SHAFAQNA-- Iraqi security forces have regained control of a town north of the capital Baghdad after gunmen who had seized the town agreed to withdraw without resistance.
Iraqi authorities say soldiers backed by tanks entered the town of Sulaiman Bek in Salahuddin Province early on Friday after gunmen retreated under a deal mediated by tribal chiefs and government officials.
The gunmen were given forty-eight hours to withdraw or face an attack by the army.
Gunmen seized the town on Wednesday after deadly clashes with the security forces. Suleiman Bek lies on the road that connects Baghdad to Kirkuk.
A high-ranking military officer said that the army made a tactical withdrawal from the town "so we can work on clearing the area completely, after we knew that the residents had left," AFP reported.
The gunmen's seizure of Suleiman Bek came amid a surge of violence in Iraq which began on Tuesday when security forces clashed with militants and anti-government protesters in several towns and cities, including Ramadi and Hawija near Kirkuk.
At least 180 people have been killed in Iraq in a bloody wave of violence over the past four days.
Iraq has been the scene of anti-government demonstrations since December 23, 2012, when bodyguards of former finance minister, Rafie al-Issawi, were arrested on terrorism-related charges.
The demonstrators accuse Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of discrimination against Sunni Muslims. Maliki, however, has denied accusations, saying regional countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey are fueling sectarian tensions in Iraq.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – To understand Jay Silver, it helps to go back 10 years, to a night he spent flying kites on a beach in his native Florida with the woman who would become his wife.
She asked him whether he knew how to listen to the wind. Being an engineer, he responded that wind produces only white noise, and white noise contains no information.
But he loved her, so he opened his mind and gave it a try.
"And I felt a deep joy," Silver said during a recent talk at the PopTech conference here. "And then I stopped pursuing information and efficiency, and I changed my life's course a little and started to practice rituals of joy."
This childlike sense of play, curiosity and discovery -- one that many people lose as they move through adulthood -- has informed Silver's life and work ever since. It's no accident that he shows audiences video clips of wide-eyed toddlers encountering snow for the first time or an M&M candy skittering around on a moving escalator. Or that he took the stage at PopTech in a T-shirt, baggy shorts and a surfer cap, looking more like a skateboarder than someone with a Ph.D. from MIT.
Yes, at 33, Silver is something of a big kid himself.
He's also a leading proponent of the "maker movement," the do-it-yourself culture of inventing, hacking and prototyping that inspires many young engineers in tech fields.
At the MIT Media Lab, Silver studied how to make tools that engage people's creative spirit and help them make things with modern technology. One of his first creations was Drawdio, an electronic pencil that lets you make music as you draw.
Next up was something with the Silveresque name of MaKey MaKey, an invention kit he developed at MIT with fellow student Eric Rosenbaum. Funded by Kickstarter (they set a goal of $25,000 and raised $568,000), the simple electronic kit contains a circuit board, alligator clips and USB cables and helps anyone turn everyday objects into touchpads that can be used to interact with a computer.
People clamp the alligator clips to an object and then connect them through the kit to their computer. Touching the object produces a tiny electrical connection, which the computer interprets as a keystroke or the movement of a mouse.
The kits cost $50 and say "Be stoked. The world is your construction kit!" on the box. Since they began shipping last summer, people around the world have used them to control computer programs with anything that can conduct electricity: fruit, plants, water, even household pets. One student at Southern Methodist University won a talent show by hooking MaKey MaKey to plates full of food and eating his way through a crowd-pleasing rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner."
MaKey MaKey seems like a toy, and educators have used it to play games or teach kids about basic electrical circuitry. But Silver believes that his kit can also help engineers test concepts and prototypes more cheaply.
"Some people are just totally goofing around (with the kits). Some people are making devices so that their son with cerebral palsy can access browsing the Web," he said. "I don't know which of those two things actually are more important. They're both, to me, really valuable."
Silver, now a maker-research scientist at Intel Labs, hopes MaKey MaKey will awaken the creative impulse in people and encourage them to tackle their own DIY projects.
"Right now, in culture, there's this feeling that we have to make (things). And I think it's because we didn't make (things) for a while, with the Industrial Revolution," he said. "I think when you make something, you're kind of making meaning and purpose. You're kind of making the world what it is. You're voting with your hands -- not in a booth but making change, right now, that really happens in your own space."
Long before that night on the beach, Silver's roiling imagination was inventing stuff.
