TRNS News Notes is brought to you by Victoria Jones. Victoria Jones is the Chief White House correspondent and global analyst of the Washington DC based Talk Radio News Service, where her insight and analysis are made available to over 400 news talk radio stations around the country and internationally.

In the News

  • Obama’s bold budget
  • Jordan’s vow after ISIS beheading
  • ISIS: Pols talking
  • TRNS at the Super Bowl
  • Obama Pre-Super Bowl interview
  • Super Bowl: Ads! Lost bets! Singing sharks!
  • Wicked winter weather
  • Measles: CDC “very concerned”
  • South Sudan: Rebels agree to cease-fire
  • Romney out / Bush’s Iowa problem
  • Vatican: Child porn
Obama’s Bold Budget

• The $4 trillion budget for 2016 that President Obama will propose to Congress today will contain an ambitious six-year, $478 billion public works program of highway, bridge and transit upgrades, half of it financed with a one-time mandatory 14% tax, due immediately, on profits that U.S. companies have amassed overseas, anonymous WH officials said

• Under current law, those foreign profits only face federal taxes if they’re returned, or repatriated, to the U.S. where they face a top rate of 35%. Many companies avoid U.S. taxes on those earnings by simply leaving them overseas (AP, NYT, me,)

• “What I think the president is trying to do here is to, again, exploit envy economics,” Rep Paul Ryan (R-WI), new chair of the tax writing Ways and Means Committee said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “This top-down redistribution doesn’t work.” But Ryan said he was willing to work with the admin to see if they could find common ground “on certain aspects of tax reform.”

• The WH believes it has some leverage on taxing foreign earnings by linking the revenue to construction projects that potentially could benefit the states and districts of virtually every member of Congress. Obama is releasing his budget as the federal deficit drops and his poll numbers inch higher

• The WH calculates that the one-time 14% mandatory tax on the up to $2 trillion in estimated U.S. corporate earnings that have accumulated overseas would generate about $238 billion. The remaining $240 billion would come from the Highway Trust Fund, which is financed with a gasoline tax&&&

• Under Obama’s plan, the top tax rate for company profits earned in the US. would drop from 35% to 28%. While past foreign profits would be taxed immediately at the 14% rate, going forward new foreign profits would be taxed immediately at 19%, with companies getting a credit for foreign taxes paid

• Sens Rand Paul (R-KY) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) have proposed paying for highway and bridge fixes by letting companies voluntarily pay taxes on foreign earnings at a one-time low rate of 6.5%. Other lawmakers have proposed boosting the Highway Trust Fund with a higher gas tax – more palatable now that gas prices are low

• The Obama plan proposes a 75% increase in funding for projects such as light rail and other public transportation systems. It would nearly double spending on grants for local road, rail, transit and port projects. Since 2009, Congress has approved more than $4.1 billion for the competitive grants; the budget asks for $7.5 billion over six years

• Obama is proposing to ease painful, automatic cuts to the Pentagon and domestic agencies with a 7% increase in annual appropriations. He wants a $38 billion increase for the Pentagon that Republicans will probably want to match. But his demand for nearly the same amount for domestic programs sets up a showdown

• Altogether, the WH calculates that Obama’s tax increases and spending cuts would cut the deficit by about $1.8 trillion over the next decade, according to people briefed. For 2016, the Obama budget promises a $474 billion deficit, about equal to this year. (the budget is dead on arrival)
• A report out today by former senior U.S. officials urges the U.S. to send $3 billion in defensive arms and equipment to Ukraine, including anti-armor missiles and reconnaissance drones. SecState John Kerry, who plans to visit Kiev on Thursday, is open to new discussions about providing lethal assistance, as is Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen Martin Dempsey (NYT)

 

Jordan Vow After ISIS Beheading of Japanese Hostage

• Jordan has vowed to do all it can to secure the release of pilot Lt Moaz al-Kasasbeh, captured by ISIS, after a video was released appearing to show the beheading of Japanese hostage Kenji Goto. Jordan echoed Japan in strongly condemning the murder of Goto. Al-Kasasbeh’s fate is unclear. Goto was the second of two Japanese hostages killed by ISIS

• Japanese PM Shinzo Abe told his cabinet Sunday, “I feel intense indignation at this utterly cruel and despicable act of terrorism. I will never forgive these terrorists.” President Obama in a statement condemned Goto’s execution as “heinous murder.” (BBC, NYT, me)

• The video showed Goto in an orange jumpsuit kneeling while a black-masked extremist, who appeared to be the man known as Jihadi John because of his British accent, said: “Abe, because of your reckless decision to take part in an unwinnable war, this knife will not only slaughter Kenji, but will also carry on and cause carnage wherever your people are found.”

