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Military officials say 12 marines taken to hospital after aircraft made hard landing in Hawaii

Trending Today

  • Waco: Biker shootout – 9 dead
  • Amtrak train crash: FBI, NTSB huddle
  • Congress: Memorial Day showdown
  • Trade bill: Crunch time
  • GOP 2016ers in Iowa: Takeaways
  • Hillary Clinton: To the left
  • Ramadi falls to ISIS
  • U.S. raid kills key ISIS leader
Waco: Biker Shootout – 9 Dead (Dallas Morning News, NYT, me)

• A shootout among rival motorcycle gangs at a crowded Waco restaurant Sunday afternoon, possibly initially over a parking issue, killed nine bikers and injured at least 18, police said. No bystanders were injured in what police said was the culmination of weeks of problems at the Twin Peaks restaurant beside Interstate 35

• “In 24 years of law enforcement, this is the worst crime scene, the most violent crime scene that I’ve ever been involved in,” Waco police Sgt W. Patrick Swanton said Sunday. “Dead people are still there. There’s blood everywhere.” Swanton said at least five rival gangs gathered. He didn’t identify them, but photos bore names of Bandidos, Cossacks and Scimitars

• Swanton said the violence could have been avoided and he blamed management at Twin Peaks for not cooperating with police, who had learned beforehand of possible trouble and were waiting nearby, possibly preventing further injuries and deaths. The fight broke out in the bathroom before spilling into the bar and then the parking lot


• Multiple people were shooting one another and then turned on officers. Waco police returned fire, hitting some. Weapons used included chains, brass knuckles, knives, clubs and firearms. (omg) Bystanders and patrons dived for cover. “Within 25 feet there were families eating dinner” at a neighboring restaurant, said Swanton

• Bodies were found in the parking lot of Twin Peaks and in an adjacent lot. Dozens of alleged gang members, handcuffed with zip ties, sat in the parking lot of the neighboring Don Carlos restaurant. Swanton said possible charges would include participating in organized crime

• The gangs involved are well-known organized criminal enterprises, some with national affiliations, he said, that make money through drug dealings, extortion, robbery and violence. Swanton said police had known for several months that gang members were gathering and at least 10 SWAT officers were in marked cars outside the restaurant


• SecState John Kerry in South Korea today slammed North Korea for continuing to break promises, make threats and “show flagrant disregard for international law.” He said Pyongyang’s “horrific conduct” must be exposed and vowed to ratchet up pressure on North Korea to change its behavior (AP)


Amtrak Train Crash: FBI, NTSB Huddle (AP, AP, Fox News, WSJ,

• NTSB board member Robert Sumwalt told Fox News Sunday the NTSB and the FBI would meet today to discuss a crack found in the windshield of the Amtrak train that some have speculated was caused by an object that hit it moments before the derailment last Tuesday in Philadelphia which killed eight people and injured over 200

• At a service Sunday evening at the site to honor the crash victims, Amtrak board president Joseph Boardman choked up as he vowed that the wrecked train and its passengers “will never be forgotten.” Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter read the names of the dead as a bell tolled and eight doves were released just after a choral group sang “Amazing Grace.”

• Amtrak announced late Sunday that it would restore full service along the Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington DC this morning

• Sumwalt said on CBS’s Face the Nation Sunday that he wanted to “downplay” the idea that the windshield damage might have come from someone firing a shot. “I’ve seen the fracture pattern; it looks like something about the size of a grapefruit, if you will, and it did not even penetrate the entire windshield,” Sumwalt said

• Officials said an assistant conductor said she heard Amtrak engineer Brandon Bostian talking with a regional train engineer and both said their trains had been hit by objects. But the regional train engineer recalls no such conversation. Investigators listened to the dispatch tape – heard no communications from Bostian to say something had struck the train

• Graphic: Investigating the Philadelphia Amtrak train derailment (NYT)


