A federal task force looking for ways to curb gun violence will have a set of recommendations by Tuesday, Vice President Joe Biden announced last week. Biden, who oversees the task force, said the recommendations to be given to President Barack Obama will serve as a beginning. A federal task force looking for ways to curb gun violence will have a set of recommendations by Tuesday, Vice President Joe Biden announced. Speaking during a week of meetings with disparate groups on various sides of the issue — including some for and others against stricter gun controls — Biden, who oversees the task force, said the recommendations to be given to President Barack Obama will serve as a beginning. Biden said he’s been surprised by how many groups have encouraged universal background checks for all gun owners, including those who purchase through private sales. Some states have backlogs of thousands of felons who are never registered on lists aimed at helping prevent dangerous weapons from getting into their hands, he noted. Obama called for the task force after last month’s massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, in which 27 people were killed — 20 of them elementary school children.
Hobby Lobby, the arts-and-crafts chain that is defying the HHS mandate by refusing to offer insurance coverage for the morning-after pill, has delayed the start of its insurance year by several months, thus postponing the prospect of a daily $1.3-million fine. CNN reports the penalty was set to go into effect on the day the company’s new health care plan went into effect for the year. Peter M. Dobelbower, general counsel for Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. said in a statement released through the Becket Fund that, “Hobby Lobby discovered a way to shift the plan year for its employee health insurance, thus postponing the effective date of the mandate for several months.” The statement continued that “Hobby Lobby does not provide coverage for abortion-inducing drugs in its health care plan. Hobby Lobby will continue to vigorously defend its religious liberty and oppose the mandate and any penalties.” In September, Hobby Lobby and affiliate Mardel, a Christian bookstore chain, sued the federal government for violating their owners’ religious freedom and ability to freely exercise their religion. Last month Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor rejected the company’s appeal for a temporary relief from the steep fines while their case made its way through the lower courts.
American International Group Inc has filed a lawsuit against a vehicle created by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to help bail out the insurer, in a bid to preserve its right to sue Bank of America Corp and other issuers of mortgage debt that went sour, Reuters reports. The complaint filed in the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan seeks a declaration that AIG has not transferred billions of dollars of “litigation claims” to Maiden Lane II, including many related to the insurer’s $10 billion lawsuit against Bank of America. Maiden Lane II was created in December 2008 to buy residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) from AIG and ease liquidity strains. According to the complaint, New York Fed officials in December told Bank of America that Maiden Lane II had, by agreeing to buy the securities, assumed from AIG all litigation claims relating to what it bought. AIG said this included more than $7 billion of damages claims against Bank of America. AIG is not seeking monetary payments in the lawsuit, but wants the court to clarify that the New York-based insurer still has the right to sue issuers of securities in Maiden Lane II. New York Fed spokesman Jack Gutt declined to comment. Bank of America spokesman Lawrence Grayson also declined to comment.
A transportation agency plans to file a lawsuit Monday alleging that United Airlines is falsely claiming to buy huge amounts of jet fuel out of a small, rural Illinois office that doesn’t even have a computer to avoid paying tens of millions of dollars in taxes in Chicago, where the purchases are allegedly being made. The Regional Transportation Authority alleges United Aviation Fuels Corp., a subsidy of United Airlines, has operated a “sham” office in the DeKalb County community of Sycamore since 2001 after reaching an agreement to pay the town more than $300,000 a year — a fraction of what it would have owed in sales taxes in Chicago and Cook County. The RTA alleges that American Airlines is engaged in a similar “sham” business out of an office it rents in Sycamore’s City Hall. But Matyas said American was not included in the lawsuit because the airline remains in bankruptcy, and that suing American would require litigating the case both in federal bankruptcy court in New York and in Cook County Circuit Court, where the RTA plans to file its suit against United. He added that the RTA does plan to pursue legal action against American at some point.
John Walker Lindh, known as the “American Taliban,” and other Muslims housed in an Indiana prison have the right to congregate for daily group prayer sessions, a federal judge ruled on Friday. The decision by officials at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, to ban daily group prayers for Muslim inmates violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, U.S. District Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson said. The ruling came in a complaint filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana on behalf of Lindh, who was captured in Afghanistan and imprisoned in the United States after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and two other Muslim inmates. The case was argued before Magnus-Stinson last August. Prison officials cited security reasons for prohibiting inmates from getting together five times a day for unsupervised ritual prayer services. But the court noted that the prisoners were not otherwise confined to their cells during these times and were permitted to engage in other group activities such as talking, watching videos and playing games. The judge also said the prison had sophisticated audio and video surveillance equipment in place for monitoring prisoner activities.