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April 4, 2013 at 7:58 AM
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Conn. Legislature OKs gun control bill

HARTFORD, Conn., April 4 (UPI) -- The Connecticut House passed a sweeping new gun-control law early Thursday, hours after the Senate approved the bill and 111 days after the Sandy Hook massacre.

The vote was 105-44, the Hartford Courant reported.

The bill's passage means Connecticut joins other Democratic-leaning states in approving broad gun-control restrictions in response to the Dec. 14 mass shooting at Newtown, where 26 children and educators were killed by a 20-year-old who fired 154 shots in 4 minutes with a semiautomatic rifle.

Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has said he would sign the measure into law.

The bill passed the Senate in a bipartisan 26-10 vote Wednesday evening following a 6-hour debate.

Two of the body's 22 Democrats and eight of 14 Republicans voted against the measure.

"This is a new and historic model for the country on an issue that has typically been the most controversial and divisive," Senate President Pro Tempore Donald Williams, a Democrat from Brooklyn, said near the end of the debate.

"We in Connecticut are breaking new ground," he said.

Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, a Republican from Fairfield who represents Newtown, called the legislation the most important of his 14 years in the Senate.

U.S. speeds anti-missile system to Guam

WASHINGTON, April 4 (UPI) -- The U.S. Army is speeding a mobile missile defense system to Guam to protect U.S. forces in the Pacific from a possible North Korean attack, the Pentagon said.

Deploying the sophisticated Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, system to the U.S. territory two years ahead of schedule is "a precautionary move to strengthen our regional defense posture against the North Korean regional ballistic missile threat," the Pentagon said.

The land-based missile system, designed to shoot down short-, medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles, is expected to be fully deployed in Guam in the next few weeks, the Pentagon said.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Pyongyang's threats had escalated to "a real and clear danger" to the United States and to its regional allies.

"They have a nuclear capacity now," he said of North Korea at the National Defense University in Washington. "They have a missile delivery capacity now.

"And so, as they have ratcheted up their bellicose, dangerous rhetoric, and some of the actions they have taken over the last few weeks present a real and clear danger."

Hagel specifically cited "the threats that the North Koreans have leveled directly at the United States regarding our base in Guam, threatened Hawaii, threatened the West Coast of the United States."

Border guards caught only 49% of migrants

WASHINGTON, April 4 (UPI) -- Drone-mounted radar found U.S. border guards caught fewer than half the migrants who illegally crossed into one area of Arizona, internal reports indicate.

The Vehicle Dismount and Exploitation Radar, known as Vader, operated from a Predator surveillance drone 5 miles in the sky, shows U.S. Border Patrol agents apprehended 1,874 of 3,836 people who illegally crossed into a 150-square-mile stretch of the Sonora Desert in southern Arizona from Oct. 1 to Jan. 17, the reports cited by the Los Angeles Times indicate.

This means the radar system, developed to track Taliban fighters in Afghanistan, spotted an additional 1,962 people in the same area who evaded arrest and disappeared into the United States, the Times said.

The 49 percent capture rate contrasts with the Government Accountability Office's January estimate the Border Patrol caught 64 percent of those who illegally crossed into the Tucson sector in 2011.

The GAO is the audit, evaluation and investigative arm of Congress.

Uganda calls off Kony search in CAR

KAMPALA, Uganda, April 4 (UPI) -- Ugandan troops have suspended their search for fugitive warlord Joseph Kony in the Central African Republic, the Ugandan military announced.

The withdrawal came Wednesday after the self-proclaimed president of the Central African Republic, Michel Djotodia, called on all foreign troops to leave the country, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Djotodia took over after a rebel overthrow of the the government last month. The suspension of Uganda's search for Kony in the Central African Republic signals the country could descend into greater chaos after the overthrow, the newspaper said.

Kony is the leader of the Lord's Resistance Army, notorious for kidnappings, killings and forced enlistment of children in its ranks.

After Uganda's withdrawal Wednesday, the United States announced a $5 million bounty for information leading to Kony's capture. The U.S. government added the warlord to a list of wanted war criminals, The Wall Street Journal reported.

First quarter layoffs highest in a year

CHICAGO, April 4 (UPI) -- The monthly number of layoffs at U.S. firms has exceeded the same month a year earlier for four of the past six months, a private employment firm said.

Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas said there were 49,255 announced job layoffs in March, which was a drop of 11 percent from February, but an increase of 30 percent from March 2012 when 37,880 job cuts were announced.

March is the second consecutive month and the fourth of the past six in which announced cuts exceeded the same month of the previous year.

Add it all up and job cut announcements January through March were the highest of any quarter since 2011, the firm said.

In the first quarter of the year, employers announced 145,041 layoffs, a 5.6 percent increase from the fourth quarter of 2012, which included 137,361 job cut announcements, and a 1.4 percent climb from January through March in 2012.

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