The Daily Briefing
Herman Cain Daily Briefing for Thursday, 2-25-2016
SUPREME COURT NOMINEE UPDATE Former federal judge and current Nevada Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval is being considered by President Obama for appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court.
o The source, who asked not to be identified, said Sandoval met on Monday in the U.S. Capitol with Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid, at which time Reid asked the governor whether he would be interested in being considered for the high court job.
o "He said he was interested," the source said of Sandoval, adding that "a number of people are being checked out" for the job.
o An intense political fight has erupted since the Feb. 13 after the death of long-serving Justice Antonin Scalia. The Republican-dominated Senate must confirm any high court nominee.\
REPUBLICANS DEBATE TONIGHT The action kicks off from the Moores’ Opera House in Houston, Texas at 8:30 p.m. ET.
o The debate will air on CNN and we’re down to five candidates: Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, John Kasich and Ben Carson.
STOCK MARKET U.S. stocks mounted a late-session rally to close higher yesterday after an increase in oil prices that helped reduce investors' fears about banks' vulnerability to energy companies struggling to pay their debts.
o Nine of the 10 major S&P sectors rose, with the materials index .SPLRCM up 0.99 percent.
o The S&P energy sector .SPNY gained 0.9 percent, trimming its loss in 2016 to 27 percent after U.S. crude futures settled nearly 1 percent higher.
o Crude prices ended near 2003 lows have hammered the earnings of U.S. energy companies after exacerbated fears of a slowing global economy and new turbulence on Wall Street that has left the S&P 500 almost 6 percent weaker since the start of the year.
FIRST U.N. AIRDROP The UN says it has carried out its first air drop of aid in Syria to help civilians in an eastern city besieged by ISIS
o UN aid chief Stephen O'Brien told the Security Council that the plane dropped 21 tons of humanitarian items on a government-held part of Deir al-Zour.
o The UN says 200,000 civilians are living under siege in Deir al-Zour.
o In a recent report, the UN said those trapped in the besieged areas were facing "sharply deteriorating conditions" with reports of "severe cases of malnutrition and deaths due to starvation".
o Last week, more than 100 convoys carrying food and other basic goods reached 80,000 people in five other besieged areas of Syria. Two more convoys were sent to two towns besieged by government forces on Tuesday.
COLIN POWELL AND GUANTANAMO BAY Former Secretary of State Colin Powell is siding with President Obama when it comes to closing Guantanamo Bay, arguing that shutting it down is in the "best interest" of the nation.
o "Do we really need to keep this place open for 50 remaining detainees who we can easily move to a secure facility in the United States?" Powell asked on MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports."
o "I think it's in the best interest in the nation and it's in the best interest in our moral authority around the world," he added.
o Meanwhile, House Speaker Paul Ryan on Wednesday said that Republicans are taking legal steps to prevent the White House from closing the U.S. prison facility in Cuba — a plan announced by the administration Tuesday.
o Lawmakers have the votes to block Obama's proposal in Congress and enough votes to override any veto, Ryan told reporters. Separately, the Wisconsin Republican said the GOP is "preparing our legal challenge" to ensure the prison remains open and detainees aren't moved to the U.S.
o "These detainees cannot come to American soil," Ryan warned.
NO ONE CARES ABOUT BLOOMERG: POLL FINDS Only seven percent of registered voters in the U.S. say they would vote for former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg for president, according to a Associated Press-Gfk poll.
o The poll, however, found that 61 percent of Democratic voters said they wouldn't vote for him, as did 63 percent of Republican voters. Nearly a third, meanwhile, said they would consider it.
o Thirty-four percent said they view Bloomberg unfavorably and 20 percent said they view him favorably. A quarter of Democrats view him favorably compared to 16 percent of Republicans who share that view.
o Bloomberg's lack of traction might have something to do with name recognition. Forty-four percent of people surveyed said they don't know much about him.
