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.

Don’t panic – not tax day. That’s Monday 18 April, because the IRS is closed today for a DC holiday called Emancipation Day, celebrating 16 April 1862, when President Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves
Quick News

  • Democrats: Brooklyn brawl
  • Obama to Riyadh, London, Berlin
  • New Syria fighting threatens peace talks
  • Sandy Hook families can sue gun maker
  • North Korea tries, fails missile launch
  • No prosecution: Trump campaign manager
  • Trump campaign’s shifting stories
Democrats: Brooklyn Brawl (Politico, Hill, Hill, WaPo, NYT, me)
• Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders “debated” Thursday night in Brooklyn, NY. The crowd was ferocious. Sanders said Clinton had the ability and intel to be a competent president but questioned her “judgment” on multiple issues. Clinton went after him, saying New Yorkers elected her to the Senate twice, she was secstate and she ripped his NYDN editorial page interview answers
• “Secretary Clinton was busy giving speeches to Goldman Sachs for $225,000 a speech,” Sanders said at one point to show Watt St’s influence on her. “He cannot come up with any example, because there is no example” of her doing the bidding of Wall St.,” Clinton said. “I called them out.” / “They must have been crushed by this,” Sanders quipped sarcastically (dripped with it)
• One of the loudest roars from the crowd came when the moderators asked Clinton why she hasn’t released her transcripts of paid speeches. “There isn’t an issue,” she dodged. Then pushed for Sanders and Donald Trump to release their tax returns. Sanders said he would release his 2015 returns today. “Jane does our taxes.” (under bus) “They are very boring tax returns.”
• Big fight on minimum wage. “Well, of course I would” sign a $15 federal minimum wage bill, Clinton said. “I have supported the fight for $15,” Clinton said as Sanders stood, shaking his head in disbelief. Sanders pounced that he was “surprised to learn” that because she has supported $12. Then they shouted over each other (biggest shoutfest of the night – he has the facts here)


• Watch: Clinton and Sanders apparently didn’t shake hands or acknowledge each other after a bruising two-hour debate Thursday night (the crowd seems to be with Sanders). Thursday, Sanders dealt with the fallout from comments by a surrogate who described what might have been Clinton as a “corporate whore” Sanders apologized for it (Hill me)
• “No wait a minute, wait a minute,” shouted Clinton. / “That’s just not accurate,” Sanders interrupted. / “I have stood on the debate stage. I have stood on the debate stage with Sen Sanders eight different times,” Clinton – Sanders tried to butt in. / “If you’re both screaming at each other, the viewers won’t be able to hear either of you, so please don’t talk over each other,” – Wolf Blitzer
• Sanders minced no words about Clinton’s use of the term “superpredators” to describe urban gang members in a 1996 speech. “It was a racist term, and everybody knew it was a racist term” – rousing cheers. Clinton has said she regrets the word. Thursday, she blamed husband Bill Clinton for the crime bill. (more bus throwing) “He was the president who actually signed it.”
• “We are going to have to treat the Palestinians with respect and dignity,” Sanders said. Clinton said she had been involved in high level peace talks with Israelis and Palestinians for years. “There comes a time when we have to say that Netanyahu is not right all the time,” Sanders said at the CNN event
• Sanders tried to dodge when challenged on his view that crime victims shouldn’t be able to sue gun makers for damages and if he owed Sandy Hook victims an apology. Crowd booed Sanders. Pressed by moderator, Sanders: “No, I don’t think I owe them an apology. They are in court today, and actually they won a preliminary decision today.” (not his finest minute in the debate)
• Clinton seized on a question about President Obama’s SCOTUS nominee. “We’ve had eight debates, this is our ninth. We’ve not had one question about a woman’s right to make her own decisions about reproductive health care. Not one question.”


• GOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump defended “New York values” at the GOP Gala Thursday night, taking a jab at rival Ted Cruz. “The fire fighters and first responders and the police officers and the Port Authority workers who ran up those stairs are New York values and those are New Yorker values,” Trump said (Hill)
Obama to Riyadh, London, Berlin (AP, Reuters, me)
• President Obama is scheduled to arrive in the Saudi capital of Riyadh on Wednesday, where he will hold talks with King Salman. Obama will also attend a Gulf summit that will focus on defeating ISIS and al Qaeda, as well as regional security issues that include Iran. The U.S. and its Gulf partners have had differences over how best to address conflicts in the region
• An article in the Atlantic last month included comments from Obama about “free riders” – countries that don’t “carry their weight” in conflicts. Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, said Thursday that Obama had made those comments privately and publicly before. “The only way to truly deal with global challenges is if everybody does their part,” Rhodes said
• Obama will spend much of his time in England. He is scheduled to meet again with Queen Elizabeth II over lunch at Windsor Castle on 22 April, a visit that coincides with her 90th birthday (sooo this is going to be a mediafest. note to self: didn’t plan my April UK travel very well this year…Windsor’s lovely right now)
• Obama will also meet with PM David Cameron, who is campaigning for his country to continue its membership in the European Union. Britons are scheduled to vote in a 23 June referendum. Obama isn’t expected to announce a position, although aides have voiced support for a strong UK as a member of the EU (it’s a tricky dance for Obama – journos will try to trip him up)
• Cameron has also been stung by criticism over his investment in an offshore account run by his late father which came to light through the Panama Papers. Obama also plans a town hall style, Q&A with young adults (who can be pretty outspoken). In Germany, Obama will hold talks and a presser on Sunday with Chancellor Angela Merkel


• House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis) will try to sell House Republicans on a bill to help Puerto Rico deal with its debt crisis at a special meeting this morning. The meeting is an effort to educate members and bring them on board with the bill, which has faced persistent conservative opposition (Hill)
New Syria Fighting Threatens Peace Talks (Reuters, me)
• Syria’s army backed by Russian warplanes launched an assault north of Aleppo on Thursday, threatening to block a vital rebel route into the city in fighting that has cast new clouds over Geneva peace talks. Syria’s recent upsurge in fighting has soured an already bleak mood as opposing sides gather in Geneva (ceasefire – what ceasefire)
• Outlining its bargaining position, the opposition High Negotiating Council (HNC) told Reuters it would be willing to share equally in a transitional council with the govt, but repeated its rejection of a role for President Bashar Assad
• The Syrian govt, buoyed by Russian and Iranian military support, has ruled out any discussion of the presidency. Moscow and Tehran have also rejected what they see as Western efforts to predetermine Assad’s future (we’re going nowhere with this right now)
• Speaking in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the rebels of breaching the truce to reconquer lost ground. “The opposition is trying to recover what they lost,” he said. The Geneva talks aim to end a war that has killed more than 250,000 people, created the world’s worst refugee crisis and allowed for the rise of ISIS
• UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura has said he wants the resumed talks to focus on a political transition, one of the most contentious issues, with the opposition and its allies insisting Assad must be removed at the start of the process. Damascus has said the most it’s willing to offer is a “unity govt” with opposition participating, and a new constitution


• Gov Bill Haslam (R-Tenn) vetoed a bill Thursday that would designate the Bible the state’s official book. He said the bill “trivializes the Bible, which I believe is a sacred text.” Many top Bible publishers are headquartered in Nashville, the bill states (aha). The state’s AG warned the bill would violate the U.S. and Tennessee constitutions. Will be an override attempt next week (Hill)
Sandy Hook Families Can Sue Gun Maker (Reuters, me)
• A lawsuit can proceed against the maker of the gun used in the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that left 20 children and 6 adults dead, a Connecticut judge ruled Thursday. The lawsuit was filed in 2014 by the families of nine of the people who were killed
• Bushmaster, manufacturer of the AR-15 assault weapon used in the assault in Newtown, Conn, had asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit, saying it was protected by a 2005 federal law blocking lawsuits against gunmakers when their products were used in the commission of crimes (should think they’re a bit gobsmacked right now)
• Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis declined to dismiss it, saying the gunmaker, a unit of Freedom Group, hadn’t proved that the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act stopped her from hearing the case. “Any immunity that PLCAA may provide does not implicate this court’s subject matter jurisdiction,” Bellis wrote
• The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages. It argues that the legally purchased AR-15 used by Adam Lanza in the attack should never have been sold because it had no reasonable civilian purpose. Lawyer Josh Koskoff, representing the families, welcomed the decision. An attorney for Bushmaster couldn’t be reached for comment (being gobsmacked, perhaps)
• Lanza, 20, ended his attack by turning his gun on himself. Before going to the school, he fatally shot his mother, Nancy, who had bought the gun. After the shooting, Gov Dannel Malloy (D-Conn) pushed through one of the strictest gun laws in the U.S., banning more than 100 types of military-style rifles. Modified versions of the AR-15 are legal in Connecticut


