Gun-con­trol protest sparks chaotic scenes in US Congress

Pakistan Observer - - OPINION -

“@bertrand­pic­card lands in #Seville com­plet­ing, in 70h, the 1st #At­lantic so­lar flight #fu­tureis­clean,” the sup­port team’s of­fi­cial Twit­ter ac­count said.

“A dream is com­ing true,” the team had tweeted as the plane slowly ap­proached its fi­nal des­ti­na­tion early to­day af­ter fly­ing 6,272 kilo­me­tres (3,900 miles) across the At­lantic. So­lar Im­pulse, which has just com­pleted the 15th leg of its around-the-world trip, set out on March 9, 2015 in Abu Dhabi, and has flown across Asia and the Pa­cific to the United States with the sun as its only source of power.

“Good morn­ing Seville! Do you have a lot of di­rect flights from NYC?” Pic­card tweeted with a wink shortly be­fore land­ing.

Prince Al­bert of Monaco, a pa­tron of the project who had spent the en­tire night at the con­trol cen­tre, con­grat­u­lated Pic­card on the jour­ney: “Bravo, it was mag­nif­i­cent to see!” he said from the tiny state on the French Riviera.

“I ar­rived in the mid­dle of an air show, it was ab­so­lutely ex­tra­or­di­nary, that kept me awake!” Pic­card told him in re­sponse, de­scrib­ing the ac­ro­batic dis­play put on by the Span­ish air force as he came in to land.—Agen­cies WASH­ING­TON—There have been chaotic scenes in the lower house of the US Congress as Democrats staged a sit-in to de­mand a vote on gun con­trol leg­is­la­tion. The protest comes in the wake of the re­cent shoot­ings in Or­lando, the dead­li­est in mod­ern US his­tory. Repub­li­cans ad­journed the House early on Thurs­day to try to quash the sit-in, switch­ing off the TV cam­eras.

But some Democrats re­mained, stream­ing speeches live via phones de­spite break­ing rules on broad­cast­ing. The trans­mis­sions via Periscope and Face­book Live were taken up by the C-Span net­work, which pro­vides con­tin­ual cov­er­age of Congress. One Demo­cratic con­gress­man, Scott Peters, who provided a feed, said the sit-in was break­ing rules any­way.

The Democrats’ protest fol­lows the gun at­tack on 12 June, when a man claim­ing al­le­giance to the so­called Is­lamic State group, Omar Ma­teen, killed 49 peo­ple at the Pulse club in Or­lando, Florida. De­pend­ing on one’s per­spec­tive, the sit-in was ei­ther a shame­less pub­lic­ity stunt in ad­vance of a dan­ger­ous piece of leg- is­la­tion or the purest ex­pres­sion of democ­racy and civil dis­obe­di­ence since the 1960s. But as Democrats chanted, waved signs and sang in protest, there was no de­bat­ing it was a his­toric break with con­gres­sional tra­di­tions that has lit­tle prece­dent in mod­ern times.

The dis­play seems un­likely to al­ter the dy­namic in a House dom­i­nated by con­ser­va­tives over­whelm­ingly op­posed to new gun reg­u­la­tions. If any­thing, af­ter a night of snip­ing and ran­cour across the par­ti­san di­vide, the two sides may be even more deeply en­trenched. Repub­li­cans view the use of the ter­ror­ist watch list to pre­vent firearm pur­chases as giv­ing the gov­ern­ment the power to sus­pend due process with next to no ju­di­cial over­sight. Democrats counter that it is a com­mon-sense first step to­wards ad­dress­ing ram­pant gun vi­o­lence.

Both see their po­si­tion as guided by prin­ci­ples to be de­fended to the even­ing, some 168 House Democrats (out of 188) and 34 sen­a­tors (out of 44) were on the floor of the House, some lit­er­ally sit­ting on it. As the protest

Pro­test­ers chant on East Front of the Capi­tol to show sol­i­dar­ity with House Democrats’ sit-in on the floor.

The So­lar Im­pulse 2 air­craft lands at Sevilla air­port Thurs­day, af­ter a 70-hour jour­ney from New York pow­ered only by sun­light.

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