As a boy in Cocoa Beach, Florida, he duct-taped a fork to a hand drill to make an automatic spaghetti-twirling machine. In fourth grade, he discovered by accident that his walkie-talkies communicated at the same frequency as his remote-control car. So he combined the car, an upside-down trash can and some other parts to make a robot he controlled by making certain sounds into the walkie-talkies.
"Like any good child of the '80s, I watched a lot of 'MacGyver.' But I was pretty bad at making things," he said. "I loved kites. Kites have more questions than answers. I love things with more questions than answers."
Silver is fascinated by the idea of combining or refashioning objects, like his spaghetti twirler, to create uses for which they were not intended.
"What is the purpose of things? Who said that was the purpose of it?" he asked. "Other people don't have to decide the meaning of things. We can all decide."
It's the same impulse that leads kids to play with a box instead of the toy that came in it.
"I didn't need anything special to hack as a child. I just used whatever was around. I think all children do this," Silver wrote in an e-mail. "I think this is one of the most special and also least unique things about all humans: They try everything every way and have very open minds, especially when young."
At MIT, Silver became part of a group called Lifelong Kindergarten, which seeks to foster creative adults through a "kindergarten style of learning" that emphasizes designing, experimenting and exploring. It was a great fit for him because it taught him to not fear failing, to keep trying different things.
"I'm kind of a bottom-up maker. I don't have a plan. I don't really know how things work that well. I just mess around with stuff, and things start to emerge," he said. "It's kind of like a conversation with materials."
Silver's approach -- part engineer, part artist, part curious 5-year-old -- impressed his mentors at MIT.
"Jay is an incredible creative force. Rarely have I met someone who spins out so many creative ideas. He really has the spirit of a tinkerer, always trying out new things," said Mitchel Resnick, professor of learning research at the MIT Media Lab.
"Jay has held on to that playful curiosity (that children have) and uses that to engage with people," Resnick added. "One thing that's for sure is that Jay will do something that none of us will expect. He'll create new paths that none of us are even thinking about today. And whatever it is, it'll help people explore the world around them and bring joy to their lives."
Today, Silver lives in Santa Cruz, California, with his wife, Jodi, an artist and early-childhood-creativity educator, and their son, Oak, 2. His job at Intel takes him to festivals and events such as the Bay Area Maker Faire, where he leads creative workshops on such activities as making digital circuits by drawing with a pencil. In return, he takes some of what he learns about prototyping back to Intel Labs, which does research in a variety of futuristic computing fields.
Silver is also still spreading the word about MaKey MaKey. His production company, JoyLabz, has distributed about 20,000 of the kits.
"The reason I'm making this kit is that I'm totally stoked about what I can do with it and what other people can do with it," he said. "I hope that other people use it in a way that makes them feel alive. And if they are, it doesn't matter to me if what they're doing can be called useful or not."
Silver talks wistfully about a utopian future where everyone creates their own unique space instead of settling for cookie-cutter homes or furnishings or decorations.
"We just don't want people running to Walmart when they have a wobbly table," he said. Instead, Silver envisions a new generation of creative thinkers who cut and paste disparate materials to make something new that holds personal meaning for them -- like what artists and writers have been doing for centuries but on a broader scale.
"Take, for example, one of the cornerstones of creative icons: LEGOs. LEGOs let you build anything, right? Well, I am a fan of LEGOs, but there is one thing they are not communicating: The world you live in is a set of LEGOs," he said. "That's my message. You don't need a kit, and you don't need to stick to the pieces that come in the box."
To Silver, such tinkering boosts "creative confidence": the transformative power that comes with making something tangible and fresh.
"If you get some kids thinking 'I can do this' -- especially ones that wouldn't have had a chance to think that way -- that's good enough for me. And we're already seeing it happen," he said.
Silver's workshops are aimed mostly at children, but there's a reason why he's invited to speak at idea-driven conferences like TEDx and PopTech. His lessons are applicable to any hidebound grad student or business executive: Rewrite the rules. Try everything. Don't be afraid to fail.
Follow your joy.
To Silver, it's human nature.
"The world that I'd like to live in is a world where everybody helps to make it in their own way," he said. "So it's a hodgepodge of different collections, of contributions ... reflecting everyone's own internal inspiration. Kind of the way nature is, but with humans. That would be a beautiful world."-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Google’s new patent filing indicates that the Google Glass may one day be used to control objects nearby. These objects may include copy machine, coffee maker, alarm system, garage door, TV or even the refrigerator. Glass will not only show information about that object, based on the technology described in this patent, it may also present a virtual control panel to interact with that object. The patent application is titled Wearable Computer with Superimposed Controls and Instructions for External Device and it gives us interesting view of what Google Glass might be able to do in the future.
