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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.
 

$1.6 billion Powerball Lottery: 4-8-19-27-34 and Powerball 10. A winning ticket was sold in a 7-Eleven in Chino Hills, Calif. Winning tickets also in Munford, Tennessee, Florida

 

Quick News
  • Ted Cruz didn’t disclose campaign loan
  • Republicans whisper: Contested convention
  • Iran frees US sailors: DOD – “embarrassing”
  • Sailors: Furor over photos/video
  • GOP fight night tonight
  • Obama on the road today: Baton Rouge
  • 2016ers sharpen knives
 
Ted Cruz Didn’t Disclose Campaign Loan (NYT, Hill, me)
• Sen Ted Cruz (R-Texas) didn’t disclose a low-interest $500,000 loan from Goldman Sachs to his 2012 upstart tea party Senate campaign, NYT reports. Cruz and his wife Heidi, who works at Goldman Sachs, reported putting $1 million of “personal funds” into his campaign,” “all we had saved.”
 
• But a review of financial disclosures filed later showed that the Cruzes got low interest loans from Goldman Sachs and Citibank maxing at $1 million. The Citibank loan is paid off. The Goldman Sachs loan is outstanding, though the balance is reduced to between $50,000 and $100,000. Cruz has said Goldman engages in “crony capitalism” (bit of a crony himself)
 
• The loans didn’t appear in Federal Election Commission paperwork the campaign filed during the race, as required. Other campaigns have been investigated and fined for failing to make such disclosures. A spox for the Cruz campaign called the failure to report the Goldman loan “inadvertent” and said the transactions had been reported in the Senate campaign’s FEC filings
 
• Kenneth Gross, a former election commission lawyer who specialized in campaign law, said the listing of a bank loan in an annual Senate ethics report – which deals only with personal finances – wouldn’t satisfy the requirement that it be promptly disclosed to election officials during a campaign. “They’re two different reporting regimes,” he said

 

• Several explosions have rocked Jakarta, Indonesia, near a popular shopping mall. After the initial blasts, gunfire and further explosions were heard. Police say five attackers are among at least seven people killed. Officials say the situation is under control and it’s too early to say who is behind the attack – developing (BBC)
 
Republicans Whisper: Contested Convention (Politico, me)
• As they gathered in Charleston SC for the Republican National Committee’s annual winter meeting, party officials voiced concern about everything from the possibility of a contested convention to whether changes they instituted to the debate schedule and primary calendar were having unintended consequences (like GOP voters getting what they want lol)
 
• The possibility of a contested convention in Cleveland this summer was expected to be raised at a Rules Committee meeting today. RNC chair Reince Priebus, one senior party official said, has begun considering a variety of scenarios, such as what would happen if no candidate were to win a majority of the primary vote in eight states – requirement a nominee must meet
 
• Some have begun to wonder whether the decision to limit the number of debates and to shorten the primary calendar – changes that Priebus instituted after the disappointing 2012 presidential election – has inadvertently strengthened Donald Trump’s hand
 
• One person involved in drafting the post-2012 report that outlined the obstacles the GOP faced to expand its appeal, said this primary has been “terrifically detrimental to what the party was trying to achieve. … We can’t win by dividing people.”

 

• A new U.S. force of special operations troops has arrived in Iraq and is preparing to work with Iraqi forces to go after ISIS targets, SecDef Ash Carter said Wednesday. While the force was expected to number only about 200, its deployment marks the latest expansion of U.S. military pressure on ISIS (AP)
 
 
Iran Frees US Sailors: DOD – “Embarrassing” (WaPo, NYT, me)
• SecState John Kerry spoke at least five times Tuesday by phone with his Iranian counterpart in intense diplomacy that led to the release Wed morning of 10 American sailors who were picked up and detained overnight when their small ships strayed into Iranian waters the day before – Iran called it “trespassing” (that’s the story, anyway)
 
• The Pentagon and State Dept initially said that one of the boats had experience mechanical problems en route to Bahrain from Kuwait in a routine mission on Tuesday, and that the Iranians appeared to have accepted the explanation
 
• Wednesday morning, however, after the crew members and boats were returned, defense officials said they no longer believed that mechanical problems were the cause, noting that both boats returned to U.S. custody under their own power. And each boat has radio equipment on board – both lost communication – hm? (i said Wednesday there was something funny going on)
 
• Defense officials said that they were still trying to untangle the chain of events that led to the episode. Of particular note, they said, was the question of how the military lost contact with not one, but two boats (most peculiar). Several officials noted that the crew members were relatively young, junior enlisted sailors led by a lieutenant (thrown under their own boats…)
 
• “The Iran story is frankly embarrassing,” said a senior DOD official, anonymous. “We still do not know all the facts, but these guys and gal apparently were just poor mariners.” (ouch – if true, and not a cover story – that’s appalling)

• Iran has released video of the U.S. sailors taken by the Revolutionary Guards Corps. They can be seen kneeling with their hands on their heads, as well as chatting and eating a kebab meal. A sailor apologizes for mistakenly entering Iran’s waters. It’s unclear whether he was coerced in any way

Sailors: Furor Over Photos/Video (WaPo, Politico, NYT, me)
• Major controversy broke out when Iran released pics of the men and one woman while they were in custody, showing them without their boots and uniform blouses. A DOD official said that the Navy lieutenant’s filmed apology was probably intended to defuse a potentially volatile situation
 

• Military regs stipulate that a captured service member is required only to give “name, rank, service number and date of birth,” and says that captives will “evade answering further questions” to the utmost of their ability. But the U.S. and Iran aren’t at war, and such rules wouldn’t apply, one DOD official said
 

• Another defense official said the images have raised concerns that Iran could have pilfered some personal info from the captives. It’s common for U.S. troops to keep their dogtags, with identifying info including social security numbers, in the laces of their right boot

• SecState John Kerry thanked Iran for the release on Wednesday, noting that the sailors were “well taken care of.” and provided blankets and food. Sen John McCain (R-Ariz) said Kerry’s comments were “unbelievable.” WH Spox Josh Earnest said Wednesday that “we’re still trying to learn more about how exactly that all happened.” (maybe all pipe down until you know?)