HARRY REID Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid is supporting Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race.
o "I think the middle class would be better served by Hillary," Reid told CNN.
o "I also think she's the woman to be the first president of the United States that's a female," he added.
o Reid's backing comes days after Clinton defeated Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Nevada caucuses on Saturday, her second win in the first three contests Sanders won the New Hampshire primary overwhelmingly.
HILLARY’S EMAILS U.S. spy agencies have told Congress that Hillary Clinton's home computer server contained some emails that should have been treated as "top secret" because their wording matched sections of some of the government's most highly classified documents.
o The two reports are the first formal declarations by U.S. spy agencies detailing how they believe Clinton violated government rules when highly classified information was exposed in at least 22 email messages that passed through her unsecured home server.
o The agency reports found some emails included passages that closely tracked or mirrored communications marked "top secret," according to the sources, who all requested anonymity. In some cases, additional classification markings meant access was supposed to be limited to small groups of specially cleared officials.
o Under the law and government rules, U.S. officials and contractors may not transmit any classified information not only documents outside secure, government-controlled channels. Such information should not be sent even through the government's .gov email network.
o The front-runner for the Democratic nomination for president and former secretary of state has insisted she broke no rules. Clinton's lawyer, David Kendall, did not respond to a request for comment. Clinton campaign spokespeople did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
ISIS A new video purportedly made by supporters of ISIS makes direct threats against Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey for combating terrorism on their Internet platforms.
o The 25-minute propaganda video was released by a group calling itself "the sons of the Caliphate army." In it, photographs of both technology leaders are targeted by bullets. The video was spotted by Vocativ deep web analysts on the social media service Telegram, which is reportedly used by ISIS.
o The extremist group says it's responding to growing efforts by Facebook and Twitter to suspend accounts and remove posts that they say incite violence and promote terrorism.
o The video shows hackers changing profile accounts and posting Islamic State propaganda. They allege they have hacked more than 10,000 Facebook accounts, more than 150 Facebook groups and more than 5,000 Twitter profiles. "Many of these accounts have been given to supporters," the video says.
UPDATE: FLINT WATER CRISIS Senators from both parties reached a tentative deal to address the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, where lead-contaminated pipes have resulted in an ongoing public health emergency.
o A proposal by Sens. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich and James Inhofe, R-Okla., would authorize $100 million in emergency aid to fix and replace the city's lead-contaminated pipes, as well as $70 million in loans to improve its water infrastructure. The deal also authorizes $50 million nationwide to bolster lead-prevention programs and improve children's health.
o Supporters said the deal would rely on federal credit subsidies to provide incentives for up to $700 million in loan guarantees and other financing for water infrastructure projects across the country.
o Inhofe, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, called the deal "the fiscally responsible thing to do, not only for Flint but also for the entire nation facing a water infrastructure crisis."
GASOLINE GLUT Refineries in the U.S. Midwest are losing their thirst for oil, posing a new risk for the battered oil market.
o The Midwest accounts for nearly a quarter of the crude processed in the U.S. and is home to shale producers which have few other outlets for their oil. But refiners there are already swimming in gasoline and other fuel, forcing them to cut back production until the excess can be worked off.
o The result has been more crude oil available in the market, worsening a glut that has been undermining oil prices for the past year and a half.
APPLE VS. THE FBI Apple CEO Tim Cook said that complying with a court order to help the FBI break into an iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooters would be "bad for America," and set a legal precedent that would offend many Americans.
o "Some things are hard, and some things are right, and some things are both - this is one of those things," Cook told ABC News in his first interview since the court order came down last week.
o Cook also said there should have been more dialogue with the Obama administration before the U.S. Justice Department's decision to seek relief from a federal magistrate judge in California.
