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Connecticut Gov. Signs New Gun-Control Law

Connecticut has enacted its new gun-control law nearly four months after the shooting massacre at Newtown’s Sandy Hook Elementary School. The measure requires universal background checks for all gun sales, increases gun registration, expands the state’s ban on assault weapons, and outlaws any new sales of magazines with more than 10 bullets. At the signing ceremony on Thursday, Governor Dannel Malloy called the law a model for stalled gun-control efforts at the federal level.

Gov. Dannel Malloy: "We have come together in a way that relatively few places in our nation have demonstrated an ability to do. In some senses, I hope that this is an example to the rest of the nation, certainly to our leaders in Washington, who seem so deeply divided about an issue, such as universal background checks, where the country is not divided itself."

President Obama is due to visit Connecticut on Monday as part of his efforts to drum up public support for gun control nationwide.

Maryland Lawmakers Approve Gun-Control Bill

Maryland is poised to become the next state to introduce tougher gun control in the aftermath of Newtown. On Thursday, Maryland state lawmakers sent a new gun-control package to Gov. Martin O’Malley. The bill’s provisions include the fingerprinting of gun buyers and banning assault weapons and magazines with more than 10 bullets. O’Malley is expected to sign the measure into law next week.

Obama Budget to Endorse Cuts to Social Security, Medicare

President Obama is preparing to formally propose cuts to Social Security and Medicare in his latest budget. The New York Times reports Obama will unveil a plan next week that mirrors the offer he made to House Speaker John Boehner late last year. The Obama budget endorses a new formula that will reduce cost-of-living benefits under Social Security, known as a chained CPI, as well as other benefit cuts sought by Republicans. In return, Obama would seek Republican backing for new taxes on the wealthy and money for investing in infrastructure.

NATO Strike Kills 6 in Afghanistan

A NATO air strike in Afghanistan has left six people dead — two civilians and four Afghan police officers. The victims were killed in an accidental bombing in the eastern province of Ghazni. The incident comes days after another NATO strike killed up to eight civilians, including two children.

U.N. Suspends Aid to Gaza over Safety Concerns

The United Nations has suspended aid operations in the Gaza Strip following a dangerous protest at its main headquarters. The United Nations says its staffers were endangered when Palestinians angered by aid cutbacks stormed the main U.N. facility in the Gaza Strip. The United Nations says it will stop aid in Gaza until its safety can be assured. The move is expected to increase suffering in Gaza. Some 800,000 people, two-thirds of the population, rely on U.N. aid to survive due to the U.S.-backed Israeli blockade.

Over 400 Fast Food Workers Take Part in NYC Strike

Organizers are claiming Thursday’s one-day strike of fast food workers in New York City marked the largest-ever action of its kind. Some 400 workers are believed to have walked off the job at more than 50 locations of McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King and KFC, calling for $15-an-hour wages and the right to unionize without intimidation. Striking workers Roslynn Russell of Domino’s and Tabitha Verges of Burger King said they deserve a living wage.

Roslynn Russell: "I go to work every day, I do my job, and I just can’t survive out here. I’m basically working my butt off and still having to rely on food stamps."

Tabitha Verges: "It’s hard to find another job. This is why I’m still stuck at Burger King for the past four years. If it was easy to find another job, I wouldn’t be out here right now fighting for $15 an hour and a union."

Thursday’s action followed an earlier strike in New York City at the end of November. It was deliberately held on the 45th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee. The workers carried signs reading, "I am a woman" and "I am a man," invoking the slogans of the Memphis sanitation workers strike that Dr. King was involved in at the time of his death.

Federal Gov’t Agrees to Limit Immigration Raids

The federal government has agreed to new limits on immigration raids as part of a settlement resolving a class action lawsuit. Under the agreement, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents requiring consent to enter a private residence must receive permission in the resident’s spoken language when possible. Agents will also require consent to enter adjoining, private areas and will be barred from conducting sweeps without a reasonable fear of danger. The settlement resolves a six-year-old lawsuit brought by Latino families in New York whose homes were raided without court warrants. As part of the deal, the government agreed to drop deportation efforts against four plaintiffs and delay those against four others.

ExxonMobil Eases Arkansas Oil Spill No-Fly Zone

The oil giant ExxonMobil claims it is now easing its no-fly zone over its massive oil spill near Mayflower, Arkansas. The no-fly zone was granted at the company’s request after the leak of thousands of barrels of oil last Friday. It is controlled by Tom Suhrhoff, an Exxon official. After enforcing it for two days, Exxon said Thursday the no-fly zone will be opened up to some members of the media. Exxon’s ruptured Pegasus pipeline remains shut down as cleanup efforts continue.

Protesters at California Fundraisers Urge Obama to Reject Keystone XL

President Obama has wrapped up a two-day swing through California to raise money for Democratic candidates in the 2014 midterm elections. In San Francisco, Obama was met by hundreds of protesters urging him to reject the Keystone XL oil pipeline as he attended two fundraisers. One of the events was held at the home of the hedge fund billionaire Thomas Steyer, who has vocally opposed the Keystone XL. In his remarks, Obama appeared to justify his failure to aggressively tackle global warming by claiming it is not a top priority for working-class Americans. Describing his take on the typical mindset, Obama said: "You may be concerned about the temperature of the planet, but it’s probably not rising to your No. 1 concern. And if people think, well, that’s shortsighted, that’s what happens when you’re struggling to get by."

Environmentalist Daniel McGowan Returned to Prison After Publishing Article

The environmental activist Daniel McGowan has been sent back to prison. McGowan was taken into custody Thursday just months after his release to a halfway house following over five years in prison for his role in two acts of arson as a member of the Earth Liberation Front. In his case, the judge ruled he had committed an act of terrorism, even though no one was hurt in either of the actions. Supporters say his return to prison may be linked to an article he published just this week decrying his treatment. The article for The Huffington Post cited court documents showing he was held in secretive and highly restrictive prison units known as Communication Management Units, or CMUs, in retaliation for his political speech. In a statement, McGowan’s attorneys said: "If this is indeed a case of retaliation for writing an article about the Bureau of Prisons retaliating against his free speech while he was in prison, it is more than ironic, it is an outrage."

Use of Offshore Tax Havens Detailed in Leaked Records

The Guardian of London has begun to expose the identities of some of the thousands of account holders of offshore tax havens used by the wealthy to hide their fortune. The details were revealed in millions of leaked documents from offshore havens, mainly in the British Virgin Islands.


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