Thursday, March 24, 2016

Good morning everyone! Happy Thursday to you!

Joining today's show are Nicolle Wallace, Steve Rattner, Richard Haass, Mark Halperin, Michael Steele, Elise Jordan, Walter Isaacson, Mike Barnicle, Robert Costa, Steve Kornacki, Sen. Lindsey Graham, Karl Vick, Thomas Sanderson, Hallie Jackson, Rep. Keith Ellison, Sara Eisen and more...Terps Ready for Sweet 16 Matchup, Many reactions to the brusssels Attacks. Victims have been identified, many still missing following bombings in Brussels, Dikembe Mutombo, 3x victim Mason Wells headline witnesses. Manhunt for suspect in Brussels attacks. Brussels Attacks Linked to Paris Cell. Brussels attack suspects named as manhunt intensifies. Police comb Belgian capital for third suspect as prosecutor says two bombers were brothers involved in organised crime. After Brussels Terror Attack, Obama Says No Need for a 'Plan B' Against ISIS. Obama Just Shut Down Ted Cruz’s Terrible Ideas To Combat ISIS. TATP explosives likely used by Brussels attackers. Windy landing in Oklahoma City. Cruz jokes about backing from Lindsey Graham, who 'called for my murder'. And, Ryan slams 'ugliness' in politics amid Trump-driven chaos.

Manhunt for suspect in Brussels attacks.
The manhunt for a suspect in the deadly attacks at an airport and subway station in Brussels is under way. Belgian police say a man seen in surveillance footage pushing an airport baggage trolley alongside a pair of suicide bombers remains at large. Yahoo News is covering the latest developments in the live blog below.
Brussels Attacks Linked to Paris Cell. Two suicide bombers identified as brothers; manhunt in Belgium continues for other suspects. 
People write messages at Place de la Bourse in Brussels following attacks in the city on March 22, 2016. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks, according to the terror group’s official Amaq news agency, saying they were carried out against ‘a country participating in the international coalition against the Islamic State.’
Authorities identified two suicide bombers who hit the airport and subway here as brothers with criminal pasts, and began to trace a clear line between their plot and the terrorists behind the November killings in Paris.

The Belgian capital was on high alert a day after at least 31 people were killed and more than 300 wounded in the coordinated attacks, which came just days after investigators in Brussels thought they had made a breakthrough in their fight against a violent Islamic State cell by capturing the last suspected Paris attacker alive.

Police are hunting for a third, unidentified man at the airport who they say dropped off explosives Tuesday before leaving the scene. And a cryptic note that investigators believe was written by one of the brothers suggested other members of the terror cell may be on the loose.

Officials were trying to determine whether Najim Laachraoui—who French investigators believe built the explosive vests used last year in Paris—was the second man who blew himself up in the airport check-in hall.

Late Wednesday, some local media reported that Mr. Laachraoui’s body had been identified, citing unidentified police sources. Prosecutors couldn’t immediately be reached to confirm.

Belgium, which has a sizable minority population of North African descent, has become a central hub for terrorist activity in Europe and criticism of its ability to hunt down and arrest radicals before they attack is rising.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday said Turkey last summer had detained one of the suicide bombers, but he was eventually set free because “Belgium wasn’t able to make the terrorism connection.”

Turkish officials said that was 29-year-old Ibrahim el-Bakraoui, whom Belgian prosecutors had just identified Wednesday as one of the two men who blew themselves up at Brussels Airport, as well as the author of the warning note.
Officials in Brussels said Mr. Bakraoui didn’t raise alarms at the time because he had a criminal record only.

Interior Minister Jan Jambon defended Belgium’s police work. “I think we are doing what is necessary—but 100% guaranteed security, no one can grant that,” he said.

Federal prosecutor Frédéric Van Leeuw also identified the subway bomber as Mr. Bakraoui’s brother Khalid, 27. The brothers were identified through fingerprints, he said.

The younger brother was convicted four times for various crimes, including carjacking with a gun in 2011. The other brother’s record wasn’t immediately available.

Aside from the possible Laachraoui connection, investigators made some progress in tying the Brussels bombings to the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris—raising tough questions on how the same cell could once again cause terrible bloodshed, despite months of police sweeps and intelligence-gathering.

A Belgian official said Khalid’s name was on the lease of a Brussels apartment raided last week, where Belgian and French police found the fingerprints of Salah Abdeslam. Mr. Abdeslam is suspected of being the last surviving operative directly involved in the Paris attacks.

