Daily Archives: February 4, 2013

Obama on guns: ‘We’re not going to wait until the next Newtown’

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President Barack Obama gestures as he speaks about his gun violence proposals, Monday, Feb. 4, 2013, at the Minneapolis Police Department’s Special Operations Center in Minneapolis, where he outlined his plan before law enforcement personnel. Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

Speaking at the Minneapolis Police Department’s Special Operations Center in Minneapolis, President Obama, says, “We don’t have to agree on everything to agree it’s time to do something.”

NBC News | Feb 4, 2013

By Kasie Hunt

Declaring “we’re not going to wait until the next Newtown,” President Barack Obama appealed directly to the American public on Monday to pressure reluctant lawmakers in Congress to move forward with gun control legislation.

Obama flew to Minneapolis, Minn., to urge constituents to contact their representatives and press for a package of new gun laws, including a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines, universal background checks for gun buyers and new rules targeting gun traffickers.

“We don’t have to agree on everything to agree it’s time to do something,” Obama said, standing in front of a group of uniformed law enforcement officers.

Obama’s campaign-like strategy is designed to maintain a sense of urgency for gun control measures in the wake of the elementary school shootings in Newtown, Conn., that killed 20 elementary school children and 6 adults.

But the president conceded Monday that his plans already face steep hurdles in Congress.

“Changing the status quo is never easy,” Obama said. “This will be no exception.”

Obama’s remarks in Minneapolis reflected the political realities on Capitol Hill, where Democratic leadership aides privately say an assault weapons ban has little chance of passing. The fight will instead center on universal background checks and, some Democrats hope, high capacity magazines.

On Monday, Obama labeled universal background checks as “commonsense” and “smart” reforms that would earn bipartisan support.

“There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to get that done,” he said.

There’s some evidence of that: While the National Rifle Association says it opposes universal background checks, Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma has been working with New York Sen. Chuck Schumer and other Democrats to craft background check legislation.

For the politically difficult elements of his proposals – the bans on weapons and magazines – Obama set a more modest goal: “That deserves a vote in Congress,” he said.

That’s about the extent of what Senate Democratic aides say they can muster. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who earned a “B” grade from the National Rifle Association, said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” that he plans to allow the Senate Judiciary Committee to start writing a gun bill. If it doesn’t initially include the ban, senators could try to add it later in the process, as an amendment on the Senate floor.

Reid has no plans to introduce his own gun bill, a senior Democratic aide said Monday, instead leaving that process to the Judiciary Committee, led by Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. Still, aides acknowledged, including a gun ban in the overall package could prevent other, more popular gun regulations from passing Congress.

Democratic aides say Leahy hasn’t yet decided exactly what he’ll include in the bill, though he’s introduced a measure that would crack down on people who illegally buy guns to give or sell to others. Before the committee starts writing a bill, planned for later in February, there will be at least two more hearings – one this week in the Constitution Subcommittee and another full committee hearing after that.

Congress held its first hearings on gun control late last month, where National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre clashed with Democratic senators and emerged in opposition to universal background checks.

Obama referred to lobbyists like LaPierre in his remarks, though he didn’t mention the longtime gun advocate by name. He urged Americans to tell Congress if he didn’t speak for them.

“If we’ve got lobbyists in Washington claiming to speak for gun owners saying something different, we’ve got to go to the source,” Obama said. “We cannot allow those filters to get in the way of common sense… keep the pressure on your member of Congress to do the right thing.”

Boys will be boys, says Afghan President Karzai of Prince Harry’s comparing killing to a video game

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Prince Harry should be allowed to make mistakes, Afghan President says

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has dismissed Prince Harry’s comparison of war to video games – claiming “young men make mistakes”.

telegraph.co.uk | Feb 4, 2013

By Hayley Dixon

The 28-year-old Army captain gave “candid” descriptions of killing Taliban as he returned from a 20 week tour of Afghanistan, which some politicians in the country described as a propaganda victory for the enemy.

But speaking to ITV News and The Guardian President Karzai, who has a long-standing friendship with Prince Charles, refused to add his voice to the backlash.

The Prince claimed that his prowess on computers had helped him with on the battlefield, and described taking insurgents “out of the game”.

President Karzai, who described The Prince of Wales as “a very fine gentleman”, said of the furore: “Prince Charles is a great representative of Britain and the British ways of life. Prince Harry is a young man, we do give exits to young men when they make mistakes.”

When pushed on the issue he replied: “As I said, he’s a young man, and young men do make mistakes talking, while behaving, all of us have gone through that period, so let’s drop it there.”

His comments came as St James’s Palace announced that Harry is to pay a visit to Lesotho and South Africa at the end of the month for a three-day trip on behalf of his charity Sentebale.

He will spend the first two days privately, visiting Sentebale programmes throughout Lesotho, and on the final day will carry out public engagements in the Maseru district of Lesotho and then attend the Sentebale Gala Dinner in Johannesburg.

The last time the third in line to the throne was in Lesotho was in June 2010 when he took his brother, the Duke of Cambridge, to see Sentebale’s work as part of their first joint overseas trip.

President Karzai, who has not had a holiday in 12 years, is visiting the UK for a trilateral meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron, and Pakistani president, Asif Ali Zardari.

He used the trip to condemn the recent insider attacks against British and American troops, describing it as “a serious breach of hospitality”.

But he also echoed comments he made four years ago that between the country was safer between 2002 and 2006 than it is now.

He said: “Schools were open in Helmand and life was more secure. But I am not going to blame.”

