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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Updates on Connecticut Shooting Aftermath

The gate of the St. Rose of Lima parish cemetery on Wednesday during the burial service of Daniel Barden, 7, one of the 26 victims of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, Conn.Mike Segar/Reuters The gate of the St. Rose of Lima parish cemetery on Wednesday during the burial service of Daniel Barden, 7, one of the 26 victims of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, Conn.

Funerals and wakes were scheduled on Wednesday for six more victims of Friday's school shooting in Newtown, Conn. Detectives are still searching for a possible motive. In Washington, President Obama has ordered Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to develop a multifaceted response. The president also said he would submit broad new gun control proposals to Congress no later than January.

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As Last Member of NBC Team Escapes Syria, More Details on Hostage Drama Emerge

Last Updated, 6:06 p.m. NBC News announced on Wednesday that an employee who had been kidnapped in Syria last week along with the correspondent Richard Engel arrived safely in Turkey, as more details of the hostage drama were released by opposition media activists.

According to the news network's statement, Ian Rivers, a Briton working with Mr. Engel, “got separated from the rest of Richard Engel's production team in the midst of the firefight which resulted in the NBC team's escape from captivity.”

Late on Tuesday, Mr. Rivers said in a video message to his family posted online by Syrian activists that he was in safe hands, with a Syrian rebel brigade, and expected to cross into Turkey on Wednesday.

A video message recorded in Syria on Tuesday night by an NBC News employee to let his family know he was safe after escapting captivity.

Several hours later, the rebel media activists posted a second clip of Mr. Rivers at the border crossing into Turkey, in which he thanked the fighters for taking care of him after he had become separated from the rest of the team “in the confusion of some sort of handover” on Monday.

Video of Ian Rivers, an NBC News employee who escaped from pro-government militia in Syria, thanking the rebel fighters who escorted him to the Turkish border.

As The Lede reported on Tuesday, when Mr. Engel and two members of his production team described the five days they spent in the custody of a pro-government militia known as the shabiha, a proof-of-life video posted on YouTube last week, apparently by the kidnappers, showed six members of the NBC team including Mr. Engel and Mr. Rivers. NBC had asked other news organizations not to broadcast that video while Mr. Rivers was still unaccounted for, and had the original copy removed from the YouTube channel where it was first posted on Friday, the day after the men were captured in an ambush while traveling with rebel fighters in northern Syria.

Before the video of the men in captivity was removed from YouTube, a copy of the brief clip was made by a blogger who uses the name Guardian Mario, who said that he also cleaned it up and improved the resolution.

The same blogger also made a panoramic still image of the men in captivity by stitching together frames from the video.

As Eliot Higgins noted in a post about the video on the Brown Moses blog, “Unlike virtually every YouYube account that re-uploads videos from Syria, Guardian Mario carefully records the original information that comes along with the original upload, and helpfully provides further information.” In this case, the blogger explained the graffiti visible on the walls behind the men in the video. One wall displayed a Shiite or Alawite Muslim slogan about Ali, the Prophet Muhammad's cousin and son-in-law. “There is no chivalrous man except Ali, and there is no sword except” Ali's mythical sword, the text read. While Shiite Musli ms believe that Ali was Muhammad's rightful heir, Alawites profess a belief in the divinity of Ali, one of the reasons that they were oppressed as infidels for centuries by other Muslims. The other wall was covered in a common slogan expressing the loyalty of pro-government militiamen to President Bashar al-Assad: “Assad, or we burn the whole country!”

As The Lede noted late Tuesday, another Syrian opposition YouTube channel uploaded a long video interview with Mr. Engel, in which he described the team's captivity in fluent Arabic to Khaled Abu Salah, a well-known media activist. Mr. Abu Salah was the rebel media coordinator in the besieged Homs district of Baba Amr in February, when government shelling killed Marie Colvin, an American correspondent for London's Sunday Times, along with Rémi Ochlik, a French photographer.

A Syrian activist's video interview with the NBC News correspondent Richard Engel.

At the start of the video, Mr. Abu Salah says, “There are many stories of foreign journalists with the Syrian revolution that do not end with Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik, who sacrificed their lives to report the truth about Syria.”

In the interview, Mr. Engel said that his team was taken prisoner in an ambush soon after crossing into Syria from Turkey via the border post at Bab al-Hawa.He gave a detailed account of the ordeal, ending with an expression of thanks to the rebel brigade known as Ahrar al-Sham for saving his life and those of his fellow hostages on Monday.

Here is a partial translation of Mr. Engel's remarks:

After Bab al-Hawa, directly, maybe after 10 or 15 kilometers, there was an ambush. About 15 armed men, shabiha, descended on us and there was an ambush all set up. We knew because they had a car under the trees and its doors were wide open. The moment the armed men were on us, they took us from our car and brought us to the set-up under the trees, put us in their car and shut the doors and took us to a farm.

