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

  • Egyptair 804: Wreckage found
  • Clinton: Trump not qualified
  • Clinton, Trump: Guns
  • Obama to Vietnam: Arms sales?
  • San Francisco police chief forced out
  • Dems: “Shame!” after LGBT vote
  • Oklahoma executions: Whatamess
  • Military sexual assault survivors wrongfully discharged
Egyptair 804: Wreckage found (BBC, NYT, me)
• An Egyptian army spox says plane wreckage has been found 180 miles from Egypt’s Alexandria. Flight MS804 was en route from Paris to Cairo with 66 passengers and crew when it vanished early Thursday. Radar showed the Airbus A320 made two sharp turns and dropped more than 25,000 ft before plunging into the sea
• Egyptian Aviation Minister Sherif Fathi said: “If you analyze the situation properly, the possibility of having a different action, or having a terror attack, is higher than the possibility of having a technical [fault.]”
• In France, the focus is on whether a possible breach of security happened at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport. Security was already tight, after last November’s attacks by jihadist militants in the French capital (plane was only half full – interesting that terrorists would choose such a small flight – maybe thought it would be full – if it was terrorism)
• Since then, some airport staff have had security clearance revoked over fears of links to Islamic extremists. Eric Moucay, a lawyer for some of those employees, said that there had been attempts by Islamists to recruit airport staff. “That is clear. There are people who are being radicalized in some of the trade unions etc.”
• Flightradar24 data showed the plane had flown round trips between Cairo and Asmara, Eritrea, and between Cairo and Tunis before going to Paris. American and European officials have expressed concerns about security gaps in North American airports. ISIS claimed responsibility for the blowing up of an Airbus !231 operated by Russia’s Metrojet over Sinai in October

• Interactive: Egyptair flight – moment by moment  – maps – explanations (NYT)

Clinton: Trump Not Qualified (NYT, CNN, me)

• Hillary Clinton declared herself the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee on Thursday and said that her likely GOP rival, Donald Trump, wasn’t qualified to be president. Asked by CNN’s Chris Cuomo whether Trump was qualified to hold the office they both seek, Clinton declared emphatically, “No.” (she wasn’t so definite a few weeks ago)
• She cited his proposal to temporarily ban Muslims from entering American borders, his comments about diminishing the U.S.’ involvement in NATO and his remarks that he would negotiate directly with North Korean dictator Kim Jong un, as evidence of how “unmoored” Trump is on foreign policy (unmoored? come on Hillary, get with catchy words)
• “When you run for president of the U.S., the entire world is listening and watching,” she said. “So when you say you’re going to bar all Muslims, you’re sending evidence to the Muslim world, and you’re also sending a message to terrorists. … Donald Trump is essentially being used as a recruiter for more people to join the cause of terrorism.”
• The Democratic front-runner said that she will be the party’s nominee, because she’s got an “insurmountable” number of pledged delegates and has received millions more votes overall. “I will be the nominee for my party, Chris. That is already done, in effect,” she said. “There is no way that I won’t be.”
• Bernie Sanders’ spox, Michael Briggs, said in a statement Thursday afternoon that his candidate’s recent victories showed that voters “respectfully disagreed with Secretary Clinton.” He added that some polls showing Sanders doing better against Trump made it “clear that millions of Americans have growing doubts about the Clinton campaign.” (unity is light, so disunity would = …)


Clinton, Trump: Guns (AP, NYT, me)
• Donald Trump and other top Republicans will speak today at the NRA convention in Louisville (always a fun event to watch. Trump will be a treat)). Hillary Clinton will appear Saturday in Florida with the mother of Trayvon Martin and other parents who have lost children to gun violence
• The dueling appearances highlight the opposing positions the candidates have staked out on gun rights and safety, the prominent role the issue might play in the campaign and the national policy implications for the next president
• The NRA – which Clinton listed as an enemy in a debate last year – is warning its 5 million members that Clinton would appoint anti-Second Amendment justices to SCOTUS and “implement a radical gun control agenda,” spox Jennifer Baker said (much easier argument to make that Clinton’s nuanced one)
• Clinton has said she supports the Second Amendment but that commonsense safety measures are needed to keep firearms out of the wrong hands. She has called for expanding background checks to sales at gun shows and online purchases, and for reinstating a ban on assault weapons. She has often campaigned with families of gun violence victims
• Trump, who often notes that he has a concealed carry permit, argues the existing background check system should be fixed, not expanded and that assault weapons bans don’t work. That’s a change from 2000, when he wrote in a book that he supported the ban on assault weapons as well as a slightly longer waiting period for gun purchases (so nothing new there then – ch-changes)

