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
  • Dem debate: Polite – but pointed
  • Clinton scores major black endorsement
  • GOPers embrace the chaos
  • Oregon standoff ends: Last militant surrenders
  • Cliven Bundy due in court today
  • US & Russia: Aid plan for Syria
  • Zika virus: Latest
 
Democratic Debate: Polite – But Pointed (NYT, Politico, Politico, me)
• In perhaps their sharpest exchange in Thursday’s Democratic debate in Milwaukee, Bernie Sanders attacked Hillary Clinton for praising Henry Kissinger – “one of the most destructive secstates in memory.” “I know journalists have asked who you do listen to on foreign policy and we’ve yet to hear who that is,” Clinton retorted. Sanders: “Well, it ain’t Henry Kissinger.”
 
• Clinton assailed Sanders for criticisms of President Obama, saying she expected such attacks “from Republicans.” “Madam Secretary, that is a low blow,” Sanders said, praising Obama, but adding that senators could disagree. “One of us ran against Barack Obama,” he said of Clinton. “I was not that candidate.”
 
• After Clinton made a plea for specifics regarding the federal govt, saying she could get about $100 billion a year by taxing the rich, Sanders issued a tart response: “Secretary Clinton, you’re not in the White House yet.” (despite Sanders’s sharp retorts, Clinton came across as calm and assured for much of the debate)
 
• Clinton tweaked Sanders for opposing an immigration overhaul in 2007. The Vermont senator, expressing no regret, shot back that civil rights groups had raised concerns that guest worker programs in the proposal “were akin to slavery.” Clinton replied that the effort “was Ted Kennedy’s bill. And I think Ted Kennedy had a very clear idea on what needed to be done.”

 

• Watch: Hillary Clinton slams Bernie Sanders for criticisms and “personal assessments” against President Obama. Sanders retorts: “One of us ran against Barack Obama. I was not that candidate.”
 
• Clinton rejected the suggested that her Wall Street contributions would influence her decision making, noting that President Obama was also a major recipient. Sanders suggested that the reasons for the donations were clear: “Let’s not insult the intelligence of the American people,” he said
 
• After Sanders said he hoped to normalize relations with Iran “someday,” Clinton sought to  make him appear naive, saying, “We have a lot of work to do with Iran before we could ever say they could move toward normalized relations with us.”
 
• After Sanders spoke of a govt’s “moral responsibility” to play a major role, Clinton said it was time to “level with the American people.” She questioned Sanders’ health care proposals. “It would probably increase the size of the federal govt by about 40%,” she said, citing one estimate (sounds a bit iffy)
 
• Asked if defeating Clinton would amount to thwarting history in a country that’s never had a female president, “I think a Sanders victory would be of some historical accomplishment as well,” Sanders said. Clinton said she wasn’t asking “people to support me because “I’m a woman” but because she believes she’s most qualified (rather silly question, really – thwart history?)
 
Clinton Scores Major Black Endorsement (Hill, NYT, Roll Call, me)
• The political arm of the Congressional Black Caucus endorsed Hillary Clinton on Thursday in a move that could help her ahead of the 27 Feb South Carolina primary where black voters will be a force
 
• “There is no question in my mind and in our mind that one single candidate, one, possesses the qualifications, experience and temperament to be the next president of the United States and that person is none other than Sec Hillary Rodham Clinton,” CBC chair G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) said at a presser (she really needed this – it’s big for her right now)
 
• Rep Keith Ellison (D-Minn), a CBC member who has endorsed Bernie Sanders, emphasized on Twitter: “Cong’l Black Caucus (CBC) has NOT endorsed in presidential. Separate CBCPAC endorsed withOUT input from CBC membership, including me.” Participants in the presser were critical of Sanders – on civil rights and policy proposals
 
• “I never saw him. I never met him,” Rep John Lewis (D-Ga) said. “I was involved in the Freedom Rides, the March on Washington, the march from Selma to Montgomery and directed the Voter Education Project for six years. But I met Hillary Clinton. I met President Clinton.” Lewis said he chaired the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee for three years
 