We had with us one young guy from the revolutionaries, and after we arrived at the farm they executed him. I heard him shout. … I also heard someone was looking for gasoline. I think he also wanted to burn him, to set him on fire. But they didn't have any gasoline.

After that, they moved us from house to house to house to house. Every day they threatened us and every day w e thought it was our last day. They didn't let us go to the toilet. It was psychological torture. I went for 30 hours without the toilet, and that is not normal.

The guard was in front of us. I didn't see him because my eyes were covered the whole time but I knew his voice. He was in front of us. Every day we thought it was our last day.

They were looking for a prisoner exchange. We understood that there was a group and in it were four Iranians and they were prisoners in the hands of the revolutionaries, and two Lebanese from the Amal movement. We picked this up from the shabiha themselves. I acted like I didn't understand Arabic. I just stayed quiet and said “shokran” and “thank you,” simple words, but I was listening.

Asked if he or anyone on his team had been tortured, Mr. Engel replied:

They executed the gunman, the soldier for the revolutionaries, they executed him in front of us. But for us directly there wasn't anything but psychological torture.

There was one guard, the one who was most responsible for us. He always came into the room and we didn't see him but we knew his voice. And he said, ‘O.K., who will I kill today?' He forced us - no, he said, ‘Who will I give the gift to?' Those were his words, ‘Who will I give the gift to?' And he had a handgun. And he did this, he put the handgun next to our faces, so that we would know he had a gun. ‘Who will I give the gift to?'

And he forced us, he forced us to choose one from among ourselves. We had to say, ‘I want this guy to die' or ‘I want this guy to die.' He forced us to choose one of our own guys. We refused because we couldn't. So he said, ‘O.K., I will choose,' and he chose one of my colleagues who of course was also kidnapped and he said, ‘O.K., get on your knees.' And so we'd be convinced. He'd say, ‘Give me your leg,' and he'd force his legs down and we couldn't see anything. And then the last thing, he would shoot into the air.

It was psychological terrorism and it happened like that every day. After that, they would be nice to you. They would bring you juice, a cigarette, a new battery. Another time they took us outside, all six of us outside, and we heard that they were laying out something plastic on the ground. And we thought, O.K., it's over. These are definitely our last moments. They were putting it down so that the blood could spill on it. … We thought anything could happen. And we are sitting there and we couldn't see anything. It was nighttime and it was cold, and we were lined up like this and like this, and we heard a man reloading his machine gun. And they did this for half an hour. … That's how they acted until the very end.

In response to a question about what the militiamen said to the captives, Mr. Engel said:

They were the shabiha. They said this country belonged to them. This country belonged to Ba shar. I heard them say this. They said … they would hit anything. They would kill all of your children, they would kill all your women so they couldn't produce any more dogs like you. Things like that. I was shocked by their language. It was so bloody.

Describing their rescue, Mr. Engel said:

Every day we moved from house to house, sometimes twice in one day. We changed houses a lot. During the last move, there was an impromptu checkpoint set up by the revolutionaries. From the fighters of … um … Ahrar al-Sham. How could I forget? They saved my life. Ahrar al-Sham. I'll say it one more time, Ahrar al-Sham. They saved my life. We got to this street and there was an impromptu checkpoint of Ahrar al-Sham fighters and there was an exchange of gunfire. … It was an ambush.

Asked by his interviewer if the firing was random or precise, Mr. Engel said: “It was accurate. Accurate.” When the interviewer suggested to Mr . Engel that the rebels knew the car was coming, he said: “The ambush was precise. It was airtight.” He continued:

We came in a minibus and sitting in front of us were two gunmen, one in front with a gun and the other over on the right with a gun. And there were six of us, behind. We got to the impromptu checkpoint and they were yelling: ‘Checkpoint! Checkpoint! Checkpoint!' One of our abductors got out and shot at the checkpoint and he was killed right away. One or two shots, very direct, and he was dead. The other man got out of the car and was killed. And not a shot hit the inside of the car. Nothing happened inside the car. And we got out through the window, all my friends, to the revolutionaries, who saved our lives. We made a tape with them after our liberation to thank them because we were so thankful to them. If I hadn't been freed, I would still be inside or maybe dead, I don't know. And then after th at it was over, we went to the border and then you and I met a little while ago.

In response to a question about what he would say to the fighters who freed him, and to the Syrian people, Mr. Engel said: “To Ahrar al-Sham, I would say thank you. And then I would say again, thank you. I would say, Thank you from my heart. We saw that their behavior was very good. For the Syrian people, I just want peace. I hope that this crisis ends quickly.”

Robert Mackey also remixes the news on Twitter @robertmackey.

Aleppo\'s History Under Threat

Aleppo's old souk in 2009.Bryan Denton for The New York Times Aleppo's old souk in 2009.

As my colleagues Chris Chivers, Tyler Hicks and Ben Solomon report in text, photographs and video, civilians are suffering from shortages of food and medicine, among other hardships, in Aleppo, Syria's largest city, which is being torn apart in urban warfare between rebels and forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.

