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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.

Quick News

  • North Korea claim: First H-bomb test
  • Tearful Obama calls for new gun actions
  • GOP attacks Obama for gun actions
  • Mid East tensions: Kerry reaches out
  • Trump goes birther on Cruz
  • Sanders on banks: “Greed is not good”
  • Armed group in Oregon: Land to locals
North Korea Claim: First H-Bomb Test (Reuters, NYT, AP, FT, me)
• North Korea declared on Tuesday that it had detonated its first hydrogen bomb, claiming a significant advance in the isolated state’s strike capability. The test was ordered by leader Kim Jong-un, two days ahead of his 33rd birthday. The IAEA says if confirmed, the test would be in violation of UN Security Council resolutions
• South Korea’s President Park convened an emergency national security council meeting today and vowed a tough response to the test. She also ordered the military to bolster its combined defense posture with the U.S. military. South Korea’s spy agency says the North may have tested an A-bomb, not an H-bomb
• The WH said today it can’t yet confirm North Korea’s claims, but added the U.S. would respond appropriately to provocations and defend its allies. Last month, Kim appeared to claim his country had developed a hydrogen bomb, a step up from the less powerful atomic bomb, but the U.S. and outside experts were skeptical at the time
• South Korean intel officials and several analysts questioned whether the test was indeed a full-fledged test, suggesting Pyongyang may have mixed a hydrogen isotope in a normal atomic fission bomb. North Korea is already under UN Security Council sanctions. The Security Council will meet later today to discuss what steps it could take, diplomats said


• The GOP-led House will vote today for the 62nd time to repeal Obamacare. The bill passed the Senate late last year, so today’s House vote will send the bill straight to President Obama, who will veto it. But today’s House vote will mark the first time such a bill makes it all the way to the WH. The bill also cuts federal funding for Planned Parenthood (AP)

Tearful Obama Calls for New Gun Actions (NYT, Hill, Politico, me)

• With tears streaming down his face, President Obama on Tuesday condemned the repeated spasms of gun violence across America as he announced new executive actions intended to reduce the number of mass shootings, suicides and killings that have become routine in the nation’s communities
• “First graders,” Obama said from the East Room of the WH, speaking about the young children shot to death in 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The president’s eyes drifted to a distant place and became red with tears. Obama wiped his eye and paused to regain his composure. “Every time I think about those kids, it gets me mad,” he said
• Obama will seek to expand the number of gun buyers who are subject to criminal background checks by clarifying existing law. He’ll also hire more personnel to process background checks, direct officials to conduct more gun research (smart guns and stuff), encourage more domestic violence prosecutions and order better tracking of lost guns, officials said
• 2016er Former Gov Jeb Bush (R-Fla) wrote in an oped for The Gazette in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Tuesday: “Liberals like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton seize on every opportunity to advance a gun-grabbing agenda.” (it’s going to be an issue on the campaign trail as GOPers and Dems outdo each other – in opposite ways)


• Watch: Nice to see Fox News living down to itself in the new year. Contributor Andrea Tantaros said Tuesday when discussing President Obama’s address on gun control: “I would check that podium for like a raw onion or some no-more-tears. I mean, it’s not really believable.” (me, Raw Story)
GOP Attacks Obama for Gun Actions (WaPo, Politico, Hill, me)
• Rank-and-file Republicans want action – now – to counter President Obama’s executive actions on guns. One powerful appropriator, Rep John Culberson (R-Texas) wrote to AG Loretta Lynch on Monday and threatened to block federal funding for the Dept of Justice unless Obama’s actions are reversed – but last year’s spending deal funds DOJ through September
• Rep Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind), a House Freedom Caucus member, was to introduce a bill Tuesday evening intended to shut down Obama’s executive actions by declaring that any action that infringes on the Second Amendment would have “no force or effect.” A companion bill has been introduced in the Senate by 2016er Sen Rand Paul (R-Ky)
• The govt is fully funded for the year, so there’s no leverage there. The Federal Aviation Admin needs to be reauthorized by 31 March, but lawmakers will be loath to meddle with the FAA or risk being blamed for flight problems (and of course flight problems mess them up too. never forget the selfish factor)
• Two pieces of Obama’s plan would need buy-in from Congress in the next spending bill: providing an additional $500 million for mental health services and funding for 200 new agents at the ATF. One GOP lawmaker privately said party leaders are under enormous pressure from the NRA and other gun rights activists to take a stand against Obama

• GOP lawmakers are expected to sue to stop Obama’s proposals from taking effect. But that could take a while – and might not be resolved until well after he leaves office in early 2017

• The FBI is seeking help in figuring out what the husband and wife killers who opened fire in San Bernardino last month, did during an 18-minute window – 12:59 pm-1:17 pm – after the shooting. Also, the FBI doesn’t believe the shooters were directed by a “foreign-directed” outside organization (WaPo)


Mid East Tensions: Kerry Reaches Out (BBC, Politico, Reuters, me)
• SecState John Kerry, determined to stop a Saudi-Iran break in diplomatic ties from scuttling the Syrian peace process, has since Sunday talked at least twice to Iranian FM Javad Zarif, as well as Saudi FM Adel Al-Jubeir and Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman, according to the State Dept
• Al-Jubeir, who announced Sunday that Riyadh was severing diplomatic relations with Iran, signaled Tuesday that the Saudis wouldn’t pull out of Syria talks planned for 25 January, according to media reports (talks are still pretty iffy: armed opposition wants concessions from Assad regime ahead of time and regime is behaving as you’d expect…)

