Virginia's state legislature recently voted to repeal a 1993 law capping handgun purchases at one-per-month. The law was designed to help curb interstate gun trafficking along what was known as the "iron pipeline" — the corridor along I-95 from the south to the northeast. In 1991, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms had found that 40 percent of guns found at crime scenes in New York had been purchased in Virginia. Two decades later, opponents of the law say that it's become obsolete.
Despite an apology from President Obama, protests and violence following the destruction of several Korans and other religious artifacts by U.S. troops have continued in Afghanistan and Pakistan. 30 people have been killed thus far, including four U.S. troops. As one of the most offensive possible acts, the unrest over this burning shows no signs of stopping.
With high unemployment numbers, a slowly recovering economy, protest movements like Occupy and the Tea Party, the economy has been a hot topic for this election cycle. And for some politicians, the most important economic indicator is the price at the gas pump: last week Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich released a 30-minute ad that faults the Obama administration for rising gas prices.
Over the weekend, two U.S. military advisers were shot dead in their office at the Interior Ministry in Kabul, Afghanistan. The attack is one of many since U.S. troops inadvertently burned several copies of the Koran and other religious materials while clearing out the base at Bagram Air Field last Wednesday. In response to the escalating violence, Brigadier General Carsten Jacobson announced Sunday that NATO had decided to withdraw its advisors from Afghanistan.
Senator Marco Rubio generated a lot of positive buzz at this year's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in January. A dynamic young catholic Latino from Florida, Rubio charmed crowds with his sense of humor and looked like he could be the perfect young vice-presidential candidate. However, on Thursday BuzzFeed broke the story that Rubio was, for a few years of his life, Mormon.
Since 1992 seven journalists have been killed in Syria, making it one of the most difficult countries to cover. Last Thursday, Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter Anthony Shadid died of an asthma attack. Then on Tuesday tragedy hit three more journalists. A local videographer, Rami al-Sayed, was killed covering a bombardment. Also, two Western journalists — U.S.-born Marie Colvin and French photojournalist Rémi Ochlik — died when their makeshift media center came under fire.
Tommy Jordan, an ordinary dad from North Carolina, launched himself into internet fame when he uploaded an eight-minute YouTube video in response to a whiny letter his daughter posted on Facebook. Viewed 28 million times, Tommy's video outlines his anger with his daughter's online complaints about household chores, and as a finale, he shoots eight rounds at her laptop. The divisive video sparked much controversy across the country around parenting and social media.
For the first time in nearly a month, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich will share a stage in Arizona, at a Republican presidential debate hosted at the Mesa Center of the Arts on Wednesday. The latest poll numbers from CNN have Romney in the lead with the support of 36 percent, and Santorum coming in at a close second with 32 percent of likely voters. While Romney's lead is far from decisive, many Arizona voters have yet to make up their minds.
Abigail Fisher, a white student from Sugarland, Texas, sued the University of Texas after she failed to receive admission. In "Fisher v. Texas," she claims she was turned down even though her application was just as strong as minority students who got in. Sometime in the fall, this case will be heard by the Supreme Court, the first affirmative action case heard in nearly a decade. With more conservative justices on the bench, the case could overturn the 2003 ruling that allows universities to take race into account during admissions as long as they didn't quantify their process.
In a recent op-ed for The New York Times, writer Timothy Egan makes this observation about the voters turning out for GOP primary contests around the country: "There is no other way to put this without resorting to demographic bluntness: the small fraction of Americans who are trying to pick the Republican nominee are old, white, uniformly Christian and unrepresentative of the nation at large." He goes on to make this observation about the demographic of the Republican primary electorate: "They are much closer to the population of 1890 than of 2012."
The Associated Press has obtained a new report from the New York Police Department which provides a surprising portrait of just how far the NYPD's intelligence division went in a surveillance program targeting Muslims. The NYPD tracked closely the activities of Muslim student groups at 13 colleges in the northeast, monitoring their e-mails and taking notes on their activities.
The National Kidney Registry called it "Chain 124." It began last August and lasted through December, linking 60 lives forever in the longest-ever chain of kidney transplants. Through the cooperation of seventeen hospitals in eleven states, it connected 30 people who needed a kidney with 30 people willing to give up an organ to a complete stranger. Transplant chains like this are rare, but computer models suggest thousands more transplants could be made each year if there were a national databank of willing donors and recipients — and if more Americans knew about such programs.
Gas prices are going up and it's turning into a campaign issue. Gas prices have already risen 25 cents since the start of the year, putting them at $3.25 a gallon, a record high for this time of year. Occupy organizers turn their attention towards the more than 2 million people in prisons with what they're calling National Occupy Day in Support of Prisoners. Arizona Republican Senator John McCain is in Egypt trying to resolve a diplomatic dispute over American NGO workers in Egypt charged with using illegal funding to incite revolution.
This time last year, unrest in Libya sent oil prices climbing, adding pressure to an already struggling economy. Now, it looks like a similar scenario could happen this spring and summer: in retaliation for an embargo planned by the European Union, Iran has threatened to cut off oil supplies. Impacting virtually every aspect of the U.S. economy, these increased oil prices will almost certainly influence the election's climate.
If there's one thing that Republicans and Democrats traditionally agree on it's transportation legislation. Yet this is not the case for two different transportation bills that are stalled in the House and Senate. Tea Party conservatives are complaining about the cost, even thought traditional GOP members want to create jobs. Some think the problem is lack of earmarks, which bring "pork" to certain districts.
After an internal review spanning many months, the FBI announced Wednesday that it has purged hundreds of training documents containing Islamophobic material. The bureau stated that instructional materials were destroyed that contained "factual errors," stereotyped Arabs, were in “poor taste,"or lacked accurate information. The FBI is now in the process of reviewing and updating its training material and policies.
In recent years, U.S. special operations forces — a shadowy division of elite soldiers — have emerged as the new heroes behind some of the country’s toughest military operations, like rescuing Jessica Buchanan, an American woman who’d been kidnapped by Somali pirates, and killing Osama Bin Laden. Now Admiral William McCraven, the leader of the special operations command, is seeking new authority to deploy his forces with less Pentagon oversight.
"I am a son of Detroit." That's the first line from an op-ed Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney published in The Detroit News on Tuesday. The candidate's father, George Romney, was the Governor of Michigan in the 1960s; Mitt Romney grew up in Michigan, and with the Michigan primary contest just a week away, he’s been vigorously re-asserting his roots. But given the fact Romney hasn't lived in the state in years and "corporate-raider" past, whether or not Michigan voters will accept him as a native son remains to be seen.
Chinese vice president Xi Jinping, the man expected to become China's top leader in the fall, is in Washington this week as part of a five-day trip to the U.S. The visit is expected to set the tone for bilateral relations over the next decade, particularly where economic ties are concerned. On Wednesday, he'll head to the city of Muscantine, Iowa, to reunite with a family he visited there in 1985 and to sign a trade agreement with soybean farmers there.
Kateri Tekakwitha, a Mohawk Indian who was born in upstate New York in 1656, has been approved for sainthood by the Catholic church. She embraced Catholicism after smallpox left her disfigured and partially blinded. Eventually, she left her tribe to join a mission in Canada. With her canonization, she'll become the first Native American saint. But given the Church's history of violence and oppression against Native Americans, this isn't necessarily news to celebrate.