Senate Gun Safety Hearings

Shorter Question Everything

• Gabrielle Giffords Speaks at Senate Judiciary Hearing on Gun Control

• Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is following up her dramatic appeal for gun control on Capitol Hill with a visit to the White House. White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters that President Barack Obama was looking forward to seeing Giffords and her husband, retired and Navy Capt. Mark Kelly, later Wednesday.

• During an interview on The Last Word Wednesday night, MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell challenged Trotter for not being able to provide one real life example of a case when an assault weapon specifically saved one woman’s life in that kind of a situation. “You don’t go to the Senate to imagine things!” O’Donnell said.

• Was Trotter’s loopy testimony taken straight from a Bushmaster infomercial?

• The HuffPo describes Trotter as a humble attorney who’s lately developed an interest in gun policy. Well, yes — but she’s an attorney for the wingnut-billionaire-funded Independent Women’s Forum, for which she’s also become a pundit of sorts, opining on such issues as Obamacare and the Violence Against Women Act (spoiler alert: she’s against both). She may have come late to the gun issue, but she’s been doing right-wing posts at her blog for a couple of years now (second-earliest post: “AVATAR: 3-D Mythology of the American Left”). She has also blogged at the movement-conservative Catholic site First Things (sample hardball question from her Rick Santorum interview there: “How do you stand up for your principles in the face of the nastiness of your opponents?”), and she’s been writing recently for the Daily Caller (sample piece: “The Future Must Not Belong to Those Who Blame America”). So I don’t want to hear that she’s just some ordinary American woman who spoke truth to power. She’s an operative. This was not her first rodeo. [link]

• So Trotter has six kids and yet keeps an available loaded AR-15 at the ready at all times because, you know, blahs… This will not end well. (ADDED) Wow. Trotter is an opponent of the Violence Against Women Act. So she’s not just a terrible mother, she’s a horrible fucking human being.

Trotter based her defense of gun rights on the need for women to defend themselves against those who would commit violent acts against them. Back in 2012, she was not as supportive of the federal government’s efforts to protect women with VAWA. The law, she wrote on the website of the Independent Women’s Forum, could promote false accusations of domestic violence. Trotter opposed VAWA, she wrote last year, because it opened the door to false accusers wasting taxpayer funds.

• Wayne LaPierre, the firebrand executive vice-president of the National Rifle Association, came under intense questioning from Democratic members of the senate judiciary committee who forced him to admit that the NRA’s opposition to gun control has grown more extreme over the past 15 years. In the course of a four-hour senate hearing on gun violence that also heard impassioned testimony from the former US congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, LaPierre was forced to admit that the NRA no longer supported the idea of extending federal background checks on private gun sales at gun shows.

• While the Senate gun safety hearings were going on: One killed, two wounded at Phoenix office complex; gunman still at large. Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old girl who performed at President Obama’s inauguration last week, was shot dead Tuesday while hanging out with friends after school in bullet-scarred Chicago. Alabama gunman kills bus driver, seizes boy.

Israeli attack

• Israel violates Lebanese airpspace and attacks Syria. Iran has sworn to defend Syria. This is a problem.

Moscow is gravely concerned by reports about Israeli Air Force strikes on Syrian facilities close to Damascus. If this information is confirmed, then we are dealing with unprovoked strikes at targets on the territory of a sovereign state, which grossly violates the UN Charter and is unacceptable, whatever motives are used to justify it. We are taking emergency measures to clarify all details of this situation. We once again call for stopping all violence in Syria, not allowing any sort of foreign interference and starting an all-Syrian dialogue on the basis of the Geneva accords from 30 June 2012.

Israeli warplanes carry out air strike on Syria: Israeli warplanes have attacked a target close to the Syrian-Lebanese border following several days of heightened warnings from government officials over Syria’s stockpiles of weapons. Syrian state television said that military command had confirmed a “scientific research centre” north-west of Damascus was struck at dawn on Wednesday, causing damage. Two people were killed and five wounded in the attack on the site, which was engaged in “raising the level of resistance and self-defence”. Earlier, diplomatic and security sources were cited in media reports as saying a convoy of trucks had been struck close to the Syrian-Lebanese border. The Israeli Defence Forces said it had no comment. Lebanese media claimed that a dozen IDF fighter planes had flown sorties over Lebanon’s airspace from Tuesday afternoon until Wednesday morning. A Lebanese army statement, quoted by local news agencies, said: “Four Israeli planes entered Lebanese airspace at 4.30pm on Tuesday. They were replaced four hours later by another group of planes, which overflew southern Lebanon until 2am, and a third mission took over, finally leaving at 7.55am on Wednesday morning.” The IDF also declined to comment on these reports.

• The United States on Wednesday declined to comment on an Israeli air raid against a weapons convoy from Syria as senior officials hosted Israel’s director of military intelligence for talks. “I don’t have any comment for you on those reports,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney when asked about an air strike overnight near the Lebanese border. “I’d refer you to the government of Israel for questions about deliberations or actions that they may or may not have taken,” he said.

Israeli attack in Syria could trigger Iran reaction

In other news

Iran intends to install more modern equipment at Natanz, one of its main nuclear sites, according to a document seen by AFP on Thursday. The UN atomic agency document said that Iran informed it in a letter dated January 23 that “centrifuge machines type IR2m will be used in Unit A-22? at the Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP) at Natanz. The International Atomic Energy Agency replied in a letter dated January 29 asking for more information on the announcement, which comes despite international sanctions aimed at slowing Iran’s nuclear programme.

Russia, Kazakhstan agree on joint air defense system: Moscow and Astana have signed a deal to establish a regional defense system, which will also include missile defense. The document was signed on Wednesday during a meeting between Kazakh Defense Minister Adilbek Dzhaksybekov and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who is paying an official visit to Astana, the Kazakh capital.

The UK is to deploy about 330 military personnel to Mali and West Africa to support French forces, No 10 has said. This includes as many as 40 military advisers who will train soldiers in Mali, and 200 British soldiers to be sent to neighbouring African countries, also to help train the Malian army.

French forces have taken control of the airport in the Malian town of Kidal, the last remaining urban stronghold of Islamists in the north, as France’s foreign minister vowed troops would depart from Mali “quickly”.

• Glenn Beck calls for the formation of third party called the American Independence Party … until he learns that one already exists which ran segregationist George Wallace for president. [link]

• A new report by Mother Jones reveals that James B. Taylor, a prominent conservative movement leader and board member for the Young America’s Foundation, once served as vice president of a white supremacist group.

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