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One Word Was Missing From Obama's State Of The Union Address: Guns

Sabrina Siddiqui   |   January 20, 2015    9:51 PM ET

WASHINGTON -- One word was noticeably missing from President Barack Obama's State of the Union address on Tuesday: guns.

In a sign that the sun has set on Obama's gun control agenda, the president's prepared remarks contained no mention of the issue. Two years after the shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, the absence of guns from Obama's speech marked a departure from previous years, in which the president urged Congress to pass legislation aimed at reducing gun violence in America.

Obama made a thinly veiled reference to mass shootings while discussing national tragedies that have brought Americans together.

"I’ve mourned with grieving families in Tucson and Newtown; in Boston, West, Texas, and West Virginia," he said.

Perhaps the most memorable moment of Obama's 2013 State of the Union address was his impassioned plea to lawmakers to at least hold a vote for the sake of the children at Sandy Hook and other victims of gun violence, such as former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.), who was shot in the head at a 2011 constituent meeting in Tucson. Obama's remarks on guns were significantly shorter last year, following a failed Senate vote to expand background checks. Nonetheless, the president pledged in that speech to take steps to curtail gun violence "with or without Congress."

Obama has continued to use other forums to push for a change in how America perceives the issue of gun control, while chastising lawmakers for bowing to the National Rifle Association and other special interest groups. He also took limited executive action last year to strengthen the federal background checks system. But his failure to even mention the word "guns" in his most high-profile speech of the year is an acknowledgement that gun control is currently dead at the federal level, particularly under a GOP-controlled Congress.

A December report found that nearly 100 school shootings have occurred since Sandy Hook, resulting in at least 45 deaths and 78 non-fatal gunshot injuries. The anti-gun violence coalition has refused to back down from its efforts to take on the gun lobby, but given the reluctance among congressional lawmakers to revisit stricter gun laws, gun control groups have shifted their focus. Advocates are increasingly pursuing progress outside of Washington, following some state-level victories on instituting background checks and preventing domestic abusers from purchasing firearms.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut who has been a leading advocate for stricter gun laws after Newtown, said Obama was being "realistic" about the prospects of gun control in the new Congress.

"This Congress unfortunately, tragically, unforgivably may well continue to do nothing," Blumenthal said in an interview with HuffPost Live after the speech. "And that's a missed opportunity to save lives of tens of thousands of people who will be victims of gun violence -- innocent children, people all across the country on campuses, in malls and individually on the streets of our cities."

"Gun violence affects everyone and Congress is aiding and abetting by failing to take stronger action," he added. "I think the president had a broader vision and he was reaching for a vision of expanding economic opportunity and investing in America rather than dwelling on any single issue."

This story has been updated.

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Tracy Connor   |   January 20, 2015    4:47 PM ET

She had just put her 9-month-old down for a nap, turned on cartoons for the older kids and was headed for the dishwasher when she heard a strange "pop" come from the bedroom of the Missouri home.

Alexis Wiederholt, 26, said that as she rushed to investigate the noise, her 5-year-old son appeared and said something that didn't make any sense to her in the moment.

"I'm sorry, Mom. I shot Corbin."

  |   January 20, 2015    9:29 AM ET

A 9-month-old northwestern Missouri boy is dead after his 5-year-old brother playing with a handgun accidentally shot him in the head.

Nodaway County Sheriff Darren White says the baby was pronounced dead at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City just before noon on Monday.

The Kansas City Star ( http://bit.ly/1zsiSLP ) reports that emergency responders were called to a home in Elmo around 9 a.m. Monday after a 5-year-old found a loaded .22 caliber handgun and apparently was handling it when it fired.

White says the bullet struck the 9-month-old, who was in a playpen.

The sheriff says there is no reason to believe the shooting was anything other than an accident.

Elmo is located 120 miles north of Kansas City, Missouri.

