Blog Posts by Liz Goodwin, Yahoo News

  • Gun rights crowd targets military’s firearms policy after Navy Yard shootings

    In the wake of Monday’s mass shootings at the Washington Navy Yard, where a military contractor armed with a 12-gauge shotgun killed 12 people before being shot dead himself, some gun advocates are raising objections about the policy that prohibits servicemen and civilians from arming themselves for protection on bases.

    Rep. Louis Gohmert, R-Texas, told Newsmax he thinks servicemen should be able to carry their personal weapons on bases. "I'd be all for everybody keeping their sidearms if they're in the military and on a military installation," Gohmert said. "That's something we need to get back to."

    John R. Lott, a leading gun rights advocate and the author of “More Guns, Less Crime,” told Yahoo News he believes the Pentagon has effectively “disarmed” servicemen and civilians on bases. He argues that military bases are “gun-free zones” ripe for mass shooting events, and he blames a 1993 executive order signed by Bill Clinton for the change. (The official firearms policy was actually

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  • Durbin postpones 'stand your ground' gun law hearing after D.C. shooting

    Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., has postponed a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on “stand your ground” self-defense gun laws slated for Tuesday morning in the wake of Monday’s shooting at the nearby Navy Yard complex that’s left at least 13 dead, included the suspected gunman.

    The mothers of two slain teens and experts who are both for and against gun control were scheduled to testify about the controversial laws, which sparked a national debate after the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla. Sybrina Fulton, Martin’s mother and a vocal opponent of "stand your ground" laws, was slated to be one of the witnesses at the hearing. 

    The hearing has not yet been rescheduled.

    Another witness, Lucia McBath — whose unarmed teenage son, Jordan Davis, was killed in Jacksonville, Fla., last year while sitting in his car by a man who claimed to be acting in self-defense — said her flight to Washington was delayed when the Washington airport was temporarily shut down in response to the

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  • Bill Thompson drops out of NYC mayoral primary, backs rival Bill de Blasio

    New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio sealed up the Democratic nomination for mayor as Bill Thompson, succumbing to party pressure, threw in the towel and backed his rival Monday morning. De Blasio has made the police "stop and frisk" policy and wealth inequality central issues of his campaign.

    “I am proud to stand here today and support Bill de Blasio to be the next mayor of the city of New York," said the clearly chagrined Thompson, who was his party's failed nominee against Michael Bloomberg four years ago.

    It was a Democratic love fest on the steps of City Hall, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo took center stage to applaud Thompson for putting the good of the party above his "personal ambitions." Cuomo publicly assured Thompson that "he has whatever future that he wants."

    "There is nothing more beautiful than Democratic unity," de Blasio said, while accepting Thompson's endorsement.

    Thompson, 60, did not hide, however, his outrage over the city's problem-plagued Board of Elections failure

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  • New documentary profiles the four U.S. doctors who still perform third-trimester abortions

    A new documentary called “After Tiller” explores the lives and motivations of the four doctors who still perform third-trimester abortions in America.

    The doctors were colleagues of George Tiller, a late-term abortion doctor who was shot dead in 2009 by an anti-abortion activist while serving as an usher at his Wichita, Kan., church. Tiller’s clinic had been firebombed in the 1980s, and he had survived multiple gunshot wounds from an attack by an anti-abortion activist in 1993.

    The film, which will be released in New York City on Sept. 20, examines what makes these four physicians choose to perform a controversial procedure that only 10 percent of Americans think should be legal in the first place, placing them in the middle of a virulent political debate that leaves them in constant fear for their lives.

    The Supreme Court has ruled that states may not place an undue burden on a woman’s right to obtain an abortion up to the point that a fetus is viable outside the womb, which happens

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  • Police Department's 'stop and frisk' program could decide NYC mayoral race

    The controversy around the New York Police Department’s practice of stopping and questioning hundreds of thousands of mostly black and Hispanic men each year may decide who becomes the next mayor of the nation's largest city.

    Voters in the city's Democratic and Republican mayoral primaries on Tuesday were choosing candidates to replace three-term independent Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a billionaire first elected as a Republican who vigorously supports the police’s “stop and frisk” tactics. The general election is Nov. 5.

    On the Democratic side, recent polls showed liberal candidate Bill de Blasio, the city’s public advocate, breezing past long-time favorite City Council Speaker Christine Quinn in part by hammering on the unfairness of stop and frisk. De Blasio also siphoned off black voters from Bill Thompson, the former city comptroller and the only black mayoral candidate, who has been less vocal than de Blasio in saying NYPD policies lead to racial profiling.

