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.
 

Former professional WWE wrestler and porn star, Chyna, has died aged 45. Chyna, real name Joan Laurer, is one of the most successful female wrestlers of all time. She struggled with addiction. She posted a YouTube video this week about trying to set up a fresh food business. (absolute disaster – slurry and confused, awful) (BBC, me)
 
Quick News
  • Sanders regroups after NY loss
  • Trump: Ch-ch- changes
  • Obama in Saudi Arabia: Tensions
  • Harriet Tubman to front $20 bill
  • Flint: First criminal charges
  • SCOTUS: Skeptical on breathalyzers
 
Sanders Regroups after NY Loss (NYT, me)
• Sen Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) grappled with tough and narrowing choices about campaign strategy and fund-raising on Wednesday after his loss in the New York Democratic primary and a series of difficult contests ahead. Many prominent Hillary Clinton supporters argued that it’s time for him to ease off attacks for the good of Democrats in November (and Clinton…)
 
• Sanders, who took the day off to rest and regroup with his advisers, is under intense pressure to win the Pennsylvania primary on Tuesday or fall even further behind Clinton’s sizable lead in pledged delegates needed to capture the nomination. A new Pennsylvania poll put Sanders 13 percentage points behind Clinton
 
• In addition to Pennsylvania, four other states hold primaries on Tuesday, and Sanders advisers say that all of the contests will be tough for them. While Sanders has a strong shot at winning Indiana  on 3 May, he has limited opportunities to pick up many more delegates than Clinton, according to several Sanders advisers (note – Sanders advisers are apparently saying this)
 
• “There does come a point when Democrats, and those who believe we can’t afford a Trump or Cruz presidency, should recognize that we need to start thinking about what’s best for the presumptive nominee going forward,” said Gov Jack Markell (D-Del), a Clinton supporter whose state holds its primary on Tuesday
 
• Michael Briggs, a Sanders spox, said the campaign planned to continue to ask questions about Clinton’s ties to Wall Street, her speeches at commercial banks and her changing stances on policy issues. “I’ve seen their, I’m sure, heartfelt concerns about the tone of the campaign, Briggs said. “All I would ask them to do is look in the mirror.” (cue Justin Timberlake)

• Got goats? Donald Trump has. Eight goats, 153 acres of hay and some stands of trees. Sooo? Because they’re on two of his golf courses in New Jersey, he claims for a NJ tax break that means he pays less than $1,000 a year on land that would otherwise carry annual taxes of about $80,000. Not bad for some chomping (WSJ, me)

 

Trump: Ch-ch-changes (WSJ, WaPo, me)
• Donald Trump is planning to roll out significant changes in his campaign, including giving a speech on foreign affairs and using teleprompters and a speechwriter. He and his newly recast team pledge to do more outreach to DC GOP leaders – often targets of his vitriol – and to spend significant amounts of money to run a more conventional campaign (here we go – said so)
 
• Trump, in an interview, acknowledged the need for a shift. “I’ll be more effective and more disciplined.” He’s changing, he said, because “I’m not going to blow it.” But: “I’m still the same candidate. Can you imagine how upset my supporters would be after waiting for hours?” Indeed, on Wednesday, Trump referred to “Lyin’ Ted” and “Crooked Hillary”
 
• The goal now “is to create so much distance in the total number of votes and delegates between them that the inevitability of the Trump candidacy will be powerful,” said veteran political consultant Paul Manafort, recently brought onto the team. An early step will be the foreign affairs speech, set for 27 April in Washington (will Clinton’s people be ready for the switch?)

 

• Representatives from all three GOP campaigns are holding private meetings with RNC delegates in Florida to pitch their general election strength, as the RNC Rules Committee meets amid (really) fiery calls for changes to convention rules. Ted Cruz and John Kasich are personally coming to make the sale. Trump will send campaign aides (Hill)
 
• Trump will deliver the speech with teleprompters, which he has often ridiculed (actually he’s trashed Obama). This week, a pair were set up in his office, which he was using to practice. Still, he won’t use them at his rallies. The campaign plans to hire a speechwriter. Trump has never used one, preferring to riff at his rallies, from his hand-scrawled notes of just a few words
 
