Thursday, March 28, 2013

Study estimates Obamacare could raise individual claim costs 32 percent

Actuaries groups offers sobering look at the rising costs for individual insurance coverage plans under Obama health law

UPDATED 22:58 PM EDT, March 26, 2013 | BY John Solomon

One of the nation's premier experts in numbers has a tough diagnosis for President Barack Obama's health care law.

In a report that could prove a big political headache for the administration, the Society of Actuaries estimated Tuesday that insurers will have to pay out an average of 32 percent more for claims on individual health policies under the Affordable Care Act, a cost likely to be passed on to consumers.

While some areas will see declines in medical claims costs, the report predicts the majority of states will see double-digit increases in their individual health insurance markets, where people purchase coverage directly from insurers rather than get coverage from employers.

By 2017, the estimated increase would be 62 percent for California, about 80 percent in Ohio and Wisconsin, more than 20 percent for Florida and 67 percent for Maryland. Much of the reason for the higher claims costs is that sicker people are expected to join the pool, the report said.

The report did not make similar estimates for employer plans, the mainstay for workers and their families. That's because the primary impact of Obama's law is on people who don't have coverage through their jobs.

The report also predicts the law will reduce the number of Americans without health insurance from 16.6 percent to between as low as 6.6 percent after three years.

The Associated Press has a good summary of the debate the report generated. Here's what AP had to say:

The administration questions the design of the study, saying it focused only on one piece of the puzzle and ignored cost relief strategies in the law such as tax credits to help people afford premiums and special payments to insurers who attract an outsize share of the sick. The study also doesn't take into account the potential price-cutting effect of competition in new state insurance markets that will go live on Oct. 1, administration officials said.

At a White House briefing on Tuesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said some of what passes for health insurance today is so skimpy it can't be compared to the comprehensive coverage available under the law. "Some of these folks have very high catastrophic plans that don't pay for anything unless you get hit by a bus," she said. "They're really mortgage protection, not health insurance."

A prominent national expert, recently retired Medicare chief actuary Rick Foster, said the report does "a credible job" of estimating potential enrollment and costs under the law, "without trying to tilt the answers in any particular direction."

"Having said that," Foster added, "actuaries tend to be financially conservative, so the various assumptions might be more inclined to consider what might go wrong than to anticipate that everything will work beautifully." 
Actuaries use statistics and economic theory to make long-range cost projections for insurance and pension programs sponsored by businesses and government. The society is headquartered near Chicago.

Kristi Bohn, an actuary who worked on the study, acknowledged it did not attempt to estimate the effect of subsidies, insurer competition and other factors that could mitigate cost increases. She said the goal was to look at the underlying cost of medical care.

"Claims cost is the most important driver of health care premiums," she said.

"We don't see ourselves as a political organization," Bohn added. "We are trying to figure out what the situation at hand is."

On the plus side, the report found the law will cover more than 32 million currently uninsured Americans when fully phased in. And some states — including New York and Massachusetts — will see double-digit declines in costs for claims in the individual market.

Uncertainty over costs has been a major issue since the law passed three years ago, and remains so just months before a big push to cover the uninsured gets rolling Oct. 1. Middle-class households will be able to purchase subsidized private insurance in new marketplaces, while low-income people will be steered to Medicaid and other safety net programs. States are free to accept or reject a Medicaid expansion also offered under the law.

Obama has promised that the new law will bring costs down. That seems a stretch now. While the nation has been enjoying a lull in health care inflation the past few years, even some former administration advisers say a new round of cost-curbing legislation will be needed.

Bohn said the study overall presents a mixed picture.

Millions of now-uninsured people will be covered as the market for directly purchased insurance more than doubles with the help of government subsidies. The study found that market will grow to more than 25 million people. But costs will rise because spending on sicker people and other high-cost groups will overwhelm an influx of younger, healthier people into the program.

Some of the higher-cost cases will come from existing state high-risk insurance pools. Those people will now be able to get coverage in the individual insurance market, since insurance companies will no longer be able to turn them down. Other people will end up buying their own plans because their employers cancel coverage. While some of these individuals might save money for themselves, they will end up raising costs for others.

Part the reason for the wide disparities in the study is that states have different populations and insurance rules. In the relatively small number of states where insurers were already restricted from charging higher rates to older, sicker people, the cost impact is less.

"States are starting from different starting points, and they are all getting closer to one another," said Bohn.

