Posts Tagged ‘Nevada’

Trump Tests His Appeal in Nevada, a State Clinton Won

June 24, 2018

President headlines fundraiser for Sen. Dean Heller, who is seeking re-election

Sen. Dean Heller (R., Nev.), left, shakes hands with President Donald Trump during a discussion on tax reform in Las Vegas on Saturday.
Sen. Dean Heller (R., Nev.), left, shakes hands with President Donald Trump during a discussion on tax reform in Las Vegas on Saturday.PHOTO: KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS

LAS VEGAS— Donald Trump took his economic nationalism and insult-driven politics to Nevada on Saturday, testing whether his campaign style can help Republicans in a state carried by his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Mr. Trump made the trek to Las Vegas to headline a fundraiser for Sen. Dean Heller, the only Republican senator in the state seeking re-election this year.

“He was with me all the way—once we got elected,” Mr. Trump said, repeatedly recalling Mr. Heller’s delay in backing his bid for the White House. “A little bit shaky in the beginning.”

Mr. Heller “cut your taxes and nobody fought harder to cut your taxes than Dean Heller, let me tell you,” Mr. Trump said. The Democrats, he said, “want tax increases. They want open borders.”

Mr. Heller’s race is one of the most consequential Senate contests of the year, as Republicans seek to hold on to their 51-49 majority in November’s elections. Nevada, a swing state, will be critical come November, with a Senate seat, the governor’s office and two competitive House races on the ballot.

It’s an open question whether Mr. Trump’s trademark bare-knuckled campaigning will help or hurt Mr. Heller and the rest of the GOP Nevada ticket this fall. More registered voters in the state disapproved of the president than approved of him—49% to 47%—in a May poll conducted by Morning Consult.

In addition to trying to paint state Democrats as weak on border security and favoring higher taxes, Mr. Trump hurled personal insults at the opponents of the Republican candidate.

He called Mr. Heller’s challenger, Rep. Jacky Rosen, as “Wacky Jacky” at Saturday’s Nevada Republican Party Convention. Democrats were holding their own state convention in Reno, featuring Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

“Wacky Jacky is campaigning with Pocahontas, can you believe it?” Mr. Trump said, reviving his derogatory nickname for Ms. Warren, a reference to the senator’s claims to have Native-American heritage. “A vote for her is a vote for increased taxes, weak, weak borders, it’s really a vote for crime, it’s a vote to get rid of police officers.”

Shortly after the president concluded his remarks, Ms. Rosen tweeted, “Is that the best you’ve got, @realDonaldTrump? Let’s fight back.” She used Mr. Trump’s appearance in the state to raise funds on her website, where she cites opposition to his presidency and policies as a driving force for her campaign.

“President Trump is trying to pull up the ladder behind him, leaving the middle class stranded while his super-wealthy buddies turn the federal government into a source of enrichment for themselves,” Ms. Rosen’s site says. “Trump ridicules women, people of color, the LGBTQ community, immigrant families, and anyone who challenges him.”

Ms. Warren has called the Pocahontas nickname a “racial slur.”

Despite the GOP’s majority in Congress, Mr. Trump has struggled to secure support for some of his top-priority campaign pledges, like his efforts to replace the Affordable Care Act, to fund a wall along the Mexican border and to pass legislation curbing immigration.

“The fact is we need more Republicans because the Democrats are obstructionists,” the president said Saturday. He drew boos from the crowd when he mentioned Senate and House minority leaders Chuck Schumer of New York and Nancy Pelosi of California.

Facing mounting political pressure, Mr. Trump signed an executive order last week to end the separation of families crossing the U.S. border illegally. Images of unaccompanied children at shelters near the border sparked outrage from members of his own party.

Still, he insisted he would pursue a policy of zero tolerance of illegal immigration and continued to hammer at the Democrats for failing to take a tougher stance. “We’re the only country that says ‘Please, would you like to register?’—other countries say ‘Get the hell out’,” Mr. Trump said. “I think I got elected largely because we are strong on the border.”

That line may be a tough sell in Nevada, where more than a quarter of Nevada’s population is Latino. The percentage is higher in Clark County, which includes Las Vegas. Mr. Trump touted his administration’s economic record, highlighting record-low levels of Hispanic unemployment.

Mr. Trump also noted his own property in Las Vegas, joking, “I don’t think about that anymore.”

As he concluded his speech, he said that he is committed to making sure Republican voters turn out come November. “It’s an incredible state,” he said. “I will be back a lot…”

Corrections & Amplifications 
Sen. Dean Heller is a Republican. An earlier version of the caption on this article incorrectly stated he was a Democrat. (June 23, 2018)

Write to Vivian Salama at


Eric Holder, Barack Obama Lead Activities of Progressive Left Faction of the Democratic Party

June 19, 2018

Former President Barack Obama and former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder have planned — and are leading — a massive counter-offensive to give the progressive left faction of the Democratic Party control of key state legislative bodies and state supreme courts in time for congressional redistricting after the 2020 census.

Image result for obama, holder, photos

By Bill McCollum | Chairman of the Republican State Leadership Committee and former Florida congressman

If they are successful, Democrats could well control the U.S. House of Representatives for the decade of the 20s and have in place a progressive left farm team from which to draw leftist national leaders for many years beyond.

Presently, Republicans control 67 of our nation’s 99 state legislative bodies. This is near an all-time high for Republicans who have been steadily gaining majorities in every election cycle since 2010. It is the result of smart candidate recruitment, messaging better ideas for education and growing jobs and businesses, strong state leadership and a national plan and organization led by the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC).

