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

  • Obama lifts arms ban on Vietnam
  • Polls: Clinton-Trump = squeaky close
  • Trump: Arm the teachers
  • Clinton: Trump candidacy not “normal”
  • Pakistan: US violated sovereignty with drone strike
  • Health chief: Zika in US next “month or so”
Obama Lifts US Arms Ban on Vietnam (AP, AP, Reuters,  AP, me)
• President Obama today lifted a decades-old arms embargo for Vietnam during his first visit to the communist country, looking to bolster a govt seen as a crucial, though flawed partner even as he pushes for better human rights from the one-party state. Obama announced the move at a presser with Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang
• Obama said the move was intended towards normalizing relations with the former war enemy and to eliminate a “lingering vestige of the Cold War.” “At this stage both sides have developed a level of trust and cooperation,” Obama said, adding that he expected deepening cooperation between the two nation’s militaries (will Trump go nuts? he might not get that china’s up to stuff…)
• Obama is seeking to strike this balance with Vietnam amid China’s efforts strengthen claims to disputed territory in the South China Sea, one of the world’s most important waterways. U.S. lawmakers and activists had urged the president to press the communist leadership for greater freedoms before granting it. Vietnam holds about 100 political prisoners (and taking more)
• Obama, who has proven himself a pragmatist in balancing security and human rights, plans to meet dissidents during his trip, something his hosts won’t like. (meeting schmeeting) A BBC journalist covering the Obama visit today said he had been ordered to stop reporting, apparently after interviewing a noted intellectual and activist (will WH protest? don’t hold breath)
$$$ Deals With Vietnam / Hiroshima Visit
• The presidents attended a signing ceremony celebrating a series of new commercial deals between U.S. and Vietnamese companies. The WH said the value of the transactions was more than $16 billion. The deals included engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney’s plans to sell 135 advanced engines to Vietnamese air carrier Vietjet
• Obama heads to Japan on Wednesday where he’ll attend a G-7 summit of industrialized nations, with the uncertain global economy the top concern. They’ll also grapple with a full array of world challenges, including the fight against ISIS and the refugee crisis in Europe (sounds like a jolly get-together)
• Obama will finish his trip in Hiroshima, where the U.S. dropped the atomic bomb that killed 140,000 people, ushering in the nuclear ago seven decades ago. Another bomb killed 70,000 in Nagasaki three days later. Obama won’t apologize. It will be a moment to reflect on the devastating costs of war and to try to give new impetus to Obama’s call for a nuclear-free world
• A group representing former POWs under Japan said the WH has invited one of them to accompany Obama on the visit to Hiroshima. Daniel Crowley, 94, of Simsbury,  Conn, was in the U.S. Army Air Corps when his unit surrendered in the Philippines in 1942. He was shipped to Japan in 1944 and forced to work as a slave laborer in a copper mine until the war’s end


• Yemeni security officials say a pair of suicide bombers killed at least 45 people in the southern city of Aden. The bombers targeted young men seeking to join the army. One bomb outside an army recruitment center, killing at least 20. One bomb among recruits waiting outside the home of an army commander, killing at least 25 (AP)

Poll: Clinton-Trump – Squeaky Close (WSJ, TPM, me)

• A WSJ/NBCNews poll out Sunday shows Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump 46% to 43% in a test matchup – a much tighter margin than her 11-percentage point lead in April. Bernie Sanders, Clinton’s Democratic rival, leads Trump by a 15-point margin, 54% to 39%. Trump enjoys much wider support from GOP voters after his big Indiana win (she should be romping this)

• The two likely nominees still suffer from the worst public images in the modern history of presidential politics, with 58% viewing Trump negatively and 54% expressing similar sentiments about Clinton. But that tally marks an improvement for Trump since April, when some 65% of voters expressed an unfavorable opinion of him (so depressed right now – putting on Leonard Cohen)

• Trump also enjoys a slightly better – if still overwhelmingly negative – image among independent voters, with 58% viewing him negatively and 26% viewing him positively. Independents now view him more positively than they do Clinton, helping the Republican open a modest 5-percentage-point lead over Clinton among these voters (potential minefield for Clinton)

• Some 58% of voters want the next president to “focus on progress and move America forward,” compared with 38% who want someone who will “focus on protecting what has made America great,” an apparent advantage for Clinton or Sanders over Trump (Dems’ big mistake: allowing her to hold up all other Dems for months while she pretended to make up her mind to run)


