11:55: President Obama and VP Biden hold an event at the White House to unveil a package of proposals to reduce gun violence
Washington Post: President Obama on Wednesday will formally announce the most aggressive and expansive national gun-control agenda in generations as he presses Congress to mandate background checks for all firearms buyers and prohibit assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips.
…. Obama will begin this effort Wednesday in the presence of children who wrote him letters after last month’s mass shooting at a grade school in Newtown….
In addition to background checks and restrictions on military-style guns and ammunition magazines, Obama is expected to propose mental health and school safety initiatives such as more federal funding for police officers in schools….
….. the proposals amount to the most comprehensive federal regulations of the firearms industry since 1968, when President Lyndon B. Johnson acted in the aftermath of high-profile assassinations…..
BBC: The mother of a British boy shot in the Newtown school massacre has wept as she told how she learned of his death. Dylan Hockley, six, was one of 20 children and six teachers killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, Connecticut, on 14 December.
Speaking to BBC News, Dylan’s mother Nicole recalled “shaking” and not being able to stop as police revealed their son was among the gunman’s victims …. Dylan’s body was found in the embrace of his classroom assistant, Anne Marie Murphy.
…. Mr Hockley urged Washington to act on a number of different areas, saying: “The unthinkable has happened. All the shootings that have come before have indeed been terrible tragedies, but now it’s sunk so low that very small children have now been the target of this.
“How could it possibly get worse? If they cannot address this now, it’s as if they think they can never address it and they will give up and this will go on.”
Michael Tomasky: The NRA’s new ad is beyond anything we’ve seen, in political propaganda terms, in the modern history of this country….
…. It’s designed to make people who despise the president despise him even more; and it’s designed to make them despise his children, 14 and 11 years old, because they live a cosseted life that you and your kids don’t; they are ergo elitist hypocrites just like their father.
It’s not even the logic, though, that’s most disturbing … Just mentioning the president’s daughters in an ad full of violent imagery and sounds – silhouettes of assault rifles, profiles of heavily armed soldiers, martial music – is an invitation to certain viewers to make certain mental connections. I’ll stop there. But it’s really a shocking thing…..
Josh Marshall (TPM): It takes a lot for the NRA to shock. But this is just beyond disgusting …. There are so many vile things about this ad. But one thing to note is the ad is really only designed to appeal to people who have a deep – really deep – animosity toward the President. The sort of people who don’t think he and his daughters should be in the White House and wish him the sort of ill citizens should never wish upon a freely elected head of state.
Mark Glaze, director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns tells TPM: “At some point the NRA’s Washington lobbyists may realize that this kind of thing is making them irrelevant. It does nothing but offend the reasonable people who make up the bulk of their country – and the bulk of their own membership.”
Economy Watch: Retail sales rose more than expected in December as Americans shrugged off the threat of higher taxes and bought automobiles and a range of other goods, suggesting momentum in consumer spending as the year ended….
Economy Watch: For nine straight months, national home prices have been in the positive, and the gains are only getting larger. The latest reading for November shows a 7.4 percent jump from a year ago, according to CoreLogic. That includes sale prices of distressed properties, bank-owned homes and short sales. This is the largest year-over-year jump since 2006 when we were at the height of the housing boom
Chicago Sun-Times: The Chicago Public Library today unveiled artist Steve Musgrave’s new portrait of President Obama to celebrate the upcoming inauguration …. the portrait reflects Obama’s efforts as a community organizer in the South Side Chicago neighborhood prior to seeking public office.
…. the portrait features images of people who have influenced the president’s life including his First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia, his mother and grandmother, Martin Luther King Jr., Frederick Douglass, Rosa Parks, Harold Washington, David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett, among others.
President Barack Obama talks with Kathryn Ruemmler, Counsel to the President, in the Outer Oval Office, Jan 15, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)