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.

Morning Jumpstart

  • US apologizes for “bro” swimmers
  • Trump regrets – what, exactly?
  • Emails: Clinton told FBI Colin Powell told her to do it
  • Clinton campaign goes nuclear on health rumors
  • Louisiana floods get politicized
  • Iran cash linked to prisoner release
  • DoJ to phase out some private prisons
  • Zika reported in Miami Beach
US Apologizes for “Bro” Swimmers (BBC, NYT, WaPo, me)
• The U.S. Olympic Committee has apologized for what it called the unacceptable behavior of four U.S. swimmers who falsely said they had been robbed at gunpoint in Rio. Police questioned three of the gold medal winners and say “they were not victims of the crimes they claimed.” (ringleader Ryan Lochte unheroically flew the coop and left the young ones to hold the bag)
• Two of the four – Gunnar Bentz and Jack Conger – were allowed to fly out of Rio Thursday evening. Ryan Lochte had already left (them in the lurch) and James Feigen remains in Brazil. Bentz and Conger had been taken off a plane at Rio airport on Wednesday and taken for questioning
• Lochte had initially claimed the four were robbed at gunpoint when they were returning by taxi from a club. But Rio’s civil police head Fernando Veloso said the four gold medalists hadn’t been robbed. “No robbery was committed against these athletes.” (gotta love security TV – nailed these guys)
• Making a stop around 6 am Sunday at a Shell gas station, the men were obviously drunk, the station’s owner said. They broke a soap dispenser in the bathroom, damaged a door, tore down a sign and urinated around the premises, he said. “One of them was really worked up,” said Veloso, who described Lochte, 32, as a kind of elder ringleader of the group (sooo “ugly American”)
• Veloso warned that the swimmers, who had repeatedly changed their accounts of what happened, could “in theory” face charges of giving false testimony and vandalism. The USOC statement confirmed the version of events given by Veloso (sooo want it all to go away)
• The evidence that Ryan Lochte lied – interactive – includes videos, pics and maps (NYT)
• In the midst of the confusion at the gas station, someone called the police, but by the time a police car arrived, the swimmers were gone. Witnesses, including a man who offered to translate for the swimmers, said they had offered to give money to the manager before leaving (that’s right, just buy people off. forget about the ultimate crass insult of literally peeing on them)
• The episode “has tapped into one of Brazilians’ biggest pet peeves – gringos who treat their country like a third-rate spring break destination where you can lie to the cops and get away with it,” said Brian Winter, vice president at Americas Society and Council of the Americas. Several sports columnists excoriated Lochte – WaPo’s Sally Jenkins:
• There is a special category of obnoxious American “bro” that Lochte represents, in his T-shirt and jeans and expensive suede footwear, which he showed off on social media that night at the party along with the price tag. “We’re 6k deep here,” he captioned it. Is there anything worse, in any country, than a bunch of entitled young drunks who break the furniture and pee on a wall?
• His claim to NBC that men posing as police pulled over the taxi and he heroically resisted the robbers with a gun pressed to his forehead was an especially ludicrous detail – and the very thing that drew the attention of authorities, who know full well that anyone who defies a bandit in Rio gets shot on the spot, and they don’t leave you with your cellphone (excellent point)
• Equal to his disrespect of the gas station owner and the police is Lochte’s disrespect to his fellow swimmers. First he portrayed his U.S. teammates as dropping to the ground while “I refused,” as if he alone had the temerity to remain standing. Yeah, right. This is a guy who apparently lied to his own mother. Then he flew home, leaving the younger swimmers to deal with the fallout
• Sen Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) announced Thursday he will hold a livestream next Wednesday aimed at laying out steps his support network should take to “empower a wave of progressive candidates this November and win the major upcoming fights for the values we share.” There are 2,200 meetings scheduled to be held simultaneously where supporters can tune in (TMN)
Trump Regrets – What, Exactly? (NYT, Hill, me)
• Donald Trump on Thursday expressed regret for making statements that have “caused personal pain.” “Sometimes, in the heat of debate and speaking on a multitude of issues, you don’t choose the right words or you say the wrong thing,” Trump said, using a teleprompter. “I have done that. And believe it or not, I regret it.” (no, don’t believe it – #newcampaignmanagement)
• The crowd gathered at a Charlotte, NC, convention center responded by chanting Trump’s name, and he gave them a thumbs up. “And I do regret it, particularly where it may have caused personal pain,” Trump added. “Too much is at stake for us to be consumed with these issues.” (what does that mean, be consumed? – time to move on now? – quick apology. done. dusted)
• Hillary Clinton had previously warned about the prospect of Trump trying to change his ways, concerned that voters who had been turned off by his inflammatory comments on a variety of subjects might look favorably on any tempering of Trump’s tone. “There is no other Donald Trump,” Clinton said in Florida. “What you see is what you get.”
• Trump installed pugilistic Stephen Bannon of conservative Breitbart News as chief exec of his campaign this week. Thursday, Trump appealed to African-Americans. “If African-Americans voters give Donald Trump a chance by giving me their vote, the result for them will be amazing.” The crowd, which was almost entirely white, cheered and applauded (Trump polls 0-1% with blacks)
• “We learned tonight that the speechwriter and teleprompter knows he has much for which he should apologize,” Clinton campaign spox Christina Reynolds said in a statement. “But that apology tonight is simply a well-written phrase until he tells us which of his many offensive, bullying and divisive comments he regrets – and changes his tune altogether.” (maybe doesn’t know which ones…)
Naked, life-size statues of Donald Trump were unveiled Thursday across the USA, including this one in New York. Called “The Emperor Has No Balls,” erected by anarchist collective Indecline. Sculpted by horror monster creator Ginger. “The straw that broke the camel’s back was when he made fun of the disabled reporter,” Ginger said (dear me – Trump’s personal bit is very tiny…)
Clinton Told FBI Colin Powell Advised Her to Use Private Email (NYT, AP, TMN, me)
• Hillary Clinton told federal investigators that former SecState Colin Powell suggested she use a personal email account. The information is included in notes from the FBI delivered to Congress on Tuesday, which contained details from a more than three hour interview the agency conducted with Clinton over her private email use (wow – under the bus for Colin!)
• Joe Conason first reported the conversation in his upcoming book about Bill Clinton’s postpresidency. Conversation took place during a dinner party at which Powell told Clinton to use her own email except for classified info. Clinton also asked Powell in a 2009 email exchange about his use of email while serving under former President George W. Bush
• Powell’s office in a statement said he couldn’t remember the dinner conversation. He recalled describing the system he used to her, but the statement didn’t say he suggested Clinton do the same. He said using his personal AOL account “vastly improved communications within the State Dept.” He used a secure dept computer to manage classified info, the statement said

