Supporters of tighter federal gun restrictions moved quickly Thursday, the first day of the new Congress, introducing bills in the wake of last month’s deadly mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., that will set up a long and contentious fight over the shape of the nation’s gun laws. USA Today reports Democratic Reps. Carolyn McCarthy of New York and Diana DeGette of Colorado refiled the bill they had promoted in earlier Congresses and said they hoped the environment for gun laws would improve in the wake of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that killed 20 students and six adults Dec. 14. The bill would ban high-capacity ammunition magazines. Despite a series of highly visible mass shootings in malls, on college campuses, at a movie theater and at workplaces, Congress has not passed any significant gun-related regulations since 2007. Since Newtown, several pro-gun legislators, such as Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., have called for greater restrictions. The National Rifle Association, which has fought off many attempts to increase gun regulation, said Thursday it expected the gun control advocates to come “full force” at the NRA.
Google Inc. agreed to a settlement with the Federal Trading Commission that will give competitors more access to patents and advertisers more flexibility to use rival search engines, the government said Thursday. Google will not seek injunctions to block rivals from using patents essential to key technologies in smart phones, tablets and other devices; Google has agreed to remove restrictions on the use of its online search advertising platform, AdWords; and Google has promised to provide all websites the option to keep their content out of Google’s vertical search offerings, while still having them appear in Google’s general, or “organic,” web search results. Google will allow competitors fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory access to patents essential to smartphones, tablets, laptops, and gaming consoles. The FTC found that Google’s business practices could stifle competition in markets for devices like smartphones and tablets, as well as online search advertising.
An international operation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement aimed at child pornography and sexual abuse has resulted in the arrest of 245 suspects, officials announced Thursday. All but 23 of the suspects were apprehended in the United States. The agency said that during the course of Operation Sunflower, law enforcement officers identified 123 victims of child exploitation and removed 44 of those children from their alleged abusers with whom they were living.The other cases involved victims who were exploited by people outside their homes or children who were harmed years ago and are now adults. Several of the children were shockingly young. Five were under age 3. Nine were between the ages of 4 and 6. Of the 123 victims, 110 lived in the United States in 19 different states. ICE officials did not identify the six other countries where victims were identified or where some of the arrests were made, citing the need to work discreetly with international law enforcement partners. According to ICE, some of those arrested during Operation Sunflower were registered sex offenders.
This week, just over 250 days since the U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan and inclusive bill to extend the landmark Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives allowed the clock to run out on protections that bill would have provided to millions of women across our country.The Violence Against Women Act mostly provides support for organizations that serve domestic violence victims. Criminal prosecutions of abusers are generally the responsibility of local authorities, but the act stiffened sentences for stalking under federal law. This is the first time since the act was introduced in 1994 that the bill hasn’t been reauthorized. In April, the Senate passed a version of VAWA that protected three groups of domestic violence victims who hadn’t been covered by the original law. The bill wasn’t supposed to rankle anyone — it was cowritten by a conservative Republican (Idaho’s Mike Crapo) and a liberal Democrat (Vermont’s Pat Leahy), and passed in a 68 to 31 vote. But since then, House Republicans insisted that the bill is too supportive of immigrants, the LGBT community and Native Americans, and chose to let the bill expire rather than approve a slightly expanded proposal.
As the National Hockey League and the players’ union sought to negotiate the end to a long labor dispute that has jeopardized the season, proceedings in a lawsuit pitting the two sides against each other moved forward. In a court filing on Thursday, the players asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the league that sought a declaration confirming the legality of the player lockout. The lockout has been in place since mid-September as the two sides have struggled to come to a new labor agreement. The league has canceled games up to Jan. 14, more than 50 percent of the regular season which was scheduled to start in October. The dispute moved to court last month after reports circulated that the NHL Players’ Association (NHLPA) would seek a vote from its members to proceed with a “disclaim of interest” and no longer represent players in bargaining. Such a move would free players to file antitrust lawsuits against the league in an effort to block the lockout. In its court filing on Thursday, lawyers for the NHLPA argued that the lawsuit filed by the league was premature and that it should be dismissed.