• Watch West Virginia weatherman Bryan Hughes let out a piercing scream live on the air as he spots a ginormous spider on his screen’s map


Obama to Vietnam: Arms Sales? (AP, Reuters, me)

• President Obama could lift restrictions on arms sales when he makes his first visit to Vietnam next week. That would remove a final vestige of wartime animosity but wouldn’t please China, which views growing U.S. defense ties in its backyard with deep suspicion amid rising military tensions in the South China Sea

• There’s considerable support in Washington for lifting the restrictions, including from the Pentagon, but also pockets of congressional opposition, leaving uncertain whether Obama will announce it when he visits Vietnam, starting Sunday (not sure how Vietnam veterans will feel, either)
• The admin is pushing for more progress on human rights, a constant drag on the relationship. Significantly, the communist govt has committed to allow independent labor unions as a condition of its participation in the U.S.-backed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, but it still holds about 100 political prisoners and there have been more detentions this year (it’s bad)
• As part of Obama’s effort to help Southeast Asian nations counter Beijing, the U.S. in 2014 partially lifted an arms embargo in place since the end of the Vietnam War, allowing Vietnam to buy lethal defense equipment for maritime security. Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser, said Thursday, “it will be a subject of discussion with the Vietnamese,” – no decision yet
• The risk of confrontation with Beijing is growing as the U.S. challenges China’s island-building and assertive behavior in the South China Sea, where five other Asian govts, including Vietnam, have territorial claims. The Pentagon said two Chinese fighter jets flew Tuesday within about 50 feet of a U.S. Navy recon plane. China on Thursday told the U.S. to stop spying (pot, kettle)


San Francisco Police Chief Quits (Reuters, CNN, SFGate, BBC, me)
• San Francisco’s police chief Greg Suhr has quit after a police officer shot and killed a young black woman driving a suspected stolen car. The resignation was announced by Mayor Ed Lee, who asked him to quit. Suhr and city police had in recent months come under fierce criticism over fatal police shootings and a racist text scandal
• Hours earlier, Suhr told reporters that around 9:45 pm two officers approached a 27-year-old woman as she sat in a car that had been reported as stolen. Neither the woman nor the officers have been identified. Suhr didn’t give the race of the officers and said he didn’t know whether the woman was armed
• The woman tried to drive off, crashing into another vehicle fewer than 100 feet away. She was shot by one of the officers, after refusing to comply with orders, Suhr said. She later died at an area hospital. There was no indication that she had tried to run down the officers (sounds on its face a bit trigger happy if she was escaping – awaiting more details, though)
• The shooting occurred in SF’s Bayview neighborhood, where in Dec police fatally shot a black man who was a suspect in a stabbing. Police said then that Mario Woods, 26, whose family has sued the city, was holding a knife and refused to drop it. Cell phone video showed Woods being shot in a hail of gunfire by officers (really awful)
• Criticism of the dept began to build in April after CNN obtained racist and homophobic texts that were traded among a handful of officers. They contained references to a “nig” and “beaners” and compared African-Americans to wild animals. Suhr held two pressers within a week to reassure the public that he had zero tolerance and was taking steps – but it wasn’t enough
Dems: “Shame! Shame! Shame” After LGBT Vote (Hill, Politico, Hill, me)
• The House floor erupted into chaos and shouting on Thursday as a measure to ensure protections for members of the LGBT community narrowly failed to pass after Republican leaders hastily urged their members to change their votes – after the clock ran out (appalling – rules don’t matter if it’s the gays…)
• Initially, it appeared Rep Sean Patrick Maloney’s (D-NY) amendment had passed, as 217 “yes” votes piled up over 206 “no” votes when the clock ran out. The measure needed 213 votes to pass. But it eventually failed on a 212-213 vote after a number of Republicans changed their votes from “yes” to “no” after the clock had expired
• GOP leaders held the vote open as they pressured members to change sides. Infuriating Democrats, they let lawmakers switch their votes without walking to the well at the front of the chamber as required, to make their switch in person. Once the clock expires, the chair asks if anyone wants to change votes, then the voting machines are turned off – and they have to vote in person
• Twenty nine Republicans voted for Maloney’s amendment to a spending bill for the Dept of Veterans Affairs and military construction projects, along with all Democrats in the final roll call. “This is one of the ugliest episodes I’ve experienced in my three-plus years as a member of this House,” Maloney, who is openly gay, said while offering his amendment
Seven GOP Vote Switchers
• According to a list tweeted out after the vote by House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md), seven GOP lawmakers who changed their votes were: Reps Darrell Issa (Calif), David Valadao (Calif), Jeff Denham (Calif), Mimi Walters (Calif), Greg Walden (Ore), David Young (Iowa) and Bruce Poliquin (Maine). Their offices haven’t yet responded to a request for comment (i’ll bet – scrambling)


