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
  • Egypt plane hijacked – “Not terrorism”
  • Police shoot man with gun at US Capitol
  • DoJ breaks into iPhone – drops Apple case
  • SCOTUS conflict: Clinton rips into GOP
  • Secret Service: No guns at GOP convention
  • Obama admin today; Opioid treatment
  • Georgia gov: Veto of “Religious freedom” bill
  • Fidel blasts Obama’s Cuba trip
 
Egypt Plane Hijacked – Passengers Freed – Developing (BBC)
• All passengers on board a hijacked Egyptian airliner that was forced to divert to Cyprus have been freed, the airline says. EgyptAir Flight MS181 was taken over after a passenger said he was wearing an explosives belt – this is a fast developing story
 
• EgyptAir said negotiations at Larnaca airport had resulted in the release of all those on board, and the hijacker is now alone on the plane. Latest reports from Cypriot media suggest there’s just one hijacker who was motivated by “personal reasons” – his ex-wife is said to live in Cyprus – and may be seeking asylum – unconfirmed
 
• The plane was said to be carrying 81 passengers from Alexandria to Cairo. A senior Alexandria airport official said those on board the flight when it took off included eight Americans, four Britons, four Dutch, two Belgians, one Italian and 30 Egyptians
 
• “It is not something which has to do with terrorism,” said Cypriot president Anastasiades
 
Police Shoot Man With Gun at U.S. Capitol (AP, WaPo, Politico, me)
• Police shot a man on Monday after he pulled a weapon at a U.S. Capitol checkpoint as spring tourists thronged Washington, authorities said. The suspect was previously known to police, who last October arrested him for disrupting House proceedings and yelling he was a “Prophet of God.” (rarely a promising sign)
 
• U.S. Capitol Police identified the man as 66-year-old Larry Dawson of Tennessee. He was charged with assault with a deadly weapon and assault on a police officer while armed, both criminal offenses in DC. Dawson was taken to a local hospital – stable but critical condition. A female bystander sustained non-life-threatening injuries
 
• After his arrest last year, Dawson was issued a “stay away order” by DC Superior Court in Oct, telling him to keep away from the Capitol grounds. The U.S. Capitol was on lockdown for about an hour Monday and the WH was also briefly locked down. Congress is on recess and lawmakers are mostly back in their districts.
 
• Court docs show that Dawson was arrested at the U.S. Capitol in Oct after he stood up and shouted Bible verses in the House gallery. Dawson didn’t return for a scheduled hearing in Nov. In a letter filed with his case, he wrote: “No longer will I let myself be governed by flesh and blood, but only by the Divine Love of God!!!!” (not a very loving God, bit of a gun-toter)
 
• Dawson was previously licensed in Tennessee to work as a funeral director. After his license expired in 2004, the state’s funeral board voted three times to deny requests from Dawson to renew his license, citing his “lack of good moral character.” A spox for the board said it was when Dawson was a school bus driver and Dawson wrote to a young girl saying God told him to have sex with her…

 

DoJ Breaks Into iPhone – Drops Case Against Apple (Reuters, me)
• The Justice Dept said Monday it had succeeded in unlocking an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters and dropped its legal case against Apple, ending a high-stakes legal battle but leaving the broader struggle over encryption unresolved
 
• “From the beginning, we objected to the FBI’s demand that Apple build a back door into the iPhone because we believed it was wrong and would set a dangerous precedent,” Apple said in a statement. “This case should never have been brought.” (maybe not, but now they’re in)
 
• After saying for weeks in court filings and congressional testimony that Apple possessed the “exclusive technical means” to unlock shooter Rezwan Farook’s phone, the DoJ unexpectedly announced on the eve of a court hearing last week that an unidentified third party had presented it with a technique that might open the phone without help form Apple (soo, DoJ? what’s up)