• Sumwalt acknowledged on Fox News Sunday that train engines are routinely struck by various projectiles without catastrophic consequences. Investigators remain focused on the acceleration of the train, reaching 106 mph as it entered the 50 mph stretch, and only managing to slow down slightly

• Sumwalt said the agency had long called for inward-facing video cameras on trains which he said would help provide crucial info about such crashes. And he said the kind of next-generation speed control systems that Congress has ordered installed by the end of the year could have prevented countless accidents over the years

• The Federal Railroad Administration on Saturday ordered Amtrak to expand use of a speed-control system long in effect for southbound trains near the crash site to northbound trains in the same area, also to examine all curves along the Northeast Corridor to see if more can be done to improve safety, and to increase speed signs. Amtrak said it would comply (I’ll bet)

• For the first time, Amtrak could face a $200 million payout to train crash victims – the limit set by Congress. But that may be too low to cover the costs of the eight lives lost and more than 200 people injured in last week’s derailment

• Should trains have seatbelts? NYT looks at the issue today. Says that research has generally found that seatbelts would do minimal good, that the harm they would do might be greater and that the cost of installing them would be high. Experts don’t know of any country that has rail passengers strapped in – people like being able to walk around in trains


Congress: Memorial Day Showdown (Politico, me)

• The mad dash for Memorial Day is on. Capitol Hill is – again – barreling toward deadlines on must-pass legislative items, this time on govt surveillance powers and federal money for roads and bridges. The Senate’s in a bind over surveillance. “We got too many deadlines and not enough time,” said Sen Roy Blunt (R-MO), a member of Senate GOP leadership (#stoprecess)

• The overwhelming 338-33 House vote last week ending the NSA’s bulk collection programs – though phone companies would still keep the data that could later be tapped in smaller amounts for terrorism probes – puts lots of pressure on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) who wants a clean reauthorization of the current bulk collection until 2020

• But McConnell and his allies are running up against a brick wall of opposition from Democrats and libertarian-leaning Republicans, as well as a bipartisan vow to filibuster even a short-term reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act powers. And McConnell has to contend with a contentious debate over trade that’s expected to drag out through most – maybe all – of this week

• Meanwhile, a growing circle of Senate Republicans are airing concerns about the House spying bill. Sen Bob Corker (R-TN) even said last week he doesn’t think the govt collects enough data from Americans. (really, Bob?) Top Senate Republicans have strongly suggested that a short-term reauthorization may be the only option they can support, considering deep divisions

• But the House isn’t having it. “The fact that the Senate hasn’t taken it seriously enough, hasn’t paid enough attention, that’s frankly their problem,” said Rep Jerry Nadler (D-NY). Meanwhile, the House will begin working on a short-term fix to the Highway Trust Fund authority, which also expires at the end of the month (not a permanent fix, naturally)

Cringe vid: Senate candidate Rep Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) did a kind of weirdo faux Native American whoop war-cry thing when speaking to supporters. Really offensive and awful. Then she ran from reporters. Then she apologized. Then she said she’s part Native American. That’s all right, then… (Buzzfeed, me)

Trade Bill: Crunch Time (Reuters, WaPo, me)

• Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said Sunday that the Senate would sign off on a measure that would give President Obama broad international trade authority but has been met with fierce resistance from many members of the president’s own party (who don’t want to give him the time of day)

• “We’ll pass it later this week,” McConnell said on ABC’s This Week. “The president has done an excellent job on this, I point out to my members who are somewhat squeamish, as you can imagine, giving the president the power of any issue, given his expansive view of his powers on so many other issues.”

