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Condoleezza Rice says US needs to consider Second Amendment’s place in ‘modern world’

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This month’s massacre in Parkland, Fla., seems like a key moment in the nation’s ongoing debate about the Second Amendment, former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said during a radio interview Friday.

“I think it is time to have a conversation about what the right to bear arms means in the modern world,” Rice told radio host Hugh Hewitt on Friday. “I don’t understand why civilians need to have access to military weapons. We wouldn’t say you can go out and buy a tank.”

More specifically, Rice said weapons like the AR-15 rifle that authorities say shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz, 19, used to kill 17 students and teachers Feb. 14, shouldn’t be available to civilians, the Washington Times reported.

NIKOLAS CRUZ CHARGED IN FLORIDA SCHOOL SHOOTING

But Rice, who served under President George W. Bush, made clear that she remains a believer in the Second Amendment.

“We can’t throw away the Second Amendment and keep the First,” she said, adding that she considers the first two amendments to the Constitution to be “indivisible.”

“We can’t throw away the Second Amendment and keep the First.”

– Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. secretary of state

Hewitt then asked if Rice — being an educator herself as a political science professor at Stanford University — supports the idea of teachers carrying guns as a deterrent to potential campus shootings.

Rice said she doesn’t think that is “going to be the answer,” the Washington Times reported.

“I don’t really like the idea, frankly, of a gun in my classroom,” she said.

Rather, she supports looking to law enforcement and guards as ways for protection.

Rice, 63, was exposed to senseless violence at an early age, having grown up in Birmingham, Ala., where the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963 resulted in the deaths of four young girls. She has written and spoken frequently about the impression the horrific event made on her.

She told Hewitt that despite her reservations about weapons in the classroom, the proposal merited a serious discussion.

“Look, if people need to train people to protect our schools, and perhaps even communities want to consider whether or not they need guards to protect the schools, it’s a sad thing to think that we might, then that’s something that we should look at,” Rice said.

She told Hewitt that talking across “our differences is extremely important” and that communities have to “pull together.”

“We have to start listening to each other, first and foremost,” Rice said of the people from all sides of the debate on gun control.

Click here for Hugh Hewitt’s full interview with Condoleezza Rice.

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Democrats harden position on infrastructure deal as doubts grow on bipartisan deal

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WASHINGTON — Progressive Democrats working on a bipartisan infrastructure deal hardened their position on the legislation after tense talks Monday.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., a member of the Senate Democrats leadership team, came out against a bipartisan agreement Monday night after meeting with a bipartisan group of 10 senators.

“I wouldn’t vote for it,” Sanders told reporters. “The bottom line is, there are a lot of needs facing this country. Now is the time to address those needs, and it has to be paid for in a progressive way, given the fact that we have massive income and wealth inequality in America.”

Last week, the so-called G10 group of five Democrats and five Republicans said they had reached a tentative infrastructure deal, but skepticism from Republicans and impatience from Democrats left its prospects uncertain as lawmakers departed for the weekend.

Democratic Sens. Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Jeff Merkley of Oregon have demanded that any deal must include action on climate change. The senators plan to hold a news conference Tuesday to call on lawmakers to include substantive climate action in the infrastructure proposal, such as investments to reduce emissions.

Some Democrats have tried to pressure their leadership to abandon bipartisan talks and instead push through a partisan bill, but there’s no guarantee that there are 50 Democratic votes for that tactic, either. And with each Democratic vote appearing to be in jeopardy, another Republican would need to vote in favor.

That means the bipartisan group will need to secure more than 10 Republicans to get its proposal across the finish line. Many in the Republican conference are still bitter over negotiations between President Joe Biden and their chief negotiator, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., breaking down earlier this month.

The group of lawmakers huddled Monday night to flesh out details of their plan. But leaving the half-hour meeting, senators were sending mixed signals to reporters staked out.

“There are still conversations on the pay-fors,” Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., said. “There is no agreement.”

The lawmakers didn’t seem to be on the same page about whether a gas tax would help pay for the infrastructure proposal. Republicans said it was part of the plan, while Democrats said it wasn’t. The White House opposes the idea, saying it would lead to tax increases on the middle class.

However, several senators said they plan to release their proposal with details this week — an ambitious goal for a group that seems to have disagreements on key issues. Both sides plan to present the plan during their respective lunches tomorrow afternoon, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said.



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Biden on Russia’s ‘aggressive acts’ that post threat to NATO

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G-7 nations pledge major climate action, with key details missing

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WASHINGTON — Leaders of the G-7 club of wealthy nations took major symbolic strides toward solidifying global climate action at their U.K. summit, but stopped short of detailing how to confront two of the most pressing challenges: phasing out coal and financing the developing world’s energy transition.