The study also did not model the likely patchwork results from some states accepting the law's Medicaid expansion while others reject it. It presented estimates for two hypothetical scenarios in which all states either accept or reject the expansion.

Larry Levitt, an insurance expert with the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, reviewed the report and said the actuaries need to answer more questions.

"I'd generally characterize it as providing useful background information, but I don't think it's complete enough to be treated as a projection," Levitt said. The conclusion that employers with sicker workers would drop coverage is "speculative," he said.

Another caveat: The Society of Actuaries contracted Optum, a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group, to do the number-crunching that drives the report. United also owns the nation's largest health insurance company. Bohn said the study reflects the professional conclusions of the society, not Optum or its parent company.


AP White House Correspondent Julie Pace contributed to this report.


Society of Actuaries __

Before and after: Washington state slide puts homes at risk

A landslide devastated one home, leaving others at risk and altering a quarter mile of scenic coastline about 50 miles north of Seattle.

 Before and after: Whidbey Island landslide in Washington state
Image: Before and after: An aerial photo shows an area near Coupeville, Wash. on Whidbey Island in 2006 and on Wednesday, March 27, after a landslide. The slide severely damaged one home and isolated or threatened more than 30 others on the island, about 50 miles north of Seattle in Puget Sound. No one was reported injured in the slide, which happened at about 4 a.m. Wednesday.
<font color="#cc0000">•</font><a href="" target="_blank"><u> Washington island landslide still a threat</u></a>
Image: Before and after: An aerial photo shows an area near Coupeville, Wash. on Whidbey Island in 2006 and on Wednesday, March 27, after a landslide. The slide severely damaged one home and isolated or threatened more than 30 others on the island, about 50 miles north of Seattle in Puget Sound. No one was reported injured in the slide, which happened at about 4 a.m. Wednesday.
<font color="#cc0000">•</font><a href="" target="_blank"><u> Washington island landslide still a threat</u></a>
Left: Washington Department of Ecology; Right: AP

Before and after: An aerial photo shows an area near Coupeville, Wash. on Whidbey Island in 2006 and on Wednesday, March 27, after a landslide. The slide severely damaged one home and isolated or threatened more than 30 others on the island, about 50 miles north of Seattle in Puget Sound. No one was reported injured in the slide, which happened at about 4 a.m. Wednesday.