This technology would also be able to work on its own. For example if the user approaches their garage door, Google Glass will automatically open it based on the user’s location. After the user leaves their garage, the door will automatically be closed. This technology certainly won’t work with every garage door or refrigerator. They’d have to be smart products that offer connectivity features such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or NFC. A feature that Glass can use to interact with it. This is reason enough to believe that it will take a lot of time before this technology makes it on to Google Glass. For all we know, it could just be another patented technology that would never see the light of day.-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Meet Myo, a Bluetooth bracelet that reads the electrical impulses of your muscles for wireless gesture control of your PC.
We've been pretty excited about the Leap Motion gesture-control system, which uses paired infrared cameras that plug in via USB to read your gestures and relay them to your screen.
New product Myo by Thalmic Labs uses a different solution. The Bluetooth 4.0 bracelet wraps around your arm and uses a combination of motion sensing and reading the electrical impulses of your muscles for what looks like highly accurate gesture control.
The Thalmic Labs team said:
When sensing the muscle movements of the user, the device can detect changes in hand gesture right down to each individual finger. When tracking the positioning in space of the arm and hand, the device can detect subtle movements in all directions.
According to the website, the device will be compatible with both Windows and Mac OS, with APIs available for iOS and Android developers on a developer site "coming soon".
You can pre-order Myo for US$149, to be shipped toward the end of this year.-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- President Barack Obama says gun-control advocates should be better listeners in the debate over firearms in America.
In an interview with The New Republic, Obama says he has "a profound respect" for the tradition of hunting that dates back for generations.
"And I think those who dismiss that out of hand make a big mistake. Part of being able to move this forward is understanding the reality of guns in urban areas are very different from the realities of guns in rural areas," he says.
Obama has called for a ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines and is pushing other policies following the mass shooting last month at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. In response, gun-rights advocates have accused Obama and others of ignoring the Second Amendment rights of Americans.
The president says it's understandable that people are protective of their family traditions when it comes to hunting.
"So it's trying to bridge those gaps that I think is going to be part of the biggest task over the next several months. And that means that advocates of gun control have to do a little more listening than they do sometimes," he says.
Has Obama himself ever fired a gun?
"Yes," the president says, "in fact, up at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time."
His daughters don't shoot skeet at the presidential retreat in Maryland, he adds, "but oftentimes guests of mine go up there."
The interview appears in the Feb. 11 issue of The New Republic.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- Three systems theorists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurichhave taken a database listing 37 million companies and investors worldwide and analyzed all 43,060 transnational corporations and share ownerships linking them. They built a model of who owns what and what their revenues are and mapped the whole edifice of economic power.
They discovered that global corporate control has a distinct bow-tie shape, with a dominant core of 147 firms radiating out from the middle. Each of these 147 own interlocking stakes of one another and together they control 40% of the wealth in the network. A total of 737 control 80% of it all. The top 20 are at the bottom of the post. This is, say the paper’s authors, the first map of the structure of global corporate control.
The #occupy movement will eat this up as evidence for massive redistribution of wealth. The New Scientist talked to one systems theorist who is “disconcerted” at the level of interconnectedness, but not surprised. Such structures occur commonly in biology, things like fungus, lichen and weeds. Economists say the danger comes when youcombine hyperconnection with the concentration of power. The Swiss scientists warn that this can lead to an unstable environment. No Scheisse, Sherlock.
But the web of corporate control is not de facto a conspiracy of world domination. There are many reasons for tightly bundled nodes and connections: anti-takeover strategies, reduction of transaction costs, risk sharing, increasing trust and groups of interest.
A few caveats with the data set: It excludes GSEs and privately-held companies and is dominated by banks, institutional investors and mutual funds that don’t always have much in the way of control over assets. Reader danogden left an especially good comment below: “…pension plans, corporate 401(k) plans and individual funds..manage trillions in assets ultimately belonging to individuals who are predominantly not in the “1%”. …There are a number of “custodian banks” in the list — companies who hold the assets of asset managers to ensure timely processing of things like foreign dividend and bond interest, name changes (due to mergers, etc.), foreign currency conversion and the like…Again, they do not own the assets, or even really control the assets — they merely house the assets. A better list would be the actual asset OWNERS, rather than the vendors who manage, house and clear said assets.”