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• Apple had argued that the govt request and resulting court order were a massive overreach that would give courts unlimited authority to force private companies to work as their agents. It argued that Congress had specifically declined to give the govt such powers when it comes to electronic surveillance and data collection
 
• If the govt tells Apple about the details, the company would presumably fix whatever vulnerability was used and thus render the method ineffective. If the govt withholds the info, Apple could face a public perception problem about the security of its phones (well, they’re not secure… so, yup)
 
• There are also a number of pending cases across the country where law enforcement officials are asking for access to iPhones. It’s not clear if they’ll have access to the break-in technique. In one New York case, DoJ officials have to respond by today to an Apple request to delay the proceedings

 

• The WH says there’s no specific, credible intel (meaning?) suggesting terrorists are plotting a Brussels-style attack in the U.S. President Obama met on Monday with his counterterrorism and homeland security team. He was updated on U.S. security efforts following the 22 March attacks in Belgium (AP)
 
SCOTUS Conflict: Clinton Rips GOP (Politico, me)
• In a speech Monday at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Hillary Clinton attacked Senate Judiciary Committee chair Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) for refusing to hold hearings for Merrick Garland, President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, elevating the clash over the court to the top of the presidential campaign
 
• Grassley has said Americans “shouldn’t be denied a voice” before a new president is elected. “Well, as one of the more than 65 million Americans who voted to reelected Barack Obama, I’d say my voice is being ignored right now because of their obstructionism. We chose a president. We chose him twice,” Clinton said (studiously ignoring Sanders as she pivots to the general election)
 
• Grassley should “step up and do his job,” Clinton added. The brewing battle between the WH and Congress has received less attention in the presidential campaign – until Clinton’s speech. “The same disregard for the rule of law that’s given rise to the extremist candidacies of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. It’s corroding our democracy and it has to stop.”
 
• Grassley preemptively responded to Clinton’s speech Monday afternoon. “With all the troubles she’s getting on email, and the FBI’s going to question her, I would imagine she’d want to change the tone of her campaign,” Grassley told Politico. Grassley, led the Senate’s investigation into Clinton’s private server

 

• The Taliban faction that bombed a Lahore park on Easter Sunday, killing 70 people, taunted PM Nawaz Sharif today, tweeting: “Let Nawaz Sharif know that this war has now come to the threshold of his home.” In a televised address Monday, Sharif vowed to continue pursuing militant groups (Reuters)
 
Secret Service: No Guns at GOP Convention (Hill, WaPo, me)
• The Secret Service says people attending the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this July will not be allowed to carry guns. The statement comes in response to a petition that calls for allowing open carry of guns inside Quicken Loans Arena, the host venue. The petition has amassed nearly 50,000 signatures
 
• GOP presidential contenders Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and John Kasich were each asked about the petition which none directly backed. “All that matters is what the Secret Service says,” said Kasich in Wisconsin on Monday. Cruz said the Secret Service would have “principal decision-making” and Trump said he would have read “the fine print.” (bit late now)
 
• Some websites have questioned whether the petition is satire or a hoax (oh i think so). An anonymous blogger, Hyperationalist, posted the petition on change.org. It’s a bit over the top: “Without the right to protect themselves, those at the Quicken Loans Arena will be sitting ducks, utterly helpless against evil-doers, criminals or others who wish to threaten the American way of life.”
 
• A Twitter account linked to the blog retweeted several messages calling the petition “Wizard-level” and “God-tier” trolling. “Win-win for the Trump people at last night’s rally: a protester got beat up and a black guy got arrested. #TrumpRally #NeverTrump” the user tweeted on 20 March (a clue?)