Mr. Abdeslam was arrested Friday in another apartment in the Brussels district of Molenbeek, close to where he had grown up. He has been charged with committing “terrorist murders” and participating in a terrorist organization. His lawyer has acknowledged he was in Paris on the night of the attacks and says he is cooperating with investigators.

It was the taxi driver who took Ibrahim and his accomplices to Brussels Airport who enabled investigators to identify the Bakraouis.

In a raid that lasted more than 12 hours on Tuesday, investigators found 15 kilograms (33 pounds) of TATP explosives, 150 liters (40 gallons) of acetone, 30 liters of hydrogen peroxide, detonators and a suitcase filled with screws and bolts, as well as an Islamic State flag, he said.

Down that same street, police found a laptop in a trash can that contained what Mr. Van Leeuw described as Ibrahim’s will. In it, he wrote that he was in a state of “haste,” “not knowing what to do anymore.” He wrote of being “sought everywhere” and “not being safe,” said Mr. Van Leeuw.

In the wake of the Brussels airport and subway terrorist attacks, Belgian authorities are scouring the city for Najim Laachraoui. They say he helped in the Paris rampages, and is part of the network suspected of carrying out Tuesday’s attacks. WSJ’s Jason Bellini reports.
The same message contained a sentence that could be read as a reference to Mr. Abdeslam—and possibly a warning of more assailants on the run. “If they go on for too long, they risk ending up next to him in a cell,” Mr. Bakraoui wrote, according to the prosecutor.

The prosecutor didn’t say who Mr. Bakraoui might have been referring to. But authorities had warned Islamic State could try to retaliate after the capture of Mr. Abdeslam.

The prosecutor said they were questioning one person detained in another search Tuesday evening in Schaerbeek, which like Molenbeek has a large Muslim population.

In a photo from the airport released by police, three men are seen pushing luggage carts. The two who died wore dark tops and dark gloves on their left hands, which may have allowed them to hide detonators. The third man, who is still on the run, didn’t wear gloves and was dressed in light colors, with a dark floppy hat.

This screengrab, released by the federal police, shows three suspects of Tuesday attacks at Brussels Airport. ENLARGE
This screengrab, released by the federal police, shows three suspects of Tuesday attacks at Brussels Airport.

Mr. Van Leeuw said the man with the hat was the fugitive who dropped off the largest bag of explosives in the departure hall and left. That bag didn’t detonate when the other two bombs went off, likely limiting further bloodshed.

In two hospitals outside Brussels, forensic investigators were working to identify the victims, trying to match remains with fingerprints and DNA provided by families and foreign authorities.

Didier Reynders, the Belgian foreign minister, said there were likely more than 40 different nationalities among the victims, given where the blasts took place.
In Brussels, some roads were closed, snarling traffic, and security was increased on the subway and at some tram stations. The Brussels airport said it would be closed to passenger flights at least through Friday.

Several schools reported that many parents were keeping their children home. At a high school in the residential neighborhood of Ixelles where a police officer stood guard, only around half of the students had shown up by 8:30 a.m., according to co-principal Marie-Aline Dath.
She said teachers would spend much of Wednesday trying to help their students make sense of what had happened, for instance by writing a song or rap verses about their feelings. “It won’t be a normal day,” she said. —Dion Nissenbaum in Istanbul and Matthias Verbergt and Inti Landauro contributed to this article.

Brussels attack suspects named as manhunt intensifies. Police comb Belgian capital for third suspect as prosecutor says two bombers were brothers involved in organised crime.

A massive manhunt is under way for a suspect seen with two supposed suicide bombers shortly before they struck Brussels' airport in the first of two attacks that also hit the city's metro, killing 31 people and wounding 261.

Belgian Federal Prosecutor Frederic Van Leeuw said on Wednesday that Brahim el-Bakraoui was part of the twin suicide bombings at the Zaventem airport, while his brother, Khalid, blew himself up on a metro carriage at Maelbeek station.

A CCTV image from the Brussels Airport shows the suspects of the Brussels airport attack [Reuters]
Brahim, pictured in the middle of a surveillance photo at the airport, had been identified using fingerprint records, Van Leeuw said. 

The second airport suicide bomber, on the left of the picture, has not been identified. The third suspect, who left the airport before the explosions, is also not yet identified and remained on the run, Van Leeuw said.

The prosecutor also confirmed that police had carried out raids following Tuesday morning's attacks, including at an address associated with the suspects after a tip-off by a taxi driver who drove the attackers to the airport.

