POLITICAL HOT TOPICS: Wednesday, January 12, 2011
January 12th, 2011
04:12 AM ET
11 years ago

POLITICAL HOT TOPICS: Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The CNN Washington Bureau’s morning speed read of the top stories making news from around the country and the world. Click on the headlines for more.

For the latest political news: www.CNNPolitics.com

CNN: Obama faces unpleasant, but enduring, part of job in memorial speech
President Obama began working Monday night on the speech he will deliver during a memorial service Wednesday for the victims of Saturday's mass shooting in Tucson, Arizona. White House officials say Obama has determined the broad idea of what he wants to say and is working with his team of speechwriters on drafting his remarks. According to one White House official, the president will likely continue tweaking the speech throughout the day before his scheduled Wednesday evening remarks. While the details, tone and length of the speech have not been released, Obama "will devote most of his remarks to memorializing the victims," a White House official said.

CNN: New gun control legislation in Congress unlikely
Accused gunman Jared Lee Loughner opened fire with a gun using a magazine holding up to 30 bullets before he was tackled while trying to reload. Some Democrats in Congress argue such high capacity magazines should not be legal, and are renewing their push for a ban. "That enabled him to do the kind of damage that he did. There is no earthly reason for these weapons to have that kind of bullet capacity," said Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-New Jersey. In 1994, President Clinton signed an assault weapons ban that made high capacity ammunition magazines like the one Loughner allegedly used illegal. But the ban lapsed in 2004 without much of a fight.

Roll Call: Speaker Boehner says no to new restrictions on firearms
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is rejecting gun-control legislation offered by the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee in response to the weekend shootings of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and 19 others in Arizona. Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) announced plans Tuesday to introduce legislation prohibiting people from carrying guns within 1,000 feet of members of Congress. King, who has previously called for the removal of illegal guns from the streets, made the announcement alongside New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, one of the nation’s loudest voices for stricter gun laws.

New York Times: For Boehner, Rampage Imposes Its Own Agenda
Speaker John A. Boehner expected to spend his first celebratory weeks as the new leader of the House showcasing his party’s differences with the Democrats. But the shooting rampage in Arizona upended those plans. Now Mr. Boehner is being called on to play a far less partisan role, leading Republicans and Democrats alike through a difficult period. How he performs will not only be crucial in shaping his national image, but also could frame his relations with his own party and with the Democratic minority. He also faces the challenge of holding on to the political initiative that the Republicans had won in the midterm elections.

BBC: Bill Clinton: Politics must change after Arizona attack
Former President Bill Clinton has told the BBC the US political climate must change after the shooting of a US Congresswoman and others in Arizona. "No-one intends to do anything that encourages this sort of behaviour," he said. But political rhetoric "falls on the unhinged and the hinged alike." …Speaking on a trip to Haiti, Mr Clinton called on the US House of Representatives to "lead the way" in toning down the political discourse. "We cannot be unaware of the fact that – particularly with the internet – there's this huge echo chamber out there," he said. "This is an occasion for us to reaffirm that our political differences shouldn't degenerate into demonization, in the sense that if you don't agree with me you're not a good American.

CNN: Sen. Leahy sees a downside to more security
A senior senator, who had full-time security after 2001 deadly anthrax attacks, cautioned Tuesday that lawmakers run the risk of becoming isolated from their constituents if they were assigned that level of security. "I think it puts you in a cocoon and separates you from the people you serve. I think you have to be accessible," Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, told CNN. Leahy was reacting to proposals to strengthen security for lawmakers in the wake of the alleged assassination attempt of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Arizona. Leahy dropped his U.S. Capitol Police detail less than two years after an anthrax-laden envelope was mailed to his Senate office. Leahy said he wanted people to approach him more easily to share their views.

CNN: Arizona enacts funeral protest legislation
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed emergency legislation Tuesday that bars protests within 300 feet of a funeral and within an hour from its beginning or end. Earlier in the day, the state legislature passed the measure, which targets a Kansas church whose members announced they plan to picket the funerals of the victims of Saturday's shootings in Tucson. "Such despicable acts of emotional terrorism will not be tolerated in the State of Arizona," Brewer said in a statement announcing she had signed the bill. "This legislation will assure that the victims of Saturday's tragic shooting in Tucson will be laid to rest in peace with the full dignity and respect that they deserve."

CNN: Biden visits Pakistan for anti-terror talks with leaders
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Islamabad on Wednesday to discuss anti-terrorism measures with top leaders and senior military officials. During his trip, the vice president will meet with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. The leaders will focus on their efforts in combating terrorism and how the two countries can work toward peace and stability in the region, a White House official said. Biden arrived from an unannounced trip to Afghanistan, where he assured President Hamid Karzai that the United States would remain in Afghanistan beyond the 2014 handover deadline if the Afghans wants it to stay.

