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
  • Terror couple: Latest
  • Trump: “I will never leave the race!”
  • Congress to blow spending deadline
  • Planned Parenthood shooting suspect: “I’m guilty!”
  • Dod IG: No ransom paid for Bergdahl
  • SCOTUS: Affirmative action + Scalia…
  • Iran missile test? US cautious
  • Chicago Mayor Emanuel: “I’m sorry”
Terror Couple: Latest (WaPo, NYT, NBC News, me)
• The FBI is investigating whether Syed Rizwan Farook and Enrique Marquez, a neighbor, intended to commit an act of terror in the LA area in about 2012 and then got spooked, a senior law enforcement official said Wed. The two men may have been disrupted when the FBI arrested several men in late 2012 in a separate plot to kill Americans in Afghanistan
 
• In addition, Farook and his wife, who killed 14 people in San Bernardino last week, had discussed jihad as far back as the end of 2013 before they became engaged, FBI director James Comey said Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Marquez and Farook, the neighbors, were brothers-in-law through their wives
 
• The radicalization of Farook and Malik appears to predate the rise of ISIS. “We’re working very hard to understand exactly their association and the source of this inspiration,” Comey said. “We’re also working very hard to understand whether there was anybody else involved with assisting them, with supporting them, with equipping them.”
 
• Comey was critical of anti-Muslim rhetoric, saying it wasn’t helpful when law enforcement officials are trying to work with communities in the U.S. to combat terrorism. He said that for ISIS and other terror groups, it was part of their strategy to persuade Muslims that the U.S. is hostile to them
 
• At the request of House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis), House members will receive a classified briefing about the San Bernardino attacks this afternoon from Comey, Homeland Security Sec Jeh Johnson, and head of the National Counterterrorism Center, Nicholas Rasmussen

 

• A federal judge has rejected a request from the State of Texas to bar nine Syrian refugees from being relocated to Houston. He called the evidence “largely speculative hearsay” that the immigrants pose a danger to the community and that Texas AG Ken Paxton had “failed to show that these particular refugees are terrorists intent on causing harm” (Politico)
 
Trump: “I Will Never Leave the Race!” (Hill, WaPo, Hill, BBC, USA Today, me)
• In an interview with WaPo from 3 Dec – before his Muslim comments – Donald Trump said, “I will never leave the race.” Pressed again, Trump “wave
[d] one arm over his head, as if to clear away everything and remove all doubt. ‘I. Will. Never. Leave. This. Race.’ the Manhattan mogul declared.”
 
• Trump told CNN Wed night that he needs a level playing field to stay in the GOP fold as he runs for president. “If they [“establishment”} don’t treat me with a certain amount of decorum and respect, if they don’t treat me as the front-runner, by far as the front-runner, if the playing field is not level, then certainly all options are open,” he said (rubbish – decorum?)
 
• Israeli PM Netanyahu said Wed that he rejects Trump’s call for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. “The state of Israel respects all religion and strictly adheres to the rights of its citizens,” he said in a statement. Netanyahu’s office also said that he’s not canceling his huddle with the GOP front-runner later this month
 
• The petition calling for Trump to be barred from entering the UK has gathered more than 400,000 names as of early this morning, so MPs will have to consider debating it. Chancellor George Osborne criticized Trump’s comments but rejected calls for him to be banned from the UK
 
• President Obama didn’t mention Trump by name in his speech marking the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the 13th Amendment, but called on Americans “to remember that our freedom is bound up with the freedom of others, regardless of where they come from, or what they look like, or what their last name is, or what faith they practice.” – standing ovation

 

• Prob the most important thing you’ll watch the entire presidential campaign season: Donald Trump as Darth Vader in Star Wars. Yes. It’s Trump’s words in Vader’s mouth. This is brilliant (me, Auralnauts, Slate)

 