The Gun Violence Stats the NRA Doesn't Want You to Consider

Mike Weisser   |   January 20, 2015    8:59 AM ET

When I was a kid growing up in New York City I kept my eyes on a neighborhood gang whose older members, when it came to violence and lawlessness, put the feared Westies of Hell's Kitchen to shame. In fact, the Westies contracted out their hits to this bunch, whose SOP was to haul the victim up to the roof of one of the neighborhood housing projects and that was that. Five guys went up to the roof, four guys walked back down.

As tough and brutal as they were, the members of this crew never carried guns. Why not? Because whenever anything went down in the neighborhood, the cops would come around, line them up against the wall, administer the Miranda warning by kicking them in the ass or punching them in the face, and then pat them all down for guns. If the cops found a gun, that guy was slammed into the back of the patrol car and wasn't seen for a long time. Don't think for one second that aggressive, in-your-face street patrols used by Giuliani and Bloomberg to drive down gun crime in New York City is such a new idea.

The NRA and the gun industry wants us to take a giant leap of faith by going along with their idea that the most effective way to curb gun violence is to cut down on crime. But the data on gun violence published by the FBI doesn't support this, not at all. Of course there are criminals out there who use guns to commit crimes. Of course we need to do everything possible to keep guns out of the wrong hands. But the connection of guns to gun violence is more complicated than just the simple idea that more guns in the "wrong hands" equals more crime.

According to the FBI, from 2000 to 2012 there were slightly more than 200,000 homicide victims of which slightly more than two-thirds were killed with guns. This is an average of 10,400 gun homicides each year, a remarkably-stable number over the past thirteen years. Of these gun killings, slightly more than 15 percent involved women as victims, or roughly 21,000 over the same span of years. When women are homicide victims, most if not virtually all of these shootings grew out of some sort of IPV. Let's not forget, incidentally, that men were also shot to death by their girlfriends or their wives an average of 700 times per year. Taken together, domestic violence probably claimed more than 2,200 victims annually between 2000 and 2012, or one-fifth of all gun fatalities during those years.

The degree to which homicide grows out of personal disputes is shown by the fact that of the total murders committed in 2012, only slightly more than 20 percent took place during the commission of other crimes. The rest happened because people who knew each other, and in most cases knew each other on a long-term, continuous basis, got into an argument about money, or who dissed who, or who was sleeping with someone else, or some other dumb thing. And many times they were drunk or high on drugs, but no matter what, like Walter Mosley says, "sooner or later" the gun goes off.

Here's the bottom line on gun violence and crime. Every year 20,000+ shoot themselves intentionally, which is suicide. Another thousand, give or take a hundred, kill themselves accidentally with a gun. Then another 10,000 use a gun to kill someone else, but 8,000 of those shootings had nothing to do with other violent crimes. If we define gun violence as using a gun to end a human life, the FBI is telling us that less than 10 percent of those fatalities would be eliminated if we got rid of all violent crime. The NRA can try to convince its members that the reason for gun violence is that there's too much crime, but the data from the FBI clearly indicates that the reason for gun violence is that there are too many guns.

First-Time Novelist Tackles Guns and Corruption

Tamar Abrams   |   January 13, 2015    3:31 PM ET

The novel A Spy Came Home by H.N. Wake is a typical thriller, loaded with suspense, some violence, taut pacing. But it is unique in many ways: Written by a former government worker, H.N. Wake is a pseudonym. The main character - the spy who comes home - is a strong single woman. And the antagonist is a fictional pro-guns membership organization that is more than vaguely reminiscent of the NRA.

In a phone interview, it becomes clear that the author is a married forty-something woman, a former aid worker, who chose the pseudonym to protect herself from harassment by NRA members and to honor Nancy Wake, a famous WW II spy. "This is a work of fiction," she asserts. "It is not based on the NRA. But I wanted to write about a hot button political issue and news about gun violence comes out on a weekly basis. Enough is enough. So I looked at those who lobby for gun manufacturers and wondered how they might come to be corrupted."

Once she had her hot button issue, Wake asked herself, "How can I make the book easy to read? How would a CIA agent bring down a fictitious massive and bloated organization?" She spent an entire year writing the novel in her spare time. And, while she had experience writing nonfiction and screenplays, this was her first finished novel. She admits that she wrote hundreds of drafts, spending five or six days a week doggedly writing and revising. And because it takes on the issue of gun ownership and manufacturing, she sent drafts to former NRA members. "I'm not an expert on guns," she says, "and I wanted to know what gun-owners thought. They said they were fine with it."