• Kuwait announced Tuesday it’s recalling its ambassador to Iran as the regional dispute deepens over the execution of Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr and 46 others in Saudi Arabia on terrorism charges. Saudi Arabia is a Sunni Muslim country and Iran is a Shia Muslim country. They’re two leading and bitter rival regional powers

• The Iranian govt has distanced itself from an attack by an angry mob on the Saudi embassy in Tehran on Saturday night and suggested foreign elements organized it. “The latest action against the Saudi embassy could be planned and supported by infiltrated agents,” Iran’s justice minister Mostafa Pourmohammadi was quoted by Iranian media (old conspiracy playbook)


• Gov Nikki Haley (R-SC) will deliver the response to President Obama’s final State of the Union address next Tuesday 12 Jan. “This is a time of great challenges for our country, but also of great opportunities. I intend to speak about both,” Haley said. Haley, a potential VP pick, came into the spotlight after the massacre last year at a historically black church in Charleston (Politico)
Trump Goes Birther on Cruz (NYT, AP, Politico, me)
• In the latest of a series of barbs against Sen Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Donald Trump said there were questions about whether Cruz, who was born in Canada but whose mother was a U.S. citizen, was eligible to seek the presidency. Trump told WaPo it was a “very precarious” issue that “a lot of people are talking about.” (who besides Trump?)
• The Constitution restricts the presidency to a “natural born citizen,” but many legal scholars have said that this would apply to Cruz, although a similar issue has never been tested in the courts. Cruz renounced his Canadian citizenship in 2014. Trump was one of the loudest voices questioning whether President Obama was born in Kenya and not eligible to be president
• Cruz attempted to laugh the attack off on Twitter, posting a clip from the “jump the shark” episode of “Happy Days” which has become a cultural reference for when something once popular has become overdone and gimmicky. At a rally in Claremont, NH, on Tuesday night, Trump didn’t raise the issue
• At a fundraiser in New York in December, Cruz raised questioned about Trump’s judgment to the roughly 70 people in attendance. But he repeatedly declined to criticize Trump publicly afterwards. The mini-birther flap comes as Cruz is showing signs of threatening Trump’s perch in Iowa less than a month before the caucuses (panic at the disco)


• British pols will debate on 18 Jan whether to bar Donald Trump from entering the UK in response to two public petitions – for barring and against. – 570,000 vs 40,000 signatures. There will be no vote at the end of the debate (so it’s toothless). Trump’s campaign said the debate would “create a dangerous precedent” against free speech (surely an example of free speech…)
Sanders on Banks: “Greed Is Not Good” (AP, Hill, me)
• Characterizing Wall Street as an industry run on “greed, fraud, dishonesty and arrogance,” Democratic 2016er Bernie Sanders pledged to break up the country’s biggest financial firms within a year, should he become president, in a major policy address in New York City on Tuesday. He also lobbed a series of attacks against rival Hillary Clinton
• “To those on Wall Street who may be listening today, let me be very clear: Greed is not good,” said Sanders. He vowed to create a “too big to fail” list of companies within the first 100 days of his admin whose failure would pose a grave risk to the U.S. economy without a taxpayer bailout. Those firms would be forced to reorganize within a year
• The attacks on Clinton mark an escalation. “My opponent says that, as a senator, she told bankers to ‘cut it out’ and end their destructive behavior,” he said. “But, in my view, establishment politicians are the ones who need to cut it out.” “The reality is that Congress doesn’t regulate Wall Street. Wall Street, its lobbyists and their billions of dollars regulate Congress.”
• Clinton also opposes reinstating the Depression-era Glass-Steagall Act, which effectively limited the size of financial companies by prohibiting commercial banks from engaging in investment banking activities. Sanders would re-establish the law, initially repealed during the Bill Clinton admin. Sanders also vowed to cap ATM fees at $2 (should be free)


• At a forum in New Hampshire on drug addiction on Tuesday, GOP 2016ers called for a more compassionate discussion. Former Gov Jeb Bush (R-Fla) spoke of his daughter, Noelle’s, difficulties with addiction. She graduated from a drug court program in Fla and he and other candidates advocate for the expansion of such programs nationwide (AP)
Armed Group in Oregon: Turn Land Over to Locals (AP, me)
• Ammon Bundy, the leader of a small, armed group of men and and possibly one woman, all thought to be white, that’s occupying a remote national wildlife preserve in Oregon, said Tuesday that ranchers, loggers and farmers should have control of federal land, and they’ll go home when a plan is in place to turn over management of federal lands to locals
• But group member LeVoy Finicum told reporters Tuesday night that he believes federal officials have issued warrants for the arrest of five group members, including himself. The FBI said it had no info and that authorities were “still working on a peaceful resolution.” Bundy said they would take a defensive position anticipating a possible raid
• About 20 armed militants seized the refuge’s headquarters Saturday night. So far, authorities haven’t moved in and haven’t shut off power to the refuge. Bundy, the son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who was involved in a 2014 standoff with the govt over grazing rights, offered few specifics about the group’s plan to get the land turned over to local control
• “Everybody in the United States owns that land,” said Randy Eardley, a Bureau of Land Management spox. “We manage it the best we can for the owners, the people, and whether it’s for recreating, for grazing, for energy and mineral development.” A community meeting is scheduled for today
• The rallying cry of the armed group is the imprisonment of father-and-son ranchers who set fire to federal land to cover up deer poaching. They served no more than a year. A judge then ruled the terms were short of minimum sentences and they reported to prison on Monday. They’ve distanced themselves from the armed group
• Phew. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis) has dumped the “hunting beard” that make him look a bit like a little boy trying to be a grown up. He announced it on Instagram with a sensible pic and caption: “Fresh year. Fresh start. Fresh shave.” Quite a widow’s peak he’s got going on, I just noticed

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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.