During a house search in the Brussels neighbourhood of Schaerbeek, investigators found 15 kilos of explosives, detonators and chemical products, Van Leeuw said.

Police also found a computer in a rubbish container in the street that included a note by Brahim, the airport bomber, in which he said he felt increasingly unsafe and feared landing in prison.

"Always on the run, not knowing what to do any more, being looked for everywhere, not being safe any longer," the prosecutor quoted Brahim's note as saying.

Van Leeuw said that one person arrested in one of the raids remained in custody on Wednesday and is being questioned.

The prosecutor spoke shortly after crowds of mourners gathered outside Maelbeek station, one of the targets of the attacks, to observe a minute of silence.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) claimed responsibility for the attacks.

"This is a day of tragedy, a black day," Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said, describing the bombings as the "deadliest attacks we have ever seen in Belgium".

But as Belgium began three days of national mourning on Wednesday, he insisted that the country would not be cowed by the "blind, violent and cowardly" attacks.

People gather and light candles at the Place de la Bourse during a vigil to pay tribute to the victims of the attacks [EPA]
Belgian authorities released pictures of two of the suspects pushing trolleys with their bombs through the terminal and said that they were "actively searching" for a third man whose explosives did not go off.

Police helicopters hovered over the city late into the night on Tuesday and raids were carried out across Belgium, prosecutors said, adding that a bomb, an ISIL flag and chemicals had been found in one apartment.

Police were going door-to-door throughout Brussels searching for suspects or others planning attacks. The interior minister said 600 additional police were deployed.

#BrusselsAttacks: Grief, Islam and double standards

Al Jazeera's Dominic Kane, reporting from Brussels, said many in the country were asking whether the attacks represented a continuing threat.

Europe on high alert after Brussels attacks. "Belgians feel this is something they'll now have to get used to ... the editor of a prominent Belgian news outlet wrote that she believed this was something that was becoming part of the system.

"[She said] this was something people have to get used to and have to explain to their children that there is a threat and life has changed."

Kane said that there was also a sense that the blasts were a calculated attack on European institutions and the "fabric of Europe".

On social media, thousands of people shared images of beloved Belgian cartoon character Tintin in tears.

The explosions struck at the heart of European officialdom where NATO headquarters is based, along with the European Union, and European Commission.  

Witnesses at the airport and metro station described scenes of horror immediately after the bombings.

"When I heard the first explosion, lots of people started screaming and running," Tom, an intern working at the airport, told Al Jazeera.

"When I heard the second explosion, which was about 30 seconds after the first one, everything got chaotic. I could see panic on everyone’s face, blood on their bodies."

The Interior Ministry raised the country's terrorism alert to the highest level after the blasts. 

Belgium has been on high alert since the arrest in Brussels last week of Salah Abdeslam, a key suspect in last November's Paris attacks that left 130 people dead. 

Governments in Europe and beyond quickly responded to the Brussels attacks, calling emergency national security meetings and stepping up controls at airports and other sensitive sites.  

Victims have been identified, many still missing following bombings in Brussels.Names, photos and information about victims of the bomb attacks in Brussels have been circulating as families desperately search for word of their loved ones.

Two Belgians, a Peruvian woman, and an unidentified Moroccan woman were the first to be publicly confirmed dead. A number of missing persons have been announced. An Italian woman is currently being looked at as another victim.

Adelma Tapia Ruiz, 36, was the first to be identified. She was the mother of 3-year-old twin daughters, originally from Peru. She had lived in Brussels for nine years and was traveling to New York to see family when a bomb exploded at the airport. 

"It's very complicated to describe this pain that we're feeling at home," her brother wrote on Facebook after her death.

The name of the second victim was released at midday Wednesday as Brussels-born law student Leopold Hecht of Saint-Louis University.
Brussels terror attacks: Dikembe Mutombo, 3x victim Mason Wells headline witnesses
The attacks on Brussels have left at least 30 dead and 270 wounded. In the aftermath, on-the-ground witnesses are now coming forward to help piece together what happened in trying to make sense of this disaster. 

Among them was NBA legend Dikembe Mutombo, who was taking a nap in the passenger lounge of Brussels Airport when he suddenly woke to the sounds of people running and screaming. After initially thinking it was some kind of joke, he says he grabbed his bag and ran when he heard calls to evacuate, and that people were hurt and bleeding. He later posted on Facebook to let everyone know he was safe. 

