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BREAKING NEWS

Violent week throws gun laws into focus

Updated: Thursday, July 10, 2014
Violent week throws gun laws into focus story image
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - The tragic shooting death of a young Muskegon mom a few days ago puts a somber exclamation point on an especially violent week in the U.S.

Rebekah Bletsch was shot in the head while jogging near her home--no one knows why.

Tonight in Tom's Corner, Tom Van Howe says the shooting is a reminder that gun accessibility remains a serious problem in this country.

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Rebekah was a mom, a daughter, a friend to many. And in the circle of her family and friends, as police begin a difficult search for her killer, she will be mourned and remembered.

But in the larger sense, she's a number. And there are so many numbers it's hard to keep track.

On one hand,  its easy to understand how we become desensitized to the horrors of violence.

In the Middle East people are being murdered every day in the name of righteousness. It's numbing.

We're sending in advisors. And we know where that led us 50 years ago in Vietnam.

In Israel, the citizenry seems to be gearing up for an all-out confrontation with Hamas after three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and murdered.

In Texas, more than 50-thousand Central American children are being cared for in refugee camps. Their parents sent them up hoping they'll get citizenship. Nobody knows what to do about it.

Our increasingly unpopular president is trading barbs with an even more unpopular intransigent Congress. Nothing gets done.

On the other hand, we have increasingly liberalized gun laws which don't seem to be stopping those intent on murdering people.

Over the past weekend, on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, two men began trying to shoot each other.

They were unsuccessful. But they managed to shoot  11 innocent by-standers. One of them was killed and another is still in critical condition.

In New York City, 23 people were shot. Among them a 10-year-old,  a 12-year-old and a 16-year-old.

In Chicago, 35 people were shot. One person is dead. Many of the others are hurting.

In Newark, New Jersey, a 17-year-old girl--a cheerleader--was forced to get on her knees before being shot in the head. Her boyfriend was shot, too. He has survived.

And in Cumberland County, Kentucky, a five-year-old boy accidentally shot and killed his two-year-old sister with his new .22 caliber rifle. The boy's grandmother, who points out it was a child-sized weapon, says the tragedy was God's will. "It was her time to go," she said. "she's in good hands with the Lord."

The carnage is so overwhelming we have lost our ability to process it in any meaningful, thoughtful way. We deal with it by shrugging our shoulders, shaking our heads, and looking for someone to have lunch with.

Where do bad guys get their guns to commit these atrocities? Some are stolen. Some are from the gun case at home. But most are purchased illegally  at gun shows and from shady gun dealers.

A teenaged shooter in a Chicago gang told a reporter there that he can get his hands on a weapon any time--as quickly as you can get a burger at a fast food restaurant.

A phone call and a pickup, he said. As simple as that.

And what are we doing about it? Virtually nothing. We can't even get a decent background check law in place for those who buy weapons. The NRA holds that automatic weapons are just fine.

I don't think most people believe that. But most people don't have the money to lobby Congress on their behalf.

My deepest sympathies to the friends and family of Muskegon's Rebekah Bletsch. I just wish i had more than condolences to offer.

In this corner...I'm Tom Van Howe.

Business News

Last Update on August 28, 2014 07:37 GMT

ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Labor Department releases weekly jobless claims, 8:30 a.m.

WASHINGTON -- Commerce Department releases second-quarter gross domestic product, 8:30 a.m.

WASHINGTON -- Freddie Mac, the mortgage company, releases weekly mortgage rates, 10 a.m.

WASHINGTON -- The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. releases U.S. bank earnings for the second quarter, 10 a.m.

WASHINGTON -- National Association of Realtors releases pending home sales index for July, 10 a.m.

AMERICANS' ECONOMIC SURVEY

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Despite many signs of a business recovery including improved hiring, Americans are more worried about the economy than they were right after the Great Recession.

A survey released by researchers at Rutgers University says that this pessimism exists despite record Wall Street gains and a host of upbeat economic indicators.

Seventy-one percent of Americans surveyed say the recession put a permanent drag on the economy. In contrast, Rutgers researchers found in a similar survey in November 2009 that only 49 percent thought the downturn would have lasting damage. That earlier 2009 survey was conducted five months after the recession officially ended.