Wake is not rabidly anti-guns, she says, "I am not against responsible gun ownership but extremists have taken over the conversation. I wanted to change that." But mostly, she asserts, "I want readers to say this is a good story. It would also be good if they are more informed about gun violence in America." Wake chose to self-publish the book, explaining, "Traditional publishing would delay publication by as much as a year and it's such a hot topic that I wanted to get it into circulation as quickly as possible."

She believes that it is the feminist angle that makes the book more unique than the subject matter. "I knew there are not a lot of women writers in the thriller genre," she says. "I had to really find my confidence and voice, and I'd like to see more women represented in this male-dominated space." A Spy Came Home is the first in a trilogy about the main character, and Wake is already at work on the second in the series - a book whose subject matter is equally as controversial as guns.

But don't expect to see H.N. Wake doing on-camera interviews any time soon. "It's not out of fear that I want to stay in the background," she says. "It's that I want the issue to be at the forefront."

Morgan Smith   |   January 13, 2015    3:06 PM ET

As Texas lawmakers convened for the first day of the 2015 legislative session Tuesday, about a dozen activists carrying a variety of firearms gathered in front of the state Capitol to protest gun laws.

Members of Come and Take It Texas — a group that organizes armed rallies to protest gun laws and one of several pushing to scrap the state's handgun licensing requirements this session — also demonstrated how to make a weapon with a machine known as the Ghost Gunner.

The event was held in support of a bill filed by state Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, that would lift the state's handgun licensing requirements, which critics say impose unconstitutional costs and restrictions.

"People would be up in arms if we had to pay a fee in order to have freedom of speech," said Pablo Frias, who said he traveled from Arlington to participate in the rally and was carrying an AR-15 for self-defense "but also for educational purposes."

Another rally participant, Tammy Koontz of Lewisville, wore the T-shirt of a national gun safety group along with a holstered black powder pistol.

Koontz said she was collecting the signatures of gun rights advocates on the Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America shirt in protest of that group's support of tightening gun restrictions.

"They seem to think they speak for all moms and they don't ... I'm for open carry because I have children," she said, adding that she planned to wear the shirt on the day open carry became legal in the state.

Texas, which allows the public display of long guns like rifles and shotguns, legalized the carrying of concealed handguns with a license in 1995. It is one of six states that specifically prohibit the unconcealed display of handguns, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

Gov.-elect Greg Abbott has said he would sign an open carry bill if it reached his desk — and on Tuesday, rally participants displayed a copy of Stickland's bill with Abbott's signature as a gesture of support. 

The measure is among several already filed this session targeting handgun restrictions, but it is the only one so far that proposes lifting licensing requirements altogether. Efforts to allow handgun license holders to openly carry their firearms have failed during the last two sessions, and it is unclear whether lawmakers have the votes to pass legislation that would repeal licensing requirements outright.

divide exists even among gun rights supporters over the use of armed rallies to raise awareness for their cause. Some view the tactic — which features protesters carrying weapons such as assault rifles in city streets — as overly aggressive. The manufacturing of firearms at the Come and Take It rally has also drawn criticism from within the ranks of Second Amendment supporters.

At a second rally planned for later in the month by Open Carry Texas, participants will be carrying empty holsters instead of firearms. The group's founder, CJ Grisham, told the Texas Tribune last week that he had reached out to the Jan. 13 event's organizers to ask them not to use the Ghost Gunner at the Capitol.

"I don’t understand the purpose of it," Grisham said. "It seems confrontational, and really, needless. I mean, it’s the first day of the Legislature, we are this close to getting open carry passed, and now these guys want to come and manufacture a firearm on the steps of the Capitol? I just don’t get it."

At the Tuesday rally, Chuck Richter of Athens said he used the Chinese SKS rifle he was carrying for hunting, particularly hogs, because it was easy to carry. He said that understood why people might not be comfortable seeing firearms in public but part of the event's purpose was to demonstrate that they did not have anything to fear. 