• I don’t obsess over election polls – this early. But these new WSJ/NBC, NYT/CBS and WaPo/ABC polls seem a good snapshot. Takeaway: If the Democratic Party doesn’t get its act together very soon, the 45th president of the United States will be a truth-challenged, bullying, unvetted reality show host. America’s choice

• But 53% favor a potentially unpredictable candidate who will “bring major changes to the way govt operates,” compared with 43% who want someone with “a steady approach … even if it means fewer changes.” Advantage Trump. In many ways, the WSJ/NBC poll mirrors the 2012 race between President Obama and Republican Mitt Romney

• In the May poll, Trump leads among men by 9 percentage points, compared with Romney’s 7-point advantage among men in 2012. Clinton, meanwhile, leads among women by 13 percentage points, compared with Obama’s 11-point edge in 2012. (not huge) She has 48- and 79-point leads with Hispanic and African-American voters, respectively

• In one finding that will be watched closely, Trump tops Clinton among white voters by 16 points, compared with Romney’s 20-point margin among white voters in 2012. That difference, if it persists, would be important, as white non-Hispanic voters are expected to account for about 69% of the electorate

• Perhaps the best news in the poll for Trump is that he outpaces Clinton, 46% to 43%, in the 12 most competitive presidential battleground states – states that Obama won by 1.5 percentages points in 2012. The presumptive GOP nominee does particularly well in the South and Midwest

• One revealing piece of info from the most recent NYT/CBS News poll was that 72% of Sanders supporters say they plan to vote for Clinton against Trump. That compares with 60% of Clinton supporters who said the same thing about Obama in the same poll eight years ago. Virtually all of Clinton’s supporters went on to vote for Obama (so that’s a bit of a blankey, then)


Trump: Arm the Teachers (WaPo, AP, TPM, Reuters, me)

• Donald Trump addressed the NRA’s annual meeting on Friday and vowed to eliminate gun-free zones that cover schools and military bases. In addition, “Hillary Clinton wants to abolish the Second Amendment, not change it, she wants to abolish it,” Trump said (which is a total fabrication – but who’s counting, right?)

• Clinton campaign senior policy adviser Maya Harris said Trump is peddling falsehoods and denounced “Donald Trump’s conspiracy theories.” She said Clinton believes there are “common-sense steps we can take at the federal level to keep guns out of the hands of criminals” while protecting the Second Amendment (they should use plain-speak)

• “The only way to save our Second Amendment is to vote for a person you know: Donald Trump,” the mogul said. (he’s previously supported banning assault weapons and extending background checks, but who’s counting) The NRA has lobbied in support of proposals in several states that would allow teachers and other personnel to come to work with guns (goody)

• Trump’s gun policies are “dangerous,” Clinton said Saturday at a conference to help mothers whose children or other relatives have died from shootings. “He’s talking about more guns in our schools, he’s talking about more hatred and division in our streets,” Clinton said. “That’s no way to keep us safe.”

• Trump gave a (weird) statement on Fox and Friends Sunday to Clinton’s criticism. “I don’t want to have guns in classrooms, although in some cases teachers should have guns in classrooms frankly. Because teachers are – you know – things that are going on in our schools are unbelievable.” (made it sound like teachers should be able to shoot naughty students)


• Bernie Sanders told ABC on Sunday that if he won the WH, he wouldn’t reappoint Rep Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla) as Democratic National Committee chair. He also endorsed law professor Tim Canova, who’s challenging Wasserman Schultz in the Democratic primary. Burn it down, Bernie!… (Reuters)

Clinton: Trump Candidacy Not “Normal”   (NYT, Yahoo News, Hill, me)

• Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton said on NBC Sunday that people had to confront Donald Trump now lest he successfully repackage himself for wider consumption: “I do not want Americans and, you know, good-thinking Republicans, as well as Democrats and independents, to start to believe that this is a normal candidacy.” (independent ship is setting sail, Hill)

• “There’s no evidence he has any ideas about making America great, as he advertises. He seems to be particularly focused on making himself appear great. And as we go through this campaign, we’re going to be demonstrating the hollowness of his rhetoric.” (better get on it – he’s all over your rhetoric)

• Clinton said she will listen to rival Sen Bernie Sanders (I-Vt). “Well, certainly we’re going to talk with him when he’s ready to talk, and listen to him. And we will take into account what he is asking for. I think that’s part of the process.” (does she realize how condescending that sounds? idea is to unite the party and bring Sanders supporters on board – singing kum-bern-a)