• The Senate voted to move ahead last week with the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 (TPA-2015), S.995, aka “fast-track,” which could clear the way for Obama to finalize a sweeping multinational trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. The vote came after Democrats blocked the bill in an earlier vote

• Sen Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who’s running for president as a Democrat, on CNN Sunday called on Hillary Clinton to take a clear position on the matter. “You’re either for it or you’re against it. No fence-sitting on this one,” he said (she’s a fine straddler, is Hillary)

• Heated debate is expected this week in the Senate over amendments, and a group of Democrats led by Sen Sherrod Brown (D-OH) plan to try to grind proceedings to a halt. They’re concerned about enforcement, worker’s rights, the environment, child labor. It still has to get through the House – where Dems oppose it, and so do some anti-Obama Republicans


• Sen Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who in recent months has moved closer to running for president, will provide a “very important update” on his plans this morning, he told supporters Sunday. He said he’ll appear on CBS’s This Morning at 8 am Eastern. Politico reported recently that he’s told donors that 1 June was the likely date for a 2016 announcement (WaPo)


GOP 2016ers in Iowa: Takeaways (Politico)

• 11 2016 GOP hopefuls spoke at the Iowa Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Dinner Saturday night. They each got a whopping 10 minutes. Iowa straw poll: It’s on life support. Despite remarks from big Iowa pols, not one of the 11 candidates who followed them gave any indication that they’ll take part in it. Former Gov Job Bush (R-FL) has already said no

Foreign policy is It: Former Sen Rick Santorum (R-PA) wanted to “load up our bombers and bomb them

[ISIS] back to the seventh century.” Former Gov Rick Perry (R-TX) focused on foreign policy – and optimism. Sen Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said that with terrorists, “I’m not going to call a judge. I’m going to call a drone and kill you.” (slap at Paul)

Scott Walker’s the Iowa front-runner: The Wisconsin governor leads in polls of Iowa Republicans and his steady, professional delivery of a speech was well-received. He also emphasized the proximity of Wisconsin to Iowa (look at map). And he invited the whole audience to his suite afterwards for ice cream, cheese and a Harley Davidson (place was jammed)

Rand Paul is – different: Sen Rand Paul (R-KY) gave a speech with three issues where he stands apart from the rest of the field: civil liberties, criminal justice reform and his anti interventionist foreign policy. He also went after Bush for his struggles to explain his brother’s decision authorizing the Iraq war – only speaker to do so – and Bush was in the room (ouch)

Carly Fiorina did well: She name-dropped world leaders she’s met. She playfully addressed her status as the only woman: “Can anyone think for a single instant that a man’s judgment was clouded by his hormones, including in the Oval Office?” Cheers rose from the ballroom. Then her mic cut out because she ran over time – but it just left the crowd wanting more

• Vid: Sen Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Chris Wallace spar about Iraq War on Fox News Sunday (Rubio fumbles… – how can he not understand the question he’s being asked)

Hillary Clinton: To The Left (WaPo, me)

• Hillary Clinton is running as the most liberal Democratic presidential front-runner in decades, with positions on issues from gay marriage to immigration that would, in past elections, have put her at the party’s precarious left edge, WaPo says today

• The moves are part of a strategic conclusion by Clinton’s emerging campaign: that it can harness the same kind of young and diverse coalition as Barack Obama did in 2008 and 2012, bolstered by even stronger appeal among women (but she’s not Barack Obama, she’s not majorly charismatic, young or black – work is cut out for her)

• Her approach – outlined in interviews with aides and advisers – is a bet that social and demographic shifts mean that no left-leaning position Clinton takes now would be likely to hurt her in making her case to moderate and independent voters in the general election next year (valid – she just needs to up the enthusiasm level among voters)

• “Her approach to this really is not trying to take a ruler our and measure where she wants to be on some ideological scale,” Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta said. “It’s to dive deeply into the problems facing the American people and American families. She’s a proud wonk, and she looks at policy from that perspective.” (does “wonk” win?)

