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
  • Obama to ISIS: “You are next”
  • DHS plan: Toughen social media scrutiny/immigrants
  • Trump does Vegas on debate eve
  • Budget talks: Near finish line
  • EPA broke law: “Covert propaganda” – GAO
  • Bergdahl: Court martial for desertion
 

Obama to ISIS: “You Are Next” (WaPo, Reuters, me)

• “We are hitting ISIL harder than ever,” President Obama said from the Pentagon on Monday. So far, he said, the U.S. has dropped nearly 9,000 bombs and last month struck more targets since the U.S. began attacking ISIS last year (was this the same president as the guy in the Oval Office a week ago? Tougher on Monday. Obama’s press shop/messaging needs a reboot)
 

• Obama said he was sending SecDef Ash Carter to the Middle East immediately to secure more military help from partner nations in the fight against ISIS. SecState John Kerry, in Moscow for meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the role of Syrian President Bashar Assad in any political transition, said today he “looks forward to making real progress”
 

• Obama’s rare appearance at the Pentagon, after a meeting with his top national security staff, seemed designed specifically to counter criticism that he hasn’t devoted enough resources to destroying ISIS. “This continues to be a difficult fight,” Obama said. “We recognize that progress needs to keep coming faster.”
 

• Obama adopted a significantly tougher tone than the one he used in an Oval Office address a week ago. Monday, he said: “ISIL leaders cannot hide and our next message to them is simple: you are next.” The coalition was also targeting ISIS’s oil tanker trucks, wells and refineries. Obama described the group as “thugs, killers and thieves.”

 

• Mohamed Elshinawy, 30, who lives outside Baltimore and was born in Egypt, received at least $7,800 from ISIS operatives overseas and planned to use the money to launch an attack in the U.S. as part of a pledge of loyalty to the militant group, prosecutors said Monday (NYT)

 

DHS Plan: Toughen Social Media Scrutiny (WSJ, LAT, Politico, me)
• The Dept of Homeland Security is working on a plan to expand scrutiny of social media posts as part of its visa application process before certain people are allowed to enter the country, a person familiar with the matter said. Currently, DHS looks at postings only intermittently, as part of three pilot programs that began in earnest earlier this year
 
• Investigators are looking for clues in Facebook posts and elsewhere that may have hinted at the intentions of Tashfeen Malik and Syed Rizwan Farook, the married couple suspected of killing 14 people at a holiday gathering before dying in a police shootout (WH spox Josh Earnest was hammered over lack of social media scrutiny at Monday’s press briefing)

• Malik sent at least two private messages on Facebook to a small group of friends in Pakistan in 2012 and 2014, pledging her support for Islamic jihad and saying she hoped to join the fight one day, two top federal law enforcement officials said Monday. The posts were written in Urdu (none of the friends seems to have reported it – are they now being checked?)


 
• The House today will vote on a bill to require the Obama admin to come up with a comprehensive strategy to combat terrorists’ use of social media. DHS would need translators who can understand the difference between political musings and violent threats (not so easy – cultural differences – but think you get a clue from a woman wanting to join the jihad fight)

 

• Survivors of recent U.S. mass shootings and gun control activists called for expanded background checks for firearms purchasers and for a ban on sales to people on federal watch lists on Monday, in a protest outside the NRA marking the third anniversary of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn (Reuters)
 

Trump Does Vegas on Debate Eve (NYT, Politico, Buzzfeed, me)
• For an hour Monday night, Donald Trump whipped up the crowd at the Westgate Resort in Las Vegas. Of Syrian young men – “How come they have cell phones?”, of the border with Mexico – “The drugs pour across”, – of terrorism writ large – “These people are animals.” Trump predicted tonight’s debate “will not be an evening in paradise for me.” (yeah but what about us?)

• “This country needs to get away from political correctness. It’s killing us,” he said to loud applause. Protesters interrupted the event several times and were dragged out, with the crowd cheering each time. A video captured by Buzzfeed shows a Trump follower yelling, “light the motherf*cker on fire!” as a black protester is dragged off by security guards (back at ya, bud)

• Trump vowed to deport Syrian refugees from the U.S. if elected. “They are going back if I win. They are going back. They have to.” Trump said that if elected he would review the case of Sgt Bowe Bergdahl and would open an inquiry into Hillary Clinton, without offering details (is that just – coz? or – Benghazi Benghazi? or – Who Killed Vince Foster???)

