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
  • Sanders to Clinton: Debate me in New York
  • FBI expected to seek interview with Clinton
  • Is petition for guns in GOP convention fake?
  • Taliban group claims Lahore park attack
  • 4 Americans killed in Brussels attacks
  • Syrian govt retakes Palmyra
  • No texting while walking in New Jersey?
  • Easter: Pope & president – then Pez = pandemonium
 

Sanders to Clinton: Debate Me in New York (NYT, Hill, Politico, me)

• Sen Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) on NBC on Sunday challenged Hillary Clinton to a debate in New York before the state’s primary on 19 April. Asked if he was worried that Clinton wouldn’t debate him again now that she’s far ahead in the race, Sanders said: “Yeah, I do have a little bit of concern about that.” No comment from the Clinton campaign (consulting Trump snubby playbook?)
 

• Sanders swept all three Democratic caucuses Saturday – Hawaii 70%, Alaska 82% and delegate-rich Washington state 73%. Though the West Coast wins aren’t nearly enough to trip up Clinton’s path to the nomination, Sanders gains momentum heading into a 10-day break and his big victories are typically followed by a considerable fundraising bump (Clinton #irritated)
 

• All three states have relatively low percentages of the black and Latino voters who have bolstered Clinton’s campaign, and Washington and Alaska held caucuses, where he has done well. The results also highlighted the uphill climb Clinton would face in winning over the young and liberal voters who have flocked to Sanders – concerned about her fundraising/speechmaking
 

• Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ campaign manager, sent a letter Sunday to his counterpart in the Clinton campaign, Robby Mook, asserting that the two teams had agreed to have a debate in California in May but hadn’t yet come to terms on an April showdown. Weaver argued for New York. Advisers to Clinton have said they’re waiting for the DNC to weigh in. DNC says – get on with it
 

• “A lot of these superdelegates may rethink their positions with Secretary Clinton,” Sanders said on CNN on Sunday, saying he can beat Donald Trump “by much larger margins than Secretary Clinton.” Sanders is still behind Clinton with 1,004 pledged delegates to her 1,712. Of those, 469 are superdelegates who have pledged to Clinton and only 29 have pledged to Sanders

 

FBI Expected to Seek Interview With Clinton (LAT, me)
• Federal prosecutors investigating the possible mishandling of classified material on Hillary Clinton’s private email server have begun the process of setting up formal interviews with some of her longtime and closest aides, according to two people familiar with the probe, an indication that the inquiry is moving into its final phases
 
• Those interviews and the final review of the case, however, could still take many weeks, all but guaranteeing that the investigation will continue to dog Clinton’s presidential campaign through most, if not all, of the remaining presidential primaries (and congressional probes guaranteed to drag out as long as GOP-led committees can make them last – loooong time)
 
• No dates have been set for interviewing the advisers, but a federal prosecutor in recent weeks has called their lawyers to alert them that he would soon be doing so, the sources said. Prosecutors also are expected to seek an interview with Clinton herself, though the timing remains unclear (and is inconvenient to her, whenever it is, very drippy drippy)

&&&


 
• The interviews by FBI agents and prosecutors will play a significant role in helping them better understand whether Clinton or her aides knowingly or negligently discussed classified govt secrets over a non-secure email system when she served as secstate
 
• Many legal experts believe Clinton faces little risk of being prosecuted for using the private email system to conduct official business when she served as secstate, though that decision has raised questions about her judgment. (ya think?) Clinton has denied using the email account to send or receive materials marked classified (in big red letters?)
 
• Legally it doesn’t matter if the emails were marked classified or not, since govt officials are obligated to recognize sensitive material and guard against its release. But legal experts noted that such labels would be helpful to prosecutors seeking to prove she knew the info was classified, a key element of the law
 

Is Petition to Allow Guns Into GOP Convention Fake? (Hill, Politico, USA Today, Guardian, me)

• An online petition by Americans for Responsible Open Carry  to allow guns into the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in July has received more than 35,000 signatures in favor of overturning the “irresponsible and hypocritical act of selecting a ‘gun-free zone'” for the meeting. Donald Trump told ABC on Sunday he wants to “read the fine print.”
 