• On his campaign website, Sanders says he has a “long history of fighting for social equality and the rights of black Americans – a record that goes back to the early 1960s.” While a student at the University of Chicago, Sanders was involved in the Congress on Racial Equality and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (Sanders has a challenge on his hands)
 
• Ad from Ted Cruz launches attack on Marco Rubio for being just a “pretty face.” (Cruz has pulled the ad – woman who makes the comment used to be a porn actress!…) Meanwhile, Ted’s wife, Heidi, tells a South Carolina radio host that she and Ted are in the race and “showing America the face of the God that we serve” (backbitey kind of God?) (me, RWW)

 

GOPers Embrace the Chaos (AP, NYT, NYT, me)
• Republican 2016 candidates didn’t hold back while campaigning in South Carolina Thursday. Marco Rubio said of real estate mogul Donald Trump: “Negotiating a hotel deal in another country is not foreign policy experience. He also said that Jeb Bush has no foreign policy experience (Rubio’s experience amounts to sitting on Senate chairs and talking about it)
 
• Bush effectively called Trump a failure. The former Florida governor, himself once a commercial real estate exec, said he “didn’t go bankrupt four times and call that success.” (wait for the Trump onslaught) Bush’s campaign confirmed former President George W. Bush will campaign in South Carolina next week
 
• John Kasich continued his town hall tour, pledging a positive campaign. “I’m worried about Jeb,” Kasich said. “It’s all negative. How the heck can you sell negative? I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing. Either it will work or it won’t.”
 
• Donald Trump slammed Pope Francis ahead of the pope’s trip to pray with migrants along the Mexican border next week during a trip to Mexico. “I think that the pope is a very political person,” Trump told Fox Business. “I think Mexico got him to do it because they want to keep the border just the way it is. They’re making a fortune and we’re losing.”
 
• Trump has a healthy lead in South Carolina, whose GOP primary is expected to draw more than 700,000 votes. The total will include sizable groups of all GOP factions: religious and social conservatives, business and fiscal conservatives, and national security hawks. Next up: a debate Saturday night in Greenville
 
Oregon Standoff Ends: Last Militant Surrenders (NYT, BBC, Reuters, me)
• The remaining armed occupiers of a national wildlife sanctuary in eastern Oregon surrendered peacefully Thursday. The militants took over the refuge on 2 January, protesting against govt “interference” in the lives of ranchers in the western U.S. The FBI had surrounded the site hours earlier
 
• Three of the four remaining occupiers walked out to waiting FBI agents over the course of a few minutes after 9:30 am, holding an American flag, calling out that they were unarmed. But one antigovt militant, David Fry, 27, stalled, airing a range of grievance and conspiracy theories, saying he was suicidal and suggesting that he would rather die than go to prison
 
• In an extraordinary exchange, streamed live online to thousands of people listening, an agitated Fry argued with supporters who urged him to give himself up, while at the same time he could be heard negotiating with FBI agents on another phone. Fry railed against bankers, accused the govt of concealing UFOs and “chemically castrating everybody,” among other things
 
• “Liberty or death,” Fry said, adding “I declare war against the federal govt because they have been trampling on my first amendment rights.” “One more cookie, one more cigarette,” he said just before leaving. “Alrighty then.” A bit later, to cries of “hallelujah,” he could be heard saying “I’m walking towards them right now,” as he surrendered to the FBI

 

Cliven Bundy Due in Court Today
• Meanwhile, Cliven Bundy, who was at the center of the 2014 standoff at his ranch in Nevada, was arrested late Wednesday in Portland after encouraging the occupiers not to give up. Bundy is the father of Ammon Bundy, the jailed leader of the Oregon occupation
 
• Thursday, the elder Bundy was charged in the standoff from two years ago. He’s accused of leading supporters who pointed military-style weapons at federal agents trying to enforce a court order to round up Bundy cattle from federal rangeland. Feds say he hadn’t paid towards a $1.1 million grazing fee. He’s scheduled to appear in court in Portland today (finally)
 
