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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.
 

No, you didn’t win the $500 million Powerball lottery last night. It will be $675 million on Saturday…
 
Quick News
  • US condemns N Korea nuke test
  • House GOP revives use of force: ISIS
  • Congress: Obamacare repeal – to Obama
  • Native tribe slams Oregon armed occupiers
  • Dems hammer Obama admin’s deportations
  • Top Alabama judge: Stop gay marriage licenses
U.S. Condemns N Korea Nuke Test  (BBC, Reuters, Reuters, WaPo, me)

• The U.S., South Korea and Japan said they’ll be united in their response to North Korea, after Pyongyang said it had, for the first time, tested a hydrogen bomb. The UN Security Council held an emergency session and condemned the North Korea’s fourth nuclear test since 2006 (North Korea is not going to stop. sooo – what do you do with that?)
 

• However, WH spox Josh Earnest said Wednesday, “Initial analysis was not consistent with North Korea’s claims of a successful hydrogen bomb test..” He added: “Nothing that happened overnight has changed our view of North Korea’s nuclear capabilities.” (doubt they have a hydogen bomb – this was birthday bluff for the bully boy)
 
• Russia’s UN ambassador said it would be going “too far” to say Moscow supported further sanctions. Japan’s ambassador to the UN called or a swift and robust new UN resolution. If an H-bomb test were confirmed, it would mark a major upgrade in North Korea’s nuclear capabilities (sounds like no new sanctions)
 
• U.S. intel-gathering aircraft have been taking off from an American air base in southern Japan, possibly to determine what kind of device North Korea used. Democratic 2016 front-runner Hillary Clinton condemned the test as a “provocative and dangerous act” that the U.S. should meet with sanctions and strengthened missile defenses
 
• Republican 2016er Donald Trump said “China should solve that problem,” and if it didn’t, “we should make trade very difficult for China. … North Korea is totally under their control. Without China, they wouldn’t eat.” Trump also called North Korean leader Kim Jong-un a madman. Kim’s 33rd birthday is this Friday

 

• Texas state trooper Brian Encinia has been charged with perjury and fired over his confrontation with Sandra Bland, who was black, and who died in jail shortly after being arrested by him during a heated traffic stop. He claimed in his affidavit that Bland was “combative and uncooperative” after he ordered her to leave her car. The grand jury didn’t believe him (nor do I). Watch (me, AP)
 
House GOP Revives Use of Force: ISIS (Hill, Politico, me)
• House Republicans will start listening sessions today to discuss a measure authorizing the use of military force against ISIS. The sessions will be led by House Foreign Affairs Committee chair Ed Royce (R-Calif), whose committee would have jurisdiction over the authorization, according to a committee aide on background
 
• The sessions are preliminary and will be among Republican members of the committee for now. Several members of Congress have introduced proposals for a new AUMF, but action had stalled over disagreements between Republicans and Democrats over what a new authorization would look like (they were all over the map)
 
• The WH last February forwarded a draft proposal to lawmakers, but Republicans panned it as too restrictive and Democrats as not restrictive enough. The measure didn’t authorize “enduring offensive ground combat operations,” would expire in three years, and would repeal the 2002 AUMF for the war in Iraq but not the 2001 AUMF for the Afghanistan war
 
• The Obama admin also maintains it currently has the authority it needs to execute the war under the 2001 AUMF. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis) is spearheading the push, but there’s serious skepticism within his leadership and in the House Republican Conference that he’ll be able to rally GOP lawmakers around a new AUMF (but he wants a big win this year)

 

• Exclusive: The record of San Bernardino shooter Tashfeen Malik’s U.S. visa interview in Pakistan shows it was conducted without any obvious irregularities and triggered no significant suspicions, according to a source familiar with the official State Dept file. It contained no info about her political or religious views (Reuters)
 
Congress Sends Obamacare Repeal – to Obama (Hill, Politico, me)
• House Republicans on Wednesday sent a bill repealing major parts of Obamacare to President Obama’s desk for the first time. The House approved the bill 240-181 in its first major legislative action of this election year. Obama has promised to veto the measure, which also blocks federal funding for Planned Parenthood for one year
 
• Democrats denounced the measure on the House floor, pointing repeatedly to an analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office that found it would result in about 22 million fewer people having health insurance in the years after 2017 (any GOP replacement bill that doesn’t have real a pre-existing condition requirement is rubbish)
 
• Republicans used fast-track reconciliation to get the measure through Congress. The bill, approved by the Senate last month, repeals Obamacare’s medical device and Cadillac taxes, Medicaid expansion and the subsidies that help consumers buy insurance on the exchanges. It also effectively eliminates the law’s individual and employer mandates
 
