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

  • Arrests in Brussels after attacks
  • Belgian ministers offer to resign
  • GOP fears Trump will drive off women voters
  • Men still support Trump
  • “Biden Rule” doesn’t exist, Biden says
  • Obama: US slow to condemn Argentina human rights abuses
  • Cyberattacks: US indicts 7 Iranians
Arrests in Brussels After Attacks (BBC, me)
• Belgian police have arrested six people in Brussels as a major investigation continues into attacks that claimed 31 lives in the city on Tuesday. There’s no word yet on the identities of the suspects or their possible connection to the attacks
• Separately, in France, a suspect who was plotting an attack has been arrested near Paris, officials said. The Brussels bombing have been linked to last November’s Paris attacks. ISIS has claimed the attacks in both Paris and Brussels.
• Also Thursday evening, French police launched an anti-terror operation in Argenteuil, north west of Paris, following the arrest hours earlier of a man suspected of planning an attack. Interior minister Cazeneuve said the suspected militant, of French origin, was in an “advanced stage” of a plot, adding no connection had been made to Paris or Brussels
• Earlier Thursday, Belgium admitted that it had made “errors” relating to one of the Brussels attackers. Turkey has said it arrested and deported Brahim el Bakraoui last June, warning Belgium he was a “foreign fighter” – but was “ignored.” The Dutch authorities had also been alerted, Ankara said (massive screw up by Belgium – considered the armpit of Euro intelligence)


Belgian Ministers Offer to Resign
• The Belgian interior and justice ministers offered to resign over this but added that the prime minister refused to let them. Brahim el Bakraoui is one of three men on CCTV who carried out the bombings at the airport that killed 11 people
• Unconfirmed reports say another of the Brussels airport attackers was the wanted jihadist Najim Laachraoui, whose DNA was found on explosives linked to the Paris attacks. The third suspected attacker hasn’t been identified and is on the run. Bakraoui’s brother, Khalid, struck at the metro, where 20 people died
• There are reports of a second suspect being sought for that attack. Meanwhile, VRT reported that investigators were working on the assumption that the cell had been planning a far bigger attack, involving Paris-style shootings as well as suicide bombings. There are also reports that suspects may have been looking into making a dirty bomb
• Links have also emerged with Salah Abdeslam, a key suspect in the Paris attacks. Abdeslam was arrested and wounded in a police raid on an apartment in Brussels last Friday. Thursday, Abdeslam’s lawyer said he had changed his mind and wouldn’t fight extradition from Belgium to France. He waned to explain himself, his lawyer said
• Robert Wainwright, director of the EU’s police agency, Europol, said there were concerns about “a community of 5,000
[jihadi] suspects that have been radicalized in Europe, that have traveled to Syria and Iraq for conflict experience, some of whom – not all – have since come back to Europe.”


GOP fear: Trump Will Drive Off Women Voters (WaPo, Hill, me)
• A vicious feud that escalated Thursday between Donald Trump and his chief Republican rival over their wives set off a new wave of alarm among establishment Republicans, who fear that the GOP frontrunner would drive away female voters in a general election fight with likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton (this is an extension of Trump’s hands thing – prove his masculinity)
• Trump’s gender problem flared again this week as he and Sen Ted Cruz (R-Texas) traded insults. At one point, Trump retweeted a (horrible) image contrasting Cruz’s wife, Heidi’s, appearance with his wife, Melania, a retired a model. “The images are worth a thousand words” read the caption that Trump retweeted. “Real men don’t bully women,” Cruz said Thursday (no they don’t)
• “Our spouses and our children are off-bounds,” Cruz said, campaigning in Wisconsin. “It is not acceptable for a big, loud New York bully to attack my wife. It is not acceptable for him to make insults, to send nasty tweets.” He added: “Donald, you’re a sniveling coward. Leave Heidi the hell alone.” Many Republicans fear more gutter rhetoric if Trump faces Clinton in November
• Trump has called Clinton “very shrill,” belittles her for a lack of stamina and energy, and late last year jabbed her and her husband Bill Clinton for the latter’s marital indiscretions while he was president. Trump also said Hillary Clinton “got schlonged” in her 2008 primary fight against then-Sen Barack Obama
• Polling shows Trump sliding sharply among women in recent months – GOP already shaky. Trump’s favorability numbers have decreased 10 points among women nationwide since November, to 23%, while his unfavorable number among women has jumped to 75% from 64%, according to a WaPo/ABC News poll this month


Men Still Support Trump
• The changes among men have been less pronounced, with 37% now favorable and 59% unfavorable. In the states that have voted so far, Trump received an average of 41% of the male vote and 34% of the female vote (a little troubling that male voters aren’t as bothered by this bullying…)
• The fight with Cruz began this week when Make America Awesome, an anti-Trump super PAC, circulated ads on Facebook featuring a nude photo of Melania Trump from an old British GQ shoot, aimed at Utah voters. Trump, who lost Utah, threatened: “Be careful, Lyin’ Ted, or I will spill the beans on your wife!” (one of his nastiest tweets yet – and that’s saying something)
• Trump – who wrongly alleges that Cruz was behind the ad – defended the tweet Wednesday on Fox Business, saying it was a “disgraceful” and “terrible thing” that demeaned his wife (she did the shoot, was her choice)
• GOP strategists fear that Trump clinching the nomination could present an opportunity for Democrats, who are poised to choose the first female nominee and who in past elections have accused Republicans of waging a “war on women” over access to affordable women’s health care, pay equity and abortion rights
• At the first GOP debate, Trump berated Fox’s Megyn Kelly for asking him about past insults of women – actress Rosie O’Donnell, whom he referred to as a “fat pig.” A month later, Trump criticized the appeared of rival Carly Fiorina. “Look at that face,” he told Rolling Stone magazine. “Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?”