• Abe had promised $200 million in nonlethal aid to countries fighting ISIS. Speaking to reporters in Tokyo early Sunday, Abe vowed, “We will increase our humanitarian aid, including food and medical support.”

• Goto, 47, was known as a respected journalist who knew his way around conflict zones after having spent more than two decades covering them. He appeared drawn to Syria and Iraq by a lifelong idealistic zeal to cover the plight of the weak, particularly refugee children. He was apparently captured by ISIS when he went into hostile territory to try to rescue Haruna Yukawa

 

ISIS: Pols Talking

• The Pentagon announced Saturday that ISIS has been officially “pushed out” of the Syrian border town of Kobani. The Pentagon credited Kurdish forces. “The Coalition will continue to attack Daesh anywhere they present themselves,” Lt Gen James Terry, commander of the Combined Joint Task Force said. “Daesh” is a derogatory Arabic nickname for ISIS

• Kurdish forces said several days ago that ISIS had been booted out of Kobani. Meanwhile, Sen Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) said on Fox News Sunday: “I think there is a real concern out there not only about a lack of strategy, but in order to be a leader, to bring everyone together and work together, you have to be able to be counted.”

• Sen Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who’s considering a 2016 presidential bid, said on CBS’s Face the Nation that it would require 10,000 American “boots on the ground” to stop ISIS in Syria. Coalition airstrikes in Iraq and Syria won’t destroy the group, but they do help in some regard, Graham said (Hill, me) (public won’t go for 10,000 troops)

• Former SecDef Robert Gates said on NBC’s Meet the Press that “a few hundred troops” should be stationed in Iraq. “The president has set an ambitious and, I think under current circumstances, an unrealistic goal when he talks about our intent being to destroy ISIS. With the means he has approved so far, I think that’s an unattainable objective.”
TRNS at the Super Bowl

• Glendale, Ariz – The game opened with a scoreless first quarter and not much to show from either star quarterback. Tom Brady (MVP) gave up a red zone interception while Russell Wilson couldn’t make much of some incredible time afforded to him in the pocket, either on foot or through the air

• A textbook Tom Brady drive with two minutes remaining in the second half put the Patriots up 14-7 thanks to Rob Gronkowski, only for the Seahawks to answer with a stunning connection to Chris Matthews with only two seconds left on the clock. 14-14 going back to the locker rooms

• The third opened with a Seahawks field goal, a Tom Brady interception and another Hawks touchdown to Doug Baldwin. The 24-14 Seahawks advantage was enough to make this Pats fan record in his journal that the Seahawks were “doing a great job of working the crowd and making Phoenix feel like a home game.”

•  A big Patriots sack gave them the ball with a little over 12 minutes remaining, and a Danny Amendola touchdown brought New England within three. A quick Patriots defensive stop handed the ball back to Tom Brady with a little under seven minutes to go. A Julian Edelman touchdown propelled the Patriots into the lead with just two minutes remaining

• Seahawks QB Wilson stepped up, connecting on a 49 yard throw and forcing his way into the red zone. But only a yard from the endzone, head coach Carroll called for a pass, and a throw to Ricardo Lockette made it into the hands of Patriots’ rookie Malcolm Butler. His goal line interception secured the Patriots’ Super Bowl title, 28-24, with just 26 seconds remaining

• Why Carroll didn’t call for a handoff to Marshawn Lynch, who finished with 102 yards and averaged 4.3 yards per carry, will haunt the Seahawks and their fans forever. After the game, Lynch threw on a sweat suit, joined a crew of friends and promptly left the building, pushing a couple of camera lenses out of his face. All the while, he joked and laughed, ignoring the media (USAT)

 

Obama Pre-Super Bowl Interview

• Measles: “You should get your kids vaccinated.” “I understand that there are families that, in some cases, are concerned about the effect of vaccinations. The science is, you know, pretty indisputable.” President Obama was interviewed in the WH kitchen by NBC’s Susannah Guthrie for “The Today Show” over WH home-brewed beer (looked lethal) (AP, Hill, me)

• He’s watched ISIS beheadings: “I think it would affect anybody who has an ounce of humanity. And it’s part of the reason why I think we’ve been so successful in organizing such a broad-based coalition” to go after ISIS

• Deflategate etc: “The one thing I did not realize – and I’ll bet most fans didn’t – was that each team prepares its own footballs and brings them to the game. I don’t think there’s any other sport like that.” Pressed on whether the Patriots were cheating: “I think that if you break the rules then you break the rules.”

