3-31-16 Quick Morning News

 

Talk Media News
 

Victoria Jones created and edits Quick Morning News. She is chief White House correspondent with Washington DC-based Talk Media News, where her insight and analysis are made available to over 400 news talk radio stations around the country and internationally.
 

Quick News

  • Trump: Punish women for abortion – er – don’t
  • Nuclear security summit hits DC
  • Dirty bomb nightmare: Suitcase
  • Trump’s trumperies on arm grab incident
  • Clinton: New York v Sanders: Wisconsin
  • SCOTUS: WH plots next phase of fight
  • Obama commutes sentences: 61 drug offenders
  • Complaint: Court sentences Latinos to costly English classes
 
Trump: Punish Women for Abortion – Er – Don’t (NYT, me)
• Donald Trump said Wednesday that women who seek abortions should be subject to “some form of punishment” if the procedure is banned in the U.S. Pols on both sides of the aisle instantly went nuts and Trump recanted the comment in super record time – but it’s a huge problem for his already dismal ratings with women nationally (if you’re already in the tank, do you just flush?)
 
• MSNBC’s Chris Matthews asked the question as Trump appeared at a town hall (see below). Matthews pressed Trump on how he might enforce a restriction. Trump once supported abortion rights (conservatives are suspicious of his “conversion”). Trump initially dodged, then: “But you have to ban it,” and after more prodding, “There has to be some form of punishment.”
 
• A few hours later, Trump recanted his comments in full – (really unusual as he’s so proud of never apologizing). If abortion were disallowed, he said in a statement, “the doctor or any other person performing this illegal act upon a woman would be help legally responsible, not the woman. The woman is a victim in this case, as is the life in her womb.” (his words? don’t think so)
 
• Trump’s GOP rivals pounced. Gov John Kasich (R-Ohio): “Of course women shouldn’t be punished.” Sen Ted Cruz (R-Texas): “Of course we shouldn’t be talking about punishing women; we should affirm their dignity and the incredible gift they have to bring life into the world. Meanwhile, Democrat Hillary Clinton called the comments “horrific and telling.”
 
• Republicans had really hoped to move on from the 2012 nightmare of Todd Akin, a Senate candidate in Missouri, who posited that victims of “legitimate rape” were somehow (magically) able to prevent pregnancy – all part of the GOP’s so-called “war on women,” which the party is terrified Trump is bringing back on his own (ya think?) – and could doom them in the general election

• Watch Donald Trump say, regarding women having abortions if they had been outlawed: “There has to be some form of punishment.” Chris Matthews: “For the woman?” Trump: “Yeah, there has to be some form.” (if Trump hadn’t been so busy trying, unsuccessfully, to bully Matthews, he could have thought about it – maybe for the first time in his life) (TPM, me)

 
Nuclear Security Summit Hits DC (AP, me)
• Preventing terrorists from obtaining nuclear materials is the central focus as President Obama hosts leaders from over 50 countries for a nuclear security summit starting today. Despite three previous summits and six years of Obama’s prodding, security officials warn that ingredients for a nuclear device or “dirty bomb” are alarmingly insecure
 
• The threat of a nuclear war between superpowers has given way to growing concerns about non-state actors, including ISIS and al Qaeda offshoots operating in North Africa and in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Although the U.S. and its allies still worry about North Korea, Obama believes the threat posed by Iran has subsided due to the nuclear deal (GOPers don’t agree)
 
• The havoc such an attack could wreak in an urban area like New York or London is concerning enough that leaders scheduled a special session on the threat during the two-day summit. Concerns have taken on heightened significance following the 22 March attacks in Brussels (like general polite freak-out – this is so much more important than Trump and abortion, btw)
 
• Some 2,000 metric tons of highly enriched uranium and separated plutonium being used in civilian or military programs could be turned into a nuclear bomb if stolen or diverted, the WH said. And fewer than half of the countries participating in the summit have even agreed to secure their sources of radiological material, needed for a dirty bomb (say what now? it’s virtually loose?)

