Tuesday December 18, 2012

W.Va. Sen. Joe Manchin: Time for all sides to discuss gun legislation to protect children

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- Sen. Joe Manchin, an avid hunter and lifelong member of the National Rifle Association, says it’s time for all sides in the gun policy debate to move beyond the political rhetoric and begin an honest discussion about reasonable restrictions on guns.

The school shooting in Connecticut that killed 20 children has changed the dialogue, Manchin said.

"I’m not afraid to say, ‘Let’s talk about that,’" Manchin told reporters during a conference call Monday. "I’m not afraid of the political ramifications."

"You have people who want to use scare tactics and extremes and try to drive a wedge when we’re trying to have a dialogue," he said. "Don’t you think we should at least sit down and talk about it?"

The comments by the West Virginia Democrat came on the day of the first funerals for the Sandy Hook Elementary School students killed Friday.

Syrian vice president says army can’t defeat rebels, calls for negotiated settlement

BEIRUT (AP) -- Syria’s vice president has acknowledged that the army cannot defeat the rebel forces trying to topple the regime and called for a negotiated settlement to save the country from ruin.

The rare, candid comments by Farouk al-Sharaa, a longtime close aide to President Bashar Assad’s family, suggested his embattled regime may be contemplating an exit strategy as rebel forces move closer to the capital Damascus. He spoke in an interview published Monday by Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar.

"I don’t see that what the security forces and army units are doing will lead to a definitive victory," al-Sharaa was quoted as saying in the interview conducted in Damascus.

"All these opposition forces can only conclude the battle to topple the regime if their goal is to push the country into chaos and a cycle of violence that has no end," he added.

Al-Sharaa pushed for a negotiated political settlement that includes the formation of a national unity government with wide jurisdiction.

Rep. Tim Scott picked to replace Sen. Jim DeMint; 1st black GOP senator since Reconstruction

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- The man who will become the South’s first black Republican senator since Reconstruction said Monday his ascension in politics showed the evolution of his state and the nation.

Congressman Tim Scott was picked by fellow Republican Gov. Nikki Haley to take over the seat being vacated by Jim DeMint. Haley, a daughter of Indian immigrants who became South Carolina’s first female and minority governor in 2010, acknowledged making history with her appointment, but she stressed that she picked Scott for his conservative values.

"It is very important to me as a minority female, that Congressman Scott earned this seat, he earned this seat for the person he is, for the results he’s shown," she said. "He earned this seat for what I know he’s going to do in making South Carolina and our country proud."

Scott, 47, will be sworn in Jan. 3 to replace DeMint, who announced earlier this month he would forgo the remaining four years of his term to lead The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.

Scott’s selection culminates a fast rise through South Carolina politics. Just four years ago, he was chairman of the Charleston County Council. The 2008 election made him the first black Republican in the South Carolina Legislature in more than a century, and in 2010, he won his seat in the U.S. House from his conservative coastal district with 65 percent of the vote.