• Republicans have for years promised to replace the healthcare law, but have failed to offer a united plan. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis) says that’s about to change. He has asked his committee chairmen to work on a single plan from dozens of replacement options. “If this were a serious effort, you’d at least have offered an alternative,” said Rep Jim McGovern (D-Mass)
 
• Trading on mainland Chinese markets has been halted for the day after shares fell more than 7% for the second time this week. The “circuit-breaker” rule, designed to stem volatility, was triggered in the first 29 minutes of trading, making it China’s shortest trading day on record. (watch for opening stocks on Wall Street: US futures panicked and fell 2%) (BBC, me)
 
Native Tribe Slams Oregon Armed Occupiers (TPM, AP, me)
• Charlotte Rodrique, the leader of the Burns Paiute American Indian tribe which regards an Oregon nature preserve as sacred, said Wednesday: “The protesters have no right to this land. It belongs to the native people who live here.” Some 20 armed (white) men are occupying the snowy bird sanctuary to protest policies governing the use of federal land in the West
 
• Leader of the armed group, Ammon Bundy, is demanding that the refuge be handed over to locals. Rodrique said at a presser that she “had to laugh” at the demand, because she knew Bundy wasn’t talking about giving the land to the tribe. The Paiute reservation is separate from the preserve, but tribal members consider it part of their ancestral land
 
• At a community meeting attended by hundreds of people in nearby Burns on Wednesday evening, cheers erupted when Harney County Sheriff David Ward said it was time for the group at the refuge to “pick up and go home.” “We can work through it like adults, peacefully, with a united front,” Ward said (dunno about that – Bundy and co haven’t acted like adults so far)
 
• Rodrique said the armed occupiers are “desecrating one of our sacred sites” with their presence at the refuge. Bundy’s group says it wants an inquiry into whether the govt is forcing ranchers off their land after convicted arsonists Dwight and Steven Hammond reported back to prison Monday. High Country News reports Dwight made repeated death threats against the refuge in 86, 88, 91 and 94 – fascinating read

 

• VP Joe Biden said Wednesday he regrets not running for president in 2016: “I regret it every day but it was the right decision for my family and for me and I plan on staying deeply involved,” he said in an interview with Hartford, Conn, NBC affiliate WVIT (involved how is intriguing – he hasn’t endorsed anyone yet) (Hill)
 
Dems Hammer Obama Admin’s Deportations (Hill, Politico, me)
• Democrats in both chambers are hammering the Obama admin’s deportation policies following the recent arrest of scores of undocumented migrants now in line to be sent home. Immigrant rights advocate Rep Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill) said on the House floor Wednesday that the strategy struck “maximum fear in immigrant communities.”
 
• The outcry follows DHS Sec Jeh Johnson’s announcement Monday that the agency is accelerating its deportation of immigrant families who have entered the country illegally over the last two years. As a first wave, the agency arrested 121 undocumented migrants last weekend after their petitions for asylum or other forms of relief were denied, Johnson said
 
• Members of the group, which includes women and children at least as young as 4 who arrived as part of the migrant surge of 2014, are being housed in detention centers awaiting deportation, primarily to Central America. (there have been repeated complaints that they haven’t had adequate legal representation, particularly the children here alone – appalling)
 
• Tuesday, the DoJ’s Board of Immigration Appeals halted the deportations for 12 people being held in Texas following last weekend’s arrests. Their lawyer, Kate Shepherd, said, “Our interview revealed that these families have bona fide asylum claims, but were deprived of a meaningful opportunity to present them at their hearings in immigration court.”

 

• Donald Trump comes to Burlington, Vt, tonight – and local police warn his campaign his confirmed that 6,500 people plan to attend a rally in an arena that seats only about 1,400. Burlington is the home of Dem 2016er Sen Bernie Sanders (I), who Trump has called a “maniac” and a “socialist-communist” – so tonight’s rally should be a doozy (me, NYT)
 
Top Alabama Judge: Stop Gay Marriage Licenses (Reuters, NYT, me)
• The chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court ordered the state’s probate judges on Wednesday not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, despite a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court last year legalizing gay marriage (can’t stop; won’t stop…)
 
• Chief Justice Roy Moore said the U.S. Supreme Court decision is at odds with earlier opinions by the state’s highest court, resulting in “confusion and uncertainty” among probate judges. Many of the state’s judges have been issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples since the SCOTUS ruling, while others refused or stopped issuing licenses to any couples, Moore said
 

• While the Alabama Supreme Court weighs the issue, probate judges “have a ministerial duty not to issue any marriage licenses contrary” to the state’s law banning same-sex marriage, Moore – who is among the country’s most prominent religious conservatives – said. The effect of Moore’s order wasn’t immediately clear

• “Chief Justice Moore today issued a dead letter,” said Scott McCoy, of the Southern Poverty Law Center. “This is Moore yet again confusing his role as defender of his anti-LGBT agenda.”

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Victoria Jones – Editor

 
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