CARSON SAYS OBAMA ‘WAS RAISED WHITE’ Dr. Ben Carson said that Barack Obama was “raised white” and can’t understand the African-American experience the way he can.
o “He’s an ‘African’ American. He was, you know, raised white,” he told a Politico podcast. “I mean, like most Americans, I was proud that we broke the color barrier when he was elected, but … he didn’t grow up like I grew up … Many of his formative years were spent in Indonesia. So, for him to, you know, claim that, you know, he identifies with the experience of black Americans, I think, is a bit of a stretch.”
o He continued, “The fact of the matter is he did not grow up in black America, he grew up in white America, doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just that when the claim is made that he represents the black experience, it’s just not true.”
SALT SHOWDOWN A New York state supreme court judge upheld New York City’s move to put high-salt labels on restaurant menus, saying the city’s Board of Health didn’t overstep its authority in requiring the warnings.
o The rule requires restaurants with 15 or more locations to post warnings on menus and menu boards next to items that contain at least 2,300 milligrams of sodium, which is the daily limit determined by the federal government. The warnings appear as salt-shaker icons.
o “I believe information is power,” said Judge Eileen Rakower, in Manhattan State Supreme Court. The salt regulation is unlike the city’s move to restrict the sale of larger, sugary-drinks, she said, because it merely provides a warning.
o That case “actually banned certain sales,” she added, in reference to the soda rule which was struck down by a court. “In this case, we are providing information.”
IRAN Iran's top leader warned voters the West was plotting to influence elections pitting centrists close to President Hassan Rouhani against conservative hardliners in a contest that could shape the Islamic Republic for years to come.
o In remarks reflecting an abiding mistrust of Rouhani's rapprochement with the West, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said he was confident Iranians would vote in favor of keeping Iran's anti-Western stance on Friday in the first elections since last year's nuclear accord with world powers.
o Rouhani's allies, who hope the deal will hasten Iran's opening up to the world after years of sanctions, have come under increasing pressure in the election campaign from hardliners who accuse them of links to Western powers including the United States and Britain.
o Those accusations seek to tap into Iranians' wariness of Western motives and memories of a 1953 coup against nationalist prime minister Mohammad Mossadegh that was orchestrated by the United States and Britain and strengthened the Shah's rule.
o Rouhani denied accusations from hardliners that the candidates close to him were affiliated with Western powers, calling it an insult to the intelligence of Iranians.
TRUMP’S FIRST CONGRESSIONAL ENDORSEMENTS After winning his third consecutive GOP primary contest Tuesday in Nevada, Donald Trump has landed his first congressional endorsements, the latest sign members of the Republican political establishment are coming to terms with the New York businessman securing the GOP presidential nomination.
o Rep. Chris Collins, R-New York, a wealthy former businessman from upstate New York, said in a statement this morning that Trump "understands the importance of American exceptionalism, and has the unique qualifications to make America great again."
o Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-California, told Politico this morning that he will support Trump’s bid for the GOP nomination for president, a message aimed at GOP primary voters and his own colleagues in Congress who have been reluctant to acknowledge Trump’s rise.
RISING SEA LEVELS Researchers have estimated, using tidal data and reconstructive techniques, that in the absence of global warming, 20th century sea levels likely would have either receded three centimeters or climbed seven centimeters.
o Instead, sea levels appear to have risen by 14 centimeters, or about 5.5 inches, in the past century. About half of observed sea level gains between 1900 and 2000 are likely due to human activity and industrialization, the scientists determined.
OBAMACARE FRAUD With billions in taxpayer dollars at stake, the Obama administration has taken a "passive" approach to identifying potential fraud involving the president's health care law.
o While the Government Accountability Office stopped short of alleging widespread cheating in President Barack Obama's signature program, investigators found that the administration has struggled to resolve eligibility questions affecting millions of initial applications and hundreds of thousands of consumers who were actually approved for benefits.
o The agency administering the health law the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services "have assumed a passive approach to identifying and preventing fraud," the GAO report said. In a formal written response, the administration agreed with eight GAO recommendations while maintaining that it applies "best practices" to fraud control.
o Release of the report came as the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing on the Department of Health and Human Services budget.