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• Powell has said he had no choice besides using his private account as the dept didn’t have a fully functioning email system when he joined in 2001. However, by the time Clinton took office, State rules were clear that using a private server for official business was neither allowed nor encouraged because of “significant security risks.” (Powell didn’t have a server in his home)
• The House Judiciary Committee will hold hearings in September on whether Clinton lied about her use of a private email server while testifying before the House Benghazi Committee last October. A GOP source said that FBI director James Comey would likely be among those testifying (they can’t wait for another chance to rip him – they blew it last time – unprepared)
• Also Thursday, the Clinton Foundation confirmed that it would no longer accept foreign or corporate funds should Hillary Clinton win in November. Bill Clinton said the foundation would continue its work and would refocus its efforts after an overhaul that could take a year. He also said he would step down from the board of the foundation (it’s still tainted)
• Hackers targeted the computer systems of Donald Trump and Republican Party organizations as well as Democratic Party networks, sources familiar with investigations into the attacks said. The Trump campaign has hired security firm CrowdStrike. At least one Trump staff member’s email account was infected with malware in 2015 and sent malicious emails to colleagues (Reuters)
Clinton Campaign Goes Nuclear on Health Rumors (Politico, Politico, me)
• Hillary Clinton’s campaign is pushing back hard against allegations about her health amid multiple “deranged conspiracy theories,” as one top aide put it this week, as Donald Trump continues to stoke doubts about the Democratic nominee’s “mental and physical stamina.” (this is a drum beat that won’t stop)
• Trump said on Fox News’ Hannity Wednesday night, “She doesn’t really do that much. She’ll give a speech on a teleprompter and then she’ll disappear. I don’t know if she goes home [and] goes to sleep. I think she sleeps. I guess she takes a lot of weekends off.” Hannity has used his show to bring up the various (unfounded) theories around Clinton’s health
• The issue of Clinton’s health has percolated in some right wing circles since her concussion in late 2012 after her doctor said she fainted as a result of dehydration caused by a stomach virus. The Clinton campaign struck back fast Thursday, after the Trump campaign took on Steve Bannon of Breitbart, which has run multiple articles speculating wildly about her health
• Clinton chief strategist Joel Benenson said on MSNBC Thursday: “Hillary Clinton flew around the world as SecState, I should say, more than a million miles. People saw her stamina testifying against Congress for 11 hours and not wavering for one minutes. And, by the way, her health records – her doctor put out four times as much info as Donald Trump’s.”
• Asked why Trump, 70, would go after somebody who is younger than he is by more than a year, Benenson said, “Because I think he’s terribly weak right now; I think his ego is probably battered because he’s getting battered in the polls.” Trump, Benenson said, “has been unraveling since his convention.” (will be interesting to see if Trump continues or reins himself in now)