And when the 2009 survey was undertaken, national joblessness was at 9.9 percent of the labor force, compared to the current 6.2 percent.

The survey says people's confidence in the economy has been eroded by the slow pace of improvement during the

SUPERMARKET FEUD

TEWKSBURY, Mass. (AP) -- A New England supermarket chain that has been in turmoil for weeks over a workers' revolt and customer boycott has announced that the former CEO will buy a majority stake in the business.

In a statement issued late Wednesday, Market Basket said popular CEO Arthur T. Demoulas (deh-MOO'-lahs) would be returning and taking over day-to-day operations. He was ousted in June by a board of directors controlled by his cousin, Arthur S. Demoulas. Hundreds of warehouse workers and drivers refused to deliver food to the chain's stores, leading to empty shelves and millions in lost revenue.

Market Basket, known for its low prices, has 71 stores in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine.

JPMORGAN-HACKING

NEW YORK (AP) -- The FBI is investigating a hacking attack on JPMorgan Chase and at least one other bank. That's according to reports citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter.

A report on Bloomberg.com says the FBI is investigating an incident in which Russian hackers attacked the U.S financial system earlier this month in possible retaliation against U.S. government-sponsored sanctions aimed at Russia.

The attack, Bloomberg says, led to the loss of sensitive data. Bloomberg cites security experts saying that the attack appeared "far beyond the capability of ordinary criminal hackers."

The New York Times, also citing people familiar with the matter, says JP Morgan and at least four other firms were hit this month by what it describes as coordinated attacks that siphoned off huge amounts of data, including checking and savings account information.

The Wall Street Journal also cites unnamed sources in a less detailed report that calls the attacks a "significant breach of corporate computer security."

PORT LABOR

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Negotiators hoping to reach a new contract that would keep hundreds of billions of dollars of cargo moving smoothly through West Coast seaports are making significant progress with a tentative deal on health care benefits.

The knotty issue had tied up the talks for months. Specific details weren't released.

The union representing dockworkers insisted benefits be maintained, while the Pacific Maritime Association said the current plan was so generous it had become the target for tens of millions of dollars in fraudulent charges.

The association had focused on limiting fraud while dockworkers complained that emphasis had blocked the payment of legitimate claims.

An overall contract deal still hinges on unresolved issues including job security and workplace safety.

The contract covers workers at 29 ports which are key trade links to Asia.

TYSON FOODS-HILLSHIRE-JUSTICE DEPARTMENT

NEW YORK (AP) -- Tyson Foods will sell its sow purchasing business, Heinold Hog Markets, in order to get regulatory clearance for its $7.75 billion purchase of Hillshire Brands.

The U.S. Department of Justice said Wednesday that Tyson Foods must sell the business in order to preserve competition for farmers who sell sows, or female pigs. The agency said Tyson and Hillshire combine to make more than a third of the sow purchases in the U.S.

Tyson Foods Inc. and Hillshire Brands Co. said they agreed with the department's proposal.

The department says Heinold buys sows from farmers and sells them to sausage makers. It had $270 million in revenue in 2013. That's less than 1 percent of Tyson's total revenue. Hillshire makes the pigs into Jimmy Dean and Hillshire Farm brand foods

Tyson agreed to buy Hillshire in June for $63 per share.

SEC CRISIS RULES

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal regulators have voted to require financial firms that sell securities backed by loans, like the kind that fueled the 2008 financial crisis, to give investors details on borrowers' credit records and income.

The Securities and Exchange Commission adopted the rules on a 5-0 vote Wednesday and the regulations cover securities linked to mortgages and auto loans.

The commissioners also imposed new conflict-of-interest rules on the agencies that rate the debt of companies, governments and issues of securities. That vote split 3-2 along party lines, with the two Republican commissioners opposing adoption of the rules.

Home mortgages bundled into securities and sold on Wall Street soured after the housing bubble burst in 2007, losing billions in value. The vast sales of risky securities ignited the crisis that plunged the economy into the deepest recession since the Great Depression and brought a taxpayer bailout of banks.

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