• The website cnet says the petition may have been started as satire by a group called Hyperationalist. AROC doesn’t seem to have existed before the petition. But many Republicans are taking the petition seriously. The Quicken Loans Arena doesn’t allow firearms. In 2012, firearms were banned by the Secret Service at the GOP convention in Tampa (Trump followers+guns=???)
 
• Meanwhile, Ted Cruz blamed Donald Trump for a National Enquirer report alleging the Texas senator has had extramarital affairs. “The National Enquirer story is garbage. It is complete and utter lies,” Cruz said Friday. “It is a tabloid smear, and it is a smear that has come from Donald Trump and his henchmen.”
 
• The Enquirer on Wednesday published an article alleging that Cruz had five secret mistresses. They weren’t named, but the article included headshots of five women that were pixelated with black bars over their eyes. Former Trump adviser Roger Stone said in the article, “I believe where there is smoke there is fire.”
 
• “I had nothing to do with it.” Trump said on ABC on Sunday. “The campaign had absolutely nothing to do with it. … I have no idea whether it was right or not. They actually have a very good record of being right. But I have absolutely no idea. Frankly, I said, I hope it’s not right.” (reason it would matter is Cruz claims to be conservative Christian – otherwise, not our business?)

 

• In a lengthy interview on foreign policy with NYT, Donald Trump says it’s “America first,” “We will not be ripped off anymore. We’re going to be friendly with everybody, but we’re not going to be taken advantage of by anybody.” – would consider stopping U.S. oil purchases from Saudi Arabia unless the Saudi govt provide troops to fight ISIS, for example

 

Taliban Group Claims Lahore Park Attack (BBC, Reuters, me)
• A Taliban splinter group says it carried out a suicide attack on a park in Lahore, Pakistan, which killed more than 70 people, including children. Jamaat-ul-Ahrar said it had targeted Christians celebrating Easter, though police said they’re still investigating the claim
 
• There were scenes of carnage as parents searched for children amid the debris. Pakistan’s president condemned the attack, and the regional govt announced three days of mourning, At least 300 people were injured, with officials saying the death toll is expected to rise
 
• Lahore is one of Pakistan’s most liberal and wealthy cities. It’s the political power base of  PM Nawaz Sharif, and has seen relatively few terror attacks in recent years. A spox for Jamaar-ul-Ahrar said the group wanted to send a message to Sharif that they “have entered Lahore” and threatened further attacks
 
• The explosion hit the main gate to to the Gulshan park in the early evening, a short distance from the children’s playground. (clearly they were targeting children- utterly despicable) Officials said the device had been packed with ball bearings. The park was more packed than usual, as Lahore’s minority Christians were celebrating Easter at its funfair
 
• Hasan Imran, 30, a local resident, told Reuters: “When the blast occurred, the flames were so high they reached above the trees and I saw bodies flying in the air.”

 

4 Americans Killed in Brussels Attacks (AP, BBC, me)
• Two more Americans have been identified as killed in the attacks on Brussels, the State Dept confirmed Sunday, bringing to four the total number of U.S. citizens confirmed as victims. State said “we express our deepest condolences” to those who lost loved ones – but declined to identify them publicly
 
• Earlier Sunday, President Obama telephoned the parents of Justin and Stephanie Shults, an American couple identified as among the dead in last week’s attacks. The WH said Obama offered his condolences and praised the couple as epitomizing all that was good about America. They graduated together from Vanderbilt University School of Management
 
• Belgian police fired water cannon to disperse a large group of demonstrators who stormed a central Brussels square on Sunday. They invaded the Place de la Bourse as people paid tribute at a makeshift memorial for victims of last Tuesday’s deadly attacks. The group made Nazi salutes and chanted. A “march against fear” was called off due to security concerns
 
• Belgian police carried out 13 new raids and took more people in for questioning on Sunday as part of the investigation into the attacks. Separately, Dutch police announced on Sunday evening that they had detained a Frenchman in Rotterdam, at French request, on suspicion of preparing an attack on France – will be extradited to the country. Three other people were detained
 
Syrian Govt Retakes Palmyra (BBC, me)
• President Assad has hailed the recapture of Palmyra from ISIS as an “important achievement” in the “war on terrorism.” A monitoring group backed the Syrian govt’s claim that the city was recaptured. The city was regained after days of fighting backed by Russian air strikes. The govt is close to securing a vast area of he country (only because of Russia)
 