But the city is also one of the Middle East's most culturally and historically significant. Aleppo has been designated a World Heritage site since 1986, recognized for its ancient market, citadel and mosques, and the United Nations in recent months has called several times for its protection while emphasizing the tremendous toll the war has taken on civilians.

Many of Aleppo's historical sites stand damaged by the fighting, perhaps irreparably, including the 17th-century market, or souk, in the Old City, which was engulfed by fire in September.

The contrast between the beauty of the city in more peaceful times and the damage that the fighting has wrought can be seen clearly on YouTube, in video of the souk before and after it became a battlefield.

Video of the Aleppo souk before it was ravaged by fighting.
Video of Aleppo's souk in flames in late September.

By early October, as my colleague Anne Barnard reported, much of Aleppo's historic center was in smoking ruins. Ancient stone walls had collapsed. The 12th-century citadel at the heart of the medieval city appeared to be damaged and government soldiers had taken up positions in the Umayyad Mosque, with snipers on the minaret.

After the fire swept through the ancient souk, Irina Bokova, the Unesco director-general, said in a statement:

The human suffering caused by this situation is already extreme. That the fighting is now destroying cultural herit age that bears witness to the country's millenary history - valued and admired the world over - makes it even more tragic. The Aleppo souks have been a thriving part of Syria's economic and social life since the city's beginnings. They stand as testimony to Aleppo's importance as a cultural crossroads since the second millennium B.C.

She made her remarks in October, deploring the damage to the Citadel, the Umayyad mosque and the “extreme human suffering” caused by the fighting.

The Umayyad Mosque in 2009.Bryan Denton for The New York Times The Umayyad Mosque in 2009.

Until the peaceful uprising spiraled into violence, Aleppo was a city for tourists, featured in The New York Times's travel section in 2010. Tourism was up then, and the travel writer Lionel Beehner spoke glowingly about the mosques, the souk and the best reason to visit the Citadel: to take in the view of Aleppo's minaret-dotted skyline.

In 2009, a family visited a cafe located atop the 13th century castle in the center of Aleppo. In 2009, a family visited a cafe located atop the 13th century castle in the center of Aleppo.

Many have tried to capture what it means to a people to see their heritage destroyed. In one such attempt this month, Amal Hanano, a Syrian writer from Aleppo, also used the Citadel as an example, bu t this time of a city's lost past, saying it was no longer a stage for impressing visitors but rather it had reclaimed its original purpose as a fortress.

Noting the deaths of more than 40,000 Syrians in less than two years of war, she wrote in a December article in Foreign Policy magazine:

But the death of a city is different. It is slow - each neighborhood's death is documented bomb by bomb, shell by shell, stone by fallen stone. Witnessing the deaths of your cities is unbearable. Unlike the news of dead people - which arrives too late, always after the fact - the death of a city seems as if it can be halted, that the city can be saved from the clutches of destruction. But it is an illusion: The once-vibrant cities cannot be saved, so you watch, helpless, as they become ruins.

Follo w Christine Hauser on Twitter @christineNYT.

Bahrain Jails Activist for Covering Protests on Twitter

Bahrain jailed a leading rights activist for posts on Twitter documenting a protest on Monday in the capital, Manama, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights said in a statement.

The activist, Said Yousif al-Muhafdah, is the center's head of documentation and the second member of the group to be jailed for using the social network in the past six months. A photograph of Mr. Muhafdah's arrest was later posted on Twitter.

In July, Bahrain sentenced Nabeel Rajab, the rights center's president, to three months in prison for joking on Twitter that supporters of Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Sulman al-Khalifa, who was appointed to his post in 1971, cheered him only after being bribed.

Mr. Muhafdah was arrested for reporting on Monday's protest as it came under attack from Bahrain's security forces. A look at his @SAIDYOUSIF Twitter feed shows that he covered the protest in detail, transmitting photos of protesters engulfed in tear gas and displaying gory injuries from shotgun pellets to his 77,000 followers.

On Tuesday, Mr. Muhafdah was interrogated by the public prosecutor on charges of “disseminating false news over Twitter” and given a seven-day temporary detention order, the rights center said. Last month, the group added, Mr. Muhafdah was detained for 12 days for “documenting a case of injury caused by the police.”

Bahrain is home to the United States Fifth Fleet and enjoys a close relationship with the United States, which has been criticized for not doing enough to condemn huma n rights abuses committed on the island. The arrest of Mr. Muhafdah came at a potentially awkward time because a delegation from the European Union arrived in Bahrain on Wednesday to discuss human rights issues. Less than two weeks ago, the International Federation for Human Rights reported, Mr. Muhafdah had traveled to Brussels to attend a human rights event at the European Parliament.

Twitter has become a particularly important outlet for activists and rights advocates in Bahrain because the government makes it difficult for international journalists to obtain visas to work in the country, particularly those who have reported on the government's repression during previous visits.

