The Obama administration is sitting down with gun owners groups — including the National Rifle Association — as officials look at ways to curb gun violence. CBS News reports Vice President Biden, who is leading an administration-wide review of gun safety laws, has vowed urgent action in the wake of last month’s massacre at a Connecticut elementary school. The meeting with the NRA is one of three Biden has scheduled for Thursday, as he prepares to make recommendations on gun policy by the end of the month. Besides the NRA, Biden and other officials are meeting with sportsmen and wildlife interest groups, as well as people from the entertainment industry. The NRA, the nation’s largest gun-rights group, has blocked gun control efforts in the past and is opposing any new ones. Shortly after last month’s shooting in Newtown, Conn., President Obama tasked Biden with heading a commission to come up with recommendations on gun policy by the end of January. The president hopes to announce his administration’s next steps to tackle gun violence shortly after he is sworn in for a second term.
American International Group Inc. decided Wednesday to pass on a shareholder lawsuit that accuses the U.S. government of unfairly burdening the company during its financial-crisis rescue, in a move that could snuff out a brewing controversy for the insurer. The insurer’s directors unanimously rejected any participation in the suit, partly to avoid reputational harm that they feared could result from signing on, according to a person familiar with the company. ”The Board’s decision today was about continuing to move this company forward, not backward,” said Chief Executive Robert Benmosche in a memo to employees. In declining to support the litigation, AIG faces two main risks: missing out on any upside if the suit succeeds, and litigation over its decision. By conducting what directors saw as a robust review process, AIG was attempting to insulate itself from any challenges.
New mortgage rules set to be unveiled Thursday by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will spell out how lenders must ensure that borrowers can repay their home loans. The rules, which go into effect next January, were designed to enhance consumer safety without tightening credit standards beyond current levels, officials said Wednesday. The 2010 Dodd-Frank financial-regulation overhaul changed lending rules to make banks legally responsible for determining that a borrower is able to repay a mortgage. The CFPB’s rules are intended to implement that change. The upshot is that banks are likely to narrow their loan offerings and rely more on the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage, a product unique to the U.S. and one that has required a government guarantee. Many lenders had expressed concerns that the ability-to-repay mandate would create open-ended legal liability that would lead to more-stringent lending standards. But regulators, sharing those concerns, said they opted for rules that wouldn’t significantly restrict credit.The rules could, however, prompt lenders to impose tighter standards for parts of the market, particularly “jumbo” mortgages that are too large for government backing.
The DEA for nearly a decade has pushed for tighter restrictions on Vicodin, the nation’s most widely prescribed drug. The chronic abuse of such painkillers, and devastating toll associated with this abuse, has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. USA Today reports the agency could get its wish later this month when the Food and Drug Administration considers the DEA’s request to put Vicodin in the same category as OxyContin and other powerful narcotics. A recommendation from the FDA has proven elusive and is far from certain, but such a reclassification would allow the Drug Enforcement Administration to elevate the powerful painkillers from Schedule III to Schedule II, the most restrictive category of medically accepted drugs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls prescription painkiller abuse an epidemic. Opioid painkillers, such as Vicodin and OxyContin, cause 75% of prescription drug overdoses, the CDC says. In recent years, such overdoses have outpaced cocaine and heroin deaths combined, the CDC notes.
Jerry Sandusky gets a shot at regaining some of his freedom Thursday, when his lawyers launch an appeal to reverse his conviction on multiple counts of child sex abuse, CNN reports. The coach was sentenced in October to no less than 30 years and no more than 60 years in prison for abusing 10 boys during a 15-year period. He originally faced the possibility of up to a 400-year prison term. The former Penn State assistant football coach will appear at the Center County court in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, where his legal team will make a “post-sentence motion.” Judge John Cleland, who presided over Sandusky’s conviction and sentencing will not rule on it until a yet-unannounced future date. Sandusky’s lawyers argue that there was insufficient evidence to convict him, and that the court didn’t allow them enough time to prepare for trial, after the prosecution flooded them with documentation. They also maintain that certain counts were too broad and general and should therefore have been dismissed. The lack of specifics further prevented Sandusky from preparing an adequate defense, they have said.