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Dec. 18, 2012 at 10:38 PM
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NRA says will join national guns dialogue

WASHINGTON, Dec. 18 (UPI) -- The National Rifle Association said Tuesday it is ready to "offer meaningful contributions" to help prevent more massacres, but offered no details.

The powerful gun lobby said in a statement posted on its website it was "shocked, saddened and heartbroken by the news of the horrific and senseless murders" in Newtown, Conn.

"Out of respect for the families, and as a matter of common decency, we have given time for mourning, prayer and a full investigation of the facts before commenting," the 4 million-member gun-rights group said.

"The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again."

The statement said NRA officials were planning to hold a news conference in the Washington area Friday.

The NRA broke its silence the same day the White House said President Obama is "actively supportive" of a Democratic move to renew a federal ban on assault weapons during the next Congress.

The fallout from the massacre was landing in corporate boardrooms, as well.

Dick's Sporting Goods, with more than 500 stores, said in a statement on its website Tuesday it was pulling some weapons off its store shelves.

Poll: U.S. opposed to big spending cuts

WASHINGTON, Dec. 18 (UPI) -- Americans back higher taxes on the wealthy but not military or entitlement spending cuts in a deal to avert the "fiscal cliff," a poll released Tuesday found.

The Washington Post/ABC News poll showed strong support for raising taxes on those with the highest incomes. Almost three-quarters, 74 percent, described President Barack Obama's proposed tax hike for those with incomes of more than $250,000 as "acceptable."

Majorities said significant cuts in the defense budget and Medicaid are "unacceptable." They also oppose raising the age of Medicare eligibility or limiting increases in Social Security payments.

While 76 percent said Republicans in the House of Representatives are not willing enough to compromise, 57 percent faulted Obama. Half approve of Obama's handling of the economy and 54 percent say he is doing a good job overall, while 70 percent disapprove of the Republicans' overall performance.

Mich. governor vetoes concealed carry bill

LANSING, Mich., Dec. 18 (UPI) -- Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has vetoed a bill that would have allowed gun owners to carry concealed weapons in schools, day-care centers, churches and stadiums.

The Michigan Legislature passed the bill last week, part of a flurry of measures rushed through the lame-duck session.

Snyder told lawmakers in a letter Tuesday he vetoed the bill because it did not provide for affected institutions to opt out and prohibit weapons from their buildings, the Detroit Free Press reported.

"I believe that it is important that these public institutions have clear legal authority to ban weapons from their premises," he wrote. "Each is entrusted with the care of a vulnerable population and should have the authority to determine whether its mission would be enhanced by the addition of concealed weapons."

Snyder had been under pressure to veto the bill in the wake of the massacre of 20 first graders and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

State slams 'wild speculation' on Clinton

WASHINGTON, Dec. 18 (UPI) -- A spokeswoman for Hillary Clinton said any suggestion the U.S. secretary of state is faking an injury to avoid congressional testimony is "wild speculation."

Clinton's office said Saturday she had sustained a concussion when she fainted after becoming dehydrated from a stomach bug, and the State Department said she was under doctor's orders to work from home this week.

John Bolton -- a Fox News Channel contributor and a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations -- said Monday Clinton was using the injury as an excuse to avoid testifying Thursday about the death of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans at a diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya.

"You know, every foreign service officer in every foreign ministry in the world knows the phrase I am about to use -- when you don't want to go to a meeting or conference or an event, you have a 'diplomatic illness,'" Bolton said. "And this is a 'diplomatic illness' to beat the band."

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters Tuesday Clinton is "on the mend" and Bolton's charge is "completely untrue."

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