A bipartisan group of leading senators has reached agreement on the principles of sweeping legislation to rewrite the nation’s immigration laws. The deal, which was to be announced at a news conference Monday afternoon, covers border security, guest workers and employer verification, as well as a path to citizenship for the 11 million illegal immigrants already in this country. Although thorny details remain to be negotiated and success is far from certain, the development heralds the start of what could be the most significant effort in years toward overhauling the nation’s inefficient patchwork of immigration laws. President Obama also is committed to enacting comprehensive immigration legislation and will travel to Nevada on Tuesday to lay out his vision, which is expected to overlap in important ways with the Senate effort.
Starting this week, you may get a bit of a shock when you go to pay for goods in stores across 40 of the US states. That’s because it’s now possible for retailers to pass on the credit card processing fee, or interchange fee, they pay on every transaction to their bank.This surcharge can be anywhere from 1.5% to 4%, and it’s how companies like Visa and MasterCard make a good chunk of their money. But now, due to a ruling by a US District court, merchants can pass that charge on at the point of sale if they so wish, leaving consumers to pick up the unexpected extra charge.There are a few exceptions to this rule. The surcharge can’t be applied in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma, or Texas. It also won’t apply to anyone using an American Express card regardless of where you are in the US. And the surcharge is limited to credit cards, so you can pay with a debit card or cash to avoid it.The surcharges are taking effect as a result of the multibillion dollar deal that credit card companies and merchants reached last summer.
President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will meet today with law enforcement groups and police chiefs from several communities impacted by mass shootings to discuss the administration’s intensifying push to reduce gun violence. The meeting will include representatives from the Major Cities Chiefs Association and the Major County Sheriffs Association, as well as police chiefs from Aurora, Colo., Oak Creek, Wis., and Newtown, Conn. Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will also attend. The meeting marks the latest sign of action from the administration, which unveiled a raft of legislation and executive orders earlier this month and is pushing Congress to act swiftly to reduce gun violence. The proposals, which include a nationwide background-check requirement for gun purchases, a ban on military-style semiautomatic weapons and a limit on the size of ammunition magazines, have drawn strong words from supporters and opponents.
A second pretrial hearing gets under way Monday for the five men accused of masterminding the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. The proceedings at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba is the latest in what promises to be a long series of hearings to determine how to try the men in a way that is visibly fair and transparent. A key issue in these proceedings is whether U.S. agents illegally subjected the men to torture in order to extract confessions. The motions being heard this week include one by lawyers for the five men for the U.S. government to preserve the so-called “black sites” – clandestine facilities outside the United States where the suspects allege they were taken and tortured after they were arrested – before they were brought to Guantanamo Bay. Other motions to be heard later in the week include one for the government to call top officials, including former U.S. president George W. Bush, to testify.
As Of Saturday, it’s illegal to unlock your mobile phone without your carrier’s permission. The new rules, which don’t affect consumers who acquired phones before Saturday, come from the U.S. Copyright Office of the Library of Congress. Previously, you could unlock your subsidized device under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. You could then sell the phone or use another carrier’s SIM card to start new service in another wireless network. The change is an update to the DMCA. Carriers such as AT&T, Verizon Wireless and Sprint didn’t particularly like the fact that their subscribers could essentially jump ship after getting deeply discounted devices in exchange for monthly service commitments. According to Wired.com, however, carriers rarely went after individuals who unlocked their phones. Instead, they targeted businesses “that bought throw-away phones by the thousands, unlocked them, and shipped them overseas.”