Congress to Blow Spending Bill Deadline (Hill, Politico, me)
• Time is running short for lawmakers to avoid a govt shutdown on Friday, when current govt funding expires. House Appropriations chair Hal Rogers (R-Ky) introduced a measure Wed to extend the deadline through next Wed 16 Dec (if we all missed deadlines like this, we’d be out of our jobs, just saying)
 
• Top House and Senate leaders are still hammering out a final deal on a catch-all yearlong spending bill, known as an omnibus. The stopgap bill is expected to come up for votes in the House and Senate on Friday before the midnight deadline. Negotiations are moving slowly, but leaders appear to be getting closer to a deal over policy riders to be included in the measure
 
• Democrats are expected to relent on lifting a longtime ban on U.S. oil exports. Republicans will not score the environmental policy riders they had once sought, and many aides in both parties believe GOP leaders will not be able to insert language dealing with Syrian and Iraqi refugees, despite their previous support for such a measure
 
• The GOP believes the WH is open to some language on refugees, but senior Democrats have pushed back on that idea. Reforms to the visa waiver program, however, will be included in the package. The budget talks are being complicated by the simultaneous push for the massive tax break package (if they’d all got on it earlier… but oh no)
 
• WH spox Josh Earnest said this week that President Obama would only sign a stopgap measure if lawmakers simply needed additional time to move the omnibus package. “The president is not going to sign a piece of legislation to give them more time to negotiate on a set of ideological riders,” he said ( this should be interesting – definition of “time”)
 
Planned Parenthood Shooting Suspect: “I’m Guilty!” (NYT, AP, me)
• “I’m guilty. There’s no trial,” accused mass killer Robert Dear Jr told a startled courtroom in Colorado Springs, Colo, on Wed. “I’m a warrior for the babies. Dear, 57, made the outburst before he was formally charged with 179 counts of first-degree murder, attempted murder and other crimes (ok he’s a domestic terrorist and maybe unhinged, too – can be both)
 
• Bearded, unkempt and cuffed at the wrists and ankles, Dear repeatedly disrupted the hourlong hearing, interrupting his public defender, Daniel King, and objecting to King’s attempts to limit publicity in the case. “You’ll never know what I saw in that clinic. Atrocities. The babies. That’s what they want to seal,” Dear shouted at one point
 
• As Judge Gilbert Anthony Martinez and the lawyers discussed which parties might be affected by a pretrial publicity order, Dear shouted: “Could you add the babies that were supposed to be aborted that day? Could you add that to the list?” (that sounds actually like he knew what was going on and not out of it)

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• King said he wished to explore issues of Dear’s mental health. “We have serious concerns about competency in this case,” King said. “Do you know who this lawyer is?” Dear then exclaimed of King. “He’s the lawyer for the Batman shooter. Who drugged him all up. And that’s what they want to do to me.” (probably true)
 
• According to a law enforcement official, Dear said “no more body parts” after his arrest. He has been described by relatives and neighbors as a loner with an antigovt worldview. An ex-wife said he vandalized a South Carolina abortion clinic at least 20 years earlier, telling her he had put glue in the locks of its doors
 
• Killed in the attack were Garrett Swasey, 44, a University of Colorao officer who rushed to the scene; Ke-Arre Stewart, 29, an Iraq war veteran who was accompanying a friend; and Jennifer Markovsky, 35, who also accompanied a friend at the clinic. Five other officers were shot and wounded in the rampage (but some politicians won’t call this one terrorism)

 

• The Navy has reprimanded two-star Rear Adm David Baucom, director of strategy and policy at the U.S. Transportation Command, for getting drunk and wandering naked around a Florida beachfront hotel while attending a conference with defense contractors (as you do). He said he had been taking prescription meds, and had been drinking wine, whiskey and gin (oooer) (WaPo, me)
 