"It's less about intimidation than re-sensitizing people to something that should be customary," he said. "This is not North Korea where only the state gets to carry protection."

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2015/01/13/gun-advocates-take-and-make-arms-texas-capitol/.

Understanding the Misunderstanding; The Use of Weapons in Filming Carries With it Inherent Danger

Joe Wallenstein   |   January 13, 2015    1:42 PM ET

After 30 years as an Assistant Director, Production Manager and Producer, I was invited to become Director of Physical Production at the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts.

One would think that in jaded, old Hollywood, home to a thousand movie productions, people would be able to differentiate between real life and make-believe, in filming.

But guess what?

"People" would be wrong.

A beginning class was filming a mugging in an alley near school. One man held another man at gunpoint. The gun was rubber with no moving parts. There were a dozen students present. There was a camera on a tripod, dolly track, lights and a truck filled with electrical equipment. But a little old lady walking by failed to make the nexus between the cinematic accouterments and the fact that it was only a movie. She called the police and reported a hold up at gunpoint in an alley.

The police came running. And believe or not, when the LAPD gets a call about a gun and a mugging in an alley, they don't automatically say to themselves': "Oh, gosh, must be film students." They take it seriously. That is why we tell our students, "if the police roll up while you are filming, the actor must immediately DROP THE WEAPON."

Many people believe they can wave a weapon at the police while they explain it's only a make-believe gun. Most police will tell you: "We don't see you... we only see the weapon."

On another occasion, I was sitting in my office on a Saturday when the phone rang and a man's voice blurted: "You almost got my son killed. What-the-hell are you doing down there?"

You can believe that's the kind of dialogue that gets my undivided attention. Some of our students had been filming in a Seven-Eleven store in South Central Los Angeles in the middle of the night. The scene called for a young man attempting to rob the store by pretending to have a gun. In fact, he had no gun. What he did have was a ski mask. The student director told him specifically to place the mask on the top of his head but not to lower over his face until he was inside the store.

The student waited patiently outside for his cue to enter. The director yelled: "Action" and the young actor lowered the mask and stepped into the store. At that precise moment, a Good Samaritan, driving by, saw someone in a ski mask entering a Seven-Eleven and dialed 911. The cops responded quickly. We actually had on film two guys, the size of Delaware, holding shotguns, look right into camera and say: "if we had seen you enter the store, we would have shot you."

The students, thinking they were being diligent, had written a hand-drawn note on a piece of white paper and stuck it in the corner of one of the store windows. Naturally, the police never saw it. That event gave rise to our PRO WEAPONS IN USE signs that every USC student carries to location and places at any point of entry to the set.

We have even gone so far as to insist that students filming on our stages place those sign outside the stage doors.

Always err on the side of caution.

15 Things That Need to End in 2015

John Willey   |   January 8, 2015    3:23 PM ET

It's amazing how much changes when the calendar flips from December 31 to January 1. Everything is fresh and new and we can all start over with our lives. No more do we have to think about how horrible the past year was and we can all look forward to the exciting things that lie ahead. Or something like that. The truth is the new year really doesn't mean that much. Sure, it's a good time to reflect and think about what you want to change going forward, but in actuality not much really does. Everyone goes to the gym for a couple of weeks, they lose a few pounds, then they fall of the wagon, stop going to the gym and gain it all right back.

It seems everything is like that though. We all talk about how much we want to change in the new year, but things usually end up pretty much the same as in years past. But there are some things that HAVE to change in the new year.

1. People talking on their cell phones in public. Don't do it in the line at Starbucks. Don't do it in line at the bank. DO NOT DO IT ANYWHERE. I can't tell you how many times I've seen someone chatting away on their phones as they are checking out their groceries or ordering a cup of coffee. Please give that person standing in front of you your full undivided attention. It's beyond rude. With that said...

2. People who talk on SPEAKERPHONE. Seriously?! I don't want to hear both ends of your conversation. It's bad enough that I have to hear what you are saying and now you want me to hear what your Aunt Shelia is saying, too? Next time I see you, I hope it's at Home Depot so I can smash your phone with a hammer.