Shadow of Roe v. Wade Looms Over Ruling on Gay Marriage

WASHINGTON — When the Supreme Court hears a pair of cases on same-sex marriage on Tuesday and Wednesday, the justices will be working in the shadow of a 40-year-old decision on another subject entirely: Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that established a constitutional right to abortion.
Judges, lawyers and scholars have drawn varying lessons from that decision, with some saying that it was needlessly rash and created a culture war.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a liberal and a champion of women’s rights, has long harbored doubts about the ruling.
“It’s not that the judgment was wrong, but it moved too far, too fast,” she said last year at Columbia Law School.
Briefs from opponents of same-sex marriage, including one from 17 states, are studded with references to the aftermath of the abortion decision and to Justice Ginsburg’s critiques of it. They say the lesson from the Roe decision is that states should be allowed to work out delicate matters like abortion and same-sex marriage for themselves.
“They thought they were resolving a contentious issue by taking it out of the political process but ended up perpetuating it,” John C. Eastman, the chairman of the National Organization for Marriage and a law professor at Chapman University, said of the justices who decided the abortion case. “The lesson they should draw is that when you are moving beyond the clear command of the Constitution, you should be very hesitant about shutting down a political debate.”
Justice Ginsburg has suggested that the Supreme Court in 1973 should have struck down only the restrictive Texas abortion law before it and left broader questions for another day. The analogous approach four decades later would be to strike down California’s ban on same-sex marriage but leave in place prohibitions in about 40 other states.
But Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., a lawyer for the two couples challenging California’s ban, said the Roe ruling was a different case on a different subject and arose in a different political and social context. The decision was “a bolt out of the blue,” he said, and it had not been “subject to exhaustive public discussion, debate and support, including by the president and other high-ranking government officials from both parties.”
“Roe was written in a way that allowed its critics to argue that the court was creating out of whole cloth a brand new constitutional right,” Mr. Boutrous said. “But recognition of the fundamental constitutional right to marry dates back over a century, and the Supreme Court has already paved the way for marriage equality by deciding two landmark decisions protecting gay citizens from discrimination.”
The author of the majority opinions in those two cases, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, seemed to address the new ones in wary terms in remarks this month in Sacramento.
“A democracy should not be dependent for its major decisions on what nine unelected people from a narrow legal background have to say,” he said.
In Justice Ginsburg’s account, set out in public remarks and law review articles, the broad ruling in the abortion case froze activity in state legislatures, created venomous polarization and damaged the authority of the court.
“The legislatures all over the United States were moving on this question,” Justice Ginsburg said at Princeton in 2008. “The law was in a state of flux.”
“The Supreme Court’s decision was a perfect rallying point for people who disagreed with the notion that it should be a woman’s choice,” she added. “They could, instead of fighting in the trenches legislature by legislature, go after this decision by unelected judges.”
That general view is widely accepted across the political spectrum, and it might counsel caution at a moment when same-sex marriage is allowed in nine states and the District of Columbia and seems likely, judging from polls, to make further gains around the nation.
“Intervening at this stage of a social reform movement would be somewhat analogous to Roe v. Wade, where the court essentially took the laws deregulating abortion in four states and turned them into a constitutional command for the other 46,” Michael J. Klarman, a law professor at Harvard, wrote in a recent book, “From the Closet to the Altar: Courts, Backlash and the Struggle for Same-Sex Marriage.” Mr. Klarman was a law clerk to Justice Ginsburg when she served on the federal appeals court in Washington.
But an article that will appear in Discourse, an online legal journal published by The UCLA Law Review, proposes a different account. “The Roe-centered backlash narrative, it seems, is the trump card in many discussions of the marriage cases,” wrote Linda Greenhouse, a former New York Times reporter who covered the court and now teaches at Yale Law School, and Reva B. Siegel, a law professor there.
“Before Roe,” they wrote, “despite broad popular support, liberalization of abortion law had all but come to a halt in the face of concerted opposition by a Catholic-led minority. It was, in other words, decidedly not the case that abortion reform was on an inevitable march forward if only the Supreme Court had stayed its hand.”
After the decision, they added, “political realignment better explains the timing and shape of political polarization around abortion than does a court-centered story of backlash.”
In an interview, Professor Siegel said court decisions concerning same-sex marriage had played a valuable role.
“It is nearly two decades since courts in Hawaii, Massachusetts and other states began a national conversation about marriage,” she said. “There has been over the course of this long period a dramatic, revolutionary change in popular understanding of marriage equality. Courts can inspire resistance but also can teach.”
Professor Klarman said it was not clear that a decision requiring same-sex marriage throughout the nation would give rise to the kind of sharp opposition that followed the abortion ruling.
“For abortion opponents, abortion is murder, which means the intensity of their commitment to resisting Roe was considerable,” he said in an interview. “For the gay marriage opponent in, say, Mississippi, how will their lives change if the openly gay couple living down the street can now obtain a marriage license?”
There is a range of possible outcomes in the case on California’s ban on same sex marriage, Hollingsworth v. Perry, No. 12-144. The court could uphold the ban; reject it on grounds that apply only to California or only to eight states; or establish a nationwide right to marriage equality. Or the court could say it is powerless to render a decision on the merits.
That last option would follow from the odd path the case took through the courts. After a trial judge struck down the California ban, from the voter initiative Proposition 8, and entered judgment against state officials, the officials declined to appeal. Supporters of Proposition 8 did appeal, but it is not clear that they have suffered an injury direct enough to give them standing to appeal.
The trial court’s judgment came in 2010 from Judge Vaughn R. Walker of the Federal District Court in San Francisco. During closing arguments in the case, Judge Walker made it clear that he, too, was working in the shadow of the abortion ruling. He said the Roe case “has plagued our politics for 30 years” because “the Supreme Court has ultimately constitutionalized something that touches upon highly sensitive social issues.”
“Isn’t the danger,” Judge Walker asked Theodore B. Olson, a lawyer for the two couples challenging the ban, “not that you are going to lose this case, either here or at the court of appeals or at the Supreme Court, but that you might win it?”

How the Court Could Rule on Same-Sex Marriage

The Supreme Court heard arguments on Tuesday and Wednesday in two cases about same-sex marriage. While Tuesday’s argument on California’s ban on gay marriage was murky, Wednesday’s case was more clear, as the justices seemed ready to strike down a central part of the Defense of Marriage Act that bans federal benefits to gay spouses.