• Oooh – must-see TV: PBS’ Frontline “The Choice 2016” airing on 27 Sept – day after the first debate – here’s the full 3 minute trailer, including former Apprentice contestant Omarosa Manigault, Trump’s director of African-American outreach, saying: “More importantly, every critic, every detractor, will have to bow down to President Trump.” (ummm)

Louisiana Floods Get Politicized (NBC News, AP, me)
• President Obama is facing criticism for continuing his vacation on Martha’s Vineyard while Louisiana is reeling from its worst natural disaster since Hurricane Katrina. Last week’s rain has affected some 40,000 homes. About 30,000 people have been rescued from homes and cars. Thirteen people have died so far (optics are bad no matter he deserves time off)
• Obama declared the floods a natural disaster on Sunday and redirected federal aid to help the state recover. Homeland Security Sec Jeh Johnson visited Baton Rouge on Thursday to review the ongoing response and recovery efforts. But Baton Rouge’s local newspaper, The Advocate, wrote an editorial to Obama, saying a “hurting Louisiana needs you now.”
• Obama has “received regular updates on the situation in Louisiana, including from Governor Edwards, from FEMA administrator Craig Fugate who traveled there Tuesday, and from his Homeland Security Advisor Lisa Monaco,” the WH said in a statement. Lt Gov William Nungesser (D-La) lauded FEMA’s response during a recent NPR interview – as did The Advocate
• Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center of Politics, said, “In Obama’s defense, he may be waiting for the water to recede and first responders to do their jobs. A presidential visit brings rescue efforts to a halt and complicates the overall effort logistically. Timing is critical.” Edwards said Thursday that he would prefer Obama to “wait a week or two.”
• Donald Trump and Mike Pence are apparently unconcerned about getting in the way. A tour of flood damage for today has been hastily arranged.  Richard Carbo, spox for Gov Edwards, said Trump was welcome, “but not for a photo-op.” Instead, Carbo proposed Trump “consider volunteering or making a sizable donation to the LA Flood Relief Fund.” (ghoulish opportunism?)
• Twitter has suspended 235,000 accounts for promoting terrorism, the company announced Thursday. Twitter said daily suspensions are up over 80% since last year, with spikes in suspensions immediately following terrorist attacks, and that its response time for removing posts and suspending accounts “have all decreased dramatically.” (TMN)

 

Iran Cash Linked to Prisoner Release (WSJ, BBC, TMN, me)
• State Dept spox John Kirby said Thursday that a $400 million cash payment to Iran was used as “leverage” in the release of five U.S. prisoners. Kirby maintained the payment was negotiated separately from the release, but said it was withheld until the Americans had left Iran (hands up all those who think Iran would have let the prisoners go if they got the cash first? okaay)
• Five Americans held in Iran were released in January in exchange for seven detained Iranians. The U.S. airlifted $400 million worth of cash to Iran on the same day. The exchange came as the U.S. lifted international sanctions against Iran as part of the country’s historic nuclear deal
• The timing of both incidents has prompted an outcry from Republicans, who accuse the Obama admin of quid pro quo. The WH, however, has pushed back on claims that the U.S. paid a ransom for the release of the prisoners, saying the money was part of a longstanding financial dispute with Iran from before the 1979 Islamic Revolution (it was, but timing….)