With palpable relief after four years of former President Donald Trump, G-7 leaders heaped praise on President Joe Biden and sought to marry their own climate efforts to his domestic political agenda, coalescing under the umbrella of “build back better.” They also rallied behind a pledge to conserve 30 percent of lands and oceans by 2030, a goal Biden had already set for the United States.

“You know, we had a president last who basically said, ‘It’s not a problem, global warming,'” Biden said in a news conference capping his trip to the summit in Cornwall, England. “It is the existential problem facing humanity, and it’s been treated that way.”

But climate analysts, eyeing the G-7’s commitment to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, emerged from the summit vexed over the failure to commit to specific steps broadly acknowledged as essential to meeting that goal. Continued burning of coal to generate power, for example, is widely accepted to be counterproductive to averting climate change’s worst effects.

“These are the seven countries that have to lead from the front,” said Rachel Kyte, the World Bank’s former special envoy for climate and dean of Tufts University’s Fletcher School. Borrowing a phrase from the ongoing European soccer championship, she added: “It was an open goal, and they missed.”

The U.S. and its G-7 allies did re-up their pledge, first made in 2009, to collectively contribute $100 billion per year by 2020 to help poorer nations reduce emissions and fortify themselves against the growing effects of climate change. That $100 billion goal was never met. But the nations recommitted to that figure anyway, while extending the timeline for reaching it to 2025.

Yet, the joint communiqué that codifies the agreements reached at the summit included no new specific commitments for how countries would reach that figure. The U.S. is billions behind in actually writing checks for pledges it has made in the past.

“They restated a goal that’s been there for a decade, but they didn’t provide clarity about how that was going to be achieved,” said David Waskow, international climate director for the nonprofit World Resources Institute.

Some more hopeful signs did emerge in the hours after the summit ended, with Canada announcing it would double its annual pledge to $4.4 billion in U.S. dollars by 2025, and Germany saying it would triple it during that period, to more than $7 billion.

“That’s really good to see,” said Rachel Cleetus of the Union of Concerned Scientists. The United States, by contrast, “did not put any clear ambition on the table” with respect to global financing, she added.

The G-7 nations did put to paper a pledge to halve their emissions by 2030 and zero them out from their economies by 2050. That marked progress since the most recent G-7 summits, but did not move the ball from what countries including the U.S. have already committed. The United Kingdom and the European Union, in fact, have already pledged to cut much more on an even faster timeline.

And while the leaders vowed to “accelerate the transition away from new sales of diesel and petrol cars” to promote electric vehicles, they did not set a deadline to phase out gas-guzzling vehicles, as some countries before the summit had hoped.

On coal-fired power plants, the G-7 nations did set a deadline of next year to stop financing “unabated international thermal coal power generation.” That’s significant, considering that the world’s largest emitter, China, continues to fund new coal plants overseas.

Yet, the careful phrasing from the G-7 leaders leaves wiggle room to keep financing coal plants that use carbon capture technology to sequester and store carbon dioxide emitted from burning coal.

Perhaps the most glaring omission from the G-7 climate agreement, environmental advocates said, was the lack of any deadline for when nations will stop burning coal at home.

When the environmental ministers for the nations met virtually in May to lay the groundwork for this month’s summit, they jointly committed to achieving an “overwhelmingly decarbonized power system in the 2030s,” technical-speak for saying heavily polluting coal plants would be phased out by the end of the next decade.

But when Biden and other leaders emerged from the meeting, that language was absent from their communiqué, which instead pledged merely to “further accelerate the transition away from unabated coal capacity” without specifying a date.

Jason Bordoff, a White House National Security Council official in the Obama administration, said criticism of the Biden administration over that point was misplaced, given that Biden has already set a goal for U.S. electricity to be carbon-neutral by 2035. That goal broadly assumes phasing out coal anyway, along with cleaner-burning sources like natural gas.

“All the growth in coal use is in emerging markets and developing economies, so the G-7 agreement not to finance new coal projects is very significant, along with the pledge of assistance to help nations move away from fossil fuels,” said Bordoff, founding director of Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy.

Still, the G-7 summit in Cornwall may have been the last, best chance for the world’s wealthiest democracies to increase their leverage over China and other major emitters by uniting behind specific, joint goals well ahead of November. That is when leaders will gather in Scotland for a much-anticipated U.N. climate conference.

All of the remaining venues for high-level global diplomacy before that conference — including September’s U.N. General Assembly in New York and October’s G-20 summit in Rome — will include China.

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