On Monday, Nicholas D. Kristof, a New York Times Op-Ed columnist who reported in vivid detail on the first, bloody stages of the crackdown on dissent last year, was denied entry to the kingdom at the airport in Manama and later deported.

American citizens are legally permitted to transit in Bahrain for 72 hours, but officials at the airport informed Mr. Kristof that he was on a blacklist, he reported on Twitter from the airport.

Unfortunately for Bahraini officials, who recently welcomed the reality television star Kim Kardashian as part of an attempt to change its image, Mr. Kristof used the opportunity of being stranded at the airport's Starbucks all night to write a series of indignant updates on the kingdom's human rights record to his 1.3 million Twitter followers.

Bahrain's information ministry released a statement on Wednesday headlined “Bahrain Welcomes All Journalists,” apparently in response to Mr. Kristof's long series of tweets from the airport as he waited to be deported. The statement, issued in the name of Sameera Rajab, said, “The Kingdom, like all countries, applies its own laws and regulations to govern visits by journalists and media delegations.” The statement added, “On the claims that some foreign journalists had been prevented from entering the Kingdom, the minister denied the claims as false and intended to caused prejudice to the country's reputation.”

Before he was expelled from Bahrain, Mr. Kristof drew attention to the case of Mr. Muhafdah, who had been arrested the same day.

Robert Mackey also remixes the news on Twitter @robertmackey.

This post has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: December 20, 2012

An earlier version of this post misspelled on some references the surname of an activist who was jailed in Bahrain. He is Said Yousif al-Muhafdah, not Said Yousif al-Muhafdhah.

President Cites Other Shootings Since Newtown

When President Obama announced Wednesday that Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. would lead a new effort to address the problem of gun violence, he cited several other cases of people around the country who were also shot and killed since the school shootings last Friday in Newtown, Conn.

“Since Friday morning, a police officer was gunned down in Memphis, leaving four children without their mother,” President Obama said in his speech, as our colleague Michael D. Shear reports. “Two officers were killed outside a grocery store in Topeka. A woman was shot and killed inside a Las Vegas casino. Three people were shot inside an Alabama hospital. A 4-year-old was caught in a drive-by in Missouri and taken off life support just yesterday.”

Video of President Obama's remarks on Wednesday about recent gun violence.

Here are more details about the cases and the lives lost in Tennessee, Kansas, Nevada, Alabama and Missouri.

Memphis Officer Killed in Shootout

When Mr. Obama mentioned the killing of a police officer in Memphis, he was alluding to a shootout Friday that left one officer dead and another wounded.

The two officers, Martoiya V. Lang, 32, and William Vrooman, 32, entered a home in East Memphis on a drug-related search warrant when a man with a 9-millimeter pistol and a high-capacity magazine exited a bedroom and fired numerous shots, police officials told The Commercial Appeal in Memphis. The officers returned fire, shooting the man in the abdomen.

Officer Lang was shot in her upper torso and died of her injuries, Police Director Toney Armstrong said. Officer Vrooman was struck in the leg and is recovering.

Accord ing to The Commercial Appeal, Officer Lang joined the Police Department in 2003 and was assigned to its Organized Crime Unit. She was the mother of four girls, ages 14, 13, 12 and 2.

Essica Littlejohn, vice president of the Memphis Police Association, told the newspaper, “She was very motivated and not afraid of anything.”

Ms. Littlejohn and a police chaplain accompanied officers and family members to the high school and the middle school the girls attended to tell them of their mother's death. “You have to think, it's two weeks before Christmas and you have to imagine how tough this can be for the girls and how tough every Christmas from now on will be for those girls,” Ms. Littlejohn said.

A candlelight vigil in Memphis on Saturday after Officer Martoiya Lang was shot and killed while serving    a warrant the day before.Mike Brown/The Commercial Appeal, via Associated Press A candlelight vigil in Memphis on Saturday after Officer Martoiya Lang was shot and killed while serving a warrant the day before.

Mayor A. C. Wharton of Memphis told reporters that the 9-millimeter pistol was commonly used by criminals, according to The Associated Press.

“More often than not, it seems to be the gun of choice,” he said, adding that too many guns end up in the wrong hands. “Nobody has a Second Amendment right to load up and kill a police officer.”

Two Topeka Police Officers Shot and Killed Outside Grocery Store

Officer Jeff Atherly, left, and Cpl. David Gogian of the Topeka Police Department were fatally shot    outside a grocery store on Sunday.Topeka Police Department, via Associated Press Officer Jeff Atherly, left, and Cpl. David Gogian of the Topeka Police Department were fatally shot outside a grocery store on Sunday.

The shooting in Topeka, Kan., mentioned by President Obama also involved police officers.

The officers, Cpl. David Gogian and Officer Jeff Atherly, were shot and killed outside a grocery store while responding to a report of drug activity in a suspicious vehicle, according to The Kansas City Star.

