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  • iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- In the aftermath of yet another mass shooting, this time in Southerland Springs, Texas, members of Congress are once again proposing legislation aimed at overhauling and enforcing stricter gun laws.Twenty-six people were left dead on Sunday, according to police, who have included an unborn child in the death count, when a gunman open fired on a church congregation during service.Democrats announced today the Assault Weapons Ban of 2017, which would ban the sale, transfer, manufacture and importation of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammo magazines.The last time senators attempted legislation of this magnitude was in 2012, following the Sandy Hook school shooting that killed 20 children and six adult staff members.The bill was defeated in the Senate on April 17, 2013, by a vote of 40 to 60.“To those who say now isn’t the time, they’re right -- we should have extended the original ban 13 years ago, before hundreds more Americans were murdered with these weapons of war. To my colleagues in Congress, I say do your job,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said in a press release Wednesday.The last assault weapons ban expired on Sept. 13, 2004.In a surprising move, top Republican and Senate Majority Whip Sen. John Cornyn announced on Tuesday that he will introduce legislation to enhance and expedite the uploading of criminal conviction records into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. The Republican senator is from Texas.Officials said the gunman, Devin Kelley, was able to purchase guns because the Air Force failed to report his domestic violence-related convictions to an FBI database.“This critically important information from the suspect's criminal history was not uploaded into the relevant background check databases, even though a federal law clearly requires that it be done,” Cornyn said Tuesday.“Because there was no record of it, he was able to lie his way into getting these firearms,” he added.Meanwhile, Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., also announced Tuesday that they were working on their own legislation that would ensure any individual convicted of domestic violence -- whether in criminal or military court -- cannot legally purchase a firearm.As it stands now, the military does not report misdemeanors of domestic violence to the background check database, “and it’s not clear that they can under current law” an aide to Flake told ABC News in a statement.During a joint press conference Tuesday, the senators stood side by side as they announced their legislation.“It appears this loophole allowed a man who was clearly unfit to purchase a firearm to do so at the cost of 26 innocent lives,” Flake said. “This bill will ensure that a situation like this will not happen again and that anyone, anywhere convicted of domestic violence is kept from legally purchasing a gun.”Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee John McCain, R-Ariz., also weighed in Tuesday, expressing his frustration over cuts to defense spending which he said has resulted in a “less trained and well equipped” military. He said he plans to hold an oversight hearing in the Senate Armed Services Committee soon to find out how and why the Air Force could make such an egregious reporting error.The House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, also on Tuesday said in a statement that he has directed his committee staff to begin its own comprehensive oversight of the DOD, as he is concerned the failure to properly report domestic violence convictions may be a systemic issue. He called the issue "appalling."The Senate Judiciary Committee announced it will hold a hearing Nov. 14 to examine the federal and local government reporting of criminal convictions to the national database. The panel will also look at federal regulations for bump stocks, which can be att
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  • Thomas Peter-Pool/Getty Images(BEIJING) -- President Donald Trump expressed optimism after a meeting Thursday morning with Chinese President Xi Jingping that warm personal ties with the leader of a country he's frequently disparaged will translate to progress on North Korea and trade."Our meeting this morning was excellent discussing North Korea," Trump said, seated across from Xi in the Great Hall of the People. "I do believe there's a solution to that, as you do."Looking Xi in the eye, Trump also acknowledged what he has called a greatly unfair trade relationship that has hurt American workers and businesses."We've gotten so far behind with China," the president said. "I have great respect for you on that because you represent China ... but we'll make it fair, and it will be tremendous for both of us."Despite the warm words, there has been little indication of any substantive breakthrough on either front ahead of the summit here in Beijing.But Trump seems to be banking on a sharply different tone toward China -- and warmer personal relationship with Xi -- to produce outcomes that frustrated his predecessor for eight years."My feeling toward you is an incredibly warm one. ... There is great chemistry," Trump told his host. "And it is a very very great honor to be with you."He added, "We have a capacity to solve world problems for many many years to come," he said. "I believe we can solve almost of all of them –- probably all of them."Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • State.gov(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said talks here between President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping forged an "unequivocal" agreement between both countries that North Korea cannot be allowed to have nuclear weapons."There is no disagreement on North Korea. We were pretty pleased by the fact that the Chinese have been really clear and unequivocal that they will not accept a North Korea with nuclear weapons," Tillerson told ABC News' Cecilia Vega in a briefing at the conclusion of the summit."Our efforts are complementary -– not in any way contradictory -– to bring Pyongyang to the negotiating table about how they will denuclearize their country," he said.While the comments highlighted a key area of common ground, officials gave no indication of new steps China would take to help resolve the standoff with North Korea or a clear timeline for other possible moves in the future.Tillerson acknowledged that Trump and Xi differ in timing, tactics and approach to pressuring the Kim Jong Un regime. He said China believes the sanctions currently in place need time to have maximum effect."We've had some tremendous discussions on that today and I think things will happen, I believe things will happen," Trump said during the meeting with Xi.White House aides have said Trump believes Xi uniquely holds the key to resolving the crisis in North Korea. China is the Kim regime’s largest financial benefactor and has multiple points of leverage -- from cross-border trade, to bank accounts and oil exports.Tillerson suggested Trump showered Xi with flattery in their meetings to try to drive home that point."President Trump has been very clear with President Xi -– that you are a very powerful neighbor of theirs, you account for 90-plus percent of their economic activity, you're a very strong man and you can solve this for me," Tillerson said.At a joint press conference by Trump and Xi, both men expressed optimism for a solution short of war."As long as we stand together, with others if necessary, against those who threaten our civilization that threat will never happen. It doesn't even have a chance," Trump said.Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Voters head to the polls Tuesday in Virginia to decide their next governor in a race that has been closely watched as a bellwether for the political climate ahead of the 2018 midterm elections and a test of President Donald Trump’s influence in the only southern state he lost in the 2016 elections.The race between Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, and former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie started out as a relatively tame political contest between two moderates, but has morphed into an intense battle over hot-button issues like illegal immigration, race relations and Confederate monuments.Republicans have won just one out of the last four gubernatorial elections in Virginia since 2001 and national groups have poured money and resources into the state to boost Gillespie’s campaign. President Trump did not campaign with Gillespie, however Vice President Mike Pence did appear with the candidate last month at a rally in southern Virginia.Northam has also attracted support from national Democrats and appeared on the campaign trail with both former President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. Democrats are eager to pull out a win in Virginia to show tangible political resistance to the Trump presidency.Here’s a look at what you need to know about who is running and what matters ahead of Tuesday’s election:Ralph NorthamNortham, Virginia’s Democratic Lieutenant Governor, grew up on Virginia’s Eastern Shore and attended the Virginia Military Institute. He later served as an Army doctor and taught medicine and ethics at Eastern Virginia Medical School.He was elected as the state’s lieutenant governor in 2013, serving under current Gov. Terry McAuliffe. He faced a legitimate primary challenger in former U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello, but was able to win the nomination with help from McAuliffe and other Democratic groups in the state.Ed GillespieGillespie has been a staple in Republican Party politics for decades, serving as a former RNC Chairman and counselor to President George W. Bush. Gillespie has also worked as a lobbyist and political strategist. In 2000, he co-founded a consulting firm, Quinn, Gillespie & Associates.Gillespie ran for U.S. Senate in 2014, and nearly unseated incumbent Mark Warner, a Democrat. Gillespie lost the election by less than one point in a result that caught many political observers off guard.In the Republican primary, Gillespie was nearly beaten by Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart, who ran as a more conservative and Trump-aligned alternative.The Trump QuestionWhile President Trump did not personally campaign for Gillespie, his presence has loomed large over the race throughout the fall.The president did however endorse Gillespie over Twitter, praising his ads highlighting violence perpetrated by the MS-13 gang in Virginia.Gillespie approached questions about President Trump very cautiously throughout the campaign, but Northam, who called Trump a “narcissistic maniac” early in the campaign, has tried to tie Gillespie to him at every turn. The president’s approval rating in Virginia was measured at just 34 percent in a recent poll by Quinnipiac.Northam has run ads in the final weeks of the campaign linking Gillespie to Trump, likely in the hopes that the unpopular president will be enough of a drag in certain areas of the state for Northam to pull out a win.The Ad WarsMost of the campaign’s most heated exchanges have come over the airways.Gillespie has run ads throughout the state highlighting crimes committed by the violent MS-13 gang, accusing Northam of supporting policies that have allowed the gang to grow in the state. The Republican has also run ads highlighting Northam’s support for the automatic restoration of certain rights for criminals, saying the policy allows sex offenders to have their gun rights restored.Gillespie has also tried to
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  • ABCNews.com(TOKYO) -- President Trump departs Japan for South Korea Tuesday in what will be the second stop of his five-country Asia tour that comes amid heightened tensions with North Korea.While the issue of North Korea’s nuclear ambitions looms large over the entirety of the president’s tour of the region, the visit to Seoul will bring the president within the closest proximity to Pyongyang as he will come this trip.While there, the president will receive a red carpet welcome with a state dinner in his honor, deliver a major speech to the South Korean legislature, meet with President Moon Jae-In, visit a U.S. military base, and pay his respects to fallen service members with a visit to the National Cemetery.Over the course of two days in South Korea, a senior administration official said the president will “highlight the enduring strength of the U.S. and Republic of Korea alliance, which is stronger than ever in the face of North Korea's aggression” over the course of the two-day visit to South Korea.One notable hole in the president’s itinerary: He will not visit the highly fortified demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. A senior administration official downplayed the significance of skipping a visit to the demilitarized zone, saying it has become “a little bit of a cliche” to make the visit."The president is not going to visit the DMZ. There is not enough time in the schedule. It would have had to be the DMZ or Camp Humphreys," a senior administration official told reporters in a briefing last Tuesday. "It made more sense in terms of messaging."The White House said this gives the president a chance to address U.S. and South Korean troops and to highlight South Korea's role in sharing the burden of supporting the alliance. The stop at Camp Humphreys is also significant in that it will be the president’s second visit to a U.S. base on just the third day of his tour of the region, driving home the president’s message of military might and readiness in the region.“No one, no dictator, no regime, and no nation should underestimate ever American resolve,” the president said during his visit to Yokota Air Base upon first arriving in the Japan on Sunday, without directly naming Kim Jong Un. “Every once in a while in the past they underestimated us. It was not pleasant for them. Was it?”The White House has said not to expect the president to moderate his language on North Korea even as he tours the region.“I don't think the president really modulates his language. Have you noticed him do that?” the president’s national security adviser H.R. McMaster told reporters last week in advance of the president’s trip.The president has repeatedly derided North Korea’s leader, pejoratively referring to him as “little rocket man” and famously threatened Pyongyang with “fire and fury” and total annihilation should the regime seriously threaten the U.S. or a close ally.“The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” the president said in an address to the United Nations General Assembly in September as he warned Kim Jong Un against advancing “on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.”Even though White House advisers say there will be no attempt to mince words, the president has so far abstained during the trip from some of his more provocative threats against Pyongyang. But the administration is seeking to deliver a message to Pyonyang through the president's trip that the U.S. is standing guard in the region in lockstep with regional allies and ready to return fire for fire if needed.The president’s core objective: The total nuclear disarmament of the Korean Peninsula.“The President's strategy -- and this strategy is in complete alignment wit
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