News January 17

Senator Sanders

Gun Violence President Obama on Wednesday unveiled a plan to reduce gun violence which includes a ban on all military-grade assault rifles and mandatory background checks for all gun purchases. His proposals face an uncertain fate in a divided Congress. In Vermont, Sens. Bernie Sanders and Patrick Leahy and Rep. Peter Welch all found common ground with the president, coming out in support of at least parts of his plan, according to the Burlington Free Press. “Congress must consider a comprehensive approach which includes a serious discussion about guns, the need for greatly expanded mental health services and ending gratuitous violence in the media. I intend to play an active role in that debate,” Sanders said. LINK

Media Monopolies Speculation about Fisher Communications being put up for sale raises the disturbing prospect of losing the last local owner of commercial broadcast television in Seattle. Sens. Maria Cantwell and Sanders confronted the Federal Communications Commission over its stealth plans to relax long-standing rules about cross-ownership of broadcast outlets and newspapers, according to a Seattle Times editorial. “We cannot live in a vibrant democracy unless people get divergent sources of information and have the opportunity to have serious debate about the major issues of the day,” Sanders said. LINK

Treasury Secretary One of Tammy Baldwin's first votes as a U.S. senator will be a test of partisan loyalty and ideological principle. Obama has nominated Jack Lew to replace the disappointing Timothy Geithner as treasury secretary. Sen. Sanders opposes Lew's nomination. Will Baldwin side with Obama or Sanders? John Nichols asked in The (Madison, Wis.) Capital Times. LINK

Treasury Secretary The staunchest resistance to Jack Lew's nomination for treasury secretary has come from Sen. Sanders, who criticized Lew's tenure at troubled Wall Street titan Citigroup during the financial crisis. But James Galbraith, a leading progressive economist, rejected Sanders' reasoning in an interview with The Huffington Post. “He was offered a lucrative job that was a good holding tank while the Dems were out of office,” Galbraith said of Lew’s work for Citigroup. LINK

Independent Voice Sen. Sanders was praised in a letter to the editor to The (Ronan, Mont.) Valley Journal. Bob McClellan praised Sanders’ stance on resisting austerity in deficit talks and opposing Jack Lew’s nomination for Treasury Secretary. “He cuts through all the political posturing, the evading of problems’ root causes, and the bobbing and weaving of so many politicians,” McClellan said. “He seems to speak for the vast majority of Americans.” LINK

Professor Gutman A former English professor is returning to UVM in the fall after serving as a chief of staff to Sen. Sanders. Huck Gutman left UVM in 2007 to pursue a career in politics in Washington and is returning to UVM as a poetry professor, The Vermont Cynic student newspaper reported. LINK

World

China Begins to Lose Edge as World's Factory Floor China is losing its competitive edge as a low-cost manufacturing base, new data suggest, with makers of everything from handbags to shirts to basic electronic components relocating to cheaper locales like Southeast Asia, The Wall Street Journal reported. LINK

National

White House Chief of Staff President Obama is planning to elevate a key national security deputy, Denis R. McDonough, to White House chief of staff, administration officials told The New York Times. Obama has not made a final decision but aides said they expected an announcement early next week. LINK

On Strike The largest New York school bus drivers’ union went on strike Wednesday, pulling 8,000 drivers and aides in an attempt to include job security for experienced employees in city contracts, USA Today reported. LINK

Vermont

Gun Violence Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he would begin hearings on gun control proposals in two weeks. In a speech to students at Georgetown Law Center, Sen. Leahy expressed support for improved background checks and closing the gun show loophole. Leahy, a gun owner himself, said he did not know if an assault weapons ban could pass the Senate.  LINK

Gun Violence A Vermont firing range told the Burlington Police Department its officers are not welcome to train at the facility after the City Council advanced a measure to ban semi-automatic rifles and large-capacity magazines. The Burlington Free Press reported that the Lamoille Valley Fish and Game Club said it can no longer support the city with such a “prejudice” against the club. LINK

Interstate Shootings Vermont State Police are looking for a suspect responsible for shooting at least five vehicles traveling northbound on Interstate 89, WCAX-TV reported. LINK

Leahy to Refile Bill on Violence Against Women The first legislation that Senator Leahy plans to move in the new Congress is the Violence Against Women Act. He cites a Thetford woman as a reason why. In a speech at Georgetown University, Leahy highlighted the brutal attack against Carmen Tarleton. Leahy’s bill passed the U.S. Senate last year with bipartisan support, but it stalled in the House, WCAX-TV reported. LINK

Vermont Yankee New England Coalition’s lawsuit against the Vermont Yankee power plant will proceed to the state Supreme Court in what The Associated Press called “a rare legal proceeding.” NEC is an anti-nuclear group seeking to shut down the plant following the expiration of its state permit in March 2012. LINK

Made in Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin approved the construction of a public-private visitor center on Interstate 89 that would showcase Vermont-made products. The visitor center would be constructed in Randolph, Vt. and would also provide state tourism information, according to AP.  LINK

Drug Bust More than 100 state and local police officers are involved in a massive sweep targeting 63 illegal drug suspects in southwestern Vermont, AP reported. “The operation is one of the largest arrest sweeps in Vermont’s history,” the state police said. LINK