Report: 10,000 peoplebought guns illegally
WASHINGTON -- Since mid-1999, about 10,000 felons and others legally barred from buying guns were able to cruise past background checks and purchase firearms, an advocacy group said today.
A report by the Americans for Gun Safety Foundation said most states rely on outdated records and computer technology for background checks, which allows thousands of felons to purchase guns with little trouble.
"The dirty little secret is that the records for almost every state are in terrible shape, and our front line defense necessary to keep guns out of the hands of criminals is full of holes," said Jim Kessler, director of the Washington-based foundation, which calls itself a nonpartisan group that supports better gun laws and better enforcement of laws.
Background checks to see whether prospective gun buyers have criminal records have been required since February 1994 under the Brady Act.
Each state compiles felony conviction, mental disability and domestic violence records for use by the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
Kennedy urges delayin 2004 tax cut
WASHINGTON -- Sen. Edward M. Kennedy said today that some tax cuts now scheduled to take effect in 2004 and beyond should be delayed so the government can afford other pressing priorities such as education and a Medicare prescription drug benefit.
Kennedy, one of the few prominent Democrats to propose putting off multiple parts of President Bush's 10-year, $1.35 trillion tax cut, said the delay would free up $350 billion for these needs without borrowing from the Social Security and Medicare funds.
The tax cut, he said, was enacted before an economic recession began eroding the government's sunny surplus projections and before the Sept. 11 terror attacks that prompted a raft of new defense and security spending.
"Whatever the merits or demerits of last year's tax bill, it was enacted in what now seems a very different and distant time," Kennedy, D-Mass., said in a speech prepared for delivery at the National Press Club. "We must think anew, and act responsibly."
4 killed as police attackPhilippine soldiers
JOLO, Philippines -- At least three soldiers and one civilian were killed today when Philippine army rangers were attacked by police near a market in the southern town of Jolo, officials said.
The deaths came a day after 15 people were killed at a rally for a former Muslim regional governor jailed on rebellion charges.
In the latest attack, three army Scout Rangers in a jeep were killed when police manning an outpost close to the Jolo market opened fire on them, the lone survivor, Pvt. Rizaldy Laygan told reporters at a hospital where he was being treated for shrapnel wounds in the back.
The police involved in the attack were former members of the Moro National Liberation Front, a Muslim separatist group integrated into the local force after a 1996 peace accord. Many were former bodyguards for Nur Misuari, the renegade former governor charged with rebellion.
Senior security officials said they did not expect the violence to escalate.
"That's a one-day thing. I think we should not make it bigger than what it is," said National Security Adviser Roilo Golez.
Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes said he has talked with Sulu provincial Gov. Yusop Jikiri and both agreed to work together "to stop this."
SINGAPORE -- Singapore is well-known for caning graffiti vandals, but this famously tidy city-state now has a place where rogue painters can spray away.
Wild, spray-painted scrawls and vivid blobs of blue and red abstracts festoon the ramps, floor and signs at a government-run skateboarders' park in the middle of an otherwise graffiti-free city.
Singapore's caning-for-graffiti rule made world headlines in 1994 when American teen-ager Michael Fay, convicted of spray-painting cars in the island republic, was flogged despite objections from then-President Clinton.
But the National Youth Council is letting the painters do their thing at its skateboard park, a council spokeswoman said today.
Singapore does, however, insist on limits.
"We monitor it closely. Currently we just allow healthy, creative expression to take place," said Corinne Kang, head of the council's corporate communications department. Vulgarities are off limits, along with anything religious or remarks that "might be offensive to anybody," she said.