CNN: In final state of the state address, Barbour takes dig at Obama
In his final state of the state address Tuesday night, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour took a swipe at a number of President Obama's policies and legislative accomplishments. The speech was closely watched by political insiders as Barbour ponders a possible bid for the 2012 Republican nomination for president. On health care reform: "If the Obama administration's health care mandates actually go into effect, employers don't know what their costs and responsibilities will be, so it impedes hiring," Barbour said. On energy: "The Obama administration's energy policies are driving up the cost of energy…the administration's energy policy can be stated in one sentence: Increase the cost of energy so people will use less of it."

CNN: Panel calls for drastic steps to stop future deepwater oil spills
If the government does not take drastic steps, another deepwater oil spill like the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico could devastate the coastal areas of the United States, an oversight commission warned Tuesday in a long-awaited report to the president. More research, funding and oversight are needed to help prevent another disaster, concluded the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling.

Chicago Tribune: Gov. Quinn to decide death penalty
Gov. Pat Quinn now has to decide the fate of the death penalty in Illinois, a state whose troubling record of condemning innocent men to death row put it at the center of the national debate over capital punishment. The Democratic-led Senate on Tuesday approved legislation to end the death penalty in Illinois by a vote of 35-22, with two senators voting present. The House approved the measure a week earlier, and now it's up to Quinn. Quinn's staff on Tuesday said only that he would review the bill. During the fall campaign, the Democratic governor said he supports "capital punishment when applied carefully and fairly."

Los Angeles Times: Healthcare safety nets kept intact with help from Washington
Bolstered by billions of dollars in aid from Washington, states managed to hold their healthcare safety nets together last year despite the fallout from the recession, a new survey shows. Several states actually expanded coverage for poor children and adults, using Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program to prevent more Americans from losing insurance in the economic downturn, according to the report by the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured. Now, however, with emergency federal aid scheduled to end this year, it is unclear how much longer financially strained states will be able to head off cutbacks.

For the latest national news: www.CNN.com

CNN: Loughner's parents: 'We care very deeply' about victims' families
The parents of Jared Lee Loughner, suspected in the Tucson, Arizona, shootings that left six people dead and U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords critically wounded, said Tuesday they do not know why the incident occurred and that they are "very sorry" for the loss felt by victims' families. The brief statement from the suspect's family came as doctors said Giffords is breathing on her own and a picture emerged of her alleged gunman coming heavily armed to Saturday's event with constituents. Loughner, 22, allegedly carried a knapsack to the shopping center, according to a law enforcement official familiar with the investigation. He had a semi-automatic handgun, four ammunition magazines and a knife, according to the official.

For the latest international news: http://edition.cnn.com

CNN: 2 killed, 20 wounded in Afghanistan suicide attack
At least two people were killed and 20 wounded when a suicide bomber attacked a bus carrying government employees in central Kabul on Wednesday, authorities said. The attacker drove a motorcycle toward a bus carrying staffers with the National Directorate of Security - the Afghan intelligence agency - and detonated explosives, said Mohammed Zahir, the head of the criminal investigation unit of the interior ministry. A Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, said the militant group was behind the attack.

CNN: Gates: North Korea could have long-range missile within 5 years
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said Tuesday that North Korea is becoming a direct threat to the United States, asserting that the rogue Communist regime is within five years of developing intercontinental ballistic missiles. "I think that North Korea will have developed an intercontinental ballistic missile within that time frame," Gates told reporters during a visit to China. But he said he has doubts that the North Koreans will be able to field many ICBMs. "I believe they will have a very limited capability," he said.

CNN: Clinton makes stop in Yemen
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a surprise visit Tuesday to poverty-stricken Yemen, a key al Qaeda battleground and planning center in recent years. The secretary - who is visiting the Persian Gulf region - was speaking with Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and was to meet with legislators and members of the political opposition, civic and nongovernmental groups and a former child bride. The trip was held under tight security. It was not announced until Clinton reached ground and landed in the capital, Sanaa.

For the latest business news: www.CNNMoney.com

CNNMoney: Stocks finish higher, end 3-day losing streak
U.S. stocks closed higher Tuesday, ending a three-day losing streak for the Dow and S&P 500, as investors' attention turned toward corporate earnings. Japan's pledge to buy eurozone bonds helped ease European debt jitters and give underlying support to market sentiment. The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) finished up 34 points, or 0.3%, with Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500), Intel (INTC, Fortune 500) and Chevron (CVX, Fortune 500) leading the advance. Earlier, the blue-chip index had climbed as much as 67 points. The S&P 500 (SPX) rose 5 points, or 0.4%, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq (COMP) gained 9 points, or 0.3%.

In Case You Missed It

CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains why doctors are "cautiously optimistic" about the recovery of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

CNN's Jill Dougherty reports on Secretary of State Clinton's visit to Yemen, where she met with the president and a former child bride.

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