• Trump and his team have telegraphed their plans to take on Sen Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in tonight’s CNN GOP debate. Cruz has tried to defuse the situation. However, “Cruz undoubtedly spent the weekend memorizing his lines for the inevitable Trump onslaught but his challenge will be whether he can deliver them authentically,” said Josh Holmes, a GOP strategist

• Trump’s medic, Dr Harold Bornstein, trumpeted that, if elected, the 69-year-old mogul “will be the healthiest individual elected to the presidency.” Bornstein isn’t believed to have examined any presidents, alive or dead. Bornstein boasted that Trump’s lab results were “astonishingly excellent” – (yet he still magically washed out of serving in the Vietnam War all those times) (CNN,me)

 

Budget Talks: Near Finish Line (Politico, Hill, me)
• Lawmakers said they’re making major progress towards a deal built around a $1.1 trillion spending bill and a massive tax renewal package – dubbed the “Taxibus” – with several GOP senators predicting that by today a deal is likely to be clinched. Lawmakers will have to approve another short-term continuing resolution Wed to avoid a govt shutdown (of course)
 
• No one is talking about a shutdown, however, and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) are swapping offers without the typical finger-pointing and brinkmanship that has characterized previous versions of these debates (Friday dinner did the trick). Ryan is intent on giving lawmakers three days to review any package before a vote
 
• Ryan held a conference call with GOP pols Monday night to brief them on the emerging deal and to build unity. He doesn’t want to have to pull a bill from the floor because he doesn’t have the votes. The House will vote first, likely with separate votes on the spending bill and tax package. Democrats are expected to carry the votes in both chambers for the spending bill
 
• Much horse-trading remains, including on Syrian refugees. Republicans could score a win by lifting the decades-old embargo on exporting oil from the U.S. while likely delivering to Democrats several years of tax credits for wind and solar energy and expanded child care tax credits, among other things – many moving parts

 

• A Baltimore jury on Monday began weighing the fate of Officer William Porter, 26, who is charged in the death of black detainee Freddie Gray from a broken neck suffered in the back of a police van. Porter faces involuntary manslaughter and other charges (Reuters)
 

EPA Broke Law: “Covert Propaganda” – GAO (NYT, Hill, me)

• The EPA engaged in “covert propaganda” in violation of federal law when it blitzed social media to urge the general public to support President Obama’s controversial rule intended to better protect the nation’s streams and surface waters, the Govt Accountability Office has concluded. The probe was opened after a report in NYT
 

• GAO faulted the EPA for using Thunderclap, a social media amplification tool, to recruit hundreds of Twitter users to tweet in support of the rule. It also said EPA broke the law with a blog post that linked to two environmental groups’ pages urging readers to contact members of Congress to oppose legislation
 

• The ruling emerged as GOP leaders moved to block the so-called Waters of the U.S. clean water rule through an amendment to the enormous spending bill expected to pass in Congress this week. Federal agencies are allowed to promote their own policies, but they’re not allowed to engage in propaganda, which means covert activity intended to influence the American public
 

• They’re also not allowed to use federal resources to conduct so-called grass-roots lobbying – urging the American public to contact Congress to take a certain kind of action on pending legislation. The EPA said it never encouraged the public to contact Congress and maintained “using social media to educate the public about our work is an integral part of our mission.”

 

• Worst-kept secret in the financial world is that the Federal Reserve is all but sure Wednesday to raise interest rates from record lows by a modest quarter point. The Fed heads into a two-day meeting today. The uncertainty hinges on what the central bank will say about how much and how fast it expects to raise rates again in coming months (AP)
 
Bergdahl: Court Martial for Desertion (Reuters, NYT, me)
• U.S. Army Sgt Bowe Bergdahl, who walked away from his post in Afghanistan in 2009 and became a prisoner of the Taliban for five years, will face court-martial on charges of desertion and endangering U.S. troops, the Army said on Monday (toughest charges he could face)
 
• Bergdahl, 29, was charged earlier this year and could face up to life in prison if convicted of the more serious offense of endangering troops who searched for him in lawless areas of Afghanistan after his disappearance
 
• Bergdahl was freed in a prisoner swap in May 2014 that sent five Taliban leaders who were being held at Guantanamo to Qatar, where they had to remain for a year. The deal drew heavy criticism from Republicans. Major General Kenneth Dahl, who led the military’s investigation of Bergdahl’s disappearance and capture, testified at a military probable cause hearing
 
• Dahl testified that Bergdahl wasn’t a Taliban sympathizer and no soldiers directly involved in the search were killed. Dahl characterized Bergdahl as an unrealistically idealistic soldier who left his post to report concerns about his unit’s leadership to a general at another base. Bergdahl’s story is being examined in the podcast “Serial”
 
• Testifying for the defense, Terrence Russell, an expert with the military’s Joint Personnel Recovery Agency, said Bergdahl suffered torture, abuse and neglect at the hands of the Taliban forces, including months of beatings and being confined for 3-1/2 years in a metal cage barely big enough to stand in
 
• It’s here: “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” premiered in Los Angeles Monday. Stormtroopers marched and droids rolled down the red carpet. Carrie Fisher joked for cameras and Harrison Ford and Lupita Nyong’o reflected on the next phase of the franchise. It’s the seventh Star Wars film – reviews seem good, but I’m not reading them – spoilers… (me, AP, Reuters)

___________________
Victoria Jones – Editor

 

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