But this could change quickly.

In recent election cycles, Republicans, Democrats and their allies have been spending roughly at parity on state legislative and judicial races across the country. The Obama-Holder led effort is on pace to exponentially outraise and outspend Republicans this November and again in 2020. Holder’s National Democratic Redistricting Committee alone already has raised its goal from $30 million to $40 million in new funds this cycle. Their targets are legislative and judicial races in about a dozen key battleground states including Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Nevada, North Carolina and Florida. Among the groups spawned to help this scheme, Forward Majority announced it would spend $100 million to spend on targeted legislative races in the same key states in the 2018 and 2020 election cycles. The Center for Popular Democracy Action announced it will raise and spend an additional $80 million mobilizing progressives and will target six state legislatures. Additional funding will continue to come from unions, trial lawyers, Planned Parenthood, George Soros, Tom Steyer and others.

At the same time those supporting the Obama-Holder led counter-offensive are working to suppress political donations by corporations and their executives to Republican causes and candidates. The Soros funded Center for Political Accountability’s Hicklin Index is used by progressive left activists to paralyze and silence pro-business interests. The group works closely with the Coalition for Accountability in Political Spending (CAPS) which aims “to direct corporate America to change its ways,” promising to “inflict economic damage on offending companies.” CAPS partners with activists and unions to submit proxy resolutions at shareholder meetings, not in hopes of passing a resolution, but rather getting the attention of the C-Suite and silencing a company’s efforts in public discourse and political participation. The fear alone of becoming a CAPS target is reducing contributions to pro-business political organizations and boosting corporate giving to Democratic and “Social Justice” causes working against free enterprise and even the existence of shareholder owned corporations.

Last week Publix, Florida’s leading grocer, suspended making political contributions in the face of store “die-ins” organized by anti-gun activists to protest Publix’s support of a Republican candidate for Governor because of his views in the gun debate. The success of such intimidation will encourage more of the same not just concerning guns, but on any controversial topic arising in campaigns. The issue is corporate free speech. The organizers of the Obama-Holder led counter-offensive know that the more companies and their executives decide to quit making political contributions for fear of possible customer or shareholder disapproval, the less money will be available to Republicans to counter their massive spending plans.

If the Obama-Holder effort is successful in rolling back Republican legislative majorities, there is more to be lost than control of redistricting. States with GOP governors and legislative majorities have demonstrated how to grow jobs, spur innovation and provide children with a better education by reducing taxes and regulatory burdens, enacting litigation reform and right to work laws, restoring solvency to government pension plans, and putting in place school choice, charter schools and school accountability standards. Contrast Republican led states with New York, Connecticut, California and Illinois where progressive left Democrats have driven up taxes, appeased unions and trial lawyers, thrown money at bad schools and lost jobs as businesses relocate elsewhere. Never have the differences between the two parties been greater or easier to see than in the states. The choice is between states governed by those focused on opportunity, economic growth and choice and those using a socialist lens to redistribute wealth and beholden to government unions and trial lawyers.

In the category of “you can’t make this stuff up,” recently four Pennsylvania state House candidates backed by the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) won Democratic primaries. As reported by the HuffPost, Arielle Cohen, co-chair of Pittsburg DSA stated, “We won on popular demands that were deemed impossible. We won on health care for all; we won on free education.” And she added, “We’re turning the state the right shade of red tonight.”

The Obama-Holder progressive left counter-offensive is real. Unless Republican and business leaders wake up and take action to confront it with a plan, leadership and adequate resources it could succeed and end the America of individual liberty and free enterprise upon which this nation was founded.

Bill McCollum, is the chairman of the Republican State Leadership Committee and former Florida congressman and attorney general.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.

Marijuana Supply-Siders — Plus: Can the second hand smoke kill you?

March 25, 2018

California pot growers deplore the heavy hand of the state.

Marijuana Supply-Siders

California’s experiment in marijuana legalization is spurring some radical thinking on the political left. Lo, high taxes and over-regulation are bad for the economy—or at least the pot economy.

Golden State voters in 2016 legalized recreational marijuana on the promise that this would reduce the black market. While marijuana remains a banned substance under federal law, nine states including Washington, Nevada, Oregon and Colorado have legalized consumption and production within their borders. Many are still struggling to draw cannabis businesses out of the shadows, none as much as California. Less than 1% of the state’s 68,150 marijuana cultivators had obtained licenses as of last month, according to a recent report by the California Growers Association. The problem turns out to be the heavy hand of the state.

“The incredible volume of regulation is part of the issue,” the report notes, adding that “consultants and attorneys are often a major cost for small businesses.” Pot growers also complain that the “division of responsibility” among an alphabet soup of regulators—CDFA, BCC, MCSB, Water Board, CDFW, CDTFA, OSHA—can cause confusion, and that “delayed permitting can have make-or-break impacts for businesses.”

Other gripes: environmental restoration requirements, water conservation regulations and zoning restrictions, which “have resulted in severely inflated real estate prices that price smaller businesses out of a chance at compliant operation.”

But above all, “taxes were identified as the single greatest barrier to entry for small businesses,” according to the report. The state-and-local effective tax rate on marijuana growers is between 40% and 60% in California, compared with 18% in Oregon and 33.1% in Nevada.

The notion that excessive taxation and regulation can suffocate small businesses seems to be a revelation to the pot growers, many of whom believe “there is a dangerous concentration of wealth in our economy and see cannabis as a way of counterbalancing that trend,” according to the report. A pair of Democratic and Republican state Assembly members have introduced legislation to slash taxes on pot businesses. They note that Washington state saw an increase in cannabis revenues after cutting taxes—the Laffer Curve at work.