Obama habla de inmigración

Noticiero Telemundo

March 27, 2013
El presidente Obama sobre lo que está haciendo para apoyar la reforma migratoria

Guns, knives, ammo and gear: Adam Lanza's arsenal, item by item

Search warrants released Thursday laid bare the extent of Newtown school massacre suspect Adam Lanza's arsenal. Here is a catalog of the weaponry found at the school where 20 children and six staffers were killed and at the home he shared with his mother, who was also murdered:

At the school:

1 Bushmaster .223 caliber model XM15 rifle with a 30-round magazine

1 Glock 10mm handgun

1 9mm Sig Sauer P226 handgun

1 Saiga 12 shotgun with two magazines containing 70 rounds

6 30-round magazines, three of them emptied

At the home:


1 Enfield bolt-action .323 rifle

1 Savage Mark II .22 caliber rifle with magazine, 3 live rounds, 1 spent cartridge

1 black marksman BB gun


5 Winchester 12-gauge shotgun shells cut open, with buckshot

1 white plastic bag with 30 Winchester 12-gauge shotgun shells

1 can with .22 caliber and .45 caliber bullets

8 boxes of Winchester Windcat .22 caliber bullets, 50 rounds per box

20 "Estate" 12-gauge shotgun shells

4 boxes of SB buckshot 12-gauge, 10 round per box

1 box of Lightfield 12-gauge slugs

1 box of 20 Prvi Partizan 303 British rifle cartridges

1 box of 20 Federal 303 British rifle cartridges

2 boxes of .22 long rifle Blazer rounds, 50 each box

1 box with numerous rounds of Winchester .45 caliber bullets

2 boxes of 50 rounds of PPU .45 caliber automatic

1 box of 20 rounds for Remington .223 caliber

3 boxes of Blazer 40 S&W, 50 rounds each

2 boxes of Winchester 5.56 mm, 20 rounds each

1 box of Magtech 45ACP with 30 rounds

1 empty Box of SSA 5.56 mm

1 box of Fiocchi .45 auto with 48 rounds

80 rounds of CCI .22 long rifle

6 boxes of PMC .223 rem, 20 rounds each

6 Winchester 9 pellet buckshot shells, 12-gauge

2 Remington 12-gauge slugs

3 Winchester .223 rifle rounds

31 .22 caliber rounds

2 boxes of Underwood 10 mm auto, each with 50 rounds

130 rounds of Lawman 9mm Luger

2 spent shell casings for Glock 10mm

1 empty box of Gold Dot 9mm Luger

2 empty boxes of Winchester 9mm Luger

1 box of Underwood 10mm auto with 34 rounds

1 box of 29 miscellaneous 9mm rounds

1 spent .22 shell casing

1 small plastic bag containing numerous .22 caliber bullets

1 tan bag with numerous Blazer .45 caliber bullets

1 box of Blazer .22 long rifle with 50 rounds

1 box PPU 303 British cartridges with 9 rounds

2 Winchester 9mm rounds

2 brass-colored shell casings

1 small caliber bullet (live round) labeled C


1 Promag 20-round 12-gauge drum magazine

1 MD Arms 20-round 12 gauge drum magazine

3 AGP Arms 12-gauge shotgun magazines

1 Surefire GunMag magazine with 8 rounds of Winchester 12-gauge, 9-pellet buckshot

2 AGP Arms 12-gauge shotgun magazines, taped together, each with 10 rounds of Winchester 9-pellet buckshot

2 empty Ram Line magazines for Ruger 10-22

1 AGP Arms Gen 2 12-gauge shotgun magazine with 10 rounds of Winchester 12-gauge, 9-pellet buckshot

1 clear plastic Ramline magazine for an AR 15

1 magazine with 10 rounds of .223 bullets


Metal bayonet

1 6-foot-10-inch wood-handled two-sided pole with a blade on one side and a spear on the other