GOV. PERRY IS FREE Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry was cleared of all criminal charges against him related to allegations he misused his power while in office.
o In a 6-2 ruling, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals dismissed the abuse-of-power charge that had loomed over the former Republican governor -- including during his short-lived presidential campaign, which ended last September.
o The charge was filed after Perry threatened – and then carried out – a veto of state funding for a group of public corruption prosecutors after the Democratic head of the unit refused to resign.
o In the ruling , the court said veto power cannot be restricted by the courts and that prosecution of a veto “violates separations of powers.”
o Perry’s lawyer, Tony Buzbee, told The Associated Press it is “a shame that it took that long to get something as weak and misguided as this to be dismissed.”
o Perry, the longest-serving governor in Texas history, left office in January 2015 while facing the felony indictment handed down the previous summer by a grand jury in Austin, a liberal bastion in otherwise mostly deeply conservative Texas.
o The former governor made just one court appearance in the case, which stems from 2013, when he publicly threatened to veto the $7.5 million in state funding for Public Integrity Unit prosecutors. Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, who headed the investigative group, had rebuffed Perry's calls to resign after she was convicted and jailed for drunken driving.
P.R.A.Y./Right Problems Right Solutions for Thursday, 2-25-2016
TEXAS POLLING Ted Cruz has a wide lead over Donald Trump in Texas ahead of his home state's GOP presidential primary on Super Tuesday, according to a new poll.
o Cruz commands a 15-point edge over Trump in the Houston Public Media/University of Houston survey released Wednesday. That's in contrast to a separate survey releasedWednesday, which showed Trump trailing Cruz by 1 point. Cruz topped the billionaire 29 percent to 28 percent in the Emerson College poll released earlier that morning.
o The Real Clear Politics average of Texas polls shows Cruz about 5 points ahead in the Lonestar State.
o About 35 percent of likely Texas Republican primary voters plan on backing Cruz, pollsters found in the Houston Public Media survey. Trump ranks second with 20 percent, followed by 8 percent for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and 7 percent for retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson.
SPIKE LEE Spike Lee has endorsed ‘brother’ Bernie Sanders in a new radio ad.
o “Wake up. Wake up, South Carolina!” Mr. Lee begins – nodding to the opening of his 1989 film “Do the Right Thing” – in a 60-second commercial released on Tuesday in the state, where the Democratic presidential primary is on Saturday.
o Mr. Lee, who has spent his career making films about race and discrimination, may help Mr. Sanders as he struggles to cut into Hillary Clinton’s support from black voters.
o “I know that you know the system is rigged. For too long we have given our vote to corporate puppets,” he says, echoing Mr. Sanders’s crusade against a “rigged economy.”
MITT ROMNEY’S WORRIED ABOUT DONALD TRUMP Mitt Romney, the GOP's 2012 nominee for president, has called on all candidates to release their past taxes, but also said he thinks there's a "bombshell" in front-runner Donald Trump's returns.
o "Either he's not as anywhere near as wealthy as he says he is or he hasn't been paying the kind of taxes we would expect him to pay, or perhaps he hasn't been giving money to the vets or to the disabled like he's been telling us he's been doing," Romney said on Fox News Channel's "Your World with Neil Cavuto."
o "The reason that I think there's a bombshell in there is because every time he's asked about his taxes he dodges and delays and says, 'well, we're working on it,'" said Romney, who was criticized for the low tax rate he paid when he released his own tax returns during the 2012 race.
KASICH TELLS PEOPLE TO CHILL OUT Ohio Gov. John Kasich said those calling on him to end his presidential run need to "chill out" and made the case he is the GOP candidate with the best chance at defeating Donald Trump in the primary.
o "If I get out, which I'm not going to do, Trump is absolutely going to be the nominee," Kasich told reporters after a town hall here. "End of story."
o "I'm telling ya - I'm going to stay in for a long time. I'm going all the way," he continued. Kasich said he believes he will gather enough delegates to win, and claimed he has the best chance of any candidate to defeat Trump key upcoming primaries — like the one in his home state of Ohio on March 15.
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