All of this new tax wisdom is welcome, but pot growers may also fear that going legal will cramp their growth prospects. California produces about five times as much weed as its citizens consume, thus much is sold out of state—illegally. It’s only a matter of time before the growers start lobbying Congress to legalize pot nationwide and pre-empt the states that haven’t legalized it.

Appeared in the March 24, 2018, print edition.


Are There Risks From Secondhand Marijuana Smoke? Early Science Says Yes

Scientists are finding that, just as with secondhand smoke from tobacco, inhaling secondhand smoke from marijuana can make it harder for arteries to expand to allow a healthy flow of blood.

Maren Caruso/Getty Images

The inspiration arrived in a haze at a Paul McCartney concert a few years ago in San Francisco.

“People in front of me started lighting up and then other people started lighting up,” says Matthew Springer, a biologist and professor in the division of cardiology at the University of California, San Francisco. “And for a few naive split seconds I was thinking to myself, ‘Hey, they can’t smoke in AT&T Park! I’m sure that’s not allowed.’ And then I realized that it was all marijuana.”

Recreational pot was not legal yet in the state, but that stopped no one. “Paul McCartney actually stopped between numbers and sniffed the air and said, ‘There’s something in the air — must be San Francisco!’ ” Springer recalls.

As the visible cloud of pot smoke took shape, so did Springer’s idea to study the effects of secondhand marijuana smoke.

He started thinking: San Franciscans would never tolerate those levels of cigarette smoke in a public place anymore. So why were they OK with smoke from burning pot? Did people just assume that cannabis smoke isn’t harmful the way tobacco smoke is?

Springer was already researching the health effects of secondhand tobacco smoke on rats at his lab at UCSF. He decided to run the same tests using joints.

“By the time I left the concert, I was resolved to at least try to make this happen,” he says.

He knew it would be difficult. Marijuana is still an illegal drug under federal law, and Springer’s research uses federal funds; so he has to purchase specially approvedgovernment cannabis for study. He also can’t test it on humans; hence, the rats.

In the lab, Springer puts a cigarette or a joint in a plexiglass box, lights it and lets the chamber fill with smoke. Then he vents out most of the smoke to the point that it is hardly visible, to simulate being around a smoker. Then an anesthetized rat is exposed to the smoke for one minute.

So far, Springer and his colleagues have published research demonstrating that just this one minute of exposure to secondhand smoke makes it harder for the rats’ arteries to expand and allow a healthy flow of blood.”

With tobacco products, this effect lasts about 30 minutes, and then the arteries recover their normal function. But if it happens over and over — as when a person is smoking cigarette after cigarette, for example — the arterial walls can become permanently damaged, and that damage can cause blood clots, heart attack or stroke.

Springer demonstrated that, at least in rats, the same physiological effect occurs after inhaling secondhand smoke from marijuana. And, the arteries take 90 minutes to recover compared to the 30 minutes with cigarette smoke.

Springer’s discovery about the effect on blood vessels describes just one harmful impact for nonsmokers who are exposed to marijuana. Statewide sampling surveys of cannabis products sold in marijuana dispensaries have shown that cannabis products may contain dangerous bacteria or mold, or residues from pesticides and solvents.

California law requires testing for these contaminants, and those regulations are being initiated in three phases over the course of 2018. Because much of the marijuana being sold now was harvested in 2017, consumers will have to wait until early 2019 before they can purchase products that have been fully tested according to state standards.

“People think cannabis is fine because it’s ‘natural,’ ” Springer says. “I hear this a lot. I don’t know what it means.” He concedes that tightly regulated marijuana, which has been fully tested, doesn’t have as many chemical additives as cigarettes.

But even if the cannabis tests clean, Springer says, smoke itself is bad for the lungs, heart and blood vessels. Other researchers are exploring the possible relationship between marijuana smoke and long-term cancer risk.

Certainly, living with a smoker is worse for your health than just going to a smoky concert hall. But, Springer says, the less you inhale any kind of smoke, the better.

“People should think of this not as an anti-THC conclusion,” he says, referencing the active ingredient in marijuana, “but an anti-smoke conclusion.”

So is the solution simply to avoid smoke from combustion? In other words, is it safer to eat cannabis-infused products, or use “smokeless” e-cigarettes or vaping devices?

Springer still urges caution on that score because vaping, for example, can have its own health effects. Vaping devices don’t produce smoke from combustion, but they do release a cloud of aerosolized chemicals. Springer is studying the health effects of those chemicals, too.

All this research takes time. Meanwhile, Springer worries that people might come to the wrong conclusion — that the absence of research means the secondhand smoke is OK.

“We in the public health community have been telling them for decades to avoid inhaling secondhand smoke from tobacco,” Springer says. “We have not been telling them to avoid inhaling secondhand smoke from marijuana, and that’s not because it’s not bad for you — it’s because we just haven’t known. The experiments haven’t been done.”

Antismoking campaigners say we can’t afford to wait until the research is complete. Recreational pot is already a reality.

Cynthia Hallett is the president of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, based in Berkeley, Calif. The organization was established in 1976, before there was a lot known about the health effects of secondhand smoke from tobacco.

Now that cannabis is becoming more common across the country — more than 20 cities or states have legalized it in some form — her organization is taking on the issue of secondhand marijuana smoke, too.

Hallett says some of the arguments being made in support of cannabis remind her of the arguments made on behalf of tobacco decades ago.