The suspect escaped but was later shot and killed by the police in a standoff Monday at a Topeka home.

Sheriff Herman Jones of Shawnee County told reporters that the suspect, identified as David Edward Tiscareno, was seated behind the driver's seat of a car stopped in the parking lot o f the grocery store when the police ordered him to get out. After shooting two of the three responding officers in the head, Mr. Tiscareno got back into the car and drove away, Sheriff Jones said.

The next day, the police located Mr. Tiscareno at a nearby home. When they arrived, he emerged from the house and opened fire before the police shot him dead, the authorities said.

Mr. Tiscareno had several prior arrests, including for criminal use of a weapon, for which he was sentenced to 12 months of unsupervised probation, according to an Associated Press report.

A notation in court records available online said, “This defendant should be advised against carrying a firearm.”

Police officials declined to identify the gun used because the killings are under investigation.

Although President Obama did not mention this case, The Kansas City Star noted that another police officer was killed early Saturday in east central Missouri. The newspaper said that a Washington County deputy, Christopher Parsons, 31, was shot to death after responding to a 911 call about an unconscious woman.

The woman was being loaded into an ambulance when a man walked outside and fired a shot, killing Parsons, who had been a deputy only two months. The suspect, Gary Sancegrow, 30, was arrested Saturday night and is charged with first-degree murder in the 31-year-old deputy's death.

“He used a rifle, but I don't know if it wa s high-powered or a shotgun or what,” a Missouri state police trooper told The Star.

Four-Year-Old Dies After Being Caught in Crossfire

In Kansas City, Mo., a 4-year-old, Aydan Perea, was shot and killed while he sat in his car seat in a vehicle parked in a driveway. The police said he was with his father and two other men in the car when a 1984 Monte Carlo pulled up behind them and fired shots, hitting the driver and the child.

On Tuesday, the boy was removed from life support. The local Fox television station shared images of the boy while he was in the hospital on life support, his head wrapped in bandages.

The police said that the child was caught in the crossfire during a continuing gang dispute.

The Kansas City Star reported that it was the second time the boy had been involved in a shooting.

He was inside a house in the 2400 block of Oakley Avenue last year when a gunman fired four shotgun blasts at it in the middle of the night, breaking the front window and damaging a car. No one was hurt, according to the police report.

Law enforcement officials did not publicly identify the type of weapon used.

Murder-Suicide in a Las Vegas Casino

Las Vegas Metro Police officers outside the Excalibur hotel and casino on Friday night after a man shot and killed Jessica Kenny before turning the gun on himself.Julie Jacobson/Associated Press Las Vegas Metro Police officers outside the Excalibur hotel and casino on Friday night after a man shot and killed Jessica Kenny before turning the gun on himself.

A man shot and killed a woman and then took his own life in the packed lobby of a Las Vegas casino-hotel on Friday night, just hours after the news that 20 schoolchildren and six staff members had been killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

As gunfire erupted in the lobby, hundreds of gamblers and guests scurried for cover. The gunman, however, had carefully targeted his victim, the police said. She was Jessica Kenny, a woman he had become obsessed with since before they stopped dating tw o years ago, the police said.

Ms. Kenny, 30, worked at the concierge desk of the Excalibur casino as a vendor for a travel Web site, Vegas.com, according to The Las Vegas Sun.

At around 8:30, a man walked into the hotel and opened fire, hitting Ms. Kenny, the police said. She was rushed to the hospital, where she died of multiple gunshot wounds.

The man, later identified as Edward Brandt, 31, then shot and killed himself. He was pronounced dead at the scene, the police said.

Lt. Ray Steiber told The Las Vegas Review-Journal that it was a planned murder-suicide.

Co-workers described Ms. Kenny to reporters from The Review-Journal as “amazingly sweet.”

Mr. Brandt, who lived in Lake Forest, Ill., had no criminal record and used a .38-caliber revolver, purchased legally and registered in his name, the police said.

Shooting at Hospital in Alabama

The Birmingham police arrived at the scene of a shooting at St. Vincent's Hospital on Saturday.Joe Songer/Al.com, via Associated Press The Birmingham police arrived at the scene of a shooting at St. Vincent's Hospital on Saturday.

Three people were shot and wounded at a hospital in Birmingham, Ala., early Saturday morning by a man who was then shot and killed by police.

The gunman, identified as Jason Letts, 38, was killed after he opened fire on the police and hospital workers who confronted him at St. Vincent's Hospital about 4 a.m., according to The Associated Press.

Mr. Letts was pronounced dead at the scene. A police officer and two employees were wounded, but none had life-threatening injuries.

According to al.com, Mr. Letts was the husband of a patient who became irate over his wife's care and was “ejected from the hospital.”

“He returned with a gun hours later, forced a security guard to take him up to the fifth-floor cardiac unit and later opened fire,” the report said, noting t hat the hospital has since announced it will beef up security and add an armed guard at the hospital.

The weapon used in the shooting was identified in news reports simply as a handgun.