• In an early meeting, Manafort, the only one in the campaign team who calls Trump by his first name, told him he needed to “win smart and with purpose.” The campaign has healing work to do with GOP party leaders, an effort Manafort pushed during meetings with Republican lawmakers this week (Manafort could be his first chief of staff…)
 
• Tuesday night, his campaign circulated a memo urging surrogates to attack the Republican National Committee for its rules and “rigged” system of choosing delegates. The memo also said Trump will secure more than 1,400 delegates at the convention in July – far more than the 1,237 needed to secure the nomination on the first ballot

 

• As many as 500 migrants are feared to have drowned in the Mediterranean while attempting to reach Italy from Libya by boat last week, the UN refugee agency said. One group of 100-200 from various African countries departed Libya in a “large, unseaworthy vessel” according to survivors. Once at sea, smugglers brought more people on board. As a result, the vessel sank (Time)
 

Obama in Saudi Arabia: Tensions (Reuters, Hill, me)

• President Obama met Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Wednesday in Riyadh to seek joint action on security threats including Iran and ISIS. Today, Obama attends a summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council, a group of monarchies. Obama is hoping to reassure Salman and the other Gulf leaders of Washington’s commitment to their security (big lift – bromance is over)
 

• The nations are all important U.S. partners in the military campaign against ISIS, but have voiced concern that last year’s nuclear deal with Iran has empowered their traditional adversary’s position in the Middle East. Obama hopes to convince them to at least tone down their complaints while also boosting their involvement in the fight against ISIS (they need a reason to tone down)
 

• Tensions with Iran surfaced again Wednesday when supreme leader Ayatollah Khameini attacked Riyadh’s attempts to isolate its ally, Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement, in a series of fiery tweets. “Hezbollah is shining in the Muslim world. It doesn’t matter if a corrupt, dependent and hollow gov with the use of petrodollars condemns it in a statement. To hell with it,” he wrote (and you?)
 

• No immediate word on whether Obama or Salman addressed a NYT report that Saudi Arabia has threatened to sell its multi-billion dollar U.S. assets if Congress passed a bill that could hold the kingdom responsible for any role in al Qaeda’s 9/11 attacks. Obama said he opposes the bill – possible lawsuit retaliation from other countries against U.S. citizens
 

• Recently, Obama was quoted in the Atlantic describing some Gulf and European states as “free riders” who called for U.S. action without doing enough themselves. Saudi TV earlier broadcast Gulf rulers being welcomed on the runway by King Salman and a host of other robed officials. Obama was met at the airport by governor of Riyadh. (ouch) On to the UK later this afternoon

• American victims of terrorism can collect $2 billion from Iran’s central Bank Markazi after the Supreme Court upheld 6-2 a federal law aimed at helping them win their case. It’s a win for about 1,300 people, including victims of the 1983 Beirut Marine barracks bombing and the 1996 bombing of Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, as well as family members (Bloomberg, BBC)

Harriet Tubman on the $20 Bill (WSJ, Politico, NYT, me)
• This time, Alexander Hamilton dodged the bullet. Treasury Sec Jacob Lew said Wednesday he would put African-American abolitionist Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, instead of the $10. Andrew Jackson will be bumped from the front of the $20 to the back. Alexander Hamilton will stay on the $10. Tubman will be the first African-American on paper money. About bloody time

• Lew found himself in a mess when he said he might replace Hamilton on the $10 with a woman. The plan drew swift rebukes from fans of Hamilton, who helped create the Treasury Dept and the modern American financial system. Astonishingly, former GOP 2016er Ben Carson Wednesday suggested keeping Jackson and putting Tubman on the $2 (ever seen one – course not)

• Critics suggested Lew take Jackson off the $20, given the former slave-owning president’s role in moving Native Americans off their land, resulting in thousands of deaths. People familiar with the matter say new designs for the $20 should be ready by 2020, the centenary of women’s suffrage (four more years?)

