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Colorado state rep, Columbine survivor, pushes to end gun-free zones in schools

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Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, who was a Columbine High School sophomore at the time of the 1999 mass shooting, is pushing legislation that he says would protect students — by getting rid of gun restrictions in schools.

He has introduced the bill annually since he was elected in 2014, The Washington Times reported. Previous attempts have been turned down.

Neville, a Republican, told The Times the current law “creates a so-called gun free zone in every K-12 public school.”

Under Colorado law, concealed-carry permit holders may bring firearms onto school property, according to The Times, but must keep them locked inside their vehicles.

“Time and time again we point to the one common theme with mass shootings, they occur in gun-free zones,” Neville told The Times.

He added law-abiding citizens should be able “to defend themselves and most importantly our children from the worst-case scenarios.”

The massacre on Valentine’s Day of last week in Florida has renewed a nationwide debate about gun violence and how to prevent mass shootings.

Nikolas Cruz, 19, was suspected of opening fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where he was a former student, killing 17 people and injuring more than a dozen others.

Neville has contended, according to The Times, that more of his classmates would have survived the attack if faculty had been armed. In April 1999, two teens killed 12 fellow students and a teacher before killing themselves inside Columbine High School, in Littleton, Colorado.

The congressman’s office did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

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Boris Johnson announces one way road to freedom – end ‘really is in sight’

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Boris Johnson has pledged the end of Britain’s lockdown “really is in sight” after unveiling a four-stage plan to lift Covid restrictions by June 21. The Prime Minister yesterday vowed the country can move “cautiously but irreversibly towards reclaiming our freedoms” following the astonishing success of his vaccination plan.

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Biden squanders leverage Trump stockpiled on Iran in pursuit of a defective nuclear deal

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“We’re not going to prejudge.” State Department spokesperson Ned Price deployed this classic Washington euphemism last week to avoid responding to a question over how much culpability Iran and its Shiite militias bear for recent rocket attacks against a U.S. military base in northern Iraq. The strikes killed one contractor and wounded several other service persons, including Americans.

Biden’s approach draws directly from Obama’s playbook: turning a blind eye to regional aggression and offering economic relief to signal support for engagement.

Twice since then, rockets have been fired at positions affiliated with the U.S. presence in Iraq: a military base on Saturday and at the area around the U.S. Embassy complex in Baghdad on Monday. These strikes are not new. Since May 2019, Iran-backed militias have been behind at least 83 such strikes on U.S. positions, a damning pattern consistent with almost two decades of Iran-linked attacks against the U.S. in Iraq.

The administration’s refusal to directly call out this time-tested method of Iranian escalation also follows its public unwillingness to blame Hezbollah — Iran’s most deadly proxy group — when condemning the assassination of Lokman Slim, a prominent anti-Hezbollah activist, in an attack in Lebanon this month.

Why is the Biden administration not connecting the dots between the Islamic Republic of Iran and its proxies — and not doing more to publicly deter this behavior? Is it simply that the new administration is still finding its feet after just one month in office?

Possibly. But there is a better explanation.

President Joe Biden is actively signaling a change in approach from his predecessor. He wants to find a way back into the nuclear deal aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear program that his former boss, Barack Obama, concluded in 2015 only to have Donald Trump abandon in 2018.

The Biden administration’s strategy for getting Iran to play ball clearly involves making upfront concessions to Tehran, including de-linking the nuclear and regional threats it poses. In contrast, Trump’s “maximum pressure” policy was characterized by forthright condemnations and more direct responses to Iran-backed aggression. Team Trump also believed that sanctions relief should occur only in exchange for a wholesale change in behavior by the Islamic Republic that included nullifying its regional threats.

Biden’s approach draws directly from Obama’s playbook: turning a blind eye to regional aggression and offering economic relief to signal support for engagement to get back to the negotiating table. And it’s unfortunate, because the result is sure to be the same as before as well: an overly deferential and defective deal that offers Iran patient pathways to nuclear weapons because its restrictions eventually sunset, while handcuffing Washington from using its most powerful economic punishments and doing nothing to stop the improvement of the clerical regime’s warfighting abilities or that of its proxies.

It’s not just the willingness to overlook Iran’s role in recent attacks in the region that makes this clear. It’s that the Biden administration has done this while going out of its way to tempt Tehran to talk through a policy of unilateral concessions while continuing to declare American interest in renewed nuclear negotiations.

Absent any reciprocity, the Biden administration reversed the Trump administration’s restoration of U.N. penalties on Iran’s military-related procurement and proliferation activity. Moscow and Beijing will now be able to arm Tehran free of international censure and the Islamic Republic’s weapons proliferation activities will face fewer impediments. Also at the U.N., the State Department is easing travel restrictions on Iranian diplomats in New York. The regime in Iran has used its diplomatic personnel and facilities in the past to support terrorism.