• Meanwhile, Syria’s antiquities chief said the damage to the ancient city was less than previously feared. “We were expecting the worst. But the landscape, in general, is in good shape,” Maamoun Abdulkarim said. He said he felt “indescribable joy” that the city hadn’t been completely destroyed
 
• Russian President Putin congratulated Assad, the Kremlin said, adding that Assad knew the Palmyra operation “would have been impossible without Russia’s support.” Palmyra is situated in a strategically important area on the road between the capital, Damascus, and the contested eastern city of Deir al-Zour
 
• But residents and observers cast doubts on why Assad’s forces pulled out from Palmyra in the first place, allowing ISIS to get into the city. In May 2015, hundreds of ISIS fighters drove hundreds of miles across the desert to reach Palmyra, almost uninterrupted, while govt forces were dropping barrel bombs over opposition areas full of civilians
 
No Texting While Walking in New Jersey? (Guardian, me)
• If a “distracted walking” measure recently proposed by a New Jersey assemblywoman becomes law, Jared Schumacher and others could face a fine or even jail time. “I’ve never hurt myself,” Schumacher, 20, said while responding to a text as he walked along a street in Trenton, “but I’ve seen people walk into poles or trip over a big crack in the sidewalk.” (DC is the worst)
 
• Experts say distracted walking is a growing problem, as people of all ages become more dependent on electronic devices for personal and professional matters. Pedestrian deaths have also been rising. In 2005, 11% of all U.S. fatalities involved pedestrians, but that number rose to 15% in 2014 (people get ticked off when you say excuse me or sorry as they walk into you)
 
• The measure recently introduced by New Jersey assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt would ban walking while texting and bar pedestrians on public roads from using electronic communication devices unless they’re hands free. Violators wold face fines of up to $50, 15 days imprisonment or both – same penalty as jaywalking (both, I think – or start with jail and work down…)
 
• The main question about the measure, though, is whether it can be enforced consistently by officers who usually have more pressing matters to deal with. Schumacher feels the state should focus on distracted walking education. (which he’d read about on his phone while walking) The measure hasn’t yet been given a scheduled hearing (don’t hold your breath – while walking)

 

Easter: Pope & President – Then Pez = Pandemonium (Yahoo News, Reuters, AP, USA Today, me)
• Pope Francis urged the world in his Easter message to use the “weapons of love” to combat the evil of “blind and brutal violence.” He mentioned recent terror attacks all over the world, speaking under tight security from the central balcony of St Peter’s Basilica
 
• President Obama and the first family attended Easter service at Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, Va, a historic black church that traces its origins to when Thomas Jefferson was president. Rev Howard John Wesley delivered a sermon that noted the suffering Jesus endured
 
• Meanwhile, the Pez candy company apologized for an Easter egg hunt that descended into chaos at its factory on Saturday when (rude, overbearing, greedy) parents ignored the start time and rushed the field. “This was not something created to frustrate or make people angry,” Pez said in a statement. “We only wanted to do good for the local community.” (which has ingrates…)
 
• Organizers said they placed more than 9,000 eggs on three separate fields for the children and intended on having staggered start times for different age groups. Adults and children rushed the fields way ahead of schedule. Parents pushed each other to the ground. Pez GM Shawn Peterson said the crowd of nearly 1,000 looked “kind of like locusts.”
 
• “By the time I found my 4-year-old, he was crying hysterically,” Nicole Welch said. “Grow up folks and teach your kids some responsibility by acting like mature adults not rabid dogs,” Don Bistro wrote on the Pez company page. Pez said in its statement: “Due to the actions of a few, the good intent quickly turned into a mess.” (it was fun for kids – why would you even feel greedy about it?)

 

• It’s the annual Easter Egg Roll at the WH today. Decorum or Pez-like pandemonium? Michelle Obama will keep parents in line. More than 35,000 people received tickets. This year, there’s a “fun run” in addition to the fun of finding wooden eggs, storytelling, musical performances, cooking demonstrations, yoga, egg rolling +++ and the Easter Bunny

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Victoria Jones – Editor