“I’m seeing a parallel between this argument that, ‘Gee, we just don’t have a lot of science and so, therefore, let’s wait and see,’ ” Hallett says. “The tobacco companies used to say the same thing about tobacco cigarettes.”

In California, smoking cannabis is prohibited anywhere tobacco smoking is prohibited — including schools, airplanes and most workplaces. Hallett is worried that the legalization of pot could be used to erode those rules.

It starts with the premise of decriminalization, she says, and then, over time, there’s “a chipping away at strong policies.”

Some cannabis advocates want to see pot regulated like alcohol — cities would issue permits for specialized smoking lounges, similar to wine bars.

But Hallett points out that smoke drifts, and it affects workers in a way that alcohol doesn’t.

“The difference is, if I were to spill my beer on you in a bar, it wouldn’t affect your long-term health,” she says. “If I choose to smoke, it can affect the health of the person near me.”

Pot is more like tobacco in that respect, and Hallett believes it should be regulated that way.

She says this era of California culture brings to mind a similar period in the 1970s and ’80s, when Americans started demanding more regulations for secondhand smoke, and a new etiquette around smoking took form.

When it comes to marijuana, Hallett says, “it is still polite for you to say: ‘Would you mind not smoking around me?’ ”

At Magnolia, a cannabis dispensary in Oakland, Calif., pot smokers talk about what responsibilities — if any — they should have when it comes to nearby nonsmokers.

“This is the first time that I have heard secondhand smoke in reference to cannabis,” admits Lee Crow, a patient-services clerk at Magnolia. “I’ve tried to be courteous — just common courtesy, like with anything.”

The dispensary’s director of clinical services, Barbara Blaser, admits she thinks a lot about secondhand smoke from cigarettes, but not pot.

“Both of my parents died of lung cancer!” she says. “I will stop a stranger and say, ‘You shouldn’t be smoking. My dad died of that!’ ”

California’s Proposition 64, approved by state voters in 2016, requires that some of the state tax revenue from the sale of marijuana to be distributed to cannabis researchers. In addition, the state’s Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board is examining workplace hazards that are specific to the cannabis industry.

This story is part of NPR’s reporting partnership, local member stations and Kaiser Health News.

Trump turns again on immigration, offers a path to citizenship for nearly 2 million “Dreamers” — Critics holler “No to Amnesty!”

January 26, 2018

Marijuana Crackdown by Sessions Leaves GOP Fearing 2018 Backlash

January 6, 2018


  • Pot politics may affect California, Colorado and Nevada races
  • Democrats see an opportunity to lure younger voters to polls
Image result for marijuana, photos
Enthusiasm High for Legal Pot Sales in California

The Justice Department’s decision to free federal prosecutors to enforce marijuana laws in states that have legalized the drug adds to the political burdens of congressional Republicans trying to hold their House and Senate majorities in an already challenging election year.

An early indication of the issue’s potency was the fierce reaction of Republican Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, a state where voters legalized cultivation and possession in 2012. Gardner, who also is chairman of the GOP’s Senate campaign arm, slammed the decision by Attorney General Jeff Sessions as “a trampling of Colorado’s rights, its voters.”

“Why is Donald Trump thinking differently than what he promised the people of Colorado in 2016?” Gardner said in a speech Thursday on the Senate floor, evoking Trump’s campaign promise to leave the issue of marijuana legalization to states. “Thousands of jobs at risk, millions of dollars in revenue, and certainly the question of constitutional states rights — very much at the core of this discussion.”

GOP control of Congress hangs in the balance, with all House seats and a third of Senate seats on the ballot in 2018. The question for Republicans is whether complaining publicly about the administration’s decision will be enough to inoculate them from Democratic opponents’ criticism during the campaign.

On Thursday, Sessions rescinded policies adopted by President Barack Obama’s Justice Department that helped states legalize recreational marijuana. The previous approach created guardrails for federal prosecution of the sale and possession of cannabis, which remains illegal under federal law, and allowed legalized marijuana to flourish in states across the country. Under the new policy, U.S. attorneys in states where pot is legal may now prosecute cases where they see fit.

‘Freedom Issue’

The issue looms large in Colorado, Nevada and California, which legalized marijuana and where several congressional Republicans already are facing tough re-election battles. Nevada Senator Dean Heller and Representative Mark Amodei are Democratic targets, as is Colorado Representative Mike Coffman. And some half-dozen GOP-held California House seats are in play, including three rated “toss up” that are represented by Steve Knight, Dana Rohrabacher and Darrell Issa.

“This is a freedom issue,” Rohrabacher said Thursday in a conference call with reporters, calling for a change in federal law to protect legal marijuana in states. “I think Jeff Sessions has forgotten about the Constitution and the 10th Amendment,” which gives powers to the states.

“By taking this benighted minority position, he actually places Republicans’ electoral fortunes in jeopardy,” Rohrabacher said in a statement later Thursday.

The question could motivate Democrats — particularly young people — in November.

David Flaherty, a Colorado-based GOP consultant at Magellan Strategies, said the Justice Department’s decision could lead to a “major backlash and a spike in younger voters” if it disrupts the current system in Colorado. “Folks that are 44 and under here in Colorado are much more comfortable with the legalization of marijuana,” he said.

Flaherty said Colorado Republicans must navigate a GOP primary electorate with as many as half of voters age 65 and older, many of whom want to make marijuana illegal again.

