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Tuesday’s Headlines: Unrest, Looting in Chile; Court to Hear Gun Rights Case

Aid to Chile’s second largest city, Concepcion, was slowed Tuesday as troops struggled to control the looting that has broken out in the wake of last weekend’s mammoth earthquake. Officials extended a curfew and dozens were arrested, as looters not only took food from supermarkets but also robbed banks and set fires.

“We need the military on the streets,” said Concepcion Mayor Jacqueline Van Ryselberghe, ABC News reported. “The general population just doesn’t know what to do. Business owners are starting to defend themselves, they are starting to arm themselves.”

As officials battle unrest in Concepcion, the scope of the devastation left by Saturday’s magnitude 8.8 quake has become clearer. After first resisting outside offers of help, the Chilean government has reached out to international aid groups seeking more generators, water filtration equipment and field hospitals.

“Everything is now moving,” Elisabeth Byrs, a spokeswoman for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told the New York Times. “We are looking immediately to match the needs.”

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The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Tuesday in a controversial gun rights case that calls into question Chicago’s ban on handguns. At its core, the court will decide whether the freedom to bear arms granted in the Second Amendment extends to state and local governments.

The High Court reversed a similar ban on handguns in Washington, D.C., in 2008. NPR’s Nina Totenberg thinks gun advocates are likely to win this case as well. “And if gun advocates do win this case,” she says, “expect a torrent of other cases, some already in the pipeline, that test a huge array of existing gun regulations — everything from laws banning concealed weapons to those banning the carrying of weapons in public without a permit, and laws that issue a carry permit only upon a showing of good cause or necessity.”

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Key senators on the banking committee are nearing a deal on a financial reform package, the Wall Street Journal is reporting. The bipartisan plan would establish a consumer-protection division within the Federal Reserve, despite the president’s preference for an entirely new federal agency devoted to consumer protection.

“This could dramatically reshape the focus of the Federal Reserve. For years, it has primarily been focused on monetary policy over bank supervision and often made consumer protection an afterthought,” according to the Journal.

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Republicans in Texas head to the polls Tuesday to decide who will be their party’s nominee for governor this November. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson has seen her once commanding lead erode, making Gov. Rick Perry the favorite in the race.

In a normal election year, Hutchinson’s decision to keep her seat in Congress while running for governor may have paid off, Jonathan Gurwitz writes in Real Clear Politics. But 2009 was no normal year, he says, and as “Democrats overreached and the tea party movement took off, anything associated with an extremely unpopular Congress became disliked by independents and loathed by conservatives.”

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