See the top 50 on the control list at the New Scientist. One of the co-authors, Dr. James Glattfelder, says he will be publishing next week the bigger list of 737 companies that control 80% of the global economy. The 147 are included in that group.
The Top Fifty Corporate Owners
1. Barclays plc
2. Capital Group Companies Inc
3. FMR Corporation
5. State Street Corporation
6. JP Morgan Chase & Co
7. Legal & General Group plc
8. Vanguard Group Inc
9. UBS AG
10. Merrill Lynch & Co Inc
11. Wellington Management Co LLP
12. Deutsche Bank AG
13. Franklin Resources Inc
14. Credit Suisse Group
15. Walton Enterprises LLC (holding company for Wal-Mart heirs)
16. Bank of New York Mellon Corp
18. Goldman Sachs Group Inc
19. T Rowe Price Group Inc
20. Legg Mason Inc
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- No sooner had President Barack Obama laid out his gun control proposals Wednesday, than some states responded, saying they would move to block the laws' enforcement. Some state legislators were even working feverishly to block the measures before the president proposed them.
After the president's announcement, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant joined House Speaker Phil Gunn at a press conference at the State Capitol in Jackson to denounce the president's gun control measures and call on the legislature to make it illegal to enforce any of the new federal gun control measures.
"We are here to assure Mississippians that we are going to continue to fight for their Second Amendment rights to bear arms," Gunn said. "These are dangerous times, and people have a constitutional right to protect themselves and their property."
Bryant also tweeted out a letter he wrote to Gunn and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, saying that the president's Executive Order "infringes our constitutional right to keep and bear arms as never before in American history.
"I am asking that you immediately pass legislation that would make any unconstitutional order by the President illegal to enforce in Mississippi by state or local law enforcement," Bryant wrote in the letter, adding that other states have "introduced similar measures and I believe we will be successful in preventing this overreaching and anti-constitutional violation of our rights as American citizens."
On Monday, Texas State Rep. Steve Toth, who represents an area near Houston, announced he would file legislation "assisting the protection of the Second Amendment."
Named the "Firearms Protection Act," the bill would make "any federal law banning semi-automatic firearms or limiting the size of gun magazines unenforceable within the state's boundaries" and most notably "anyone trying to enforce a federal gun ban could face felony charges under the proposal."
"We can no longer depend on the Federal Government and this Administration to uphold a Constitution that they no longer believe in," Toth said in a release. "The liberties of the People of Texas and the sovereignty of our State are too important to just let the Federal Government take them away."
On Wednesday in Missouri, State Sen. Brian Munzlinger, who represents Williamstown, filed legislation he says will seek "to keep far-reaching regulations from violating the constitutional rights of all Missourians."
"Today's extreme grab of power was created under executive order and not heard publicly," Munzlinger said in a statement. "We cannot let the total disregard of our constitutional rights continue."
His proposal would make the president's Executive Order or any federal law banning semi-automatic weapons not already on the books "unenforceable" and the bill notably, like in Texas, would "make it a crime for any officer, government agent, or employee from enforcing a law or order declared unenforceable," effectively making it a crime for the feds to enforce the bill in the state.
Another Missouri state legislator, Rep. Casey Guernsey, introduced a similar bill that "specifies that it is unlawful for any officer or employee of the state or any political subdivision, or any licensed federal firearms dealer to enforce, or attempt to enforce, any federal law relating to a personal firearm, firearm accessory, or ammunition that is owned or manufactured in this state and remains exclusively within the boundaries of the state," according to Guernsey's legislative aide Ryan Clearwater.
Lawmakers in Tennessee laid out similar legislation. State Rep. Jeremy Faison and Sen. Frank Nicely proposed a bill that would make it illegal for any "public funds" of the state to be "allocated to the "implementation, regulation or enforcement of any federal law, executive order, rule or regulation" that is passed and "adversely affects a United States citizen's ability to lawfully possess or carry firearms in this state."
Faison also put out a statement saying while he "appreciates" some of the president's plans like "additional school resource officers, training for schools, churches, and higher education," as well as "being tougher on gun crimes," he disagrees with aspects of the proposal such as the "vague" term "military assault weapons" and private sales needing background checks.
"10 years of an assault weapons ban did nothing to stop shooting crimes. How will it work now?" Faison asked in a statement.