Popular Opinion

Marijuana legalization has grown in popularity: 64 percent of Americans favor it, according to an October 2017 Gallup poll. Support was 57 percent to 37 percent in a Pew Research survey released a year earlier — including a remarkable 71 percent of millennials, currently the largest group of eligible voters in the country.

“Sessions’s move just adds another weight to the ankles of vulnerable House Republicans in places like California and Colorado,” said Brian Fallon, a former spokesman for the Senate Democratic leadership and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign. “Given the support for decriminalization across political parties, and especially among young voters, this was an issue that progressives already should have been considering for state ballot measures. That is even truer now.”

Gardner — who doesn’t face re-election until 2020– isn’t being shy. He vowed to block Justice Department nominees from being confirmed unless Sessions reverses course. Sessions, a former Alabama senator, said in an April 2016 hearing: “Good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

Democrats have struggled for years to turn out voters under 30, who tend to lean left, but there’s some evidence that the issue of marijuana can help. That can be seen in 2012 exit polls in states where pot legalization was on the ballot. The share of the electorate age 18-29 jumped 6 points in Colorado, 5 points in Oregon and 12 points in Washington compared to 2008.

“It’s time for anyone who cares about this issue to mobilize and push back strongly against this decision,” said Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, a Democrat who is co-chairman of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus.

Pot’s Potency

Some Democrats are skeptical about whether the issue will sweep their candidates into office.

“It makes a good talking point, depending on the district and state. With some targeted advertising it could pique peoples’ interest to get to the polls,” said Democratic strategist Rodell Mollineau. “But I don’t think this works for everybody. Independent soccer moms might not care about it.”

It’s unclear if the Democratic campaign arms will focus on pot in this year’s campaigns. Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chair Chris Van Hollen, a senator from Maryland, declined to comment Thursday. The House Democrats’ campaign arm didn’t weigh in, either.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California called on Congress to use spending bills to protect Americans who use pot from prosecution. The “decision bulldozes over the will of the American people and insults the democratic process under which majorities of voters in California and in states across the nation supported decriminalization at the ballot box,” she said.

Pelosi’s approach poses a dilemma for Republican leaders. Granting her wish means picking a fight with a GOP administration. But refusing gives Democrats the ability to argue voters should take congressional control out of their hands.

— With assistance by Arit John

How did Las Vegas shooter get his arsenal? Easily, and legally

October 3, 2017


© AFP / by Paul HANDLEY | In the United States, there are few barriers for someone without a criminal record to build up their own personal arsenal of weapons. Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock had dozens of guns, apparently all legal.

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Twenty-three guns in his hotel room. Nineteen more at home. Piles of ammunition, and devices that converted assault rifles to automatic weapons that fired like machine guns.How did Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock, who shot and killed 59 people from his 32nd story hotel window, amass an arsenal of firearms? In the United States, and particularly in states like Nevada, it’s easy. And totally legal.

Although the country is notorious for its lax gun laws, there are some restrictions on multiple sales of handguns. But if someone wants to build up a cache of rifles the way Paddock did, they could do so without anyone noticing.

Most gun sales are by federally-licensed vendors who must put buyers through background checks. The FBI will run their name through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which refers to three databases of offenders.

Those databases are not always perfect, relying on often spotty reporting from the states. Dylann Roof, the white supremacist who killed nine people in an African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17, 2015, cleared a handgun purchase background check just weeks before, despite having a drug conviction on his record.

– No apparent red flags –

But if a person’s record is clean — and Paddock evidently did not raise any red flags — he can buy as many guns as he wants.

There are some controls, points out Laura Cutilletta, the legal director at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

Licensed gun dealers, who handle perhaps 60 percent of all firearm sales, have to report multiple handgun sales to the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco. “Multiple” means two or more guns to the same purchaser within five business days.

Even then, Cutiletta says, “There is no requirement that law enforcement investigate.”

Three states — California, New York and New Jersey — prohibit sales of more than one handgun in 30 to 90 days, with slight variations between them.

Beyond that, the country is an open market, with private sellers of used guns not having to run background checks, and no restrictions on long gun purchases.

In Nevada, where gun laws are particularly lax and enforcement more so, it would have been easy for Paddock to accumulate all the guns he had unnoticed.

“There is no way that AFT or the FBI would know,” said Cutiletta.

– Easy to convert to automatic –

But what stood out in Sunday’s massacre, when Paddock unloaded his guns on a crowd of 22,000 at a country music concert, was the rapid pace of fire.

According to reports, he had modified some of his guns to work like automatic weapons, like machine guns, able to shoot many hundreds of rounds a minute with one trigger pull.

Automatic weapons have been banned in the United States for three decades.

But converting a semi-automatic weapon, including the AR-15 and AK-47-type assault rifles widely available in US gun shops, into an automatic weapon is easy.

For $40 you can buy a trigger crank, a small device that can be attached to the trigger. It can make the gun fire three or four times with each turn of the crank, significantly faster than using a finger to pull the trigger.

For as little as $99, you can get a bump stock, a spring-loaded stock that, with one pull of the trigger, keeps the weapon firing using its own recoil. It can enable the weapon to fire at a rate of 600 rounds a minute or more.

Trigger cranks and bump stocks are completely legal, they even come with ATF certifications that they do not constitute an illegal conversion of the guns. According to reports Paddock had two weapons with bump stocks.

Reports citing law enforcement authorities say Paddock also had a large stock of ammunition. That side of the business is also little-regulated, with only restrictions on certain types of ammunition like armor-piercing bullets.


Las Vegas Shooting Updates: More Than 50 Dead

October 2, 2017

• More than 50 people were killed and more than 200 were injured in a shooting at a concert near the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, the police said.

