President Barack Obama proposed a new assault weapons ban and mandatory background checks for all gun buyers on Wednesday in a bid to channel national outrage over the Newtown school massacre into the biggest U.S. gun-control push in generations.
Rolling out a wide-ranging plan for executive and legislative action to curb gun violence, Obama set up a fierce clash with the powerful U.S. gun lobby and its supporters in Congress, who are expected to resist what they see as an encroachment on constitutionally protected gun rights.
Obama presented his agenda at a White House event in front of an audience that included children from around the country, a poignant reminder of the 20 first-graders who were killed along with six adults by a lone gunman on December 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
“While reducing gun violence is a complicated challenge, protecting our children from harm shouldn’t be a divisive one,” Obama said.
“I’ll be probably calling around, looking for somebody to play cards with me or something, because I’m getting kind of lonely in this big house. So maybe — maybe a whole bunch of members of the House Republican caucus want to come over and socialize more.”
In his first week as U.S. president, Barack Obama told Iran’s leaders he would extend a hand if they would “unclench their fist” and persuade the West they weren’t trying to build a nuclear bomb.
So far, they have not. In response, the United States and the European Union this year took a step they had long resisted, imposing trade sanctions to choke off Iran’s lifeblood: oil revenue.
It was financial warfare, and it carried grave risks. Until recently, Iran was the world’s fourth largest exporter of oil, providing just under three percent of internationally traded supply. The campaign to take that oil off the market risked driving up world oil prices, disrupting the international payments system and stifling a fragile global economic recovery
In interviews, senior U.S. and European officials described the intense diplomatic maneuvering they undertook to enact the sanctions without causing an oil shock.
Obama warned allies that oil sanctions were the only way to avert a new war between Israel and Iran. U.S. envoys pressed Iraqi, Libyan and, above all, Saudi officials to pump up their own crude supplies. Washington and its allies massaged skittish oil markets with carefully calibrated messages. U.S. diplomats journeyed to southern Iraq to inspect plans for new oil terminals that could help blunt the loss of Iranian shipments.
SPECIAL REPORT: Inside the West’s economic war with Iran
A heavily armed gunman opened fire inside a Connecticut elementary school on Friday, killing 26 people, including 20 children, police said, in one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history.
The gunman - who according to a media report carried four weapons and wore a bullet-proof vest - was dead inside Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, state police Lieutenant Paul Vance told a news conference.
Vance said authorities found 18 children and seven adults, including the gunman, dead at the school, and two children were pronounced dead later at a hospital. Another adult was found dead at a related crime scene in Newtown, he said, bringing the toll to 28.
The New York Times reported that the gunman, believed to be in his 20s, walked into a classroom where his mother was a teacher, shot his mother and then 18 students in the room before shooting five other adults and killing himself.
“Our hearts are broken today,” President Barack Obama said in an emotional televised address to the nation.
Chaos struck as children gathered in their classrooms for morning meetings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, a city of about 27,000 in northern Fairfield County, about 45 miles southwest of Hartford and 80 miles northeast of New York City.
The holiday season tragedy was the second shooting rampage in the United States this week and the latest in a series of mass killings this year, and was certain to revive a debate about U.S. gun laws.
READ ON: 28 dead, including 20 students, in CT school shooting
LIVE COVERAGE: Newtown, Connecticut school shooting
Susan Rice withdrew her name from consideration as U.S. secretary of state on Thursday in the face of what promised to be a difficult Senate confirmation battle.
Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and a close confidante of President Barack Obama, said she was withdrawing from the process to avoid a lengthy, costly and disruptive confirmation battle.
“That trade-off is simply not worth it to our country,” she wrote in a letter to Obama.
FLASH: CIA director David Petraeus has resigned, according to a U.S. intelligence source
A second intelligence source says Petraeus met with President Obama on Thursday. The White House says it will let Petraeus address resignation reports, adding that Obama will likely have a statement later.
More soon at Reuters.com.