 

• Donald Trump’s campaign is planning to open a new office in DC as soon as next week that will house its delegate selection and management team and its congressional relations team. It’s a sign that Trump’s campaign is entering a new phase as he inches closer to securing his party’s nomination. wow (AP, me)
 
Obama Admin Today: Opioid Treatment (AP, me)
• The Obama admin will issue a proposed rule today that aims to increase medication-based treatment for tens of thousands of people addicted to opioids (something that’s also becoming hot on the campaign trail, particularly in the northeast)
 
• The proposed rule, along with a commitment from 60 medical schools to heighten training for prescribing opiods, will coincide with President Obama’s visit to Atlanta where he will participate in a panel discussion this afternoon moderated by Dr Sanjay Gupta at the National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit
 
• Congress is attempting to allocate more resources to confront the problem – one of few areas where lawmakers from both parties might reach agreement during the election year. Obama is seeking $1.1 billion in new federal funds to expand treatment for opioid addiction, which is about triple current levels (will conservative House GOP pols allow the funds? not clear they will)
 
• Most of the money would fund agreements with states to expand medication-assisted treatment. Along those lines, the Dept of Health and Human Services will issue a proposed rule allowing physicians who prescribe Buprenorphine to give it to more patients
 
Georgia’s GOP Gov: Veto of GOP “Religious Freedom” Bill (AP, BBC, me)
• Georgia’s term limited Gov Nathan Deal took a stand against his own party on Monday by announcing his veto of a “religious freedom” bill passed exclusively by Republican lawmakers. “I do not think that we have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith-based community in Georgia,” Deal said
 
• Under the bill, among other things, clergy could refuse to perform gay marriages; churches and affiliated religious groups could have invoked their faith as a reason to refuse to serve or hire someone
 
• Opponents said virtually anyone could justify discriminating against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Georgia had the bill become law – brought boycott threats from corporate heavyweights. Coca-Cola and other big-name Georgia companies joined Hollywood figures. Disney, Marvel Studios, Salesforce.com threatened to walk. The NFL threatened to yank Superbowl

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• Lawmakers have already left the Capitol for the year. They would need a three-fifths majority of both houses to ask the governor to convene a special session, and even then, vote totals on the bill suggest they lack the two-thirds vote in both chambers to override his veto
 
• Last week, North Carolina’s legislature passed a sweeping bill that bars its cities and counties from having their own anti-discrimination rules. Legislators pushed after Charlotte passed an ordinance allowing transgender people to use restrooms according to gender identity
 
• The North Carolina law has also drawn criticism from business: Charlotte-based Bank of America, Apple and other biggies. Monday, a federal lawsuit was filed against the NC governor over the law. Two transgender men and a woman along with two civil rights groups filed the suit, asking a judge to declare the law unconstitutional
 

Fidel Rips Obama’s Cuba Trip (AP, Politico, me)

• Fidel Castro on Monday ripped President Obama’s trip to Cuba, with a 1,500-word bristling letter in state media titled “Brother Obama,” detailing the history of U.S. aggression against Cuba, writing that “we don’t need the empire to give us any presents.” Obama didn’t meet the 89-year-old Fidel Castro, but met several times with his 84-year-old brother Raul, the president
 

• Castro goes over crucial sections of Obama’s speech line by line, engaging in a sort of dialogue with the American president with pointed critiques of perceived slights and insults. Castro: “My modest suggestion is that he reflects and doesn’t try to develop theories about Cuban politics.” (Fidel must have wanted to shoot out the TV set watching the speech)
 

• Quoting Obama’s declaration that “it is time, now, for us to leave the past behind,” the man who shaped Cuba during the second half of the 20th century writes that “I imagine that any one of us ran the risk of having a heart attack on hearing these words from the President of the United States.” (maybe he did shoot out the TV set)
 

• Wh spox Josh Earnest on Monday said, “The president was able to go to Cuba and urge President

[Raul} Castro in person about the importance of human rights. The president was able to stand before a news conference of the assembled global media and make a forceful case for the Cuban govt to protect universal human rights.”

 

• Watch President Obama and the First Lady deliver remarks at the 2016 Easter Egg Roll –  joined by the Easter Bunny, Bo and Sunny (Easter Bunny upstaged Obama, actually)
 

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Victoria Jones – Editor