• The police said they killed a gunman, Stephen Paddock, 64, at the hotel. They said they believed he was the only attacker. They said they were “confident” they had located a female person of interest described as his “companion” and “roommate.”

• Automatic gunfire can be heard in videos from the grounds of the Route 91 Harvest Festival, a country music event. Concertgoers were seen running and ducking for cover. Thousands of people fled.

At least two police officers have died.

Two off-duty Las Vegas police officers were killed in the shooting, Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said at a news conference.

Two other officers responding to the scene were wounded, the sheriff said. One of them is in critical condition.

Continue reading the main story

Additionally, an off-duty officer from Bakersfield, Calif., who was attending the concert was taken to the hospital with injuries that were not believed to be life-threatening.


A woman covered with blood at the festival. CreditDavid Becker/Getty Images

More than 20 people killed and more than 100 injured.

“Now as far as number of victims, I cannot give you an accurate number at this point,” Sheriff Lombardo said. “We have well in excess of a hundred-plus injured and excess of 20-plus that have died.”

The sheriff described the gunman as a “local resident.”

Police hunt for gunman’s ‘companion.’

The police are looking for a woman described as the gunman’s “companion” and identified as Marilou Danley.


The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department released this photo of Marilou Danley, the gunman’s “companion.” CreditLas Vegas Metropolitan Police Department

The authorities have called her a “person of interest” and the shooter’s “roommate.”

‘We do not believe there are any more shooters.’

‘We have numerous victims right now.’

“We have numerous victims right now. I don’t have a number,” Sgt. Jeff Clark, a spokesman for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, said at a news conference.

The police say one gunman is dead.

“One suspect is down,” the police said via Twitter several hours after the attack was first reported.

SWAT teams were sent to the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay, where at least one gunman was believed to be located, according police radio traffic.

The authorities later confirmed there were no other gunmen.

“This is an active investigation. Again, please do not head down to the Strip at this time,” a post on Twitter read.

Las Vegas shooting: 20 killed, 200 wounded in mass shooting — Shooter killed by police

October 2, 2017

Police say at least 20 people have been killed in a mass shooting in Las Vegas. Dozens of victims have been admitted to a nearby hospital. Police report one suspect “down” and don’t believe that there are more shooters.

— Officials in Las Vegas say at least 20 people were killed in a mass shooting late Sunday. More than 100 victims have suffered injuries, at least a dozen of them critical injuries.

— Police report that at least one suspected shooter “is down” after officers “engaged” him. Authorities do not believe that there are any more shooters. They are looking for the suspect’s female “companion” and two vehicles registered to him.

— The sheriff says reports of shootings at other sites on the Strip were false.

All updates in UTC

0935 Mandalay Bay’s parent company has tweeted that, at the request of law enforcement, it has “put hotels in the vicinity on lockdown to ensure guest safety.”

Our thoughts & prayers are with the victims of last night’s tragic events. We’re grateful for the immediate actions of our first responders.

0930 Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval has responded to the attack on Twitter, calling the shooting a “tragic & heinous act of violence.”

A tragic & heinous act of violence has shaken the  family. Our prayers are w/ the victims & all affected by this act of cowardice.

0900 Disturbing video has emerged from the scene.

Gunfire rings out at Mandalay Bay

0835 In a media briefing, Sheriff Joe Lombardo drastically raised the death toll in the shooting from two to more than 20. He said at least 100 people had been injured.

“I cannot give you an accurate number,” Lombardo told reporters.

Briefing with @ regarding the Strip shooting. At least 20 dead, 100 injured. The shooter was local.

Lombardo said police had identified the shooter, who they believe acted alone, as a local resident but did not give further information. He said police were looking for the man’s roommate for further questioning, as well as two vehicles registered to the suspect.

The sheriff said the shooter fired on the audience at the music festival from a room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, where officers later “engaged” and killed him. “We are comfortable that the primary aggressor in this event is expired or passed away,” Lombardo said.

Lombardo called on anyone who had footage of the attack to submit it to law enforcement, including the FBI, which is assisting in the investigation. The Red Cross is fielding phone calls from people seeking information on missing relatives.

The sheriff said reports of related shootings at multiple sites on the Strip were false: “The scene is static.”

0750 Flights have resumed at McCarran Airport, but delays will continue.

Limited flight activity has resumed at @LASairport. Please monitor flight status with your airline. Expect on going delays.

0732 Officers do not believe that there are any more shooters.

At this time we do not believe there are any more shooters. More information to come shortly from @.

0730 Police have confirmed that at least two people have died and two dozen suffered injuries in Sunday’s shooting.

0700 Police reported one suspect “down.”

Please do not livestream or share tactical positions of our officers on scene. This may put emergency responders in danger.

0640 As reports circulated online of police deploying to multiple venues, officers asked social media users not to share their “tactical positions.”

UPDATE: Flights in and out of @LASairport have been temporarily halted in response to reported shooting incident on Las Vegas Strip.

“We want people to steer clear of the area,” an officer told a short media briefing.

0520 The first reports started circulating that an active shooter or shooters had targeted fans at the Route 91 Harvest Festival of country music across from the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on the iconic Las Vegas Strip.

mkg/rt (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)


Conservative victory in Alabama deepens split among Republicans, as insurgents challenge incumbent senators — Republicans and Democrats Aim To Throw the Senate Out

September 28, 2017
  Los Angeles Times

Roy Moore’s upset victory in the Alabama Senate primary sent shock waves through the Republican establishment Wednesday, portending a GOP civil war as outsider candidates in other states threaten to challenge incumbents.