 

Dirty Bomb Nightmare: Suitcase
• The most likely scenario that experts fear is that a group could get hold of radioactive material, such as cesium or cobalt, for a dirty bomb that could be carried in a suitcase. Those materials are widely used in industrial and academic setting as well as hospitals to irradiate blood, with no consistently applied security standards across the globe (really? this is pathetic)
 
• Unlike a nuclear bomb, the only people killed instantly by a “dirty bomb” would be those close to the blast site. But the blast could cause cancer-causing substances to spread over a vast area, triggering panic and evacuations

• Detonated in a major city, it could cause tens of billions of dollars in economic damage, said Andrew Bieniawski, who studies materials security at the Nuclear Threat Initiative. People and businesses would have to be relocated – potentially for years – while the contamination is cleared up. Few would be inclined to ever go back – think Chernobyl
 

• On the summit’s sidelines, Obama planned to meet with the leaders of China, South Korea and Japan, who all share U.S. concerns about North Korea’s nuclear program. Russian President Putin refused to attend, as Moscow scoffed at what it seemed U.S. efforts to take control of the process (ohh grow up, bare-chest boy – you’ve got more naughty nukes than the rest of them)

 

• The Pentagon plans to move roughly a dozen inmates from Guantanamo to at least two countries. The transfers come as the Obama admin takes steps to close the facility, which has been called a recruiting tool for jihadists. About 91 detainees remain at Guantanamo, down from about 800 in 2002 (BBC)
 
 

Trump’s Trumperies on Arm Grab Incident (AP, me)
Never happened: 11 March – “This was, in my opinion, made up,” Trump told CNN. “Everybody said nothing happened. Perhaps she made the story up. I think that’s what happened.” Campaign manager Corey Lewandowski tweets: “@MichelleFields you are totally delusional. I never touched you.” Tuesday – “Look at tapes-nothing there!” Trump tweeted
 
Maybe there was contact: Tuesday – “Maybe he touched
[her] a little bit, but I didn’t see,” Trump told a rally / No big deal: Wednesday “The incident was so minor,” Trump on NBC. “He brushes her. And he brushes her probably, probably to get her hand off my arm. So it was so minor he might not have realized it took place.” (head spinning like Exorcist to keep up?)
 
A big deal – maybe bomb: Tuesday “She had a pen in her hand, which Secret Service is not liking because they don’t know what it is, whether it’s a little bomb,” Trump on CNN / Or a knife: Tuesday “She walked through Secret Service. She had a pen in her hand, which could have been a knife. It could have been just a pen, which is very dangerous,” Trump on CNN
 
She was grabbing me: Tuesday – “She was grabbing me. Does that mean I’m supposed to file charges against her?” Trump told reporters / She grabbed me more than once: Wednesday – “She grabbed me by the arm twice,” Trump said on NBC. “She made up this story.” – referring to former Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields
 

She hit me and Lewandowski was trying to help: Tuesday – “She grabs me or hits me in the arm,” Trump at rally in Wisconsin. “It was almost like he was trying to keep her off me.” “Like he was helping her,” he continued after input from the audience (Lewandowski was charged with assault Tuesday for grabbing Fields’s arm after a Trump event in Florida this month)

• Here are 30 times Donald Trump has said something that could have sunk another candidate (WSJ)

 

Clinton: New York / Sanders: Wisconsin (NYT, NYT, me)
• With Bernie Sanders breaking through in Wisconsin before next week’s vote there, Democrat Hillary Clinton is focusing on New York’s pivotal primary on 19 April – a loss to Sanders there would be – oooh – humiliating. Clinton, the former U.S. senator from New York, on Wednesday spoke at a jubilant rally in Harlem, presenting herself as the quintessential hometown candidate
 
• Clinton said she was focused on working with doctors and community leaders to get results. “Some folks may have the luxury to hold out for the perfect,” Clinton said in a jab at Sanders, “but a lot of Americans are hurting right now and they can’t wait for that. They need the good and they need it today.” (Sanders is ahead in a new Marquette poll in Wisconsin)
 
• Sanders, who plans a rally in the Bronx this afternoon, crisscrossed Wisconsin Wednesday and kept up his criticism of Clinton over her past support for free trade deals; her six-figure speeches to Goldman Sachs and other banks, and her vote, as a senator, authorizing the American-led invasion of Iraq
 
• Speaking in Kenosha, Sanders said: “On all of these trade policies, NAFTA, permanent normal trade relations with China, I not only voted against them, I help lead the opposition against them, On the other hand, over the years, Secretary Clinton has supported virtually all of these disastrous trade agreements.”

