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March 21, 2013 at 10:00 PM   |   Comments

Biden, Bloomberg renew call for gun laws

NEW YORK, March 21 (UPI) -- U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the families of children shot in Newtown, Conn., called Thursday for new gun laws.

Biden told a news conference at New York City Hall Americans "have a responsibility to act," The Wall Street Journal reported.

"The loudest voices have to be for those beautiful babies," Biden said, referring to the 20 6- and 7-year-olds killed Dec. 14, along with six staffers, at Sandy Hook Elementary School. "The loudest voices have to be for those silenced voices, close to 3,000 since Newtown, gunned down on American streets, in homes, in neighborhoods."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said this week he will not include renewing the assault weapons ban in gun legislation to be submitted to Congress. Bloomberg and Biden called for an amendment to put the ban into the bill.

Neil Heslin, the parent of a child killed in Newtown, said at the news conference he is "really ashamed to see that Congress doesn't have the guts to stand up and make a change and put a ban on these type of weapons, and universal background checks and address the mental health issues that we have in this country."

Robbie and Alissa Parker -- whose daughter, Emilie, was killed at Newtown -- told CBS News Thursday they met with Peter Lanza, father of Newtown gunman Adam Lanza. The couple provided no details of the discussion but Alissa Parker said it the meeting with Peter Panza was something she "needed to do."


Poll: U.S. split most on Cuba, Israel

PRINCETON, N.J., March 21 (UPI) -- Democrats have more positive views than Republicans about most other countries, with the two sides most split in their views on Cuba and Israel, a poll found.

In its annual World Affairs survey, released Thursday, Gallup found the overall favorability of U.S. citizens toward 22 countries ranged from 91 percent for Canada to 9 percent for Iran.

Philosophical differences between Republicans and Democrats were most distinct in 10 of the countries, Gallup said, with Democrats more favorable to nine of the countries.

Democrats favored China, Cuba, Egypt and Mexico by more than 20 percent over Republicans, the poll said.

That was not the case when Gallup conducted a similar poll in 2005. Then, Cuba was the only country that generated a similarly large partisan difference, which Democrats also viewed more favorably at the time.

In the new poll, 78 percent of Republicans held positive attitudes about Israel, compared to 60 percent among Democrats. It was the only country for which Republicans reflected a double-digit positive attitude.

The partisan difference was virtually unchanged from 2005, when 76 percent of Republicans favored Israel over 65 percent of Democrats.


U.S. top destination for migrants

PRINCETON, N.J., March 21 (UPI) -- The United States is the top destination for people looking to leave their home countries and move somewhere else permanently, a Gallup poll found.

About 13 percent of the world's population, some 630 million people, said they would like to leave their countries to live somewhere else, Gallup said in a report released Thursday.

Of those people, 138 million would like to move to the United States, the poll, conducted between 2010 and 2012, found.

Other desired destinations for potential migrants were the United Kingdom, Canada, and France.

Liberia had the highest number of citizens who said they wanted to leave the country for the United States -- 37 percent -- followed by Sierra Leone with 30 percent and the Dominican Republic with 28 percent.

Gallup interviewed 501,366 adults in 154 countries between 2010 and 2012. The results of the survey were projected numbers based on percentages of people who said they would like to move out of their home countries.


Pope Francis plans Holy Thursday mass

VATICAN CITY, March 21 (UPI) -- Pope Francis celebrates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ inside Rome's Casal del Marmo juvenile detention center, the Vatican said Thursday.

The celebration, called Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday, will take place on March 28, Italy's ANSA news agency reported.

"In his ministry as archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Bergoglio [now Pope Francis] used to celebrate this mass in a prison or hospital or home for the poor," said the Vatican in a statement. With the mass inside Casal del Marmo, "Pope Francis will continue the tradition, which should be characterized by a context of simplicity."

The pontiff will also commemorate Jesus Christ's Last Supper with his apostles with a mass inside St Peter's Basilica before he heads to the juvenile detention center, ANSA said.

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