1 Samurai sword with a 28-inch blade and sheath

1 Samurai sword with a 21-inch blade and a sheath

1 Samurai sword with a 13-inch blade and sheath

1 knife with a 12-inch blade and sheath

1 wooden-handle knife with a 7.5-inch blade and sheath

1 wooden-handle knife with a 10-inch blade

1 knife with a 5.5-inch blade and sheath

1 black-handled knife with a 7-inch blade and sheath

1 black rubber-handled knife with 9.5-inch blade and sheath

1 white and brown-handled knife with 5-inch blade and sheath

1 brown wood-handled knife with a 10.25-inch blade

1 Panther brown-handled folding knife with a 3.75 inch blade

1 small blue folding knife


1 Volcanic .22 starter pistol wth 5 live rounds and 1 expended round

Leightning L3 ear protection

Peltor ear plugs

Simmons binoculars

Uncle Mike's Sidekick nylon holster

Box for vest accessories

Leather dual magazine holder

Black leather handgun holster

High Sierra fanny pack

Numerous paper targets

1 cardboard targets

1 Bushnell sport view rifle scope

Plastic bag of miscellaneous parts

Safariland holster paperwork

Glock handgun manual

MD-20 20-round shotgun magazine manual

MD Arms V-Plug guide

Bushmaster XM15 and C15 instruction manual

Savage Arms bolt-action rifle manual

Glock paperwork


Adam Lanza's National Rifle Association certificate

Nancy Lanza's NRA certificate

Three photographs with images of what appears to be a deceased human covered with plastic and what appears to be blood

Holiday card with a check from Nancy Lanza to Adam Lanza for purchase of C183 firearm

1 digital print of a child and various firearms

1 military-style uniform

Handwritten notes with addresses of local gun shops

Receipts and emails documenting firearm and ammunition supplies

Blue folder labeled “guns” with receipts and paperwork

Paperwork titled "Connecticut Gun Exchange Glock 20SF 10mm" dated 12-21-11

Sandy Hook report card for Adam Lanza

New York Times article on a 2008 shooting at Northern Illinois Unversity

Books: “Look me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s;” “Born on a Blue Day: Inside the Mind of an Autistic Savant;” “NRA Guide to Basics of Pistol Shooting;” “Train Your Brain to Get Happy”

1 Seagate Barracuda 500gb hard drive, damaged

1 custom-built desktop computer, no hard drive

1 Microsoft Xbox with partially obliterated serial number

One cotton swab of blood-like substance

1 tan sheet with blood-like substance

1 tan fitted sheet with blood-like substance

1 striped towel with blood-like substance

Guns, paperwork, books flesh out portrait of Newtown killer Adam Lanza

NBC's Michael Isikoff shares the newly released details on the investigation of Newtown shooter Adam Lanza and what police found in his home and car.

By Tracy Connor, Staff Writer, NBC News

He was a "shut-in," a young man with a twisted murder obsession holed up in a suburban house with guns, Samurai swords and a mother who searched self-help books for solutions to his social disorder.

That's the picture that emerged Thursday of Adam Lanza as search warrants carried out after his Dec. 14 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School were made public.

The documents provide no clear motive for the two-part rampage that left 20 children, six school staffers, Lanza's mother Nancy and the gunman dead, but they hint at the activities that consumed his days behind dark-green shutters on Yogananda St. in Newtown, Conn.

One piece of paper seized from the home is particularly chilling in hindsight: a 2008 New York Times clipping about a shooting at Northern Illinois University, where a gunman murdered five people, wounded another 21 and then killed himself.

Although it's not spelled out in the warrants, a law-enforcement source told NBC News that police also found a spreadsheet that Lanza toiled over, cataloging the details of mass murders through the years.

Police also discovered Lanza's journals, though the warrants don't divulge if they contained any clues about why the 20-year-old slaughtered defenseless first-graders or how long he had planned the shooting spree.

There was a large assortment of computer equipment, including a custom-built desktop unit — not surprising since Lanza reportedly earned an A in computers as a 16-year-old freshman at Western Connecticut State University and worked for a time at a computer store.

Don Emmert / AFP - Getty Images file
Search warrants executed at the Lanza home in Newtown, Conn., detailed the weaponry found inside, along with books about autism and a newspaper clipping about a 2008 mass shooting.

More notable were missing and damaged hard drives, which law-enforcement experts saw as a sign that Lanza didn't want police to examine his computing history after he joined the nation's growing roster of mass killers.

The electronics seized included a Xbox system, and the warrants quoted an anonymous tipster who told the FBI that Lanza was "an avid gamer who plays Call of Duty."

Full documents: Read the Sandy Hook search warrants

Most startling was the array of weapons found at the Lanza home and at the school: a half-dozen handguns and rifles, a BB gun, a starter pistol, hundreds of rounds of ammunition scattered about, high-capacity magazines, three Samurai swords, a bayonet and smaller knives in sheaths.

"It's a stunning amount of ammunition and weaponry," said Mary Ellen O'Toole, a former FBI profiler.