North Korea Tries, Fails Missile Launch (Reuters, me)
• North Korea attempted and failed to launch what experts believe was an intermediate-range ballistic missile today in defiance of UN sanctions and in an embarrassing setback for leader Kim Jong un, drawing criticism from major ally China
• The failed launch, as the reclusive country celebrates the “Day of the Sun” on the birthday of Kim’s grandfather, follows the North’s fourth nuclear test in January and a long-range rocket launch in February, which led to new UN sanctions. But the North has nevertheless pushed ahead with its missile program, supervised by Kim
• China, north Korea’s most important economic and diplomatic backer, has been angered by Pyongyang’s nuclear tests and rocket launches in the face of UN sanctions that China has also backed. China’s official Xinhua news agency said, “Nuclear weapons will not make Pyongyang safer. On the contrary, its costly military endeavors will keep on suffocating its economy.”
• The U.S. Defense Dept said in a statement that U.S. Strategic Command assessed the launch had failed. “We call again on North Korea to refrain from actions and rhetoric that further raise tensions in the region and focus instead on taking concrete steps toward fulfilling its international commitments and obligations,” a State Sept official said (yeah, and they’re going to listen…)

No Prosecution: Trump Campaign Manager (AP, Politico, Politico, NYT, me)
• Donald Trump’s campaign manager will not be prosecuted on a misdemeanor battery charge after prosecutors determined there wasn’t enough evidence to convict him of forcibly grabbing a female reporter. Trump said Thursday that Lewandowski “wasn’t quite as effective for the past couple of months.”
• Police charged Corey Lewandowski last month after determining a video recording showed him grabbing reporter Michelle Fields by the arm as she tried to ask Trump a question as he was leaving a Florida campaign event on 8 March
• Palm Beach State Attorney David Aronberg said at a presser that while it’s clear Lewandowski grabbed former Breitbart reporter Fields against her will, Lewandowski may have been acting to defend Trump after Fields may have brushed up against or touched Trump’s arm (defend? strange choice of word)
• Aronberg said that after reviewing an affidavit by former FBI agent Barton Brown, they determined Lewandowski “may have had apparent authority to assist in the protection” of Trump as staff of presidential candidates sometimes do alongside trained Secret Service agents (a bit weird – the agents usually like to do the work and don’t like amateurs messing about. odd)


Trump Campaign’s Shifting Stories
• Initially Trump, Lewandowski and his campaign questioned (denied) whether the incident even took place, saying Fields was attention-seeking and belittling her character. Following the charges, Trump changed his story, and began test-driving a new story – claiming that Fields touched him first
• Trump’s campaign said in a statement Thursday afternoon that Lewandowski is “gratified by the decision” and “appreciates the thoughtful consideration and professionalism” of the state attorney and staff. “The matter is now concluded.” The state attorney’s office didn’t interview the Secret Service or Lewandowski, speaking instead to his lawyers (fascinating in itself)
• Aronberg’s chief asst state attorney wrote in her report that a secret service agent was positioned directly behind Fields and appeared to show no concern over her actions. She also said Lewandowski could have signaled to Secret Service agents if he thought Fields was a threat and he could have apologized – if so “we could have avoided the whole criminal justice process.”
• Aronberg noted that Trump himself reached out to the State Attorney’s office a few weeks ago, telling them Fields touched him first and urging them to “do the right thing.” “The conversation we had with Mr Trump had no bearings on our decision in this case.” Aronberg said (but no attempt to intimidate by trump – nooo – urging to “do the right thing?” – & suddenly remembered a touch?)

• Aronberg said he had talked with Fields and she was disappointed he decided against pursuing the charge. Fields has said she is considering a defamation suit against Trump and Lewandowski


• Rocking into the weekend with – whaaat? Plagiarism trial on 10 May in LA! A judge will decide whether Jimmy Page and Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin ripped off late Spirit guitarist Randy Wolfe, who wrote “Taurus.” Are the opening notes of “Stairway to Heaven” a copy of “Taurus” – even if the lads only heard them by chance? Page in 2014 told BBC how “Stairway” was written (riveting)

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Victoria Jones – Editor