Police Chief A. C. Roper released a statement:

In light of the recent mass shooting in Connecticut, too many of these incidents end with unimaginable tragedy. I am amazed at the bravery of our officers as they confronted this armed gunman in the hallway. I have absolutely no doubt that their courageous actions at that exact moment saved many lives. All of Birmingham should be proud and appreciative that these are the type of officers that protect our communities every day. The hospital staff and especially the security team should also be commended because they performed with selfless service which contained the incident until the officers' arrival.

Pres ident Obama said in his remarks that gun violence took “the lives of more than 10,000 Americans every year - violence that we cannot accept as routine.”

“So I will use all the powers of this office to help advance efforts aimed at preventing more tragedies like this,” he said. “We won't prevent them all, but that can't be an excuse not to try. It won't be easy, but that can't be an excuse not to try.”

Daily Report: Facebook Responds to Instagram Anger

Concerns have been mounting on social networks this week as Instagram users reacted to the coming changes, part of a push by Facebook, which bought Instagram this year, to make money from the service.

On Tuesday evening, the complaints, which included angry Twitter posts and images on Instagram protesting the changes, prompted action. Kevin Systrom, a co-founder of Instagram, wrote a blog post that the company would change the new terms of service to make clearer what would happen to users' pictures, reports Jenna Wortham of The New York Times..

“We've heard loud and clear that many users are confused and upset about what the changes mean,” he wrote. “I'm writing this today to let you know we're listening and to commit to you that we will be doing more to answer your questions, fix any mistakes and eliminate the confusion.”

Eric Goldman, an associate professor at the Santa Clara University School of Law, said the latest skirmish between Facebook and its users was part of the sometimes uncomfortable dynamic between companies offering free online services and their eventual need to turn a profit from them.

“The interest of the site is never 100 percent aligned with the users, and the divergence inevitably leads to friction,” Mr. Goldman said. “It's unavoidable.”

Rebecca Lieb, an analyst with the Altimeter Group, said worries about Facebook changing for the worse had become common almost any time Facebook altered its site, whether in the design or in its privacy policies. It underscores the importance and omnipotence of the service in its users' lives as much as it signals a distrust of Facebook.

“There's always a reaction when Facebook does anything because the user ba se is so unbelievably large,” Ms. Lieb said. “But while what its users say can be very loud and very viral, what they do can be two very disparate things.”

TimesCast Media+Tech: Outcry Over Instagram Policy

New terms of service at Instagram result in online reaction. Viral video Nyan Cat inspires a pop-up shop. David Pogue reviews two Android cameras in 60 seconds.

Test Run: Addappt, a Connected Address Book for iPhones

You've probably heard this story before: A friend loses his cellphone, buys a new one and then invites hundreds of people on Facebook to join a group called “Lost my phone. Post your numbers please.”

As if that weren't annoying enough, he has bought a new phone and switched to another number, so you have to go into your address book and add his new digits. If you're anything like me, over a few years your address book has turned into a hopeless mess of duplicate entries, outdated numbers and out-of-date job titles. (And don't even get me started on what syncing up with Facebook did to my iPhone address book.)

That's why a new, free app called Addappt piqued my interest. It's basically a connected address book that stays up to date. If my friend using Addappt edits his contact information with a new phone number or e-mail address, for example, it shows up in my Addappt address book, too. If he adds his home address, I can even see what time it is where he lives so I can decide when it's best to call him.

The changes go both ways - any edits made inside Addappt merge with the built-in address book on the iPhone and iPad, so I don't have to worry about updating entries there, too.

But what about privacy? After logging in to Addappt for the first time, the first screen you see is a rather reassuring message: “We will never spam you or your contacts. We will never sell, rent, share your personal information to 3rd parties. Never, ever!” The company also makes this promise in its privacy policy on its Web site.

At this early stage, you have to enter your e-mail address into the app to request an invitation from the company. This serves two purposes: to ensure that Addappt can scale up properly and also to make sure the e-mail address you're using to identify yourself is actually you.

“ That way, one can't enter bill.gates@microsoft.com and we connect you with Gates's contacts,” said Mrinal Desai, a founder of Addappt. He says the company plans to make money eventually by offering paid features inside the app.

The app is available for only Apple's mobile devices, but Mr. Desai expects to release an Android version by the middle of next year.

Twitter Reacts to Anonymous Attacks on Westboro Baptist Church

The last few days have seen a flurry of Twitter activity from Anonymous, the hacker collective, and more recently, from Twitter itself.

Anonymous has been campaigning against the Westboro Baptist Church after its members threatened to picket at a vigil for victims of the Newtown, Conn., shootings, claiming “God sent the shooter” in retaliation for the fact that Connecticut has legalized gay marriage.

In response, Anonymous hacked into the Twitter and Facebook accounts of several Westboro Baptist Church members and tweeted information about members like their home addresses and telephone numbers, as well as the locations of the hotel rooms where they say church members have be en coordinating their protests.