• The amendment would have effectively nullified a provision in the defense authorization that the House passed Wed. The language states that religious corporations, associations and institutions that receive federal contracts can’t be discriminated against on the basis of religion (that old discrimination chestnut – who cares who you do business with? It’s money)
• Democrats warn that such a provision could potentially allow discrimination against the LGBT community in the name of religious freedom. Maloney’s amendment specifically would prohibit funds to implement contracts with any company that doesn’t comply with President Obama’s executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT workers
• Maloney said he’d approached Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif) to urge regular order (close the vote) as GOPers were supporting it but: “…he said: ‘Get back on your own side of the aisle,’ and I said to him, ‘What side of the aisle am I supposed to stand on to support equality?'”


Republicans Disgusted at Own Leadership
• Maloney said “easily a dozen” Republicans approached him on the floor “and expressed disgust for what happened today.” “If you look at the people who had the guts to vote yes, you’ll get an idea of who that was,” he said
• Rep Charlie Dent (R-Pa) “was at the head of that list” Maloney said. “McCarthy went down and talked to him and [Dent] told [McCarthy] to get lost,” Maloney said. “And McCarthy went around and twisted everybody’s else’s arms, and it was disgraceful.” (equally disgraceful and sad that people allowed their arms to be twisted when they believed in their “yes” votes)

• The speaker never asked if any members wanted to switch votes; GOP leaders simply kept the vote open to allow members to make the switch electronically without revealing themselves. “No one had the courage to come into the well to change their vote,” Hoyer said. GOP leadership is committed to an “open amendment” process – this could get interesting if it continues

• The House did manage Thursday to approve a Democratic proposal to limit the display of the Confederate flag in national cemeteries. A majority of Republicans opposed Rep Jared Huffman’s amendment to the VA spending bill, but 84 Republicans joined all but one Democrat in support – Rep Betty McCullum (D-Minn) voted “present” (outed, Betty)

• Vote! Roll Call Taste of America – is YOUR state home to the best food in the nation? Prove it by voting today. Make your selections in the bracket and then click “vote” – there are some tough choices (Roll Call, me)

Oklahoma Executions: WhataMess (AP, WaPo, me)
• The top lawyer for Gov Mary Fallin (R-Okla) urged prison officials to go forward with a planned execution even though they received the wrong drug, telling a deputy AG to “Google it” to confirm it could be used, a grand jury said in a report Thursday. The grand jury faulted many officials for three botched execution attempts but issued no indictments (just grab a needle…)
• The panel noted that Fallin’s general counsel, Steve Mullins. “flippantly and recklessly” advocated for the use of potassium acetate in the 30 Sept execution of Richard Glossip, even though the state’s lethal injection protocol calls for potassium chloride, which stops the heart. (acetate/chloride, whatever…) Fallin later issued a last-minute stay for Glossip, who remains on death row
• Mullins “stated potassium chloride and potassium acetate were basically one and the same drug, advising deputy AG to “Google it,” the report said. (internet so reliable, too) Mullins also argued that the state shouldn’t file a stay for Glossip’s execution because “it would look bad for the state of Oklahoma because potassium acetate had already been used in [Charles] Warner’s execution.”
• Mullins resigned in February. AG Scott Pruitt, who called for the investigation, said: “A number of individuals responsible for carrying out the execution process were careless, cavalier and in some circumstances dismissive of established procedures.” The head of the prison system and the penitentiary warden also quit after appearing before the grand jury (fly on jury wall)