3. People who autopost from Twitter to Facebook. There is no reason. They are two different social platforms; treat them as such. Never should an @ be found on Facebook.

4. Chewing gum in public. It's disgusting. Have you ever driven past a cow pasture and seen all the cows just sitting there, chewing? That's what you all look like.

5. Arguing politics online. Has there ever been a political argument online where one side realized the error in their ways and completely flipped their opinion? The next time it happens will be the first. Everyone has an opinion and everyone is wrong.

6. People not getting vaccinated. It's stupid. I just got my dog shots so that she wouldn't die of distemper. Why wouldn't you get a shot to prevent your kids from dying of a potentially fatal disease?

7. Racism. I know that this is impossible. As long as two people don't look like each other, there will always be hatred and misunderstanding. It makes no sense to me, though. Look at a group of kids playing with each other. None of them cares about what the other person looks like, they just want to play. Why can't adults be like that? So stop teaching your kids to hate each other.

8. Gun violence. I don't want to take away your right to have a gun; far from it. If you want to carry one, that's fine. I just want to make sure that you are doing it in the safest way possible and that a person who shouldn't own a gun doesn't. There is no need for you to walk into an Arby's with an AK-47. I will never understand why people say that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. It seems we hear too often about the bad guys and not enough about the good guys. More guns is NOT the answer and instead of not talking about things and sitting behind the Second Amendment, lets have a human discussion.

9. Cops shooting unarmed people. I've heard too many stories like this. I know that being a cop is not the easiest job in the world and that their next shift could possibly be their last, but we hear about these types of stories far too often. I don't know how cops are trained to handle certain situations, but pulling up to a 12-year-old in the park and killing him in two seconds is not the way to go.

10. People shooting the police. Stop it. It does nothing to further your cause. The only thing that it does is make things exponentially worse for everyone.

11. Poverty/War/Name your unattainable goal. We can try, but this is never going to happen. Seven billion people living on a rock in space where two thirds of it is covered by water? There are just too many people and too many of them want to be in charge.

12.  Talking about stay-at-home-dads as if working moms don't exist.  I'm a stay-at-home-dad for no other reason than my wife is a freaking rock star. Sure, there seems to be more of us SAHDs every year, but that would also mean that there are more households with the working mom as the sole breadwinner. Let's hear some stories about them and their struggles for a change.

13. My dog pooping on the floor. It might not rank up there with some of the others on this list, but it's something that really needs to stop. She knows where the door is, she knows how to let me know she has to go, she needs to stop dropping a deuce on the dining room floor. Newborn puppies are harder than newborn babies.

Help me out puppy
14. Group texts. Please don't include me in one.  I barely care about your original text and I am certainly not going to care about seven one word responses from people I don't know.  The only way to truly put an and to this is for people to stop hitting "Reply All."  You have that option, use it.

15.  List posts.  They are lazy ways to write things and they are oversaturated in our society now.  I get it that people will invest their time though when they know they only have to read 15 things.

This post originally appeared on Daddy's in Charge

You can follow John on Twitter @daddysincharge

Ending Gun Violence Complacency

Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva   |   January 8, 2015    1:11 PM ET

Today marks four years since my friend and colleague Gabby Giffords, and 18 other people, were shot in a senseless act of violence that claimed six innocent lives. The somber occasion comes just weeks after NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were assassinated in cold blood while on patrol in Brooklyn. Both men left their families that morning to serve and protect the people of New York, not knowing they would never return. My heart breaks for both men, for their loved ones whose lives have a void that can never be filled, and over what it means for our society that incidents of gun violence -- often times completely preventable -- continue to extinguish lives and shatter families.

Officers Liu and Ramos were public servants, and they deserve to be honored for the communities they kept safe, and for the sacrifices they made. But we owe them more than memorials; we owe them our sincere efforts to make sure the senseless violence that claimed their lives won't claim others. We owe their wives and children, suffering through unimaginable grief, the assurance that their pain won't needlessly be felt by others, too.