As a result, Twitter suspended one of the primary accounts associated with Anonymous, @YourAnonNews as well as the Twitter account of Westboro Baptist Church spokeswoman Shirley Phelps-Roper, which had been taken over by Anonymous.

The move was a bit of an about-face for Twitter, which has largely played a passive role in allowing Anonymous to publicize its campaigns on the platform. Twitter spokesman Jim Prosser said the company would not comment on individual accounts for privacy and security reasons, but an Anonymous member posted an e-mail received from Twitter that said that their account was suspended “for posting an individual's private information such as a private e-mail address, physical address, telephone number, or financial documents,” referring to Ms. Phelps-Roper.

Suspending accounts has been a tricky issue for Twitter. Last summer, the company publicly apologized after briefly suspending the Twitter account of Guy Adams, a British reporter, who had been critical of NBC's Olympics coverage and at one point published the e-mail address of an NBC executive. In an online apology, Twitter's lawyer, Alexander Macgillivray, said it was “not acceptable” for Twitter to scrutinize Tweets and would only remove information if it received a report from a person whose private information had been posted.

Mr. Prosser, the Twitter spokesman, did not say whether Twitter received a report from Mr. Phelps-Roper, but quickly reinstated the @YourAnonNews account about an hour later.

By then, Anonymous members had already resorted to a back-up account. As for the reinstated account,  it not only emerged unscathed, it re-emerged with over 100,000 new followers.

Web Shopping Sites Hang Out Real Shingles

Once Proudly Web Only, Shopping Sites Hang Out Real Shingles

Michael Nagle for The New York Times

Piperlime, the Gap Inc. unit that was online-only for six years, opened a SoHo store this fall.

Andy Dunn was fierce about the Internet-only model of his apparel company, Bonobos, after helping to found it in 2007. He gave a speech, “The End of Apparel as We Know It,” arguing that stores were a bad economic decision. As he told a news channel in 2009: “We keep men out of retail stores when we know that men fundamentally don't enjoy shopping.”

A customer trying on clothes at a Bonobos store in Manhattan, one of six locations the company opened this year.

How times have changed.

Recently, Mr. Dunn was looking with satisfaction around a Bonobos store in Manhattan, one of six the company opened this year. “I was pretty puritanical about e-commerce only,” he said, but found that about half of would-be customers would not order apparel online because they wanted to feel the merchandise. E-commerce is growing fast, he added, but “that doesn't mean the offline world is going away - it just means it's changing.”

After years of criticizing physical stores as relics, even e-commerce zealots are acknowledging there is something to a bricks-and-mortar location. EBay and Etsy are testing temporary stores, while Piperlime, the Gap Inc. unit that was online-only for six years, opened a SoHo store this fall. Bonobos plans to keep opening stores, and Warby Parker, the eyeglass brand, will soon open a physical location.

The companies say they are catering to customers who want to see what they are buying in person, and who see shopping as a social event. As they build the locations, though, the retailers are reimagining some long-established rules - carrying less inventory, having fewer staff members and embracing small and out-of-the-way locations. In the process, they are creating what could be a model for efficient in-store operations: the store as a showroom.

“Well over 90 percent of sales still happen in physical stores, so there is a huge, compelling reason to think about the physical store as a driver of sales,” said Sucharita Mulpuru, an analyst at Forrester Research. She said Web retailers had advantages over traditional ones: they are not stuck with old cash registers and sales software, and the weak commercial real estate environment combined with their Web sales history allow them to get leases on good terms.

Faith Hope Consolo, a Manhattan retail real estate broker, said she was seeing more inquiries from online-only retailers about opening shops, particularly in smaller spaces.

“They'll show them a few products, lure them in and hopefully have them hooked,” she said. “They feel that, yes, people are online, people have apps, but there's nothing like the spontaneous face-to-face.” Some stores take the revised model to an extreme. An eBay pop-up store in London that opened this holiday season has no actual merchandise, just scannable screens displaying gift suggestions.

Others try to give shoppers a semitraditional experience, but without all the costs. “If you build it backwards, you rethink it,” said Mr. Dunn, the Bonobos chief executive.

Mr. Dunn said the store idea stemmed from customers' requests to try on items before a purchase.

Though Bonobos suggested that customers order multiple sizes, that didn't fit with the ethos of good service he wanted. “Clicking on six sizes and having them shipped to me is not a great experience,” he said.

Also, he said, “the cost of marketing a Web site and the cost of free shipping both ways was approximating a store expense,” he said.

Bonobos added two sales representatives in the lobby of its Manhattan office last year to show clothes to customers, and Mr. Dunn said that within six months, each was on track to achieve more than $250,000 in sales. Based on that, this year, Bonobos struck a deal with Nordstrom to carry its clothes in its shop, and opened its first store.

For his own stores, Mr. Dunn did not want a typical retail model that required carrying a heavy inventory, staffing for heavy foot traffic and paying for prime real estate.