Another notable victim present was 19-year-old Mason Wells of Utah, a Mormon missionary who was in the departure lounge with friends when the airport blasts struck. Wells was hit with shrapnel, and suffered a ruptured achilles tendon, as well as second and third degree burns on his face and hands.
Frank Barat in Brussels: Response to Attacks Should Not Be More War

Belgium has begun three days of mourning after at least 31 people died and over 230 were injured Tuesday in bombings targeting the Brussels Airport and a crowded subway station near the headquarters of the European Union. ISIS took responsibility for the Brussels bombings and claimed more would follow. The bombings took place just days after authorities arrested Salah Abdeslam, a suspect in the November Paris attacks that killed 130 people. A massive manhunt is underway for a 24-year-old Belgium man named Najim Laachraoui, who is suspected of being involved in Tuesday’s attack as well as the Paris bombings. Over the past decade, hundreds of young Belgian men have left their home to fight with ISIS and other militant groups in the Middle East. We speak to three guests about the Brussels attack and how Belgium should respond: Frank Barat in Brussels, journalist Joshua Hersh and Yasser Louati of the the Collective Against Islamophobia in France.

Joshua Hersh on Brussels Attacks & Radicalization in Belgium
Joshua Hersh is a New York based journalist who reported from Brussels following the Paris attacks in November. He wrote a piece headlined “What They Missed: The Anti-Terror Raid That Asked All The Wrong Questions.” At the time he was the BuzzFeed News Michael Hastings Fellow.

Yasser Louati Slams Cruz & Trump's Response To Brussels Bombings

Following the Belgium attacks, Ted Cruz issued a statement saying, "We need to immediately halt the flow of refugees from countries with a significant al Qaida or ISIS presence. We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized." We speak to Yasser Louati, spokesperson and head of the International Relations Desk for the Collective Against Islamophobia in France.
After Brussels Terror Attack, Obama Says No Need for a 'Plan B' Against ISIS. A day after terrorists launched a wave of bomb blasts in Belgium's capital, President Barack Obama was faced with questions Wednesday over whether the deadly attacks have made him rethink his strategy on crushing ISIS — and if he has a "plan B."

His answers emphasized what he sees as recent successes in the fight to dismantle the terror group, vowing that it would ultimately be destroyed.

But with scores dead and wounded in the heart of Europe's de facto capital, the president brushed aside critics who say his strategy against ISIS is too cautious against an enemy keen on slaughtering civilians.

Related: Obama to Cruz: Singling Out Muslims 'Makes No Sense'

"What I have been clear about is when it comes to defending the United States or its allies and our core interests, I will not hesitate to use military force where necessary," Obama said, deflecting criticism that he's been too reluctant to deploy U.S. troops on the battlefield.

"But how we do that is important. We don't just go ahead and blow something up just so that we can go back home and say we blew something up," said the president, who is making his first official state visit to Argentina.

He would not directly answer a question about whether more attacks are inevitable. But defeating ISIS, which has claimed responsibility for the coordinated carnage in Paris last November as well as in Brussels, is the most pressing issue, he said.

"It is the top priority of my national security team. It is the top priority of our military. It is the top priority of our intelligence officers. It is the top priority of our diplomats," he said. "But we are approaching this in a way that has a chance of working — and it will work."

The Obama administration's strategy to dismantle ISIS continues to be an extremely sensitive issue during America's increasingly contentious election cycle.

In recent weeks, the president and his administration have been trumpeting what they insist has been a turning point in the campaign against ISIS: Retaking 40 percent of the territory ISIS captured in Iraq and Syria; coordinating some 10,000 airstrikes, leaving the leadership "hunkered down"; and reducing the flow of foreign fighters transiting back and forth between Europe and ISIS-held territory.

And Obama has been unsparing in his counterattacks on Republicans such as Donald Trump, who has controversially called for a wall to be built along the border with Mexico and the banning of Muslims from entering the United States.

While in Argentina, Obama also took a swipe at GOP presidential nominee Sen. Ted Cruz, who wants more aggressive patrolling and monitoring of Muslim neighborhoods in America.

"As far as the notion of having surveillance of neighborhoods where Muslims are present, I just left a country that engages in that kind of neighborhood surveillance, which, by the way, the father of Sen. Cruz escaped for America, the land of the free," Obama said, referring to Cuba, where he had traveled from following a historic trip.

"The notion that we would start down that slippery slope makes absolutely no sense," he added. "It's contrary to who we are."