• Morley Safer, who retired from CBS News just days ago, has died at age 84 after a 61-year career in journalism. CBS said he had the longest-ever run on U.S. prime-time TV. He was known for claiming “there is no such thing as the common man” and if there were, “there would be no need for journalists”
Grand Jury: Nitrogen Gas for Executions
• The grand jury also suggested the state should consider the use of nitrogen gas to administer the death penalty, saying it would be “easy and inexpensive to obtain” and “simple to administer.” Oklahoma now uses a three-drug protocol (how about reconsidering the whole thing until this justice issue is figured out?)
• Pruitt had assembled the panel after the provider of Oklahoma’s execution drugs sent the wrong chemical for Glossip’s execution. After the execution was called off, it was later revealed that Warner had been executed with the same wrong drug in January 2015 (speechless)
• The drug mix-ups followed a botched execution in April 2014 in which inmate Clayton Lockett grimaced and writhed on a gurney before dying 43 minutes into his lethal injection – and after the state’s prison’s chief ordered executioners to stop. (note, after – oh well he’s dead, can’t appeal) Oklahoma’s court system has put executions on hold pending the grand jury’s probe
• In receiving the report, Oklahoma County District Judge Donald Deason thanked the grand jury for its work and said Oklahomans “need to know somebody has been looking at the monkey business that’s been going on at the Dept of Corrections.” (rude to monkeys, they at least would have got it right some of the time)


• Oklahoma lawmakers have moved to effectively ban abortion in their state by making it a felony for doctors to perform the procedure, an effort the bill’s sponsor said Thursday is aimed at ultimately overturning the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide. A handful of Republicans joined Democrats in voting against the bill (AP)


Military Sexual Assault Survivors Wrongfully Discharged: Report (Hill, me)
• Thousands of sexual assault survivors have been wrongfully discharged from the U.S. military for personality disorders and other mental health conditions that make them ineligible for benefits, according to a report out Thursday by Human Rights Watch with help from Protect Our Defenders, that included 270 in-person and phone interviews, examination of docs and data analysis
• While the Pentagon has enacted reforms to protect sexual assault victims and make it harder to quickly dismiss service members for mental health conditions, the report adds, little has been done to address those who were discharged before the reforms
• In one case cited in the report, a major who had been declared fit for service by a civilian psychiatrist in 2007 was diagnosed with personality disorder after one session with a military doctor because she “kept talking about her case.” That officer was recommended for involuntary discharge from the National Guard after 23 years of service (other cases equally shocking)
• Those who are discharged have little recourse because Discharge Review Boards are “broken, ridiculous and awful,” a veterans lawyer told researchers. The report lists a slew of recommendations for the Pentagon, Congress and the Dept of Veterans Affairs. Two Democratic lawmakers are preparing legislation if the Pentagon doesn’t act
• In a written response to the report, the Pentagon said it has previously issued guidance on how the boards should review cases of those claiming PTSD or related conditions. “All of these changes in the last 18 months provide liberal consideration to every veteran, including sexual assault victims, who asserts PTSD or mental health issues as a basis for relief at these boards.”
• Rocking into the weekend with “Up And Up” – third single from Coldplay’s album “A Head Full of Dreams.” The intriguing thing about this single is the extraordinary video made by Israeli directors Vania Heymann and Gal Muggia, who describe it as a “poignant, surrealist montage which alludes to contemporary issues.” It’s a little disturbing to watch

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Victoria Jones – Editor