 

• Robert Lewis Dear, the man accused of fatally shooting three people at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado last year, told a Denver TV station Wednesday: “Well, I’m just an honest man and I believe I’m guilty so I am just going to plead guilty. I’d say that hey are going to execute me.” (i’d say that’s the sanest thing he’s said so far) (Reuters)

 

GOP Fight Night Tonight (Politico, me)

• The next Republican presidential debate is tonight in North Charleston, South Carolina. Fox Business Network returns as debate host. Primetime debate is 9 pm EST. FBN says it will “follow a similar format to the network’s inaugural debate, focusing on economic, domestic and international policy issues.” (drinking game: Cruz ‘n Canada)
 

• The two debates – main debate at 9 pm EST and undercard debate at 6 pm – will be streamed free on foxbusiness.com and aired on Fox Business Network. Neil Cavuto and Maria Bartiromo will moderate the main debate. Trish Regan and Sandra Smith will moderate the (un) happy hour debate
 

• 9 pm debate: Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Chris Christie. The 6 pm features Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum – and joining them because she didn’t make the top cut, will be Carly Fiorina. Rand Paul also didn’t make the cut. He’s desperately trying to get in the big debate, citing one particular poll – stay tuned – he may not show
 

• Trump and Cruz will stand at the center. Carson and Bush to Cruz’s left, with Rubio, Christie and Kasich to Trump’s right. The Democrats will debate in Charleston this Sunday (DNC picked another snoozer night) hosted by NBC News and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute. Final GOP debate is in Des Moines on Thursday 28 January – Fox News

 
• Cable news channel Al Jazeera America, which debuted in 2013 and promised to cover American news soberly and seriously, is shutting down by the end of April. CEO Al Anstey said “our business model is simply not sustainable in light of the economic challenges in the U.S. media marketplace.” It said it would expand its digital presence in the U.S. (NYT, AP)

 

Obama on the Road Today (AP, me)
• Stressing themes from his State of the Union address, President Obama on Wednesday told a crowd of 11,000 at the University of Nebraska-Omaha that “I like talking about hope and all the good stuff that’s going on.” “Then you look at some of these ads, it’s some doom and some gloom,” he said, referring to “depressing” GOP 2016ers in neighboring Iowa
 
• Obama said America is experiencing “extraordinary change, and that’s always a little bit unsettling.” “Do we respond to these changes with fear and do we turn on each other, or do we face the future with confidence in who we are and what we stand for?” he said
 
• Obama is visiting Nebraska and Louisiana where unemployment has fallen significantly since he took office and more than 2.5 million residents have gained coverage under his health care law, which the GOP presidential candidates have vowed to repeal if elected
 
• On his first full day in office Tuesday, Louisiana’s new Democratic governor, Jon Bel Edwards, signed an executive order to begin the process of expanding Medicaid. An additional 42,000 people stand to benefit, said WH spox Josh Earnest. Today, Obama will hold a town hall and Twitter Q&A in Baton Rouge

 

• President Obama will offer a financial incentive in his fiscal 2017 budget proposal to 19 state govts that passed up an earlier offer to help pay to expand Medicaid coverage to more low income residents. He’ll discuss his proposal at a town hall in Baton Rouge today (Reuters)
 
2016ers Sharpen Knives (NYT, Politico, Politico, Politico, me)
• Republican front runner Donald Trump went on a rant Wednesday night (watch)- about his mic. “I don’t like this mic. Whoever the hell brought this mic system, don’t pay the son of a bitch” “This mic is terrible. Stupid mic keeps popping.” “When somebody does a bad job like this stupid mic, you shouldn’t pay the bastard. Terrible. Terrible. It’s true.” (i’m actually on board with Trump – don’t pay – popping mic is the worst)
 
• Bernie Sanders on Wednesday blasted Hillary Clinton’s assertions earlier in the day that he’s a “pretty reliable vote for the gun lobby.” “To say that I am kind of a supporter of the NRA is really a mean-spirited and unfair and inaccurate statement,” Sanders said on MSNBC. “I have a D-minus, D-minus voting record from the NRA.”
 
• Rand Paul hesitantly conceded that he would support Donald Trump in the general election if the mogul won the GOP nomination. “Yeah, I think it would have to happen,” Paul said Wednesday. He said the reason is that establishment Republicans did the same thing when he won the GOP nomination for Senate in Kentucky
 
• NYT reports that Trump may beat Ted Cruz in the Iowa caucuses, but if he does, it will probably be in spite of his organizing team, which still seems amateurish and halting. One volunteer has yet to knock on a door or make a call. One is a “9/11 truther.” In Davenport this weekend, volunteers decided it was too cold to go out door to door

 

 • David Bowie guests on “Extras” with Ricky Gervais – 3 minutes of cringe-worthy, brilliant comedy ensue

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___________________
Victoria Jones – Editor

Talk Media News provides breaking news coverage of domestic and world news to more than 400 radio stations across the United States.