"If the family dynamic is gun-oriented, that's fine. But how do they treat it? Are their weapons locked up? Is the ammunition kept in the same place? These documents tell us this is not the case. You've got this stuff laying all around and it's not stored properly."

The warrants also reveal that bullets were kept in a Planters nut canister and plastic baggies, in a bedroom gun safe, on closet shelves, in a shoe box, a duffel bag, and a filing cabinet drawer.

Family friends and acquaintances have said that Nancy Lanza, who grew up in rural New Hampshire, saw recreational shooting as something she could do to bond with Adam and his older brother, Ryan.

NBC News file

New details about Sandy Hook massacre gunman Adam Lanza were revealed in search warrants released Thursday.

A holiday card found in the house underscores that connection: it contained a check that Nancy wrote to Adam for the purchase of a firearm, according to the warrants.

Mother and son both had documents described as National Rifle Association certificates, though it was unclear what that signified, along with files of gun-related receipts, manuals and other paperwork.

Had the guns and ammunition been kept in a safe place and had Adam Lanza been a well-adjusted person with friends and outside interests, the arsenal might not have raised any eyebrows, O'Toole said.

But Lanza didn't fit that description.

The FBI tipster told agents the suspect "rarely leaves his home and considers him to be a shut-in," according to the warrants.

An extensive profile of the shooter in the Hartford Courant last month chronicled how Lanza cut himself off from others in the last two years of his life — following his parents' divorce and an abrupt end to his education, which had been a patchwork quilt of mainstream and special-education classes and home-schooling.

The FBI's source said school had been Lanza's "life" and that he once attended Sandy Hook. After moving from New Hampshire to Newtown, Lanza entered the first grade there. A report card from Sandy Hook was found in the home.

Over the next decade, Lanza was shuttled in and out of classrooms by his mother, who believed he had sensory integration disorder and needed independent study at home, the Courant reported.

Lanza hated to be touched, had few friends and was easily freaked out by changes in routine, the newspaper said. In middle school, he was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, a condition on the autism spectrum marked by social awkwardness and obsessive interests.

Phil Simpson via Reuters file

A former FBI profiler says Adam Lanza's mother, Nancy, seen here on a 2008 cruise, may not have acted on warning signs that her son could turn violent.

Proof that Nancy Lanza was still looking for insight into her son's behavior years after that diagnosis could be found on her home's bookshelves. Among the titles seized by police were a primer on Asperger's and another on autistic savants.

A third book, "Train Your Brain to Get Happy," had pages tabbed off, though it was unknown if mother or son had been looking for the "joy, optimism and serenity" promised in the subtitle.

Those feelings appeared to be elusive at the two-story yellow Colonial, where investigators found three gruesome pictures of a blood-spattered body under plastic. The origin of the photos was not specified.

O'Toole said the warrants reveal there was no shortage of warning signs for Nancy Lanza that her younger son was headed down a dark path.

"But it takes a big step for a lot of people who love their children to go from, 'I think i have a problem' to 'I think this person could commit homicide,'" she said. "It's not unusual for people to ignore behavior, explain it away or to normalize it or to rationalize it."

Not unusual — but in this case, fateful.

Among the other items ticked off in the warrants were two bloody sheets, apparently from the bed where Nancy Lanza was killed with a .22-caliber round to the forehead while sleeping, just before her son loaded her Honda Civil with handguns, rifles and bullets and, police say, went hunting for innocent children.

NBC News' Michael Isikoff contributed to this report


Invoking Newtown, Obama presses Congress on guns

Sandy Hook shooter fired 155 bullets in 5 minutes, documents show

Obama dice que es vergonzoso olvidar la masacre en Newtown

El mandatario dijo que se está progresando en el tema de la reforma. Agregó que las parejas homosexuales merecen tener los mismos derechos que todos.