 

• Two white Minneapolis police officers involved in the shooting death of 24-year-old African-American Jamar Clark will not be charged, prosecutors said Wednesday, because evidence showed Clark wasn’t handcuffed and that he reached for an officer’s gun. (despite the fact that 12 out of 20 witnesses said he was handcuffed and six weren’t sure – huh?) (AP, me)
 
SCOTUS: WH Plots Next Phase of Fight (Politico, me)
• With small cracks emerging in the Republican Supreme Court blockade – and private indications from some GOP senators that they’d likely back Merrick Garland if he ever did come up for a vote – the WH is preparing to press its perceived political advantage when senators return from their recess next week (yes, they’re actually back at work then)
 
• In April, the WH is looking to load his schedule full with an additional 52 senators – he’d met with 10 by Wednesday – including 16 Republicans who’ve said publicly that they’ll meet. Then, after the May recess, the WH will shift its focus to calling for hearings (which they don’t really expect to get)
 
• WH aides say they’re surprised that they’ve made as much progress as they have in the two weeks since President Obama nominated Garland. It’s a long way from confirmation, but the WH sees a path forward, if only to strengthen the case they’ll make against Republican senators going into the fall elections (hammer them hard is the plan)
 
• The admin thinks it can capitalize on the end of the current Supreme Court term in June – and the possibility of more high profile decisions deadlocking on 4-4 splits – coming just before the Senate’s looong summer recess. Getting a hearing will be tough, with all Judiciary Committee Republicans signed on a letter opposing any movement – in addition to GOP leadership
 
•  Meanwhile, WH aides have expanded their universe of potential Republican “yes” votes. Their target list now includes the six who voted for Garland’s confirmation to the DC Circuit Court in 1997 and off-cycle Republicans in states where the other senator is a Democrat who can help carry the attack back home

 

Obama Commutes Sentences: 61 Drug Offenders (AP, WaPo, me)

• President Obama commuted the federal prison sentences of 61 drug offenders on Wednesday, including more than a third serving life sentences, working to give new energy to calls for overhauling the criminal justice system. Obama’s commutation shortens their sentences, with most of the inmates set to be released on 28 July
 

• Obama, in a letter to those receiving commutations, said the presidential power to grant commutations and pardons “embodies the basic belief in our democracy that people deserve a second chance after having made a mistake in their lives that led to a conviction under our laws.” Obama had lunch with seven former inmates whose sentences had been shortened
 

• “Sixty-one grants, with over 9,000 petitions pending, is not an accomplishment to brag about,” said Mark Osler, a law professor at the University of St Thomas in Minnesota and an advocate for inmates petitioning for clemency. “I know some of those still waiting, men who were grievously over-sentenced, who have reformed themselves.”
 

• During the lunch, Obama said that Phillip Emmert of Des Moines is “an example of what we mean when we talk about second chances.” Emmert was convicted in 1992 for conspiracy to distribute meth and spent 14 years in federal prison but “had the strength to do everything he could to get trained” and now works at the VA Medical Center in Iowa City
 

• The WH will hold an event called Life after Clemency today that will include former inmates and their attorneys, along with some prison reform advocates

 

Complaint: Court Sentences Latinos to Costly English Classes (AP, me)

• A suburban New Orleans court discriminates against Latinos by charging them for inadequate English interpreters and making them attend overpriced, ineffective English classes as a condition of probation, the Southern Poverty Law Center said Wednesday in a letter to the Justice Dept (this is just mean, if true)
 

• The SPLC complaint centers on practices in 1st Parish Court of Jefferson Parish, which handles traffic and misdemeanor cases. Charging fees for English and interpreter classes adds another layer of punishment for traffic offenses that isn’t borne by English speakers cited for the same violation, the complaint says (two types of justice)
 

• In some instances, four people said they didn’t fully understand through interpreters what they were pleading guilty to, the complaint says. Omar Roman-Velasquez said interpreters rushed him through various court proceedings and he wound up pleading guilty to one offense that he would like to have disputed. As a condition of probation, he was ordered to attend English class
 

• The class to which those with limited English abilities are sent, the complaint says, “does not usefully teach English.” And it’s expensive. The court’s English class = approx $300 for 10 weeks, while the local Catholic Charities charges approx $25 for a semester of English classes, the complaint says (whoa – sounds a bit scammy)
 

• Court administrator Beatrice Parisi declined immediate comment – said she hadn’t yet seen the complaint. German Noe George pleaded guilty to traffic charges, and enrolled in an English class taught by a woman who also is listed by the court as an interpreter. The SPLC said it could be a conflict as she could potentially profit from conviction of defendants (umm – bit incestuous)

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__________________
Victoria Jones – Editor

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