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Jan. 10, 2013 at 8:01 AM   |   Comments

Biden suggests executive action on guns

WASHINGTON, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama may use executive action to help stop U.S. gun violence, Vice President Joe Biden said, as pro-gun groups were to meet with him Thursday.

At the same time, the head of the National Rifle Association said he supported prosecuting criminal gunmen.

"The president is going to act," Biden said in brief remarks to reporters before meeting with victims of gun violence and firearm-safety groups in the first meeting of a national task force on gun control.

"Executive order, executive action that can be taken -- we haven't decided what that is yet," Biden said. "But we're compiling it all with the help of the attorney general and all the rest of the Cabinet members, as well as legislative action we believe is required."

Biden called gun violence "a problem that requires immediate attention" and said, "We're not going to get caught up in the notion that, unless we can do everything, we're going to do nothing."

Obama has promised to push forward a gun-control package that would require congressional approval.

Some analysts suggested unilateral action would infuriate gun advocates, who say gun sales are protected under the Second Amendment and equate gun control with tyranny.

The conservative Drudge Report website illustrated its story about Biden's task force meeting with photos of Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin.


U.S.: Bin Laden got cables Manning leaked

FORT MEADE, Md., Jan. 10 (UPI) -- Osama bin Laden got some of the classified cables Pfc. Bradley Manning is accused of passing to WikiLeaks, U.S. military prosecutors told an Army judge.

The al-Qaida leader, who U.S. Special Forces killed in 2011, requested and received from another al-Qaida member military reports and U.S. State Department cables Manning allegedly provided to WikiLeaks, Prosecutor Capt. Joe Morrow said during a pretrial hearing at Fort Meade, Md.

He and other prosecutors said they planned to introduce evidence showing this, as well as logs of February 2010 online chats between Manning and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, including one suggesting the two men were "laughing" about a New York Times article.

The March 17, 2010, article said the Pentagon added WikiLeaks to its list of enemies threatening U.S. security.

Manning, 25, of Crescent, Okla., faces 22 charges for allegedly leaking classified information to WikiLeaks when he was a low-level intelligence analyst in Baghdad in 2009 and 2010.


Capriles: Venezuela court ruling political

CARACAS, Venezuela, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- A Venezuelan Supreme Court ruling letting President Hugo Chavez begin his new term Thursday in absentia was politically motivated, a key opposition leader said.

The court's ruling was intended "to resolve the problem" in the ruling United Socialist Party of a growing power struggle between Vice President Nicolas Maduro and National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello, Henrique Capriles said.

The power struggle has "totally paralyzed" the government, he said.

Maduro is the man Chavez said he wanted as his party's candidate in case he himself couldn't continue as president. Chavez appealed to voters to vote for Maduro. Cabello is a former vice president with close ties to Venezuela's military but has few ties to the Cuban revolution.

Chavez -- who declared himself fully recovered from his unspecified cancer July 9 -- flew to Cuba Dec. 10 for additional cancer surgery. He later developed a severe pulmonary infection that has resulted in a "respiratory insufficiency," the government said Jan. 3.

Chavez won election to a fourth term Oct. 7 and was to be inaugurated Thursday.


Drone strike kills four in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- A drone strike Thursday in Pakistan's North Waziristan killed four people and injured several others, officials said.

A report by the Chinese news agency Xinhua said the drone fired four missiles at a compound suspected to be militant hideout. The area is in Eissu Khel village in the Mir Ali area of the tribal region near the border with Afghanistan.

The compound was destroyed but the identities those killed weren't immediately known.

Xinhua said it was the second such strike in the area since Tuesday, when missile attacks killed three suspected militants, including an al-Qaida-linked operative.

The Thursday action brought to at least 40 the number of suspected militants killed by drones in 2013, Xinhua said.


'Why' of ferry crash being investigated

NEW YORK, N.J., Jan. 10 (UPI) -- Officials investigating what caused a ferry accident in New York, in which 85 people were injured, said they will speak to the boat's captain and crew quickly.

Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said the Seastreak Wall Street left its pier in Highlands, N.J., Wednesday and experienced "hard landing" as it approached one slip before heading into the second slip, NY1 reported.

The National Transportation Safety Board deployed a team and planned to begin its investigation in earnest Thursday, CNN said.

The captain and crew were expected to be interviewed by investigators Thursday.

"We know that they hit the pier at a relatively high rate of speed," said U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Gordon Loebl, estimating the boat was traveling about 16 mph.

Officials say 326 passengers and five crew members were on board at the time during Wednesday morning's commute. The U.S. Coast Guard said 85 people were injured.

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