DoD IG: No Ransom Paid For Bergdahl (AP, me)
• The Pentagon’s IG has told a House panel investigating the five Taliban Guantanamo Bay detainees released in exchange for U.S. Army Sgt Bowe Bergdahl that it found no evidence a ransom was ever attempted or paid to secure the soldier’s release
 
• The IG’s conclusions were in a 98-page report released Wed by Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee. The GOP-led committee launched an inquiry into the case of the so-called Taliban Five after lawmakers expressed outrage that the Obama admin didn’t give Congress a 30-day notice about transferring the detainees to Qatar, as required by law
 
• The report said that in early 2014, another undisclosed U.S. govt organization outside the DoD planned an operation to secure Bergdahl’s release. A year ago, Rep Duncan Hunter (R-Calif) wrote to then SecDef Chuck Hagel saying he had been told a payment was made to an Afghan intermediary who ran off with the money without getting Bergdahl out

&&&


 
• The committee, however, said that in August the IG reported that a review by its Defense Criminal Investigative Service “did not substantiate that a payment was made or attempted in connection with efforts to recover Sgt Bergdahl.”
 
• Committee Republicans said in the report they do “not have confidence” that the DoD has clearly established who is responsible for making sure that Qatar abides by a memo of understanding it signed with the U.S. outlining how it would monitor the activities of the five after their release. The memo, initially for a year, has been extended indefinitely
 
• The democratic members of the committee said the report doesn’t offer evidence of how the DoD has failed to take sufficient precautions to make sure risks posed by releasing the Taliban Five are mitigated. The eight-page rebuttal called the report “unbalanced” and “partisan.”

 

• “I understand that the reindeer have been in fact fed their quantity of oats and are prepared for the delivery of all of those gifts to those who have been nice and not naughty,” Gen Paul Selva told Sen Tom Cotton (R-Ark) during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on ISIS – which wandered off into whether NORAD will track Santa this Christmas Eve – YES (CNN, me)
 
SCOTUS: Affirmative Action + Scalia… (AP, NYT, NPR, chron.com, me
• The Supreme Court appears torn over the use of race in college admissions and may not be ready to make a decision without more info. During arguments Wed, several justices asked about the value of ordering more hearings in a case from Texas that was before them for the second time
 
• Additional evidence might determine whether the use of race is necessary to increase diversity at the University of Texas. Justices rehashed many of the same arguments of three years ago in the case of Abigail Fisher. Justice Anthony Kennedy indicated at the end that the court might have all the evidence it needed – could mean the Texas plan is in peril
 
• “What unique perspective does a minority student bring to a physics class?” Chief Justice John Roberts asked at one point, challenging a part of Texas’ argument that says their program is needed to increase diversity at the classroom level. Roberts frequently votes with the other conservatives on the court
 
• Justice Elena Kagan is sitting out the case because she worked on it at an earlier stage at the DoJ, before joining the court. Her absence created the possibility of a 4-4 split. That would resolve the case in Texas’ favor, but say nothing about the case nationally. The other three liberal justices appeared solidly for the Texas program
 
• The University of Texas at Austin is being challenged over its use of race in admissions decisions for about 25% of its freshman class. About 75% of the students at UT-Austin are admitted through what’s known as the Top Ten Percent program, in which any student graduating within the top 10% of his/her class is guaranteed admission, regardless of race

 

Scalia: Maybe UT Should Have Fewer Blacks
• The other 25% are admitted via a “holistic” process that takes race, and other factors, into account. It’s the “holistic” program that Abigail Fisher – who was denied admission for the university in 2008 – is challenging
 
• UT has determined that if it excluded race as a factor, that remaining 25% would be almost entirely white. During the oral arguments, former U.S. Solicitor General Greg Garre, who is representing the university, was explaining this to the justices. At that point, Justice Antonin Scalia jumped in:
 
• “There are those who contend that it does not benefit African Americans to get them into the University of Texas where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less advanced school, a slower-track school where they do well. One of the briefs pointed out that most of the black scientists in this country don’t come from schools like University of Texas. – – –
 
• – – -They come from lesser schools where they do not feel that they’re being pushed ahead in classes that are too fast for them.” He went on to say: “I’m just not impressed by the fact the University of Texas may have fewer [blacks]. Maybe it ought to have fewer. I don’t think it stands to reason that it’s a good thing for the U of Texas to admit as many blacks as possible.”
 