Administration officials, meanwhile, said there was no plan to change the president's itinerary and return to Washington, D.C., as the hunt for those responsible for the Brussels attacks intensifies. He plans to travel Thursday with the first lady and their daughters to the Patagonia region in the southern part of Argentina, a popular tourist destination known for its crystal clear lakes and panoramic mountains, for a day of leisure activities before returning home.

On Tuesday, Obama faced criticism for attending a baseball game in Cuba with President Raul Castro hours after the deadly terror attacks in Europe.

"It's very important for us not to respond with fear," Obama said, responding to the criticism.

He noted Boston's response to the marathon bombings in 2013, saying the people "taught us a lesson" by grieving and apprehending the bombers. In a few days, "folks went out shopping" and filled Fenway Park for a baseball game where attendees proudly sang the national anthem, Obama recalled.

The president insisted that remaining "resolute" and "steady" would ultimately end with obliterating ISIS.

"Groups like (ISIS) can't destroy us, they can't defeat us," he said. "They're not an existential threat to us." 

Obama Just Shut Down Ted Cruz’s Terrible Ideas To Combat ISIS. U.S. President Barack Obama answers questions during a joint news conference with Argentine President Mauricio Macri at the Casa Rosada Presidential Palace in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Wednesday, March 23, 2016.
During a Wednesday news conference in Argentina, President Barack Obama succinctly broke down why two ideas Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has been propounding are bad ones.

In the wake of Tuesday’s terrorist attacks in Brussels that left at least 31 dead and 271 wounded, Cruz reiterated his support for carpet bombing ISIS. And on the domestic front, Cruz called for law enforcement to “patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods.”

With respect to the former, aside from the fact that indiscriminate bombing is a war crime, Obama explained that carpet bombing would only serve to perpetuate the cycle of radicalization that results in terrorism in the first place.

“When I hear somebody saying we should carpet bomb Iraq or Syria, not only is that inhumane, not only is that contrary to our values, but that would likely be an extraordinary mechanism for ISIL to recruit more people willing to die and explode bombs in an airport,” Obama said.

It should be mentioned, however, that Obama has been criticized for overseeing a drone strike program that lacks transparency, relies on incomplete intelligence, and has killed American citizens without due process, so the president’s moral high ground on the issue isn’t absolute.

And with respect to Cruz’s proposal to “patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods,” Obama pointed out that Cruz himself should understand the dangers of such an idea better than just about anyone.

“As far as the notion of having surveillance of neighborhoods where Muslims are present, I just left a country that engages in that kind of neighborhood surveillance,” Obama said. “Which by the way, the father of Senator Cruz escaped, for America, the land of the free. The notion that we would start down that slippery slope makes absolutely no sense. It’s contrary to who we are, and it’s not going to help us defeat ISIL.”
Left unmentioned by Obama is the fact that a similar surveillance program implemented by the New York Police Department after September 11 was a bust. The Associated press reported that more than six years of spying on Muslim neighborhoods, eavesdropping on conversations, and cataloging mosques never generated a lead or triggered a terrorism investigation.

TATP explosives likely used by Brussels attackers. Authorities found more than 30 pounds of TATP explosives in the apartment of one of the suspected Brussels bombers on Wednesday, the same type of explosives used in the November Paris attacks.

TATP bomb stands for Triacetone Triperoxide. It can be made with acetone, which is the main ingredient in nail varnish remover, and hydrogen peroxide, a common hair bleach. Once mixed, the two ingredients form a highly volatile white powder.

"It is frighteningly easy to make. You don't need to be a chemist. You can make a large quantity in an afternoon, dry it out and have it ready," Prof Sidney Allford, who worked with the British army to defuse Taliban bombs in Afghanistan, told the Guardian.

TATP bombs can be triggered easily through a small amount of heat or percussion. Therefore, a TATP-loaded bomb vest is likely to accidentally explode due to its highly unstable nature, whereas a suitcase loaded with TATP would be easier to transport and maintain as the device would be more protected.

If the Brussels bombs are confirmed to have contained TATP, then it would be further proof that this easy-to-make chemical bomb is becoming ISIS's main choice of weapon in Europe.
Ryan slams 'ugliness' in politics amid Trump-driven chaosHouse Speaker Paul Ryan on Wednesday decried ugliness and divisiveness in American politics, delivering a veiled but passionate rebuke to GOP front-runner Donald Trump and the nasty tone of the presidential race.

"When passions flare, ugliness is sometimes inevitable. But we shouldn't accept ugliness as the norm," Ryan told an invited audience of congressional interns on Capitol Hill.