The potential showdowns are reminiscent of the tea party uprising that just a few years ago cost Republicans the majority in the Senate. Now President Trump’s populist rise to power — honed by his former advisor Stephen K. Bannon — has generated a new wave of long-shot candidates capable of upending the 2018 midterms.

In Mississippi, state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who met with Bannon to consider challenging two-term incumbent Sen. Roger Wicker, called the results in Alabama “a great awakening.”

“The GOP establishment’s stranglehold on American politics is finally coming to an end. It should encourage conservative challengers all across the republic,” he said. “The environment couldn’t be any better.”

Arizona’s Kelli Ward, who is challenging Sen. Jeff Flake, said after Alabama she felt “inspired and motivated.”

Image result for jeff flake, photos

Jeff Flake

“Voters elected President Trump to shake up the status quo and get big things accomplished,” she said.

Nevada Sen. Dean Heller is another incumbent who faces a challenge by a candidate, Danny Tarkanian, with potential backing from Bannon’s allies.

And in Tennessee, incumbent Sen. Bob Corker’s sudden retirement, announced hours before the polls closed in Alabama, sent several potential candidates scrambling for what promises to be an intense primary.

On Capitol Hill, Republicans braced for more incumbents to resign rather than face challenging nomination fights.

As a result, Republican professionals who until recently felt that their control of the Senate was secure because the states holding elections in 2018 mostly lean red have started to worry. The departure of incumbents and the rise of candidates who Democrats easily can attack as extreme might put their majority at risk, they fear. At minimum, the new wave of challengers likely means more money spent and a Senate Republican Caucus that will lean further right, and be harder to control, after the next election.

“You’re going to see in state after state after state people who follow the model of Judge Moore,” Bannon told a cheering crowd at Moore’s election night party in Montgomery. They are candidates “that do not need to raise money from the elites, from the crony capitalists, from the fat cats in Washington, D.C., New York City, in Silicon Valley,” he said.

The night before the election, Bannon specifically denounced Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has also been the target of Trump’s anger for the Senate’s failure to pass key elements of his agenda.

“Mitch McConnell and this permanent political class is the most corrupt and incompetent group of individuals in this country,” he told a crowd of Moore’s supporters. “They think you’re a pack of morons. They think you’re nothing but rubes.”

In the aftermath of Moore’s victory, Bannon’s allies continued to press that theme. “This is a repudiation of the Republican establishment,” said Andy Surabian, an ally of Bannon’s and now senior advisor at the Great America Alliance, which backed Moore’s campaign and is looking at other races.

“It’s a win for Trump and an absolute rejection of Mitch McConnell and the establishment.”

More establishment-oriented Republican strategists cautioned against reading too much into the outcome in Alabama, noting that special circumstances helped shape the race: Moore benefited from Luther Strange’s appointment to the Senate by a governor who named him just before resigning his own job in the midst of scandal. And Moore has a long history in Alabama politics, which gave him what one Republican strategist described as a “cult-like following” of evangelical Christians that is unlikely to be replicated.

As the former chief justice of the state’s Supreme Court, Moore was dramatically removed from the bench in 2003 for refusing to take down a display of the Ten Commandments at the courthouse. After being reelected by voters, he was suspended in 2015 for failing to abide by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling favoring same-sex marriages. He ultimately resigned.

Longtime Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) downplayed the ability of outsiders like Bannon to shape statewide races or claim credit in Alabama.

“I don’t know if he’s on Moore’s wagon,” Shelby said in an interview ahead of the election, “or if he’s creating a wagon for Moore.”

Still, the Senate Leadership Fund, a political action committee allied with McConnell, poured $9 million into the race, mainly on attack ads, but failed to dent Moore’s ramshackle campaign.

Image result for mitch mcconnell, photos

Mitch McConnell

That’s an indication of the limits of the establishment’s weapons, some Republican strategists suggested.

“Steve Bannon has declared war on the establishment, and so far he has one scalp on the rail,” said Rick Tyler, a Republican campaign consultant who previously worked for Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. “I would suspect he can do very well in Tennessee and the other states, and his patrons appear to be ready to part with their dollars to make that happen.”

The danger signal for Republican leaders is that even as Trump mused publicly and privately about being blamed for Strange’s loss — at a rally ahead of election day Trump suggested he may have made a mistake and endorsed the wrong candidate — the race in Alabama turned into a referendum on the failure of the GOP majority in Congress to deliver on the president’s agenda.

McConnell, in particular, loomed large as a symbol of the Republican logjam in Congress. The majority leader has become a favorite punching bag for conservative grass-roots challengers who take aim at their own party.

Republican leaders allied with McConnell are gearing up for a fight, much as they did to block the rise of tea party candidates in 2014 whom they saw as popular in primaries, but unable to win statewide general elections.

At the same time, they were rushing Wednesday to embrace Moore, determined not to give Democrats an opening in a red state such as Alabama in an election cycle in which Republicans were hoping they could spend their money on offense against incumbent Democratic senators.

“I urge all of our friends who were active in the primary to redouble their efforts in the general election,” McConnell said late Tuesday, after Moore’s victory, in a message to supporters.

The Democratic candidate in Alabama, former federal prosecutor Doug Jones, who is known in the state for having won convictions against former Ku Klux Klan leaders after reopening an investigation into the bombing in 1963 of Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church, hit the campaign trail Wednesday greeting the lunchtime crowd at a popular diner in downtown Birmingham.

