Democratic lawmakers plan to formally reintroduce a bill Thursday that would ban military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, the most ambitious — and politically risky — element of proposals unveiled by President Obama to limit gun violence. The Washington Post reports the “Assault Weapons Ban of 2013″ is similar to one passed in 1994 that expired with little protest in 2004. The measure will be unveiled Thursday morning by a slate of Democratic co-sponsors, led by longtime gun control advocates Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (N.Y.), who have pushed for the ban before in part because of their personal histories with gun violence. The bill is a far-reaching attempt to rein in the use of such weapons by prohibiting the sale, transfer and manufacturing of more than 100 specific weapons, including certain semiautomatic rifles, handguns and shotguns that can hold detachable magazines or hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. Aides said Wednesday that sponsors were still sorting out specific details of the bill to make the package as politically tenable as possible.
Congressional Democrats renewed their push to revive a domestic-violence law that lapsed at the beginning of the year, saying the measure should be a top priority in the new Congress, reports The Wall Street Journal. Top Democrats said Wednesday the Senate would reintroduce and advance the Violence Against Women Act after lawmakers failed to reach a compromise last year when the issue became embroiled in election-year politics. In an attempt to gain more Republican support, Democrats removed provisions that would have increased visas for immigrants who are victims of domestic abuse. Both Democrats and Republicans support the goals of the measure to combat sexual assault, domestic violence and other crimes. The measure, which would cost $2.2 billion over five years, also extends penalties for those crimes. The act was first passed in 1994 and was extended in 2000 and 2005 with bipartisan support. Last year, both chambers passed versions of the law that would have renewed it, but couldn’t reach an agreement to meld the bills. Democrats had included in the Senate version a number of provisions that House Republicans refused to accept, including giving Native American officials the right to prosecute in tribal courts non-Native Americans accused of abuse, and prohibiting violence shelters from discriminating against gays and lesbians. The Senate version also would have increased the number of visas awarded to illegal-immigrant women who are being abused.
An International Trade Commission committee will review a judge’s ruling on six patents that Apple Inc. claims were infringed by Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. According to Reuters, a judge found that Samsung violated four of these patents but did not violate two others. The full commission said on Wednesday it would review the judge’s decision, and asked the agency judge to take a second look at portions of two patents where he had found that Samsung infringed. One of the patents in question allows the use of a headset with the smartphone while the other allows the device to show an image on a screen with a second, translucent image over it. Apple had filed a complaint in mid-2011, accusing Samsung of infringing its patents in making its Captivate, Transform and Fascinate smartphones, as well as the Galaxy Tablet. Apple is waging war on several fronts against Google, whose Android software powers many of Samsung’s devices. The battles between Apple and Samsung have taken place in some 10 countries as they vie for market share in the booming mobile industry.
As the American soft-drink industry argued its case in court on Wednesday against Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s restrictions on sugary drink sizes, a prominent local group stood by its side: the New York chapter of the N.A.A.C.P. According to The New York Times, the obesity rate for African-Americans in New York City is higher than the city average, and city health department officials say minority neighborhoods would be among the key beneficiaries of a rule that would limit the sale of super-size, calorie-laden beverages. But the N.A.A.C.P. has close ties to big soft-drink companies, particularly Coca-Cola, whose longtime Atlanta law firm, King & Spalding, wrote the amicus brief filed by the civil rights group in support of a lawsuit aimed at blocking Mr. Bloomberg’s soda rules, which are set to take effect in March. At the hearing on Wednesday in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, lawyers for the beverage industry argued that the Board of Health had overreached its authority by unilaterally ratifying the new rules. The city rejected that argument, saying the restrictions were well within the board’s purview to regulate public health matters.There was no immediate ruling; Justice Milton A. Tingling Jr., who presided, did not comment. The beverage industry said it was requesting a stay of the soda restrictions while the case was being resolved.
After a spate of phony reports of crimes at celebrities’ homes, legislators from the Los Angeles area propose bills to increase penalties for making bogus reports to police, reports the Los Angeles Times. A bill announced Wednesday by state Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) would allow longer sentences for and greater restitution from those convicted of making false reports to the police. Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca asked for the measure. A similar proposal has been introduced by Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles). On Monday, someone called police with a false report of domestic violence and a possible shooting at the Hollywood Hills home of singer Chris Brown, who was not there at the time. Last week, a report of shots fired sent a Beverly Hills police SWAT team to surround the home of actor Tom Cruise. Gatto and Lieu both propose that those convicted of making false 911 reports be liable for all costs associated with the police response. Such pranks are “a complete waste of law enforcement resources,” said Gatto. The Assemblyman’s measure, AB 47, would also increase the maximum fine for conviction from $1,000 to $10,000 and make it easier to file murder charges if someone is killed in a swatting incident. Existing penalties for false 911 reports include up to one year in jail, but an offender may get probation with no jail time. Lieu, a military reserve prosecutor, wants to set a minimum sentence of 120 days in jail.