Newtown, Conn., has become all too familiar. We must find a way to balance our Second Amendment rights with the challenges of mental illness, criminal behavior and the safety of our schools and communities. We must also enforce the rules already on the books. Even some of the most respected law enforcement leaders in our country are calling for commonsense reforms because of this terrible violence in our communities.”

“This isn’t a Republican or a Democratic issue,” she continued. “It’s an American issue. And the American people expect us to come together and act. The safety of our children, our communities and our nation depend on it. I look forward to reviewing the proposals put forth by the administration and will give them my serious consideration as they are brought for debate in the Senate.”

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), who hails from a left-leaning but heavily rural state, said during a meeting in Minnesota that he supported some of the measures but didn’t immediately weigh in on Obama’s calls for an assault weapons ban. Franken staffers later pointed out that he’s long supported renewing the assault weapons ban.

“I think most people agree that you don’t need 30 rounds to bring down a deer,” Franken said about Obama’s proposal to limit the size of ammunition magazines. Story Continued:

· Bob Schieffer Likens Obama ‘Taking on the Gun Lobby’ to Hunt for Bin Laden, ‘Defeating the Nazis’

Bob Schieffer somehow topped Chris Matthews during CBS News’s special coverage of President Obama’s gun control press conference on Wednesday, as he became the worst caricature of a foaming-at-the-mouth cheerleader for the chief executive. Schieffer lauded “one of the best speeches I’ve ever heard him [Obama] deliver”, and compared Obama’s new gun control agenda to Lyndon Johnson’s push for civil rights legislation in the 1960s.

The CBS veteran even went so far to liken the President’s cause to the ten-year hunt for 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden and the difficult endeavor of winning World War II http://available%20here;%20video%20below%20the%20jump:

BOB SCHIEFFER: Let’s remember: there was considerable opposition when Lyndon Johnson went to the Congress and presented some of the most comprehensive civil rights legislation in the history of this country. Most people told him he couldn’t get it done, but he figured out a way to do it. And that’s what Barack Obama is going to have to do…what happened in Newtown was probably the worst day in this country’s history since 9/11. We found Osama bin Laden. We tracked him down. We changed the way that we dealt with that problem. Surely, finding Osama bin Laden; surely, passing civil rights legislation, as Lyndon Johnson was able to do; and before that, surely, defeating the Nazis, was a much more formidable task than taking on the gun lobby.

Schieffer then lobbied for the Democratic politician to do everything in his power to get stricter gun control passed, as bluntly outlined the apparent stakes for the country:

SCHIEFFER: This is a turning point in this country, and the President is going to have to do more than just make a speech about it. This is one of the best speeches I’ve ever heard him deliver, but it’s going to take more than that from the White House. He’s going to have to get his hands dirty. He’s going to have to get in there and – and work this problem until he gets it done. But unless we figure out a way to make sure that something like Newtown never happens again, we’re not the country that we once were. I think we still are. I think there’s hope. I think something’s going to happen here.

Exactly a month earlier, the Face the Nation host unleashed on the gun control issue during the immediate aftermath of the Sandy Hook massacre. During a December 16, 2012 panel discussion, he claimed, “If [shooter Adam Lanza] had had an Arab name, people would be going nuts about what we ought to do right now.”

One wonders how Schieffer is going to top himself the next time he opens his mouth on gun control. Story Continued:

· Mumbai attack group aid man given 14 years in prison

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A Chicago businessman who aided an Islamic militant group blamed for the Mumbai attack in 2008 has been sentenced to 14 years in prison.

Tahawwur Rana was convicted in 2011 of providing material support for the Pakistani group, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

The 52-year-old was also charged with helping plan an aborted plot to behead staff at a Danish newspaper.

But he was cleared of a role in the Mumbai attack, when more than 160 people were killed by gunmen.

Rana’s lawyer, Patrick Blegen, argued for a more lenient sentence than the maximum of 30 years, saying the Pakistani-born Canadian did not present a future risk.

“Judge, he is a good man and he got sucked into something, but there’s no risk that he’s going to do it again, none,” Mr Blegen said.

Prosecutor Daniel Collins argued for a tough punishment to deter others.

“There’s not much worse than mass murder of this scale,” he said of the Danish newspaper plot.

Star witness

Correspondents say the trial gave a rare glimpse into the workings of LeT, which India blames for the Mumbai attacks.

At the centre of the trial was testimony by the government’s star witness, David Headley, once Rana’s close friend.

US-Pakistani Headley had previously pleaded guilty to laying the groundwork for the Mumbai attacks and helping plot the attack against the Danish paper.

During the trial, prosecutors argued that Rana had allowed Headley to open an office of his Chicago-based immigration services firm in Mumbai, which Headley then used as cover to scout sites for the attacks.

The prosecutors also said that Rana had allowed Headley to pose as a representative of his firm in order to gain access to newspaper offices by feigning interest in purchasing advertising space.

Rana’s defence team argued that he had been manipulated and misled by Headley, an old friend from their days in a Pakistani military school.

At the opening of the trial, Headley also testified that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency had provided military and moral support to LeT.

Pakistan has denied the allegations. Story Continued:

· First lady celebrates 49th birthday with dramatic new ‘do!

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For her 49th birthday on Thursday, First Lady Michelle Obama launched a new Twitter account and revealed a dramatic new hairstyle!

In the second tweet sent from her brand new @FLOTUS account (which stands for, naturally, First Lady of the United States), Mrs. Obama posted a photo with Inaugural citizen co-chair David Hall ahead of the MLK Day of Service Saturday — and unveiled a set of bangs.

The National Day of Service, Mrs. Obama shared in an email to TODAY.com, is her “favorite event of inauguration weekend,” when people from across the country volunteer in their communities in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Previously, her official Twitter handle was @michelleobama, which was run by an arm of the president’s re-election team. The @FLOTUS account is run by the first lady’s staff, but when she sends a tweet herself, she’ll sign it with her initials, -mo.

The first tweet sent by the account explained the strategy:

FLOTUS

@FLOTUS

The @FLOTUS Office is now on @twitter & will post updates & pics. When it’s her, she’ll sign -mo. PS: RT to wish Mrs. Obama a #HappyBirthday

17 Jan 13 ReplyRetweetFavorite

The President’s official Twitter account also joined in on Thursday to wish his wife a happy birthday, posting a montage of their adorable moments together.

He hasn’t yet weighed in on the bangs. Story Continued:

– I hate to spoil the woman’s fun with her new do. But who really cares? PdC

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