In Wyoming, state Rep. Kendell Kroeker was joined by several other state legislators in proposing a bill that reads "any federal law which attempts to ban a semi-automatic firearm or to limit the size of a magazine of a firearm or other limitation on firearms in this state shall be unenforceable in Wyoming."
Like other states, the bill would make it a felony for a federal employee to enforce federal legislation on a firearm or ammunition "owned or manufactured commercially or privately in Wyoming" that remains in the state.
And it's not just state legislators. A sheriff in Oregon, Tim Mueller of Linn County, wrote a letter to Vice President Joe Biden on Monday which he posted on his Facebook page, telling Biden, "We must not allow, nor shall we tolerate, the actions of criminals no matter how heinous the crimes to prompt politicians to enact laws that will infringe upon the liberties of responsible citizens who have broken no laws."
"Any federal regulation enacted by Congress or by executive order of the President offending the constitutional rights of my citizens shall not be enforced by me or my deputies, nor will I permit the enforcement of any constitutional regulations or orders by federal officers within the borders of Linn County Oregon," Mueller wrote in the letter.
Another sheriff in Kentucky, Denny Peyman of Jackson County, told The Lexington Herald-Leader that he too would not enforce any laws he considers unconstitutional, saying he has "a team of attorneys to step up with me if necessary to be sure the Second Amendment is upheld," adding that he considers it "a moral obligation."
Even before the Dec. 14 Sandy Hook school shooting that left 20 first graders and six educators dead, eight states had adopted similar laws that would exempt guns made in those states from federal regulations as long as the firearms remain in those states.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- An Oregon sheriff says he will not enforce any federal regulation that President Barack Obama lays out in his package of gun control proposals Wednesday.
Linn County Sheriff Tim Mueller joins several other public officials across the nation who have decided to square off with the White House even before it outlines what its plans are for expanded measures.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – The smartphone is no longer just a portable computer in your pocket. It has become the remote control for your life.
Want to flip off the living room lights, unlock your front door or get a reading of your blood pressure? All of this can be done through mobile apps that work with accessories embedded with sensors or an Internet connection.
For several years, technology companies have promised the dream of the connected home, the connected body and the connected car. Those connections have proved illusory. But in the last year app-powered accessories have provided the mechanism to actually make the connections. That is partly because smartphones have become the device people never put down. But it is also because wireless sensors have become smaller, cheaper and ubiquitous.
Big companies with strong brands have been heavily promoting the new uses for these gadgets. General Motors advertises its Chevy Malibu Eco with a man showing his parents how he starts the car with a smartphone. A major selling point of the popular Nest thermostat is its ability to turn up the furnace from miles away with a cellphone.
“Now that, increasingly, consumers have a device with them to monitor virtually anything they do with the Internet, why not offer that capability to monitor and remote control?” said Ross Rubin, an analyst at Reticle Research.
The idea of turning off the lights with a smartphone may seem gimmicky, but consumers are warming to applications, said Bill Scheffler, director of business development for the Z-Wave Alliance, a consortium of companies that make connected appliances. The situation resembles the time when power windows started catching on for automobiles, or when television makers started offering remote controls, Mr. Scheffler said.
“It used to be that people would say, ‘Why does anybody want a remote control for a TV if you can get up and change the channel?’ ” he said. “It’s just progress.” Companies like AT&T, Black & Decker and Honeywell have started selling app-linked products, he said.
At the International Consumer Electronics Show, which has attracted more than 150,000 people here this week, dozens of companies are showing off connected accessories they can hook up to their home appliances to make them work with smartphones, and many are also displaying wearable devices that can help people monitor their health on their phones. Some of these products are being provided by large companies. AT&T, the wireless carrier, said that in March it would begin selling a wireless security system called Digital Life that will allow people to use tablets or phones to monitor cameras, alarms and even coffee pots.
If a burglar trips a motion sensor in the house, for example, a user can receive a text message, then call the police. Customers can choose to expand AT&T’s wireless service to appliances like lights, door locks, thermostats and security cameras, which can be controlled and monitored through the AT&T mobile app.
Ralph de la Vega, chief executive of AT&T Mobility, said in an interview that home security was a big opportunity to increase revenue. Only 20 percent of homes have security systems, he said, leaving millions of homeowners as potential buyers.
“I think it dramatically changes how people feel about their home and how secure they feel about being outside the home,” Mr. de la Vega said. “I think it’s an easy sell.” The company has not announced prices for the service.
