Residents of Newtown, Connecticut, have begun holding the first of many funerals for the 26 victims killed in Friday’s shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School. On Monday, Noah Pozner and Jack Pinto — both six years-old — were laid to rest in small caskets. More funerals are slated for today, including for six-year-old victims James Mattioli and Jessica Rekos.
At the White House, President Obama convened a meeting with top officials on Monday to discuss ways to respond to the Newtown massacre, including potential proposals for gun control. Pressed for details, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney refused to offer any specifics on how Obama plans to address the nation’s gun violence.
Jay Carney: “It’s a complex problem that will require a complex solution. No single piece of legislation, no single action will fully address the problem.”
In the aftermath of the Newtown massacre, a number of pro-gun lawmakers are signaling a new willingness to soften their opposition to restrictions on weapons. On Monday, Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a longtime advocate of so-called “gun rights,” said when it comes to gun control, “everything should be on the table.” Senator Mark Warner of Virginia also said he would back “stricter rules,” calling the massacre a “game changer.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, also a pro-gun lawmaker, said the massacre will prompt a “meaningful conversation and thoughtful debate about how to change laws and culture that allow violence to grow.” In a statement, Democratic Rep. John Yarmuth of Kentucky apologized for being “largely silent on the issue of gun violence,” adding, “I am now as sorry for that as I am for what happened to the families who lost so much.” At a news conference, New York Mayor and gun control advocate Michael Bloomberg urged meaningful action from Washington.
Mayor Bloomberg: “Gun violence is a national epidemic and a national tragedy that demands more than words. We are the only industrialized country that has this problem — in the whole world, the only one — and that’s why we need immediate national action from the president and from Congress. It should be at the top of their agenda, because what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School was, sadly, no aberration.”
The White House has issued a new offer to House Republicans in the ongoing talks over avoiding the so-called fiscal cliff. On Monday, the Obama administration disclosed it had submitted a proposal to House Speaker John Boehner that would extend the Bush-era tax cuts for households making under $400,000, rather than the $250,000 limit that President Obama has long sought. The offer also floats a lower revenue target of $1.2 trillion, down from $1.6 trillion. While Obama has offered to cut some $100 billion from military spending, he is proposing to cut even more from Social Security — $130 billion by adjusting the inflation index for Social Security benefits. The White House says the Social Security cuts would come with safeguards to protect the most low-income recipients.
The Syrian military has surrounded a Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus one day after launching air strikes that killed at least eight people. The standoff at the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp could see new fighting between Syrian forces and rebels controlling the camp.
In Bahrain, government forces cracked down on a pro-democracy rally in the capital Manama on Monday, firing tear gas and arresting demonstrators. Among those detained was Yousef al-Muhafedha, the acting head of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, whose founding president, Nabeel Rajab, is currently serving a two-year term. The U.S.-backed Bahraini monarchy banned all public demonstrations earlier this year.
New figures show the Obama administration has conducted more than 200,000 deportations of parents with children who are U.S. citizens over a period of about two years. According to federal data, nearly a quarter of all deportations from July 1, 2010, to the end of this September were issued for parents with U.S.-citizen children. ColorLines reports the data appears to dash hopes that new guidelines issued for deportations last year would curb the separation of families by U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. The “prosecutorial discretion” guidelines instruct ICE agents to focus on certain immigrants, including those with criminal convictions, and to consider a person’s ties to the country and “whether the person has a U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse, child, or parent” when making deportation decisions.
A group of New Jersey residents who say they were subjected to surprise predawn home immigration raids has reached a settlement with the federal government. Most of the plaintiffs were either citizens or lawful residents of the United States when they say armed U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents entered their homes without warrants nor their consent. Some agents allegedly rounded people up from their bedrooms and issued threats and intimidation in a bid to arrest those living in the United States without documentation. One permanent resident said an agent demanded to know where the nonexistent “illegals” were hiding in her home and pointed a gun at her nine-year-old boy’s chest. The plaintiffs were awarded a total of $295,000 after filing the case in 2008. The pattern of raids apparently emerged from a policy implemented in 2006 called “Operation Return to Sender” under which teams of agents were ordered to increase their arrest quotas by about 800 percent over the course of a year. The Obama administration later removed the quotas.
A Tennessee county linked to the discriminatory treatment of teenaged African-American suspects has signed a landmark agreement to reform its practices. On Monday, the Justice Department said it had reached a deal with local officials to overhaul juvenile justice in Shelby County. A report earlier this year found black teens were twice as likely to be detained than whites and were often sent to adult criminal court for minor offenses. Juvenile suspects also attempted suicide at record rates and were detained in harsh conditions, including being tied to restraint chairs and left alone for far longer than allowed by law. Under the agreement, Shelby will be forced to carry out a series of reforms to avoid future lawsuits by federal prosecutors.
A federal appeals court has overturned the convictions of two former New Orleans police officers involved in the fatal shooting of an African-American man shortly after Hurricane Katrina. The first officer, David Warren, was convicted of shooting 31-year-old Henry Glover with an assault rifle. But the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has voided Warren’s conviction, saying his trial should have been held separate from those of two other officers charged in the case. Another officer, Greg McRae, convicted of burning Glover’s body after he bled to death, also saw a key charge dismissed. Glover’s death was first detailed by investigative journalist A.C. Thompson of ProPublica.
A federal appeals court has cleared the way for a lawsuit filed by peace activists in Olympia, Washington, over spying by a U.S. military informant who infiltrated their group. Declassified documents obtained by Students for a Democratic Society and Port Militarization Resistance revealed a man everyone knew as “John Jacob” was in fact John Towery, a member of the Force Protection Service at Fort Lewis. When Democracy Now! broke the story in 2009, one of the activists, Brendan Maslauskas Dunn, said Towery had personally admitted to the spying.
Brendan Maslauskas Dunn: “He admitted that, yes, he did in fact spy on us. He did in fact infiltrate us. He admitted that he did pass on information to an intelligence network, which, as you mentioned earlier, was composed of dozens of law enforcement agencies, ranging from municipal to county to state to regional, and several federal agencies, including Immigration Customs Enforcement, Joint Terrorism Task Force, FBI, Homeland Security, the Army in Fort Lewis.”
The exposure of the spying also led to disclosures of intelligence gathering and sharing about the activists by the Air Force, the federal Capitol Police, the Coast Guard and local and state police. In a landmark decision, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has now ruled the activists can sue military officials for violations of the First Amendment and unlawful spying.
In California, an Iraq War veteran has filed suit against the Oakland Police Department for injuries sustained during an Occupy protest last year. Scott Olsen suffered a fractured skull and was placed in a medically induced coma after authorities fired non-lethal projectiles into a crowd of demonstrators.
Democratic Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii has died at the age of 88. The most senior member of the Senate with 49 years in office, Inouye was the first Japanese American to serve in either chamber of Congress. He set in motion the process that ultimately saw the U.S. apologize and pay compensation to victims of Japanese-American internment during World War II.