Sadly, those who call for action to prevent gun violence are often times accused of exploiting a tragedy. It has somehow become acceptable to many of my colleagues to simply express condolences and repeat tired excuses for inaction like "we can't legislate away crazy," or "guns don't kill people, people do." Meanwhile, their intransigence allows the violence to continue as the roots of this problem are ignored.

The fact is you don't need to "legislate away" crazy if you ensure that those who shouldn't have guns can't get them in the first place. Gun violence is a societal problem threatening every American, and politicians are elected to solve society's problems. Victims and their families deserve better from elected officials than hollow condolences. The American people should expect more from their leaders than excuses on why they refuse to lead.

The families of Officers Liu and Ramos -- and all families impacted by gun violence -- have my sympathies and my condolences. But just as important, they have my word that I will fight to curb gun violence. As the 114th Congress convenes, I urge my colleagues to do right by those who sent them here, and address this problem facing every one of their constituents. There is no excuse for us not to pass universal background checks and to close gun show loopholes. We should invest more in mental health programs, and make sure that instruments of war like high capacity magazines aren't used on our streets. These are common sense steps that will save lives, and ensure that we honor the memories of those who have fallen. Congress should pass them right away.

A Personal Memory of Former Governor Mario Cuomo

Angela Vitaliano   |   January 2, 2015   10:56 AM ET

When last April, in Oklahoma, Clayton Darrell Lockett died of a heart attack after a failed execution by lethal injection, going through the atrocity of 43 minutes of pain, I thought of interviewing former Governor of New York, Mario Cuomo, a champion in the fight against the inhumanity of the death penalty.

I did not have high hopes that Mr. Cuomo was going to concede the interview; lately he was living pretty much out of the limelight and I am not a "big" name that he could have known or appreciated anyway before. But I always give a chance to miracles to happen, so I sent him an email with my request. For two days I didn't get any reply so I thought, "Ok, no miracle this time."

The third day, it was during the morning, I was sitting at my desk, when my phone rang.

"Hello," I said.

"Good morning, Angela Vitaliano?" asked a voice.

I had no clue who was on the phone and I was totally distracted by the fact that, for once, my complicated last name had been pronounced correctly.

"Yes, speaking, who is there?" I said with some impatience in my voice, looking at the screen of my computer, where a sentence was waiting to be completed.

"I am Mario Cuomo," he said.

For a few seconds, my mind was crossed by an array of thoughts: from "Damn, I don't have any questions ready" to "give me a pen!!!", while at the same time, many other silly voices in my head were screaming that I was going to fail the interview because I was not ready.

"Good morning Mr. Governor," I replied after a very short moment that felt as long as a lifetime. After that, our conversation was easy and amazingly interesting.

Mostly I listened to him: his words on the death penalty were enlightening and touching together. The severe tone of his voice doubled my respect for him, but didn't make me uncomfortable or worried for my accent or any possible mistakes. And I felt some emotion in his voice when he told me an episode of his youth that involved his mother:

"I was a little kid and it was Christmas time. I was with my mom in Jamaica, Queens, and she told me that I could pick a toy, but only one. I looked around the store and I came back to her with a toy gun in my hand. She saw it and immediately slapped my hand and said "don't hold a gun anymore in your life unless you are a cop. Weapons kills people." That was the moment when I realized how precious the life of a human being is and how much respect we always have to show for it."

Mr. Cuomo didn't hesitate to admit that he felt ashamed because his own country was still using death penalty, but added that he was confident in a different outcome for the future.

"Sometimes people ask me "but what if someone would hurt Matilda or your kids?" and I reply, every time, that of course I would feel anger and a need to get "justice" but this is why we are a country of law and the law is good because is not about personal feeling or rage, but about fairness and humanity and civilization".

Our conversation led to the writing of one of the articles that I am most proud of, and that was published on May 15, 2014 for espresso.repubblica.it.