• Super Bowl stuff: “I think it’s always wise for me not to choose a team because then I just alienate one big city.”  Obama said the Patriots would have defeated the Colts “regardless of what the footballs looked like.”

• Either/or: He prefers basketball to football – but likes both; offense to defense and guacamole and chips to buffalo wings. But when asked for a choice between “Biden or Hillary Clinton,” Obama refused to bite. “Love ’em both,” he said

 

Super Bowl: Ads! Lost Bets! Singing Sharks!

• The Budweiser Super Bowl “Lost Dog” ad won back-to-back Super Bowls, three in a row for Anheuser-Busch and the 13th time in the past 15 years that Anheuser Busch has won USA Today’s Ad Meter ranking of all the ads by a consumer panel (it was the Jones best – Kleenex came out each time I saw it). Puppy and Clydesdales – sob

• T-Mobile scored chuckles and online buzz with its ad featuring Kim Kardashian making a mock-impassioned pitch about how the mounds and mounds (you could see her mounds, too) of unused data that wireless companies take from consumers every month could be used to see her makeup, vacations and outfits. “Please, help save the data.”• After complaints on social media, Nationwide Insurance felt compelled to issue this statement: “The sole purpose of this commercial was to start a conversation, not sell insurance.” The poignant ad shows a boy speaking about the life he would have had if he’d not been killed in an accident – it’s a really powerful downer

• Sens Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) lost the annual Senate Super Bowl bet to Sens Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey (D-MA). They’ll have to pony up oysters from Taylor Shellfish Farms in Shelton WA and beer from Pike Brewing Co in Seattle (NYT, WSJ, USAToday, Hill, WaPo, Hill, me)

• Best thing about Katy Perry’s half-time show? Not the pretend lion: Singing sharks. They looked so happy! Happier than us, at any rate. Kind of professional, kind of acceptable, kind of OK, kind of blah, kind of not really terribly great. She’s no Prince. Can we fill in that huge blank space next year on stage with Taylor Swift, please?• According to 1 in 4 Americans, God was on their side Sunday night. A recent poll by the Public Policy Research Institute found that 25% of Americans believe that “God plays a role in determining which team wins a sporting event.” Breaks into those who “completely agree” (LOL) and those who “mostly agree” (Vox, me)

 

Wicked Winter Weather

The northeastern U.S. braced for the second major snow storm in a week today after a huge winter system dumped more than a foot of snow in the Chicago area. Chicago Public Schools, along with districts in Detroit, Boston and Providence RI, canceled classes for today (Reuters)

• A foot of snow was predicted for Boston, which was buried under two feet of snow on Tuesday. Forecasts prompted Massachusetts officials to postpone today’s proceedings in the murder trial of ex-New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez. Forecasters said snow was expected to fall at the rate of one to two inches per hour in southern New England at the storm’s peak

• The storm figured in cancellations of about 2,000 flights and another 2,100 delays, largely in Chicago. The storm knocked out power to nearly, 20,000 customers in Illinois and hazardous road conditions were reported in numerous states. The Ohio Turnpike banned travel on Sunday for some traffic, such as vehicles with trailers

• Bitter cold weather was forecast to follow the snow across the country

 

Measles: CDC “Very Concerned”

• There are now at least 102 reported cases of measles in 14 states, according to the CDC. Measles anxiety is gripping the country. Officials around the country report rising numbers of patients who are seeking vaccinations, as well as some pediatricians who were accepting non-vaccinated families but are now debating their policies (NYT, WSJ, Hill, me)

• “We are very concerned by the growing number of people who are susceptible to measles, and the possibility that we could have a large outbreak in this country as a result,” CDC director Tom Frieden said Sunday on CBS’s Face the Nation. Frieden said that the U.S. is “likely to see more cases.”