Urgió a aprobar control de armas

El presidente de Estados Unidos, Barack Obama, afirmó este jueves que existen "voces poderosas" que buscan impedir el voto en el Congreso para el control de las armas de fuego.
Durante un acto en el Salón Este de la Casa Blanca, el mandatario destacó que para las víctimas de la violencia generada por las armas, "el dolor nunca se va", y que las propuestas que presentó en enero no son radicales ni buscan eliminar el derecho constitucional a la tenencia de las armas.
El gobernante destacó la importancia de adoptar una legislación sobre la comprobación de antecedentes a los compradores que, según dijo, cuenta con el apoyo de más del 90 por ciento de los ciudadanos estadounidenses, pero enfrenta una fuerte oposición de los republicanos.
¿Crees que logre avanzar la propuesta sobre control de armas?
Al insistir en que el Congreso someta a voto "propuestas de sentido común" para reducir la "epidemia de la violencia de las armas", el mandatario destacó que el país no debe olvidar a los 20 niños y 6 adultos masacrados en la escuela Sandy Hook en Newtown.
"Deberíamos avergonzarnos si nos hemos olvidado", dijo Obama, quien estuvo acompañado por el vicepresidente Joe Biden, madres de víctimas de la violencia y agentes policiales.
Según la agencia Efe, la masacre en Newtown el pasado 14 de diciembre, fue el detonante para que tanto Obama como grupos cívicos de todo el país iniciaran una campaña de presión para que el Congreso someta a voto varias medidas con el objetivo de incrementar el control sobre las armas, especialmente las de asalto y de tipo militar.

Entrevistamos a Obama sobre la reforma migratoria y otros temas.
HOY en Noticiero Univision a las 6:30pm ET/ 5:30pm CT

Senadores amenazan con bloquear proyectos
Aunque Obama respalda el restablecimiento de una ley federal que prohíba las armas de asalto -como el rifle AR-15 utilizado en Newtown-, el proyecto de ley "básico" que sopesa el Senado no incluye esa medida.
La prohibición de las armas de asalto, que caducó en 2004, no cuenta con los 60 votos mínimos necesarios para impedir que sus detractores la frenen en el Senado, indicó Efe.
La iniciativa que estudiará el Senado tras su receso de dos semanas el mes próximo prevé, no obstante, incluir un sistema de verificación nacional de antecedentes penales para todos los compradores de armas; medidas para mejorar la seguridad en las escuelas; sanciones para los compradores "intermediarios" en el tráfico ilícito de armas, y mejorar el acceso a los servicios de salud mental, entre otros elementos.
El líder de la mayoría demócrata del Senado, Harry Reid, ha dicho que prefiere que lo relacionado con las armas de asalto y otras polémicas medidas se presenten como enmiendas, para no torpedear la aprobación de la iniciativa.

Barack Obama
El mandatario destacó que el país no debe olvidar a los 20 niños y 6 adultos masacrados en la escuela Sandy Hook en Newtown.- Getty Images

Por su parte, senadores de la oposición amenazaron esta semana con realizar maniobras dilatorias indefinidas para bloquear proyectos relacionados con el control de dichos artefactos.
De acuerdo con la agencia Prensa Latina, los legisladores Rand Paul, de Kentucky; Mike Lee, de Utah, y Ted Cruz, de Texas prometieron que emprenderán medidas de esa naturaleza, denominadas filibusterismo en el argot del cuerpo legislativo.

La masacre de Newtown, Connecticut ha causado el aumento en ventas de armas
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La masacre de Newtown reanimó el pedido de prohibición de venta de armas de alto calibre
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Los trámites para comprar armas como las de la matanza de Newtown
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The Fix’s Sweet 2016 Bracket Competition: The final 16!

After a week of voting, we have narrowed our initial field of 32 potential Democratic and Republican presidential candidates to just 16!

Like the 1st round of the NCAA tournament, top seeds in The Fix Sweet 2016 bracket generally advanced. Overall number one seed and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton disposed of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel with a remarkable 97 percent of online votes.  Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, the top seed on the Republican side of the bracket, took care of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice with 83 percent of the vote.
But, there were a few upsets and, like the NCAA tourney, the #5 vs #12 matchup produced one of them.  Newark Mayor Cory Booker (a 12 seed) upset Massachusetts Gov. DeVal Patrick (a 5) by a narrow 53 percent to 47 percent margin. South Dakota Sen. John Thune (a 10) defeated Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (a 7). Both # 9 seeds — Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman — pulled off minor upsets as well. (There was considerable criticism of the committee — i.e. us — for seeding Warren too low. Noted.)
The round of 16 matchups are an embarrassment of riches for political junkies.  At the top of our list is a showdown between two of the most high-profile Democratic women in politics: Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren.  On the Republican side the battle of the Pauls — Rand vs Ryan — promises to be intriguing.
Vote below on all eight matchups We’ll keep the online polling place open until noon Thursday and announce the Elite Eight on Friday!
Get voting! Have fun!