• Meanwhile, on ABC on Sunday, Sanders slammed Clinton. “We need a campaign, an election, coming up which does not have two candidates who are really very, very strongly disliked. I don’t want to see the American people voting for the lesser of two evils.” (say what now? – Lucifer in the GOP and “Evil as She Personified” in the Dems? No unity here, either)

• When George Stephanopoulos followed up by asking if he saw Clinton as “the lesser of two evils,” Sanders backed away slightly. “Well, if you look at – no, I wouldn’t describe it, but that’s what the American people are saying,” he said, citing her unfavorable ratings (actually think that’s a double down not a backing up – now he’s saying millions say it not just him)

• Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi has announced the start of a military operation to retake Falluja from ISIS. Falluja was the first city to fall to ISIS in 2014 and is one of its two remaining strongholds in Iraq. The Iraqi military said those civilians who could not flee should raise a white flag above their homes (BBC)


Pakistan: US Violated Sovereignty With Drone Strike (Reuters, me)

• Pakistan accused the U.S. on Sunday of violating its sovereignty with a drone strike against the leader of the Afghan Taliban, in perhaps the most high-profile U.S. incursion into Pakistani territory since the 2011 raid to kill Osama bin Laden. President Obama said today that the death of Mullah Akhtar Mansour marks an “important milestone” in bringing peace to Afghanistan

• Pakistan said that a passport found at the site of the strike, bearing a different name, carried a valid Iranian visa. It added that the purported passport holder was believed to have returned to Pakistan from Iran on Saturday, the day of the drone strike targeting Mansour. Pics of the passport seen by Reuters showed a passing resemblance to some available old pics of Mansour

• Two Taliban sources said the Rahbari Shura, or leadership council, met Sunday to begin considering the succession, a move that strongly suggested they accept that Mansour is dead. The meeting was expected to continue today and naming a new leader could take days or weeks, the sources said

• SIrajuddin Haqqani was seen by supporters as a strong leader who would defy the U.S. and Afghan govts, and Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob, the son of Taliban founder Mullah Mohammad Omar, a potential unifier because of his father’s name, as well as two other candidates. Meanwhile, SecState John Kerry told a presser that Mansour posed a “continuing, imminent threat”

• Efforts to broker talks between the Afghan govt and the Taliban had already been stalled after a suicide attack in Kabul last month that killed 64 people and prompted President Ashraf Ghani to prioritize military operations over negotiations. But Ghani’s office said Sunday the removal of Mansour could open the door to talks (depends. Haqqani would make things worse)


• Chewbacca Lady is the video that’s breaking the internet – she cracked me up when I was working last night – and taping Game of Thrones


Health Chief: Zika in US Next “Month Or So” (Hill, WSJ, me)

• Mosquitoes carrying the dangerous Zika virus are expected to begin infecting Americans within the U.S. in the next “month or so,” Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on ABC on Sunday. The mosquitoes are about to arrive in the U.S. More than 500 Americans have the Zika virus, he said, but all the cases are travel-related

• President Obama has pushed for Congress to pass $1.9 billion in emergency funding to tackle Zika ahead of the summer. Both chambers acted last week, with the Senate approving a bipartisan compromise of $1.1 billion and the House approving $622 million (and the bills are waaaay apart)

• “So the bottom line is, Congress needs to get me a bill,” Obama said on Friday. “It needs to get me a bill that has sufficient funds to do the job. They should not be going off on a recess before this is done.” He added that the $1.9 billion was not “from the top of our heads, this was based on public health assessments of all the work that needs to be done.”

• House Republicans have said there’s money left over from the battle against the Ebola virus that can be used to fight Zika. But Fauci called that a “spurious argument.” “We are not finished with Ebola,” he said. Using funds from Ebola to tackle Zika would be “Robbing Peter to pay Paul,” Fauci said. “And I think it’s very foolhardy to do that.”

• Both chambers are expected to be in DC this week, but then leave town the following week for a Memorial Day break. (worn out again, poor things) The chambers are trying to reconcile their bills, despite significant differences. “And understand that this is not something where we can build a wall to prevent – mosquitoes don’t go through customs,” Obama snarked on Friday


• Madonna and Stevie Wonder pay tribute to Prince at the Billboard Music Awards Sunday night (Rolling Stone)

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Victoria Jones – Editor