When I heard that Mr. Cuomo passed away, some details of our conversation came back to me and perhaps, if you aren't familiar with the "attitude" of Italian politicians, you won't understand how powerful these details were for me. Mr. Cuomo called me in person, no one announced him; he never, during our conversation, used the "paisano" card to make our conversation more confidential -- being an American from Italian origins doesn't mean that you are any less a leader of "your" country and that you keep your institutional attitude when needed. He didn't use any title to introduce himself and at the end of our conversation he said "thank you".

We lost a great man, a giant in the history of the city, of the State and of the country, the country he loved and wanted to make better, fighting one of its most horrible practices: death penalty. And, as an Italian in New York, I feel we lost one of those "Italians" who make me very proud.

May you rest in peace Mr. Cuomo and my condolences to the governor Andrew Cuomo and the whole Cuomo's family.

  |   December 30, 2014    9:14 PM ET

UPPER DARBY, Pa. (AP) — A man who had posted an online video threatening to kill police and FBI agents tried to use his car to run down officers seeking to arrest him on Tuesday so, fearing for their lives, they shot and killed him, authorities said.

Police did not immediately identify the man, who was killed in Upper Darby, in suburban Philadelphia, as officers ordered him out of the car and he appeared ready to accelerate at them as they manned a blockade.

Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood said the officers feared the man would kill them and they "did what they had to do." He said five officers fired at the man and no officers were injured.

Police had secured an arrest warrant for the man after he threatened to kill police and FBI agents in the online video, Chitwood said. The man's death comes a little more than a week after a man who made similar threats shot two New York Police Department officers dead in their patrol car and then killed himself in a subway station.

Police said they began following the man after he left a home in nearby Clifton Heights. They said when officers stopped him at an intersection and ordered him out of the car, he reversed and slammed into a police vehicle and then prepared to run over other officers.

Officers opened fire, killing the man, Chitwood said. The man did not fire at police, and Chitwood said he did not know if the man had a weapon.

In the New York case, Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were ambushed on a Brooklyn street as they sat in their marked car on Dec. 20. Their attacker, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, had referenced in online posts the high-profile killings by white police officers of unarmed black men, specifically Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner on Staten Island. Soon after the officers' shooting Brinsley, who was black, killed himself.

Decisions by grand juries not to indict the officers involved in the killings of Brown and Garner have sparked protests around the nation, with demonstrators lying down in the streets as though they're dead. Many protesters have chanted "Hands up! Don't shoot!" a reference to their contention Brown's hands were raised when he was shot dead by police, and "I can't breathe," which Garner was heard saying on a video recording of his encounter with a policeman who put his arm around his neck.

On Sunday night, two men opened fire on a police car patrolling a tough part of Los Angeles, but the two officers inside were not injured and one was able to shoot back, authorities said. One suspect was later arrested, and the other was on the loose. Police haven't determined a motive for the shooting in South Los Angeles, an area plagued by gang violence, but said there were no indications it was linked to other attacks on police.

  |   December 30, 2014    9:14 PM ET

UPPER DARBY, Pa. (AP) — A man who had posted an online video threatening to kill police and FBI agents tried to use his car to run down officers seeking to arrest him on Tuesday so, fearing for their lives, they shot and killed him, authorities said.

Police did not immediately identify the man, who was killed in Upper Darby, in suburban Philadelphia, as officers ordered him out of the car and he appeared ready to accelerate at them as they manned a blockade.

Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood said the officers feared the man would kill them and they "did what they had to do." He said five officers fired at the man and no officers were injured.

Police had secured an arrest warrant for the man after he threatened to kill police and FBI agents in the online video, Chitwood said. The man's death comes a little more than a week after a man who made similar threats shot two New York Police Department officers dead in their patrol car and then killed himself in a subway station.

Police said they began following the man after he left a home in nearby Clifton Heights. They said when officers stopped him at an intersection and ordered him out of the car, he reversed and slammed into a police vehicle and then prepared to run over other officers.

Officers opened fire, killing the man, Chitwood said. The man did not fire at police, and Chitwood said he did not know if the man had a weapon.

In the New York case, Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were ambushed on a Brooklyn street as they sat in their marked car on Dec. 20. Their attacker, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, had referenced in online posts the high-profile killings by white police officers of unarmed black men, specifically Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner on Staten Island. Soon after the officers' shooting Brinsley, who was black, killed himself.