• The anti-vaccine movement can largely be traced to a 1998 report in a medical journal that suggested a link between vaccines and autism but was later proved fraudulent and retracted. Today, the waves of parents who shun vaccines include some who still believe in the link and some who have religious objections to vaccines

• Then there is a particular subculture of largely wealthy and well-educated families, many living in palmy enclaves around Los Angeles and San Francisco, who are trying to carve out “all-natural” lives for their children (LOL). President Obama called the pro-vaccine science “pretty indisputable” Sunday in a pre-Super Bowl interview on NBC

• “We’ve had over one billion vaccines given and study after study has shown that there are no negative long-term consequences,” Frieden said on ABC’s This Week. “It’s a serious illness and it would be terrible if we have preventable illness, even death, from this disease that’s preventable with a safe and effective vaccine.”
South Sudan: Rebels Agree to Cease-Fire

• South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and rebel commander Riek Machar have signed a deal, committing to end a conflict that has devastated the country. The agreement – signed at talks in Ethiopia – envisages the end of fighting by 5 March. Regional diplomats had warned that failure to come up with a new accord could lead to sanctions

• In the meantime, consultations will continue on the contentious issue of a future govt and power sharing. It’s proposed that Kiir would remain president in a new admin, while Machar would be appointed vice-president, two African diplomats attending the talks said (BBC, Reuters, NYT, me)

• Clashes in South Sudan erupted several months after a decision by Kiir in July 2013 to dismiss the entire cabinet and VP Machar. The president had accused Machar of plotting a coup. Machar denied the accusation, but then raised a rebel force to fight govt troops

• Low estimates are that more than 10,000 people have been killed, 1.5 million people have been driven from their homes, and many in the oil-producing nation of about 11 million people are struggling to find enough food to eat. Seyoum Mesfim, the chief mediator, said the two leaders had agreed to resume talks on 20 February

 

Romney Out / Bush’s Iowa Problem

• Mitt Romney shook up the 2016 GOP field on Friday with his announcement in a call with supporters that it’s time to “give other leaders in the party the opportunity to become our next nominee.” He said that he wasn’t “organizing a PAC or taking donations and I’m not hiring a campaign team.” (Hill, Globe, Bloomberg, WaPo, TRNS, me)

• Romney took an apparent swipe at former FL Gov Jeb Bush – the son of two former presidents – on his call, when he described “one who may not be as well known as I am today, who has not yet taken their message across the country, one who is just getting started” as emerging to be able to defeat the Democratic nominee (meow)

• Bush has already had success poaching former Romney donors and staffers. Last week he landed David Kochel, Romney’s former top Iowa adviser, who signed on to be Bush’s senior political strategist with the intention of moving into the role of his eventual campaign manager• Vid: Philadelphia sports radio network 94WIP released a video of Gov Chris Christie (R-NJ) falling off a chair…

• A new Bloomberg Politics/Des Moines Register Iowa Poll of likely participants in the 2016 GOP caucuses shows Bush only pulling in 8% support, roughly half that of Gov Scott Walker (R-WI). Part of Bush’s problem is his support for immigration reform and Common Core education standards

• Peter Tibbetts, a former classmate of Bush at the prestigious Phillips Academy in Andover MA, told the Boston Globe that he and Bush smoked marijuana together, including while listening to Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride” in Bush’s room. Other students describe Bush as something of a bully as well as a heavy marijuana user

• Sen Rand Paul (R-KY) went after Bush following the Globe story. “He was even opposed to medical marijuana. This is a guy who now admits he smoked marijuana but he wants to put people in jail who do.” “Had he been caught at Andover, he’d have never been governor, he’d probably never have a chance to run for the presidency.”

 

• Kristen Leigh Phillips, 40, of NC, is facing a load of criminal charges after allegedly going nuts in a road rage incident that was filmed by the woman following her. Stay with the vid – goes crazy around the 3:00 mark (Smoking Gun)

 

Vatican: Child Porn

• Two cases of child pornography possession were uncovered within the walls of the Vatican last year, along with numerous other crimes in the city state, the Holy See’s prosecutor general has announced (Guardian)

• Following worldwide allegations of sex abuse by priests, Gian Piero Milano, the Holy See’s Promoter of Justice, said the Vatican was now taking action against pedophilia in the heart of the Catholic church

• Milano stopped short of naming those accused of possessing child pornography. Holy See spox Federico Lombardi, however, identified Josef Wesolowski, a disgraced former ambassador, as one of the people facing charges

• Wesolowski was stripped of his diplomatic immunity last year following accusations that he abused young boys during his time as envoy to the Dominican Republic. The Polish former archbishop is currently awaiting trial at the Vatican, which will be the first sex abuse trial ever held at the Holy See

• Separately, Vatican authorities are battling an array of crimes including drug trafficking and money laundering. Three drug deliveries addressed to the Vatican were intercepted last year, including a packet including cocaine-filled condoms (can’t make it up)

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______________Victoria Jones – Editor

TRNS’ Luke Vargas in Glendale AZ and TRNS’ Washington Desk contributed to this report

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