• Groundbreaking comedian Garry Shandling has died at the age of 66. He influenced a generation of comedians with his Emmy-winning TV series It’s Garry Shandling’s Show. Shandling was known for speaking directly to the audience. He starred in the Larry Sanders Show. He was one of the greats and died too young

“Biden Rule” Doesn’t Exist, Biden Says (Hill, NYT, Hill, me)
• VP Joe Biden in a speech on Thursday said the so-called “Biden Rule” that Republicans have cited repeatedly in the battle over a Supreme Court nominee doesn’t exist. In a 1992 floor speech he gave as a Democratic senator, Biden argued the Senate should delay consideration of a hypothetical SCOTUS nominee until after that year’s elections
• But Republicans have left out the part of the speech in which Biden said he’d consider supporting a consensus candidate if a spot opened up. “It’s a plain abdication of the Senate’s solemn duty,” Biden said, after hearing his remarks used against the Obama admin’s push to confirm Judge Merrick Garland to the court
• “So now I hear all this talk about the “Biden Rule,” the VP said. “It’s frankly ridiculous. There is no ‘Biden Rule.’ It doesn’t exist.” He said there is “only one rule I ever followed on the Judiciary Committee, that was the Constitution’s clear rule of advice and consent.” (not much he can do – long speech – easy to cherry pick)
• During his time as chair or ranking member of the Judiciary panel, Biden said, all eight high court nominees received a hearing and a floor vote. “Every nominee, including Justice [Anthony] Kennedy – in an election year – got an up-or-down vote,” he said. “Not much of the time. Not most of the time. Every single time.”
• He said Senate Republicans were creating a “genuine constitutional crisis” that risked fragmenting the country. “If those conflicts are allowed to stand, we end up with a patchwork Constitution inconsistent with equal justice and the rule of law. Federal laws – laws that apply to the whole country – will be constitutional in some parts of the country but unconstitutional in others.”


• “No matter how hard the WH tries to rewrite history, it can’t change then Chairman Biden’s remarks explaining how the President and Senate should handle a Supreme Court nomination arising during a heated presidential campaign,” Senate Judiciary Committee chair Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said in a statement after Biden’s speech
Obama: US Slow to Condemn Human Rights Abuses in Argentina (NYT, AP, me)
• President Obama in Buenos Aires said Thursday that the U.S. was slow to speak out for human rights in Argentina during a dark chapter that still haunts the South American nation, but pledged that his admin will do its part to “confront the past with honesty and transparency.”
• Forty years to the day after a 1976 coup opened a period of military rule in Argentina, Obama paid tribute to the victim’s of Argentina’s “Dirty War” by visiting Remembrance Park and tossing a wreath into the river water near a memorial bearing thousands of names
• “We’ve been slow to speak out for human rights and that was the case here,” Obama said, standing alongside Argentina’s new president, Mauricio Macri. Obama said his admin will endeavor to make amends by declassifying even more docs that could shed light on what role the U.S. may have played in one of the region’s most repressive dictatorships (all the docs? or some…)
• Survivors of the crackdown say one of the military rulers’ tactics was so-called “death flights,” where political opponents were tossed into aircraft, stripped and then thrown alive into the river and the Atlantic Ocean to drown. At least 13,000 people were killed or disappeared during the Dirty War. Rights groups put the number closer to 30,000
• There were protests at Obama’s visit. Tens of thousands marched in Buenos Aires Thursday evening commemorating the anniversary. Susana Gonzalez said her then-boyfriend disappeared forever. She said he wasn’t a rabble-rouser. “We are not going to be fooled by some flowers thrown into the river,” she said
• Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadziv on Thursday was sentenced to 40 years in jail by UN judged who found him guilty of genocide for the 1995 Srebrenica massacre and of nine other war crimes charges

Cyberattacks: US Indicts 7 Iranians (NYT, me)

• The Justice Dept on Thursday unsealed an indictment against seven Iranian computer specialists who regularly worked for the country’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, charging that they were behind cyberattacks on dozens of American banks and that they attempted to take over the controls of a small dam in Rye, NY

• In 2010, an American-led cyberattack on Iran’s main nuclear enrichment plant, the so-called Stuxnet virus, was revealed for the first time, and intel experts have long speculated that the attacks aimed at some of America’s largest banks – including JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America, among others – were retaliation. The NY Stock Exchange and AT&T were also attacked

• All of those attacks were “distributed denial of service” attacks – DDOS – in which the target’s computers are overwhelmed by coordinated computer requests from thousands of machines from around the world. The result is often that the targeted networks crash, putting them out of service for some hours

• But in the case of the Bowman Dam in suburban Rye, NY, there was an effort to take over the dam itself. The effort failed, but in some ways worried American investigators more because it was a different kind of attack, aimed at seizing control of a piece of infrastructure

• None of the named Iranians live in the U.S. – doubtful they’ll ever make it to an American courtroom. The indictment comes only eight months after the Iran nuclear deal appeared to be improving relations. But the Iranian missile launches in recent months – also organized by the Guards – have led to calls in Congress for new sanctions


• The Rolling Stones arrived in Havana , Cuba, Thursday night, ready to play a historic free rock concert tonight for up to half a million people in a country where its music was once silenced. The concert comes three days after President Obama wrapped up a visit to the island. Here’s “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” Perhaps, tonight, in Havana, you can

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Victoria Jones – Editor