• Republicans – as part of a broader critique of her trustworthiness – accuse Clinton of flip-flopping on some positions and hiding on others, such as free trade, to cater to the liberal base. Many political strategists say Clinton will be hard-pressed to re-create the 30-31% non-white turnout Obama got. She’ll have to expand Hispanic support and increase independent women


• ABC News’ chief anchor George Stephanopoulos apologized during Friday’s Good Morning America for not disclosing on-air $75,000 in donations he’s made to the Clinton Foundation. He said he wouldn’t moderate the ABC News GOP primary debate in Feb, but wouldn’t recuse himself from all 2016 coverage (Politico)


Ramadi Falls to ISIS (NYT, AP, BBC, al Jazeera, me)

• ISIS seized control of the city of Ramadi on Sunday, sending Iraqi forces racing out of the city in a major loss despite the support of U.S.-led airstrikes targeting the extremists. The U.S.-led coalition said Sunday it conducted seven airstrikes in Ramadi in the last 24 hours, as well as three in Fallujah

• PM Haider al-Abadi ordered security forces not to abandon their posts across Anbar province, apparently fearing the extremists could capture the entirety of the vast Sunni province. Bodies, some burned, littered the streets of Ramadi, as local officials reported the militants carried out mass killings of Iraqi security forces and civilians

• The retreat calls into question American officials’ hopes of relying strictly on airstrikes to support the Iraqi forces in expelling the extremists. “The city has fallen,” said Muhannad Haimour, a spox for Anbar’s governor. “The city was completely taken … it was a gradual deterioration.” He said about 500 people are estimated to have been killed in recent days

• Vid: Purports to show Iraqi army vehicles fleeing Ramadi – unverified

• Earlier Sunday, al-Abadi ordered Shiite militias to prepare to go into the Sunni-dominated Anbar province to fight. The involvement had been opposed by the U.S. American officials had worried the militias could inflame sectarian tensions in the province and ultimately make it harder to pacify (could be an absolute disaster – which – it already is)

• The deterioration of Anbar over the last month underscored the ineffectiveness of the Iraqi army, which is being trained by American military advisers, and raised questions about the U.S. strategy to defeat ISIS

• As Ramadi was close to falling Friday, American officials in DC downplayed the situation, saying it was similar to the up-and-down fighting that had been continuing since the start of the year. “We will see episodic temporary successes, but again, these typically don’t materialize into long-term gains,” said Brig. Gen. Thomas Weidley, chief of staff of the American-led coalition in Iraq

• Saudi-led coalition airstrikes targeting Shiite Houthi rebels resumed early today in the southern port city of Aden in Yemen after a five-day truce came to a close following talks on the war-torn country’s future that were boycotted by the rebels. Rebels, who are possibly backed by Iran, reject the main aim of talks – restoration of the govt of President Hadi (AP, me)


U.S. Raid Kills Key ISIS Leader (Fox News, me)

• Sen Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rep Adam Schiff (D-CA) on Sunday praised the U.S. raid that killed Abu Sayyaf, a key ISIS leader in charge of the group’s oil and gas operations in eastern Syria. “It’s good news,” Rubio said. U.S. “intelligence was good,” Schiff said, while acknowledging that the operation was risky and questions would be asked in Congress

• The WH confirmed Saturday that a team of Delta Force commandos slipped across the border from Iraq under cover of darkness Saturday aboard Black Hawk helicopters and V-22 Osprey aircraft, according to a U.S. defense official knowledgeable about details of the raid

• The U.S. team killed leader Abu Sayyaf and 11 other ISIS fighters and captured his wife Umm Sayyaf, an active ISIS member. She’s been taken to a secure location where she’s being interrogated. A senior defense official said that while no Americans were injured or killed, some fighting was hand-to-hand and that Sayyaf used women and children as human shields

• “It was a real firefight – a no kidding old school firefight,” a senior defense official said. Ancient priceless artifacts were recovered as well as what the defense official called a “treasure trove” of intel materials, such as cell phones, laptops and docs. Sayyaf’s capture likely temporarily slowed down’s ISIS’s oil and gas ops, a major source of its revenue – U.S. official

• Sayyaf was a senior ISIS leader whose role included overseeing illicit oil and gas ops – key sources of revenue for the terror group, according to the WH. Also allegedly involved with the group’s military ops. He was likely also targeted for his known association with ISIS’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

• “Mad Men” is over. Nope. Not telling you anything about Sunday night’s finale on AMC. No spoilers here. Ommmmmm

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Victoria Jones – Editor

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