"If someone has a bad idea, we tell them why our idea is better. We don't insult them into agreeing with us," he said.

"We don't resort to scaring you, we dare to inspire you."

The Wisconsin Republican never mentioned Trump's name or that of any other candidate, Republican or Democratic. But his targets were clear in a sometimes frightful campaign season that's featured insults, sucker punches and near-riots as often as substantive policy debates.

"We are slipping into being a divisive country," he said. "If we're going to keep this beautiful American experiment going we're going to have to stay unified."

Some of Ryan's comments nearly echoed remarks last week from President Barack Obama, who voiced dismay at the violence and "vulgar and divisive rhetoric" of this presidential race, and issued a plea for civility.

Still, Democrats wasted no time in criticizing Ryan's speech, noting that while remaining officially neutral in his party's presidential primary, Ryan has repeatedly promised to back the eventual GOP nominee. The speaker has also avoided any outright denunciation of Trump even while criticizing several of the businessman's more extreme positions, such as barring Muslims from entering the country.

"Speaker Ryan's words will ring hollow until he backs them up with action and withdraws his support from Donald Trump," said Adam Jentleson, spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

Ryan's outwardly neutral stance comes even as other GOP leaders have openly searched for ways to prevent Trump from clinching the nomination before or during the party's July convention in Cleveland. Ryan, his party's 2012 vice presidential nominee, has said he is not interested in becoming president and has dismissed growing talk of a contested convention that could turn into a free-for-all for the nomination.

Yet Ryan similarly claimed he never wanted to become speaker. He ended up with the job anyway after John Boehner, R-Ohio, was pushed out by conservatives last fall and a leadership vacuum resulted. As speaker of the House Ryan will have the job of chairing the GOP convention in July.

Ryan took the opportunity Wednesday to voice regrets about his own previous contributions to divisive political discourse. He said that in the past he'd referred to certain people as "takers," but then thought more about how people could become mired in poverty and dependent on government help. "To label a whole group of Americans that way was wrong," he said.

He also said he had become a late convert to the need for reforming the criminal justice system and pledged action on the House floor. "Redemption is a beautiful thing," Ryan said. "We need to make redemption something that is valued in our culture and our society and in our laws."

Ryan delivered his remarks as lawmakers left town for a two-week spring recess. He spoke in the lofty hearing room of the Ways and Means Committee, which he once chaired.

It was the latest occasion since Ryan became speaker last October that he has summoned his party to unity, and delivered lofty pledges that the House of Representatives will be the vehicle for producing a bold governing vision for the GOP.

Yet divisions within the party have blocked House Republicans from passing a budget for the upcoming fiscal year, an embarrassment for Ryan, and GOP leaders have struggled to come up with meaningful legislation to debate. Associated Press writers Andrew Taylor and Alan Fram contributed to this report.

Cruz jokes about backing from Lindsey Graham, who 'called for my murder'Well, it's happened: Left is right, up is down, and the Republican establishment is slowly backing Ted Cruz — the guy whom Bob Dole said "nobody likes" who nonetheless just picked up the endorsement of Jeb Bush.

Remember when Lindsey Graham said that Cruz was so hated that if "you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you?"

Well, Cruz does. And he seems to be having some fun with it.

Here's what Cruz said Wednesday about an event hosted for him by Graham, who, by the way, endorsed Cruz last week:

"And that really was a first for me. I’d never before had an event hosted by someone who three weeks earlier publicly called for my murder"

So does this mean Graham is choosing to be shot or poisoned?

Windy landing in Oklahoma City.

Courtesy Maryland Athletics

Terps Ready for Sweet 16 Matchup. The Maryland men’s basketball team landed in Louisville, Ky., Thursday in anticipation of their Sweet 16 matchup against top-seed Kansas. The Terps and Jayhawks are set to tip off at approximately 9:40 pm on TBS.

The Terps began their ambitious afternoon with an open practice in front of hundreds of fans, including a strong contingency of Maryland supporters, at the KFC Yum! Center.

Maryland then had a half hour media session, answering questions about their upcoming matchup against the Jayhawks. Head coach Mark Turgeon, senior Rasheed Sulaimon and sophomore Melo Trimble took to the dais to discuss the much anticipated game.

“We’re excited to be playing in the second weekend of the tournament,” Turgeon said. “It’s special to be in the Sweet 16 and we are ready to play tomorrow night.”

Maryland finished the afternoon with a spirited hour practice at the University of Louisville, where it made its final preparations for their first Sweet 16 appearance in 13 years.

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