Ingersoll Rand, which makes industrial products, offers a $300 starter kit and software for people to connect their homes. It includes a lock, a light and a wireless “bridge,” or base station, to connect the devices to the Internet. They can be controlled with a smartphone or tablet app called Nexia Home Intelligence. Customers also must pay at least $9 a month for a subscription; they can choose to buy the appliances and the bridge separately.
Products by several other companies take advantage of a smartphone’s sensors and connection to the Internet to monitor consumers’ health. IHealth sells monitors for people to track their blood pressure with an app. At the electronics show, it introduced a wireless glucose meter, called the Smart Glucometer, that lets people with diabetes determinz their blood sugar. A user puts a blood sample on a test strip, pops it into an accessory attached to a smartphone, and an app gives a reading of the blood sugar level.
Adam Lin, general manager of iHealth, declined to say how many products the company had sold, but he said it was in the “six-figure” area. IHealth products have appeared at Apple, Target and Best Buy.
In addition to people who are interested in their health, health insurance providers might embrace monitoring products. Mr. Lin said iHealth was discussing with two insurers whether to provide its products to patients, which would help reduce their doctor visits.
A small start-up, AliveCor, has created an iPhone case that, when grasped, records an accurate electrocardiogram on the iPhone screen via its app. The company has attracted financing from Khosla Ventures, a prominent Silicon Valley venture capital firm.
Nike, Jawbone and Fitbit sell wearable electronic devices for people to track their movements with smartphones. Fitbit, based in San Francisco, sells a pocket pedometer called the Fitbit One, which can track a user’s steps and floors climbed, and also monitors sleep patterns. Its newest product is due in spring, the Fitbit Flex, a step counter and sleep tracker that is worn around the wrist. It synchronizes with a smartphone app to give users updates.
Woody Scal, chief revenue officer of Fitbit, said the company sold its devices in 10,000 retail stores in the United States. Its Fitbit One is the best-selling sports device on Amazon.com. He said one reason that wearable fitness gadgets had become popular was that the sensors had shrunk and battery life had improved. That helps make the products slimmer, more stylish and easier to use.
Mr. Scal said wireless fitness devices were becoming popular because they addressed basic needs for consumers, unlike another trend seen at the show, enormous televisions.
“In the end, I don’t wake up in the morning, look myself in the mirror and ask whether my TV has enough pixels,” he said. “But I do wonder how I’m going to get enough exercise, eat better, sleep well or manage my weight despite all the other things going on in my life.”-www.shfaqna.com/English
Source: NY Times
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- Vice President Biden said Wednesday that President Obama is pondering the use of executive action to tighten gun control.
The comment from Biden came as he kicked off a string of meetings with stakeholders on the issue by sitting down with representatives of victims groups and gun safety organizations on Wednesday morning.
On Thursday, he will hold a similar session with hunters and gun owners groups, including representatives from the National Rifle Association.
"The president is going to act," Biden said. "There are executives orders, there's executive action that can be taken. We haven't decided what that is yet. But we're compiling it all with the help of the attorney general and the rest of the Cabinet members as well as legislative action that we believe is required."
But Biden suggested that, as he develops a set of proposals for Congress, Obama could use his executive authority now to address gun violence.
"We're not going to get caught up in the notion that unless we can do everything, we're going to do nothing," Biden said. " It's critically important that we act."
White House press secretary Jay Carney declined to elaborate on specific action that Obama might take.
Biden added in comments to participants at Wednesday's meeting: "The president and I are determined to take action. This not an exercise in photo opportunities or just to getting to ask you all what your opinions are. We are vitally interested in what you have to say."
Biden is due to make recommendations late this month to Obama, who says he will try to push a package through Congress.
The president has already endorsed a renewal of the assault weapons ban, improving background checks of potential gun buyers, and introducing restrictions on the sizes of high-capacity ammunition magazines.
Among the groups represented at at Wednesday's meeting were the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, and the Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Two survivors of the 2007 mass shooting at Virginia Tech as well as the stepfather of one of the victims of last year's shooting rampage at a suburban Denver movie theater also attended.
Walmart, one the nation's top sellers of firearms and ammunition, also confirmed that it would send a representative from the company to attend Thursday's meeting. The group had initially turned down an invitation from the White House to participate, citing scheduling conflicts for senior executives.
"Knowing our senior leaders could not be in Washington this week, we spoke in advance with the vice president's office to share our perspective," Walmart spokesman David Tovar said in a statement. "We underestimated the expectation to attend the meeting on Thursday in person, so we are sending an appropriate representative to participate."