5 Things To Know Today

Giffords Ready To Make A Push For Gun Control

Two years after being severely wounded by a gunman who killed six people outside a Tucson, Ariz., grocery store, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords appears ready to add her name and political luster to a push for stricter nationwide gun control.  The Wall Street Journal reports along with her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, Ms. Giffords on Tuesday is expected to unveil a public outreach effort spurred by last month’s killing of 20 children and six adults in a Connecticut elementary school, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Kelly has been telling associates and other people that the couple, after publicly expressing general support for tougher gun laws, is now ready to consider launching fundraising efforts and also to call for specific restrictions on high-capacity weapons.

James Holmes Preliminary Hearing Continues

Arapahoe County, Colorado prosecutors on Monday began laying out evidence against mass murder suspect James Holmes, with a series of Aurora police officers, detectives and forensics experts providing gripping and often emotional testimony about the mayhem they encountered at a suburban Denver movie theater where Holmes is alleged to have killed 12 and wounded 57 on July 20. The first of a five-day preliminary hearing to determine whether there is enough evidence to try Holmes on more than 160 counts of murder and attempted murder charges prompted Aurora police officer Justin Grizzle to choke up on the witness stand. Grizzle, who took six shooting victims to the hospital on four separate runs, says there was so much blood from victims, “I could hear it sloshing around in the back of my patrol car.” On Monday, the officers testified that they later found more than 200 rounds of assault-rifle ammunition and 15 rounds of .40-caliber bullets.

Banks Settle $20 Billion Mortgage Settlement

Major banks agreed to pay $20 billion to settle mortgage-related legal disputes, in Wall Street’s latest bid to put alleged abuses of the home-lending process in the rearview mirror. The deals come as near-record low interest rates are feeding a new upturn in the U.S. housing market. That recovery, and expectations that banks finally will surmount the legal challenges that have dogged them since the financial crisis in 2008, have sent bank shares surging to recent highs. In settlements announced Monday, Bank of America Corp.  agreed to pay $11.6 billion to end a long-running dispute with Fannie Mae over so-called putbacks, the loans that Fannie demands lenders buy back as a result of questionable underwriting and other missteps. Separately, 10 U.S. banks including Bank of America said they would pay $8.5 billion to close a regulatory probe and end a process set up in 2011 amid public outrage over banks’ foreclosure practices. Swamped with foreclosure filings, many banks allegedly used “robo-signers” to sign off on thousands of cases, stating falsely that they personally reviewed each one.

Supreme Court To Weigh In On SEC Powers In Gabelli Case

The U.S. Supreme Court will join the legal battle today over how much leeway the government should have to conduct investigations and impose civil penalties. Tuesday’s case involves whether the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission waited too long to bring a civil action accusing mutual fund manager Marc Gabelli and his colleague, Bruce Alpert, of letting a client engage in so-called “market timing” without disclosing it to investors. Gabelli and Alpert, chief operating officer of Gabelli Funds LLC, argued the five-year statute of limitations starts to tick down when the alleged wrongful act is committed. The SEC said the it begins only when the agency is reasonably able to detect fraud. A victory for the SEC could give the regulator and others, including the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, more firepower in civil cases, the Chicago Tribune reports. This might be helpful in particularly complex investigations that require more time, including litigation stemming from the housing meltdown and the 2008 global financial crisis.

New Rule Speeds Immigration Process

The time U.S. citizens are separated from spouses, children and parents who are applying to become permanent U.S. residents will be reduced in some cases, Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, has announced in an agency press release on a new regulation. Courthouse news reports that currently, these relatives are not eligible to apply for lawful permanent resident status while they are already in the United States. They must first leave the country and get an immigrant visa from the Department of State to be able to return and request admission as a lawful permanent resident. Some must also request a waiver of inadmissibility as a result of their unlawful presence in the country, according to the regulation. The new regulation establishes a Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver and application form to be used for the expedited process, which goes into effect March 4.

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