• The attempt to resolve the standoff was made by Nevada Republican state lawmaker Michele Fiore, an occupier sympathizer, and Rev Franklin Graham, who both accompanied the FBI agents Thursday who drove to the refuge. The FBI said in a statement that “no one was injured, and no shots were fired” during the arrests on Thursday
 
• The peaceful end comes after a series of arrests last month that saw 12 people taken into custody, 16 people indicted on charges, and the group’s spox, LaVoy Finicum, shot dead during a confrontation with the FBI during a traffic stop. Agents contend that Finicum was reaching for a pistol when he was shot and killed

 

• Watch Rep Duncan Hunter (R-Calif) vape during a House Transportation Committee hearing that debated banning vaping on planes. He credits vaping with helping him to quit smoking (me, CNN)
 
 
US & Russia: Aid Plan for Syria (NYT, Reuters, BBC, me)
• SecState John Kerry and Russian FM Fergey Lavrov announced today that they had agreed on the delivery over the next few days of desperately needed aid to besieged Syrian cities, to be followed by a “cessation of hostilities” within a week on the way to a more formal ceasefire (i’m off the charts on the skepticism scale)
 
• “The real test is whether all the parties honor those commitments,” Kerry said, sitting next to Lavrov, the two men doing their best to appear cooperative after two weeks of trading accusations. If executed, the agreement would mark the first sustained and formally declared halt to fighting in Syria since the civil war began in 2011, early in the Arab uprisings
 
• Lavrov said that Russia wouldn’t stop air attacks in Syria, saying the cessation of hostilities didn’t apply to ISIS and al Nusra, which is affiliated with al Qaeda. (here we go…) The U.S. and European allies say few Russian strikes have targeted those groups, with the vast majority hitting Western-backed opposition groups seeing to topple the Assad govt
 
• Kerry bristled at the suggestion that by agreeing to the cessation of hostilities in the next week he was acceding to Assad’s recent territorial gains, or setting the stage for Assad to create a rump Syrian state. “Yes, I agree the bombing of the past few weeks has made a difference for Assad,” he said. But that difference does not end the war.” (let’s ask assad, shall we?)
 
• Lavrov was defensive about accusations from human rights groups that Russian bombs have been hitting civilian targets, including hospitals. “Some do lie,” he said of the groups. He suggested some news organizations were bending the facts as well, but didn’t name them (oh go on, do it)

• Want to watch something extraordinary this President’s Day weekend? How about all five Oscar nominees for best documentary. Vox has got you covered

 
Zika Virus: Latest (Hill, Hill, Hill, AP, me)
• Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis) said Thursday that he expects bipartisan action to approve funds to fight the Zika virus. The WH is asking for $1.8 billion in emergency funding for programs including the creation of rapid response teams for local outbreaks and boosting vaccine research (doubt they’ll get it all)
 
• Ryan added that Congress would have to “scrub” the request from the admin. He also indicated the funding would have to be offset, saying: “We offset emergency spending.” Figuring out how to pay for the new funding could be an obstacle (also some conservative pols are freaked out that the money could be spent on abortions – even though the law already forbids that)
 
• The govt is shipping Zika virus tests for pregnant women to health depts around the country, but Dr Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, warned a Senate appropriations subcommittee there could be a temporary shortage, as travelers try to tell if they’ve returned with an infection that could put a developing fetus at risk of a very small head
 
• Two American women have had miscarriages after being infected with Zika while traveling abroad, the CDC said Thursday. The two miscarriages are the first linked to Zika in the U.S. The U.S. has seen a total of 51 cases, including one pregnant woman, as of last week
 
• The International Olympic Committee isn’t considering postponing the games in Brazil this fall in the wake of the Zika virus’s spread, Dr Richard Budget, the committee’s medical director told AP on Thursday. The World Health Organization said today that a vaccine is still 18 months away from large-scale trials
 

• Rocking into the weekend a bit mellow with great single from Panic! At The Disco – “Death Of a Bachelor” (Brendon Urie is way too cute for his own good – and knows it)

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Victoria Jones – Editor