The general election in Alabama, which takes place in mid-December, remains a long shot for Democrats — the Deep South state hasn’t elected a Democratic senator in 25 years — but Moore’s nomination now gives Jones a chance to peel away centrist Republicans who don’t share his far-right views. Democrats are likely to step up their efforts. Former Vice President Joe Biden is headed to Alabama to campaign for Jones.

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Former Vice President Joe Biden

“There’s an energy, I think, right now for change that we haven’t seen in this state in decades,” Jones said in a recent interview at his campaign headquarters in Birmingham.

“They’re realizing that a one-party state just hasn’t worked… and they’re looking for a little bit of political checks and balances.”

But Moore is also preparing for the fight ahead, well aware that his race has set the tone for those to come.

“Washington is watching this very closely because it’s a prelude to the 2018 elections,” Moore said after a campaign rally in Florence, in the far northern part of the state. “There’s a lot of people in these states – out West and across the South and the midsection — they’re waiting to see if someone can take on the Washington establishment. For better or worse, I’ve taken on the Washington establishment — or they’ve taken me on.”


Key Bloc of Conservative Lawmakers Endorse GOP Health Plan

March 17, 2017

Comments come after meeting Friday with group of 13 Republican lawmakers

President Donald Trump speaks to Vice President Mike Pence, left, and House Republicans at the White House Friday.

President Donald Trump speaks to Vice President Mike Pence, left, and House Republicans at the White House Friday. PHOTO: MIKE THEILER / POOL/EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY


Updated March 17, 2017 2:38 p.m. ET

The House Republican health-care plan picked up an important endorsement on Friday from leaders of a bloc of conservative lawmakers, after President Donald Trump agreed to back more stringent curbs on Medicaid funding and proposals to add work requirements for its beneficiaries.

“100% of the nos are yeses,” Mr. Trump said of the group of 13 lawmakers he hosted in the Oval Office Friday morning, who included leaders of the conservative Republican Study Committee. The president said that overnight his administration had worked to convince many of the people in the room to back the bill and that he was confident he had their support now. “Every single person sitting in this room is now a yes.”

Leaders of the Republican Study Committee, a caucus that includes most of the House GOP lawmakers, repeated their willingness to back the bill as they left the White House, citing Mr. Trump’s backing for block grants and support for states adding requirements that beneficiaries show they are working or attempting to do so.

It wasn’t clear how many rank-and-file members of the Republican Study Committee were on board and if the bill has the support of enough Republicans to pass the House, which is expected to vote on it Thursday. A smaller group of conservatives, the House Freedom Caucus, could yet torpedo the legislation if all members withhold their support.

“President Trump himself committed that he is all in, 100% in, for this bill,” House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R., La.), who is in charge of rounding up lawmakers’ votes and a past leader in the committee.

Rep. Mark Walker (R., N.C.), the current chairman of the Republican Study Committee, said that lawmakers had held a conference call close to midnight to discuss the bill. He said that with commitments from the president to back block grants and work requirements in Medicaid, they were able to move “from undecided, or no, to a positive yes this morning.”

Reps Marsha Blackburn (R., Tenn.) and Mia Love (R., Utah) emphasized the bill’s existing restrictions on abortion funding as a reason for support.

Several of the group’s members said after they left the White House that they entered undecided, but that Mr. Trump won them over by agreeing to two changes. One would let states impose a work requirement on Medicaid recipients. The second would allow states to choose between receiving their federal Medicaid funding in the form of a block grant or as a per capita allotment.

“Those are significant steps forward from my conservative perspective that make the bill much more agreeable,” said Rep. Jim Banks (R., Ind.), who now plans to vote for the bill.

Mr. Trump said he supported the calls from House conservatives to restrict federal funding for Medicaid by giving states “block grants” in exchange for more leeway in how they run the program. He said he wanted states to continue to have federal help for their neediest but also the flexibility states have requested in managing the program.

In his comments Friday, Mr. Trump praised the visiting GOP House members, saying that they had been tough negotiators. Criticizing the 2010 health law is a point around which Republicans have been able to rally; the mechanics of undoing the law have been more divisive.

“It’s on a respirator,” Mr. Trump said. “Obamacare is not an alternative.”

Some lawmakers in the meeting had already publicly pledged support for the bill, including Mr. Scalise, the House Majority Whip. Members of the whip team, in charge of counting the votes, said they were getting closer to the 216 votes the bill will need to pass the chamber. The bill still has opposition from both conservative and centrist Republicans.

“It’s still in the works, but we’re getting closer and closer,” said Rep. Dennis Ross (R., Fla.).

Mr. Trump spoke after four Republican governors announced their opposition Thursday night to the House GOP legislation, another signal of the political challenges it faces from moderates within the Republican party as well as its right-wing.

The four GOP governors come from Ohio, Michigan, Nevada and Arkansas, states that expanded their Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act. In a letter to congressional leaders, they cited the potential for the bill to strip people of Medicaid coverage.

The bill is still likely to be amended in the Senate, where a dozen Republicans have already indicated they consider the more conservative direction it is going in the House as unacceptable. Some centrist GOP senators say the legislation needs to give more generous support to rural, older and low-income people to help them buy health insurance.

Mr. Scalise said he was unruffled by that prospect Friday morning, because his responsibility was simply to get a bill out of the House.

“If they want to make additional changes, that’s called the legislative process,” said Mr. Scalise. “We’re just happy to get this bill passed through the House, that’s what we’re focused on, and the Senate can take care of their business.”

Write to Louise Radnofsky at, Michelle Hackman at and Kristina Peterson at