• Scalia trended on Twitter for most of the afternoon, with plenty of scorn heaped on Scalia, and African Americans who have multiple Ivy League degrees taking shots at the justice. (interesting to watch a kind of almost lazy, “well-meaning.” reflexive racism at work, as opposed to Trump’s vicious rants. can hardly wait for Scalia’s opinion or dissent…)

• Brawl at Hymera, Indiana, town hall meeting! It’s a doozy. Dispute over the town board firing the town marshal, who’s suing them and claiming he was wrongly fired – good stuff. Proud to see we can hold our own with the Ukrainian Parliament and the South Koreans in bare knuckle political brawling (Raw Story, IndyStar, WTHI, me)


 
 
Iran Missile Test? US Cautious (NYT, Hill, me)
• The Obama admin is facing another difficult choice with Iran: As Tehran takes apart much of its nuclear infrastructure to win sanctions relief, how vocally should the WH condemn Iranian violations of UN resolutions on other issues?
 
• Based on first responses Tuesday to reports that Iran had conducted yet another launch of a medium-range ballistic missile, the answer appears to be not very loudly. Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, said that Washington was “conducting a serious review of the reported incident.” If the test occurred, the U.S. would take the issue up with the Security Council
 
• WH officials say privately they believe that the tests may be the work of angry elements in Iran’s military who hope to derail the nuclear accord and preserve their atomic infrastructure. “We’re seeing a lot of infighting within Iran now,” one senior American official said (probably true – if so maybe GOP is playing their game if they squawk…)
 
• The Nov test, if confirmed, would be a violation of Security Council Resolution 1929, which is in force until the nuclear accord goes into effect – probably Jan. After that, a new Security Council resolution would go into effect, in which Iran is “called upon” to stop work for eight years on any ballistic missiles that could deliver a nuclear weapon. The test wouldn’t violate the deal
 

• Power told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Wed that “the panel of experts is investigating the matter and will report that to the [Security] Council when it’s ready. The UN machinery, as you know, works slowly.” Chair Bob Corker (R-Tenn) said, “Non-action here is just going to empower them to continue to violate.”

 

Chicago Mayor Emanuel: “I’m Sorry” (Reuters, Chicago Tribune, me)
• Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, under heavy criticism for his handling of a police shooting that resulted in the death of a black teen, gave an emotional apology before the City Council Wed, hours before angry street crowds demanded his resignation. Emanuel said, “I’m sorry” and promised “complete and total reform of the system” (without quitting himself, of course)
 
• With his voice occasionally breaking, Emanuel reiterated reform steps he has already promised, including setting up a task force to review police accountability, the appointment of a new head of the agency that investigates police misconduct and searching for a new police superintendent (task force to review the mayor’s conduct?)
 
• Among the systemic problems with police, Emanuel aimed particular criticism at the “code of silence” that keeps police officers from reporting misconduct by fellow officers. He also has criticized the agency that investigates police misconduct for finding almost all police shootings justified. “We have a trust problem,” Emanuel said (of you?)
 
• His speech comes after two weeks of protests in Chicago following the release of a 2014 police dashcam video showing police office Jason Van Dyke shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times. Van Dyke, who is white, was charged with first degree murder late last month
 
• Protesters outside City Hall on Wed chanted “16 shots and a cover up” and called for the resignation of Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, who has been criticized for taking more than a year to charge Van Dyke. The DoJ said on Monday it will launch a civil rights investigation into the city’s PD

___________________
Victoria Jones – Editor

 
 

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