Instead, he took 700 square feet in Bonobos's existing fifth-floor office and converted it into a store, called a Guideshop. Customers make appointments, which generally last 45 minutes, so one or two employees handle the entire store at once.

Most retail stores have to carry each item in a range of colors and sizes, a significant cost, but Bonobos does not, instead using the Web site as its virtual back room. Customers do not leave the store with merchandise; instead, the employees place an online order that is delivered to the customer, often the next day.

A version of this article appeared in print on December 19, 2012, on page A3 of the New York edition with the headline: Once Web Only, Shopping Sites Hang Real Shingles.

U.S. Inquiry of Google Is Expected to Press On

U.S. Inquiry of Google Is Expected to Press On

WASHINGTON - The Federal Trade Commission is unlikely to finish until January its investigation into whether Google abused its power in the search market, people briefed on the investigation said on Tuesday.

Joaquín Almunia, Europe's competition commissioner.

Eric E. Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google.

The agency's chairman, Jon Leibowitz, has consistently said that the commission was aiming to finish its inquiry by the end of 2012, and all signs have been pointing to an imminent settlement, including reports of a Google proposal to avoid formal punishment by promising to change some of its practices.

Two people who have been briefed on the investigation said that some commissioners had asked for more time to consider possible penalties after recent reports portrayed Google as having persuaded the F.T.C. to give the company little more than a slap on the wrist.

For almost two years, the F.T.C. has been studying whether Google's dominant search engine intentionally produces search results that favor its own commerce and other services. Companies with competing search engines as well as commercial sites that specialize in airline ticket information or shopping have complained that Google has stifled competition by its actions.

Those competitors have reacted with outrage over the last week to reports that the F.T.C. planned not to file charges of antitrust violations or unfair competition. The commission was prepared to accept Google's written assurances that it would alter some practices related to search, according to the reports. The F.T.C. could enforce compliance with such a written assurance.

Google's competitors, which have been urging regulators to take action, stepped up their protests after the recent reports. That outrage has apparently reverberated in the halls of the commission, where displeasure has grown at the portrayals of the commission as having been cowed by the technology giant.

The people briefed on the inquiry said that the F.T.C. would most likely conclude its effort in early to mid-January.

The commission is also continuing its look at whether Google abused its control of certain patents concerning mobile phone technology.

Adam Kovacevich, a Google spokesman, said the company would “continue to work cooperatively with the Federal Trade Commission and are happy to answer any questions they may have.” An F.T.C. representative declined to comment.

Google will also apparently be extending into 2013 a parallel three-year inquiry in Europe, but with hope of avoiding a big fine or a finding of wrongdoing.

After meeting with Eric E. Schmidt, Google's executive chairman, the European Union's competition commissioner, Joaquín Almunia, said in a statement Tuesday that “we have substantially reduced our differences.”

“I now expect Google to come forward with a detailed commitment text in January 2013,” Mr. Almunia said.

Mr. Almunia is also focusing on whether Google's search engine thwarted competition by favoring the company's services in presenting results of search queries.

He said Tuesday that in their discussion, the company indicated it would change “the way in which Google's vertical search services are displayed within general search results as compared to services of competitors.”

The other areas in which Mr. Almunia said he expected to reach a deal included how Google uses and displays content from other companies in its search tool, and the restrictions that Google places on advertising and advertisers. Any concessions Google offered would be tested in the marketplace to assess their acceptability to other companies, before becoming binding, Mr. Almunia said.

If there is a settlement, Google will avoid a possible fine of as much as 10 percent of its annual global revenue, about $37.9 billion last year. It would also avoid a guilty finding that could restrict its activities in Europe. “We continue to work cooperatively with the commission,” Al Verney, a Google spokesman in Brussels, said.

Exactly what concessions on search services Mr. Almunia can wring from Google remained an open question Tuesday, though antitrust specialists agreed that he had more leverage than his American counterparts.

While Google is the dominant search engine in the United States, it holds even greater sway in Europe, accounting for more than 90 percent of searches in a number of large markets. That is one factor giving the Europeans greater leverage in trying to set rules on how Google ranks competing services.

Another factor is European antitrust law, which has long given competitors more protection than United States law provides.

Antitrust law in Europe, and the commission's approach to it, has shifted in recent years, raising the hurdles for complainants against dominant companies, said Emanuela Lecchi, an antitrust lawyer in London with Watson, Farley & Williams.

Even so, Ms. Lecchi said, Europe still offers rivals greater protection. Compared with the United States, European regulators “are more inclined to try and make sure there is always a choice of players on markets, and that's something that might allow Google's rivals to make more progress at the end of the day,” she said.

Edward Wyatt reported from Washington and James Kanter from Brussels. Steve Lohr contributed reporting from New York.

A version of this article appeared in print on December 19, 2012, on page B1 of the New York edition with the headline: U.S. Inquiry Of Google Is Expected To Press On.