Obama embraces Orlando families, appeals for gun controls
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Embracing grieving Orlando families and appealing anew for national action, President Barack Obama claimed a threat to all Americans’ security Thursday as a strong reason to tighten U.S. gun laws. Counterterror campaigns overseas, he declared, can never prevent all “lone wolf” attacks like the one that killed 49 people in Orlando.
Speaking at a makeshift memorial to the victims, Obama said the massacre at a gay nightclub was evidence that “different steps” are needed to limit the damage a “deranged” person set on committing violence can do. He cheered on Democrats’ push for new gun control measures, including a new ban on assault weapons and stricter background checks.
Although he showed little hope the measures would find much support among most opponents, Obama seemed to be aiming for other lawmakers, perhaps Republican hawks eager to get behind counterterror campaigns but steadfastly opposed to gun restrictions.
Obama arrived as Orlando began the next stage of its grief — funerals all over town. A visitation for one victim, Javier Jorge-Reyes, on Wednesday night turned out a crowd of friends, family, drag queens and motorcyclists to pay their respects.
“We’re just here to spread love and joy and try to put an end to all the hate,” said Ezekiel Davis — or, as he’s known to some, Sister Anesthesia Beaverhausen. Obama could not miss other signs of a community coming together in tragedy. Hundreds of people gathered in 95-degree heat outside the Amway Center stadium where he met with families.
Sanders says he will work with Clinton to transform party
BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said Thursday in an address to his supporters that he will work with Hillary Clinton to transform the Democratic Party, adding that his “political revolution” must continue and ensure the defeat of Republican Donald Trump.
Sanders said in a capstone livestream address to his political followers that the major task they face is to “make certain” Trump is defeated. The Vermont senator said he plans to begin his role in that process “in a very short period of time.”
“But defeating Donald Trump cannot be our only goal. We must continue our grassroots efforts to create the America that we know we can become,” Sanders said, pointing to his 1,900 delegates at the upcoming Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
Sanders spoke from his Vermont hometown a week after Clinton secured enough pledged delegates and superdelegates to become the presumptive nominee. He did not concede the race, nor did he refer to Clinton as the likely nominee, instead offering a lengthy list of policy proposals he hopes to see approved by the party.
The two rivals met Tuesday night at a Washington, D.C., hotel to discuss policy goals and future plans. Sanders said that while it is “no secret” that he and Clinton have “strong disagreements on some very important issues,” it was “also true that our views are quite close on others.”
10 Things to Know for Friday
Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday:
1. WHY OBAMA SAYS GUN LAWS MUST BE TIGHTENED
The president argues counter-terrorism campaigns overseas will never be enough to prevent “lone wolf” attacks like the one that killed 49 people in Orlando.
2. GAY PRIDE PARADES BRACE FOR HUGE SECURITY PRESENCE
The processions around the United States in the coming weeks will be protected by more police officers in the wake of the mass shooting in a gay nightclub in Florida.
After fatal alligator attack, theme parks review policies
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — It’s an unwritten rule for Florida residents: Keep your kids away from ponds and lakes because alligators are everywhere.
But after a gator killed a 2-year-old Nebraska boy at a Walt Disney World resort, attention soon turned to tourists. In a state with an estimated 1 million alligators, how should theme parks and other attractions warn visitors, and did Disney do enough?
Disney beaches remained closed Thursday after the death of Lane Graves, and the company said it has decided to add alligator warning signs, which it previously did not have around park waters.
Jacquee Wahler, vice president of Walt Disney World Resort, said in a statement that the resort was also “conducting a swift and thorough review of all of our processes and protocols.”
Local law enforcement and state wildlife officials publicly praised the company for spotting and removing nuisance gators from park waters.
British Labour lawmaker dies after shooting attack
LONDON (AP) — A lawmaker who campaigned for Britain to stay in the European Union was killed Thursday by a gun- and knife-wielding attacker in her small-town constituency, a tragedy that brought the country’s fierce, divisive referendum campaign to a shocked standstill.
Jo Cox, a 41-year-old Labour Party legislator who praised the contribution of immigrants to Britain and championed the cause of war-scarred Syrian refugees, was attacked outside a library in Birstall, northern England, after a regular meeting with constituents.
Police would not speculate on the attacker’s motive, but Clarke Rothwell, who runs a cafe near the scene of the slaying, told the BBC and Britain’s Press Association that the assailant shouted “Britain first!” several times. Police did not confirm that account.
Witnesses described a man shooting Cox several times and then stabbing her as she lay on the pavement. Police said they had arrested a 52-year-old man and were not looking for anyone else.
“Our working presumption … is that this is a lone incident,” said Dee Collins, acting chief constable of West Yorkshire Police.
Jo Cox remembered as tireless campaigner and aid worker
Jo Cox fought against poverty and discrimination in developing countries, worked in Parliament for a solution to the civil war in Syria and campaigned for Britain to remain in the European Union. In charity work and politics, she took up causes across the globe, from some of the world’s most dangerous countries to her home constituency in Yorkshire.