Decisions by grand juries not to indict the officers involved in the killings of Brown and Garner have sparked protests around the nation, with demonstrators lying down in the streets as though they're dead. Many protesters have chanted "Hands up! Don't shoot!" a reference to their contention Brown's hands were raised when he was shot dead by police, and "I can't breathe," which Garner was heard saying on a video recording of his encounter with a policeman who put his arm around his neck.

On Sunday night, two men opened fire on a police car patrolling a tough part of Los Angeles, but the two officers inside were not injured and one was able to shoot back, authorities said. One suspect was later arrested, and the other was on the loose. Police haven't determined a motive for the shooting in South Los Angeles, an area plagued by gang violence, but said there were no indications it was linked to other attacks on police.

AMANDA LEE MYERS   |   December 30, 2014    7:26 AM ET

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of law enforcement officers killed by firearms jumped by 56 percent this year and included 15 ambush deaths. But gun-related police deaths still remain far below historic highs and lower than the average annual figures in the past decade, according to a report released Tuesday.

The annual report by the nonprofit National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund found that 50 officers were killed by guns this year. That's higher than the 32 such deaths last year but the same as 2012 figures.

Pondering the Deeper Meanings of This Holy Season

Marian Wright Edelman   |   December 24, 2014    1:44 PM ET

After all the shopping and preparation for celebrating Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa, I hope we will stop and sit and think more deeply about their meaning in our over commercialized, trivialized, mass selling mania for and to children and deeply stressful time for so many. The poor baby in a manger is lost along with the poor babies crying out all over America for food, shelter, safety, and education in the jingle of cash registers, and the Christian belief that God entered history as a poor child is drowned out in the jungle of commerce and advertising.

Something is deeply awry in our nation with the world's biggest economy that lets its children be the poorest group and the younger they are the poorer they are during their years of greatest brain development. The Prince of Peace is mocked as we let a child be injured or killed by guns every thirty minutes. The growing boy Jesus who pondered and studied His heavenly Father's word would worry about the millions of children around America and the world growing up without an education - unable to read and compute - sentenced to social and economic death in a competitive and globalizing economy, and in America, to a mass incarceration system that will turn back the clock of racial progress unless dismantled.

Who are we and who do we want to be as Americans? What do we value? What values do we want to stand for and transmit to our children in our warring polarized world where the violence of poverty and guns snuff out the lives and dim the eyes and spirits of children and adults? I share here a few prayers for us to ponder as we enjoy our turkey and roast beef and prepare for a new year that I hope is joyful and fulfilling for all including those left behind.

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God, please stop injustice, the killing of innocent children by violence at home and in far away lands.

God, please stop injustice, the killing of innocent children by poverty at home and abroad.

God, please stop injustice, the assault on precious child dreams by neglect and apathy near and far.

God, please stop injustice, so our children may live and love and laugh and play again.

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O God, forgive and transform our rich nation where small babies die of cold quite legally.

O God, forgive and transform our rich nation where small children suffer from hunger quite legally.

O God, forgive and transform our rich nation where toddlers and school children die from guns sold quite legally.

O God, forgive and transform our rich nation that lets children be the poorest group of citizens quite legally.

O God, forgive and transform our rich nation that lets the rich continue to get more at the expense of the poor quite legally.

O God, forgive and transform our rich nation which thinks security rests in missiles and in bombs rather than in mothers and in babies.

O God, forgive and transform our rich nation for not giving You sufficient thanks by giving to others their daily bread.

O God, help us never to confuse what is quite legal with what is just and right in Your sight.

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God, is America's dream big enough for me? For the little Black boy born the wrong color in the wrong place to the wrong parents in some folks' sight?

God, is America's justice fair enough for me? For the little Brown or White girl labeled from birth as second best?

God, is America's economy open to us? For the many children who have to stay poor on the bottom so too few can stay rich on top?

God, does America have enough for me in a land of plenty for some, but of famine for others?

God, is America's dream large enough for me? I who am poor, average, disabled, girl, Black, Brown, Native American, White?

Is America for me?