    Michael Johnson, a

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  • Immigration officials to limit solitary confinement after human rights outcry

    Immigration and Customs Enforcement will limit its use of solitary confinement for the tens of thousands of immigrants in custody after complaints from human rights organizations that the punishment was damaging detainees’ mental health.

    ICE announced this week that punitive solitary confinement should be “used only as a last resort” with detainees who have special disabilities such as mental illness. Holding detainees in isolation for more than two weeks at a time — the point at which mental health experts say irreparable mental harm might be done to a person — should be avoided if possible, the new policy also states.

    As of March, about 300 of the approximately 30,000 immigrants in the sprawling detention system were held in solitary every day, according to a review by The New York Times. Dozens were held for periods of longer than two months.

    Under the new policy, ICE officials must justify in writing why they are holding people in isolation for longer than two weeks. (The previous

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  • College students: Media-savvy multitaskers or scatterbrained procrastinators?

    BOSTON - SEPTEMBER 22: Leanne Bowes of Conn., a student at Emerson College, uses her cell phone for texting at a cafe. (Photo by David L Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

    Sean, a history major and a senior at Suffolk University in Boston, opens his laptop with the best of intentions — to do his course work. But before he knows what’s happened, a dozen browser tabs are open and hours have slipped by.

    "Dude, the Internet is a black hole,” Sean told Yahoo News. He didn’t want his last name used so as not to impede his future job search.

    “When you're doing schoolwork there's so many distractions that can just lead you away from being productive,” Sean said. “I'll be researching the fugitive slave law and all of a sudden I'm checking how many points Larry Bird had in game 7 of the 1984 finals with really no idea of how the transition occurred."

    Teens heading to college for the first time this fall have never known life without the Internet and have grown up immersed in digital distractions and stimuli.

    Researchers are just now beginning to understand how being glued to devices throughout their growing-up years is transforming young people’s brains — and

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  • Born Digital: Meet the college class of 2017

    College campus fashions of the past. Click the image for a slideshow.

    Eighteen-year-olds headed off to college for the first time this fall were mostly born in 1995—the year Yahoo was founded—and have never known life without the internet. In the series “Born Digital,” Yahoo News will explore the ways the college experience is being transformed by this new generation: from how undergrads nab jobs and internships to the way they interact with professors and even how they date.

    Researchers who have mined survey data on college freshmen and high school seniors that goes back to the 1970s still don’t know how constant access to technology is defining or shaping this born digital generation of students. But social scientists have identified key differences in the values and habits of today’s undergrads that represent sharp breaks from the attitudes on college campuses of the past.

    The current crop of college students study less, are from wealthier families, volunteer more and are more concerned about their financial future than college students decades ago, the

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  • Does Obama need congressional approval to bomb Syria?

    If President Barack Obama chooses to unilaterally launch a military attack against Syria in retaliation for the government's alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians last week, he is certain to face criticism that he's overstepping his executive authority.

    The president has already run up against resistance from some members of Congress, who argue that under the 1973 War Powers Resolution and the U.S. Constitution he must seek the body’s full approval before taking military action against the country.

    The disagreement is part of a larger and thorny constitutional and legal argument over how far Congress can go to check the chief executive's war powers and what types of military actions constitute war.

    Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., has said it would be “unquestionably unconstitutional” for Obama to bomb the country without Congress’ approval, and he has authored legislation to withhold funds from the effort. Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia also has suggested the president

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  • Obama outlines plan to stem skyrocketing cost of college

    President Barack Obama unveiled his plan to tackle the skyrocketing cost of college by tying billions of dollars in federal student aid to how well colleges rank on affordability and other measures at a speech at the University at Buffalo on Thursday morning.

    “Too many students are facing a choice they should never have to make: Either they say no to college . . . or you do what it takes to go to college but then you run the risk of not being able to pay it off because you've got so much debt,” Obama said.

    The rise in college costs has far outpaced the growth in middle-class wages, especially at public four-year universities, where costs have gone up 250 percent in the past 30 years, according to the College Board. Obama’s plan, which would require authorization from a deeply divided Congress, would tie $150 billion each year in federal student aid to a ratings system the Department of Education will develop by 2015.

    Colleges that are more affordable, serve more students from poorer

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