“I’ve been in some horrific situations where women have been raped repeatedly in Darfur. I’ve been with child soldiers who have been given Kalashnikovs and kill members of their own family in Uganda,” the Labour Party lawmaker told the Yorkshire Post last December. “That’s the thing that all of that experience gave me — if you ignore a problem it gets worse.”
Cox was killed Thursday by a gun- and knife wielding attacker in her small-town constituency, one week before what would have been her 42nd birthday.
A day earlier she had campaigned on the River Thames in London with her husband and two young children. Her husband, Brendan Cox, posted images on Twitter of the family in an inflatable dinghy, waving a flag supporting continued British EU membership ahead of the June 23 referendum.
“Jo believed in a better world and she fought for it every day of her life with an energy and a zest for life that would exhaust most people,” Brendan Cox, said in a statement Thursday after her death was announced by police.
Philadelphia is 1st major American city with soda tax
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Philadelphia became the first major American city with a soda tax on Thursday despite a multimillion-dollar campaign by the beverage industry to block it.
The City Council gave final approval to a 1.5 cent-per-ounce tax on sugary and diet beverages. The tax is set to take effect Jan. 1.
Only Berkeley, California, has a similar law. Soda tax proposals have failed in more than 30 cities and states in recent years, including twice in Philadelphia. Such plans are typically criticized as disproportionately affecting the poor, who are more likely to consume sugary drinks.
Democratic Mayor Jim Kenney sold the council on the idea with a plan to spend most of the estimated $90 million in new tax revenue next year to pay for prekindergarten, community schools and recreation centers.
“Thanks to the tireless advocacy of educators, parents, rec center volunteers and so many others, Philadelphia made a historic investment in our neighborhoods and in our education system today,” he said.
Congress stalemated on guns despite shooting, filibuster
WASHINGTON (AP) — The slaughter in Florida and an attention-grabbing filibuster in the Senate did little to break the election-year stalemate in Congress over guns Thursday, with both sides unwilling to budge and Republicans standing firm against any new legislation opposed by the National Rifle Association.
Democrats renewed their call to action after Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., held the floor along with colleagues in a nearly 15-hour filibuster that lasted into the early hours Thursday.
“We can’t just wait, we have to make something happen,” said Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., at an emotional news conference where Democrats joined family members of people killed in recent mass shootings. “These are people bound by brutality, and their numbers are growing.”
But Republicans were coolly dismissive of Democrats’ demands. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., derided Murphy’s filibuster as a “campaign talk-a-thon” that did nothing but delay potential votes.
Noting that a few Democrats had skipped a classified briefing on the Florida nightclub shooting to participate in the filibuster, McConnell chided: “It’s hard to think of a clearer contrast for serious work for solutions on the one hand, and endless partisan campaigning on the other.”
Dray Day: Green vows to be better for Warriors in Game 6
CLEVELAND (AP) — For all the criticism of Golden State’s Draymond Green and his penchant for committing flagrant fouls during these playoffs, Wednesday may have brought the harshest words yet.
The critic: Green himself.
Saying he let the Warriors down and that he was a “terrible teammate,” Green spoke on how it pained him to be suspended for Game 5 of the NBA Finals — and how he will make amends Thursday night in Game 6, when the Warriors visit the Cleveland Cavaliers and get a second shot at winning what would be their second straight championship.
“I owe to my teammates to come back and give all that I have, all that I can do to better this situation,” Green said. “I have strong belief that if I play Game 5, we win. But I didn’t because I put myself in a situation where I wasn’t able to play.”
Golden State leads the series 3-2, but now knows it will play the rest of the series without starting center Andrew Bogut because of a left knee injury. Green — who missed Game 5 because of how many flagrants he has accrued during the playoffs — will be called upon to play some center in Game 6, as he has plenty of times in this postseason already.
In internal document, US officials demand Syria action
WASHINGTON (AP) — Dozens of State Department employees have endorsed an internal document that advocates U.S. military action to pressure Syria’s government into accepting a cease-fire and engaging in peace talks, officials said Thursday. The position is at odds with U.S. policy.
The “dissent channel cable” was signed about 50 mostly mid-level department officials who deal with U.S. policy in Syria, according to officials who have seen the document. It expresses clear frustration with America’s inability to halt a civil war that has killed perhaps a half-million people and contributed to a worldwide refugee crisis, and goes to the heart of President Barack Obama’s reluctance to enter the fray.
Obama called for regime change early on in the conflict and threatened military strikes against Syrian forces after blaming President Bashar Assad for using chemical weapons in 2013. But Obama only has authorized strikes against the Islamic State and other U.S.-designated terror groups in Syria.
While Washington has provided military assistance to some anti-Assad rebels, it has favored diplomacy over armed intervention as a means of ushering Syria’s leader out of power. A series of partial cease-fires in recent months have only made the war slightly less deadly, and offered little hope of a peace settlement.
The dissent document was transmitted internally in a confidential form and since has been classified, said officials, who weren’t authorized to discuss such material and insisted on anonymity. The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times both quoted from the document Thursday, saying they had seen or obtained copies.