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• “We were able to conclude multiple strands of diplomacy within a 24-hour period,” Kirby told reporters. “We deliberately leveraged that moment.” WSJ reported that U.S. officials allegedly wouldn’t let a plane containing the cash in Geneva leave for Iran until a Swiss Air Force plane with three of the U.S. citizens on board left Tehran
• Kirby reaffirmed the WH claim that the payment was part of $1.7 billion owed to Iran in a military equipment deal made with the U.S.-backed Shah in the 1970s. The equipment was never delivered before the shah was overthrown in 1979. President Obama had agreed to return the $400 million with $1.3 billion in interest
• Kirby added the U.S. had “concerns” that Iran may recant on its pledge to return the prisoners, which it why it waited to release the payment. “It would have been foolish, imprudent and irresponsible for us not to try and maintain maximum leverage,” he said. “So if you’re asking me was there a connection in that regard in the end game? I’m not going to deny that.”

• Sen Mark Kirk (R-Ill), chair of the Senate Banking national security subcommittee, is demanding congressional hearings on the issue. This, he said, was “the only way for the American people to fully know whether their tax dollars went directly to Iran’s terrorist Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.” (Guard Corps has been known to rip off cash… massive shocker there…)

• A State Dept investigation has failed to discover why an eight-minute segment was edited out of a publicly posted press briefing at which the agency’s chief spox was being questioned about whether the Obama admin sought to mislead the public about secret nuclear negotiations with Iran. Reporters at Thursday’s press briefing erupted in disbelief and amazement (Politico)

 

DoJ to Phase Out Some Private Prisons (NBC News, Politico, me)
• The Justice Dept said Thursday that it will phase out its use of private contractors to run federal prisons. Deputy AG Sally Yates said privately run prisons don’t provide the same level of correctional services or save on costs. And in a memo to prison officials, she said, “They do not maintain the same level of safety and security.”
• Thursday’s decision follows last week’s report from the dept’s IG that said privately run prisons had more safety and security incidents – including 28% more assaults by inmates on each other and twice as many by inmates on prison staff – than those operated by the Bureau of Prisons (those are really bad numbers)
• The federal govt began using private prison contractors in 1997 as the inmate population expanded rapidly.They now house about 12% of the total federal inmate population. States that rely on private prison contractors aren’t affected by the DoJ’s move. The private corrections industry is now a $3.3 billion a year business
• “Private prisons served an important role,” Yates said in responding to the rapid rise in the inmate population. “But time has shown that they compare poorly to our own Bureau facilities.” And she said with the number of inmates now dropping, there’s less need for using outside contractors
• Sen Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) hailed the decision. “The Justice Dept’s plan to end its use of private prisons is an important step in the right direction. It is exactly what I campaigned on as a candidate for president,” Sanders said in a statement. “Our focus should be on keeping people out of jail and making sure they stay out when they are released.”

• Utterly heartbreaking to watch: a five-year-old boy was rescued from rubble after an airstrike in Aleppo on Wednesday. The boy was IDd by a doctor as Omran Daqneesh. He was treated for head wounds but later discharged. Images of Omran have gone viral after being shared on social media (but what will this change any time soon? nothing) (WSJ, me)

Zika Reported in Miami Beach (NYT, Medicalexpress, me)

• A cluster of Zika cases most likely transmitted by local mosquitoes has been identified in Miami Beach, an anonymous health official said Thursday. Health authorities are trying to decide whether to designate a section of the bustling tourist city as a zone of active Zika transmission, and whether to advise pregnant women to avoid the area

• The health official said that there are “a handful of cases” of likely local transmission that involve people who were in “close proximity to each other.” Neither the CDC nor the Florida Dept of Health had released info on the cases or the location in Miami Beach – maybe today

• To date, only a one-square mile section of Wynwood in Miami has been declared an active Zika transmission zone in the U.S., and the CDC has advised pregnant women to stay out of the area

• New research in mice from scientists at The Rockefeller University and La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology suggests that certain adult brain cells may be vulnerable to infection from Zika – that’s in addition to damage to brains of developing fetuses. So Zika may be more harmful to adults than previously thought

• Among these are populations of cells that serve to replace lost or damaged neurons throughout adulthood, and are also thought to be critical to learning and memory. More research is needed to determine if this damage has long-term biological implications or the potential to affect behavior

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Victoria Jones – Editor
News is news
Comments are mine

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