Noontime News is a snapshot of the news from the past 24 hours.  (More)

Democrats Slam NRA’s Response To School Shooting

The nation’s largest gun owners group had said little in the immediate aftermath of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. But the National Rifle Association’s executive vice president, Wayne LaPierre, broke that silence Friday with a call to place armed guards at all of the nation’s schools.

Adoption Ban Puts Orphans At Center Of U.S. – Russia Dispute

Russian lawmakers have approved a measure that would bar Americans from adopting Russian children, a move that comes in retaliation for a U.S. law that seeks to “name and shame” Russian officials who violate human rights.

Obama lands in Hawaii after urging Congress to ‘cool off’ on fiscal cliff

President Barack Obama arrived in Hawaii on Saturday, having issued a demand that squabbling congressional leaders “cool off” over the holidays and adopt stopgap measures to avert the year-end fiscal cliff.

Egypt votes in second phase of constitution referendum

Egyptians have begun voting in the second and final phase of the country’s bitterly divisive constitutional referendum which has sparked weeks of unrest.

John Kerry to be nominated to replace Hillary Clinton at State Department

Barack Obama has nominated John Kerry, the former Democratic party
presidential candidate, to be secretary of state, saying the senator’s
“entire life has prepared him for this role”.

BP settlement over Deepwater Horizon oil spill approved by federal judge

A federal judge gave final approval to BP‘s settlement with businesses and individuals who lost money because of the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

NOAA: 2012 to rank as second costliest year since 1980

During 2012, there were 11 extreme weather and climate events in the US that reached the billion-dollar threshold in losses, according to figures released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on Thursday. While the total number of billion-dollar natural disasters is down from 2011, when there were a record 14 events costing more than $60bn, the economic losses this year are expected to exceed last year’s tab, largely due to the massive economic toll caused by hurricane Sandy and the widespread drought.

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