• “We said we were going to listen to people, and we actually listened to people,” Lew said Wednesday. After the Broadway musical “Hamilton” became a smash hit, the movement to keep the founding father on the $10 turned into a tsunami. Women’s groups had lobbied the WH last year to put a woman on the $20, which is far more widely circulated (and worth more)

• An escaped slave, Tubman ferried other slaves to freedom through the Underground Railroad. She served as a Union spy during the Civil War. Jackson was a prominent critic of paper money and warned of its “deep-seated evil” in his farewell address (buh bye). Pics: The new faces on the $5, $10 and $20 bills

 

• More than two billion people live in parts of the world where the Zika virus can spread, detailed maps published in the journal eLife show, including in Florida and Texas. In Washington, the Senate may be nearing an agreement on emergency funding requested by the WH, marking a potential reversal by Republicans (BBC, NYT)
 
Flint: First Criminal Charges (NYT, AP, me)
• Three govt workers – an employee of Flint and two state workers assigned to monitor water quality in cities, were the first to be charged with crimes on Wednesday for their roles in Flint’s water crisis, accused in part of covering up evidence of lead contamination. Residents were left drinking foul and unsafe water for many months
 
• Emails and other docs have shown a cascading series of failures at every level of govt – local, state and federal. “These charges are only the beginning,” AG Bill Schuette (R) said. “There will be more to come – that I can guarantee you.” Schuette is widely seen as a possible candidate for governor in 2018
 
• The charges against Michael Prysby, a district engineer with the State Dept of Environmental Quality; Stephen Busch, a district supervisor in the same dept; and Michael Glasgow, the city’s utilities manager – included tampering with evidence contained in reports on lead levels in city water, and the two state officials were charged with conspiracy to tamper with evidence
 
• Among other things, they were accused of distorting the results by directing residents to run their water before it was tested and failing to collect samples from some houses they were required to test. That had the effect of making the levels of lead appear far less dangerous than they were, and falsely reassured officials who could have intervened months earlier
 
• Asked whether Gov Rick Snyder, who didn’t acknowledge the problem until last fall, would face charges, Schuette said, “There’s no target and no one’s off the table.” “Somebody knew about this at the top,” William McCraw, 64, said as he waited at a bus station in Flint. “They need to round them all up, everyone who knew.” (yes they do – and you can bet that they won’t)

 

• Former MLB pitcher and game analyst Curt Schilling was fired by ESPN on Wednesday after he posted an anti-transgender Facebook post. The post included a (gross) image of a man wearing a blonde wig and revealing women’s clothes and: “Let him in! To the restroom with your daughter or else you’re a narrow minded, judgmental, unloving, racist bigot who needs to die!!!” (AP, me)
 

SCOTUS: Skeptical on Breathalyzers (Hill, AP, me)

• The Supreme Court on Wednesday appeared reluctant to uphold state laws that make it a crime for drunken driving suspects to refuse breathalyzer tests in the absence of a warrant. Drivers prosecuted under those laws claim they violate the Constitution’s ban on unreasonable searches and seizures. Minnesota and North Dakota upheld the (draconian imho) laws
 

• Justice Stephen Breyer pointed to stats showing it takes an average of only five minutes to get a warrant over the phone in Wyoming and 15 in Montana. Thomas McCarthy, the lawyer representing North Dakota, said the state strikes a “valid bargain” with drivers by making consent to alcohol tests a condition for the privilege of driving on state roads (really? where did I sign?)
 

• But Justice Anthony Kennedy said the states are asking for “an extraordinary exception” by making it a crime for people to assert their constitutional rights. He expressed frustration when McCarthy refused to answer repeated questions about why expedited warrants wouldn’t serve the state just as well (because McCarthy had no answers?)
 

• Chief Justice John Roberts wanted to know whether drivers are giving officers implied consent to look at their cellphones if suspected of texting while driving. Would that be another acceptable bargain? McCarthy: Highly doubtful. “It wouldn’t surprise me if there are at least as many accidents caused by people texting while driving as drinking while driving,” Roberts said (anti-texter much?)
 

• The Obama admin is supporting the states. In Minnesota, a first-degree count of refusal to take a breath test carries a mandatory minimum sentence of three years in prison. (what?) In North Dakota, refusal carries the same criminal penalties as driving under the influence. (whoa) The court considered two cases from North Dakota and one from Minnesota

• Happy Birthday, Ma’am. Queen Elizabeth II turns 90 today. She has been served by 12 prime ministers, starting with Churchill, and is the longest reigning monarch in British history. She carried out 341 public engagements last year. Pubs will stay open longer today (huge). Friday, she lunches with President Obama (biggish) (NYT, me)

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Victoria Jones – Editor