Furthermore, the administration signaled that it doesn’t oppose a $5 billion International Monetary Fund loan to Iran. While ostensibly for Covid-19 relief, this windfall will fill the regime’s coffers with little accountability at a time when it’s down to less than $10 billion in foreign exchange reserves. The more cash Iran has on hand means the more it can fund its regional proxies and bolster its missile, military and nuclear programs, regardless of what the IMF money is designated for.

Price did speak of “consequences” for the recent rocket attack, and to be fair, Washington so far has maintained the bulk of the penalties Trump imposed on Iran. But Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s press release on the attack contained zero mentions of Iran, or any other indication of what type of concrete action would be taken.

Similarly, in Yemen, where Houthi rebels continue to fire drones and missiles at Saudi civilian targets, a recent State Department press release urging the rebels to end their assaults failed to mention Iran despite it providing the rebels with weapons and training. The Biden team even decided to remove the group from the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations — another missed opportunity for demanding reciprocity.

Unfortunately, we’ve seen this movie before. As the Obama administration courted Tehran for nuclear talks from 2012 to 2015, it restricted its counterterrorism and counternarcotics policies toward the regime’s proxies like Hezbollah. As Politico exposed in 2017, U.S. efforts against Hezbollah lessened as the importance of getting a nuclear deal with Iran grew.

The desire to achieve and maintain the Iran nuclear deal also had other negative regional effects. Some of those in the Obama administration arguing for a more robust Syria policy in support of protestors and against the atrocities of President Bashar al-Assad — Tehran’s man in Damascus — were overridden since targeting his regime would have necessarily aggravated the Islamic Republic.

Absent any reciprocity, the Biden administration reversed the Trump administration’s restoration of U.N. penalties on Iran’s military-related procurement and proliferation.

The Biden administration’s eagerness for diplomacy will likely be read by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as a vulnerability to exploit. And in response, Tehran will do what it has done for decades: intensify its aggression and only back down if presented with no other alternative.

Iran is watching Washington begin to dismantle maximum pressure in favor of “maximum diplomacy.” Absent a willingness to add to or even maintain existing sanctions, as well lacking broader efforts to tackle the clerical regime’s regional threat network, such an approach is indeed possible to prejudge: It will end in failure.



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Biden marks 500,000 Covid-19 deaths with poignant address to the nation

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President Joe Biden marked the grim milestone of 500,000 lives lost to the Covid-19 pandemic in a brief but poignant address to the nation Monday evening, drawing on his own personal tragedies as a rhetorical salve for a country still combating the deadly disease.

“That’s more Americans who’ve died in one year in this pandemic than in World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War combined. That’s more lives lost to this virus than any other nation on Earth,” Biden said. “But as we acknowledge the scale of this mass death in America, we remember each person and the life they lived.”

The president said he keeps a card in his pocket every day with the tally of those who have died from Covid-19.

“The people we lost were extraordinary,” Biden said. “We have to resist becoming numb to the sorrow.”

As Biden highlighted the hundreds of thousands who have perished, he also urged Americans to remember those still reeling from having lost loved ones.

Biden, who often draws on his personal losses when addressing national tragedies, compared their grief to what he experienced after the deaths of his first wife and infant daughter, as well as his eldest son Beau.

“I know what it’s like to not be there when it happens,” he said. “I know what it’s like when you are there, holding your hands, looking in their eyes as they slip away.”

“That’s how you heal, you have to remember. The day will come when the memory of the loved one you lost will bring a smile to your lips before a tear to your eye,” he added, saying that “for me the way through sorrow and grief is to find purpose.”

New Covid-19 cases have continued to plummet following a post-holiday peak. The U.S. has reported more than 100,000 new daily cases on only one of the last 14 days, a month after regularly number more than 200,000 new cases, according to NBC News data. Daily deaths are decreasing, too, but more slowly, still regularly eclipsing 2,000.

Before Biden ended his speech, he joined the first lady, vice president Kamala Harris and the second gentleman for a moment of silence ceremony. They were surrounded by 500 candles, each representing 1,000 lives lost to Covid-19. As the president bowed his head, the Marine band brass ensemble played Amazing Grace. After the music ended, Biden crossed himself and the officials reentered the White House.

Biden closed his remarks by urging Americans to work together to defeat the virus by following public health guidelines like social distancing and mask-wearing.

“We must end the politics and misinformation that’s divided families, communities in this country,” Biden said. This virus does not target Democrats or Republicans, he added, but all of our fellow Americans.

“Let this not be a story of how far we fell, but how far we climbed back up,” Biden said.

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