He said he “appreciated” the sacrifices of the British forces and the contributions they made to the country, adding: “Whatever happened is the past, and now we are looking forward to the future.”

He now wants to move forward in the peace process, to make it something “tangible” for the people who no longer want guns in their communities, and to bring to an end three decades of suffering.

The idea foreign troops would completely pull out of the country was a “Utopian state of mind” but would ultimately fail as the country needs to rebuild itself with the help of the international community, he said.

In ten years time the situation in the country is expected to have improved three fold. President Karzai added: “A good future lies ahead of us but we need to work for it, and work hard for it.”

iRobot and Raytheon’s All-in-One Robot Fabricator: Hide Your Kids, The Robocalypse Is Nigh

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technabob.com | Feb 1, 2013

by: Range

OK, so basically, self-replicating robots are a no-no when it comes to robotics, because you don’t want them to start taking over the planet and exterminating humans. I for one, don’t welcome our robotic overlords.  iRobot and Raytheon recently filed a patent which could be the source of something scarily robotic. Thankfully, this isn’t exactly what they’re after, but it wouldn’t take much to make so-called “von Neumann machines” a reality with this device in hand.

The patent for the Robot Fabricator is for a machine that would allow products of all sorts to be autonomously constructed. Its capabilites would range from the creation of seed components to the assembly of finished products without any direct human involvement.

While we’re still quite far from the scenario of what happened in the Dune novels by Frank Herbert, in which machines enslaved humanity, things could still go very wrong very quickly. If such a device got into the wrong hands grippers, robots could be popping up everywhere. Scary, huh?

Scotland braces for coldest February since the 1980s

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Scotland is set for more snow in February. Picture: TSPL

scotsman.com | Feb 3, 2013

By FIONA MACGREGOR

TRAVELLERS are being warned to brace themselves for gales and snowy weather across much of Scotland today as forecasters predicted this could be the coldest February in almost 30 years.

A Met Office 24-hour severe weather warning for widespread sleet and snow in the north and west of the country began at midnight last night with up to 20cm of snow expected to fall on the hills, along with winds of more than 80 mph in some areas, bringing 15-metre waves off the north coast.

The Central Belt and Borders are predicted to see gusts of up to 60mph this afternoon and heavy snow this evening and tonight.

“The whole of Scotland will be affected by this winter storm,” said Andrew Sibley of the Met Office.

January 2013 in Flagstaff coldest in 20 years
Coldest Chicago February start in 17 years

Huge waves, creating what forecasters term “phenomenal seas”, were disrupting ferry sailings with some services, including Oban to Lochboisdale in South Uist, cancelled yesterday and more cancellations expected today.

Mr Sibley said there is a “very wintry period ahead”, adding that after a brief rise in temperatures tomorrow, it will turn colder again in the second half of the week.

Forecasters for online site The Weather Outlook said Britain was facing its coldest February since the mid-1980s.

February temperatures usually average 3.5C across the UK, but the month has often been mild in recent years.

An average monthly UK temperature lower than February 1991’s 1.4C would make this the coldest February since 1986 when thermometers plunged to -1.2C and snow cover was reported in Scotland through the entire month.

Brian Gaze, a forecaster with the Weather Outlook, said: “It’s possible February will be the coldest since 1986.

“Arctic air will push south in the next week and the pattern looks like it will be amplified from mid-February.

“Forecast models show an increasingly cold picture, so there’s plenty of time for [more] snow this winter.”

Met Office forecasters said it was “too early” to say whether the month would beat the icy temperatures of 1986.

However, the Met Office

outlook said: “Conditions tend to remain a little colder than average for much of the 6-15 February period, with temperatures close to or a little below average in mid-month, before signs of a slightly colder spell through much of the period to 2 March.”

The wintry weather was already causing problems for travellers yesterday, particularly those crossing the sea.

A CalMac spokesman said: “A number of Monday’s sailings have been cancelled with many more facing the prospect of disruption due to high winds across our network.

“Ferry travellers are advised to check for the latest service information at http://www.calmac.co.uk or via the smartphone apps or SMS text service.

“We are grateful for their patience and understanding and apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

However, a spokesman for the AA said drivers and businesses had learned to deal with snowy conditions following several heavy snowfalls earlier this

winter.

The spokesman added: “Drivers have got into their winter groove and businesses have worked out ways of dealing with disruption caused by snow.”

In February 1986 there was plenty of snow about

THE year 1986 was designated the International Year of Peace by the United Nations. It was the year a disaster at Chernobyl in the former Soviet Union spread nuclear waste across the northern hemisphere and Argentina defeated West Germany 3-2 to win the World Cup in Mexico City.

When it came to the weather, however, it was a very average year: apart from February.

The second month of 1986 would see a continuous period of icy temperatures that has not been repeated since.

The winter of 1985-86 saw several periods of snowfall in Scotland during December and early January, which was not unusual.

But in the last week of January 1986 temperatures fell dramatically. Throughout the whole of February until the first week of March there was six weeks of continuous snow cover in Scotland.

Temperatures during the day struggled to reach above freezing throughout the month and nightfall brought bitter frosts.

The average temperature for the month was recorded at -1.2C.

Forecast

Snow showers across most of Scotland today, with daytime temperatures averaging about 3C, but feeling a lot colder because of windchill. The temperature will fall below freezing in many areas over night.

Tomorrow will be milder, but become markedly colder again on Wednesday with wintry showers persisting until Friday.