OBAMA SPEAKS AT 9 p.m.: vow to ‘degrade and ultimately destroy’ Islamic State – AMERICA’S MIDEAST FIGHT could last as long as Cold War – POLITICO UNVEILS EUROPE EXPANSION — B’DAY: Sara Bonjean

SEN. RAND PAUL plans another pro-bono eye-surgery mission next August, perhaps to China, he told me in a phone interview. Paul, who’s likely to be in the thick of a presidential campaign by then, spent six days in Guatemala last month with a group of surgeons who together removed cataracts from 250 patients. One of them was a former truck driver, Hermanaldo Lopez, who had completely lost his vision over three years. Paul recalled: “He was emaciated, and someone from the local church took him in. So a young man brought him in to us … And when he had his cataracts out, he was just overwhelmed with emotion, thanking God and getting down on his knees … hoping that he would be able to drive a truck again, and hoping that maybe he would be able to reunite with his family. Story Continued Below Paul traveled with three staff members, journalists from five news organizations, plus conservative filmmaker David Bossie. He’s already thinking about his next trip:  “One of the surgeons was Chinese-American, and he's excited about the possibility of getting into China. … We haven't made a decision yet … We're looking at China, and the possibility of going back to Guatemala. But I'm intrigued by trying to go to China on a mission trip.” --See a gallery of 15 photos from the Guatemala trip. http://politi.co/1wesWpD … See my interview with Rand http://politi.co/1pOA03M GAME CHANGE – “Local Broadcast TV Ad Spend: Starting to Settle?” by Elizabeth Wilner, S.V.P. of Kantar Media Ad Intelligence, with CMAG’s Brooke Schwartz, in front of the paywall at Cook Political Report: “About $2.3 billion was spent on local broadcast TV in the last midterm election cycle of 2010. … CMAG expects 2014’s tally to settle—really settle—down to somewhere around $2.4 billion, representing only a very modest midterm-over-midterm increase … Some of our colleagues in cable Continue Reading

POLITICO Playbook, presented by Qualcomm – 10 days till Christmas; 48 days till Iowa – FIGHT NIGHT: Cruz is top target in Vegas debate, 8:30 p.m. ET — PLAYBOOK BREAKFAST with Ryan, McConnell livestreams at 8 a.m. — B’DAY: Donna Brazile, Mark Warner

By Mike Allen (@mikeallen; [email protected]) and Daniel Lippman (@dlippman; [email protected]) Story Continued Below Good Tuesday morning. Alex Isenstadt, from Vegas, has “5 things to watch in tonight’s debate”: “1. Who will take on Trump? … One possibility: Chris Christie … Another possibility: Jeb Bush … 2. CNN looks for a fight … Just watch the promo CNN has been running for the last month, which features a rapid-fire screenshot of each candidate paired with pulsing background music. “Sources briefed on the network’s plans say it’s looking for a two-hour slugfest full of confrontation — the kind of program CNN boss Jeff Zucker loves. Several campaign aides told POLITICO they expect CNN to begin the debate by pitting individual candidates against Trump – perhaps by asking if they condemn his controversial proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States. The tactic would be designed to hook viewers from the get-go. … 3. Everyone vs. Cruz.” http://politi.co/1J8GeXo **SUBSCRIBE to Politico Playbook: http://politi.co/1M75UbX LIVE FROM THE STRIP – “Donald does Vegas: His feisty, freewheeling performance sets the stage for Tuesday’s debate,” by Politico’s Shane Goldmacher: “For more than an hour Monday night, Trump stood center stage and whacked the media, praised the polls, and bashed, over and over, everyone who disagreed with him. And, repeatedly, he fomented fears. Of young Syrian men (‘How come they have cell phones?’), of the border with Mexico (‘The drugs pour across.’), of terrorism writ large (‘These people are animals.’). “‘I promise you this: President Trump will never change his tune … This country needs to get away from political correctness. It’s killing us. … If we win Iowa, we’re gonna run the table.’ This was Donald Trump in his Continue Reading

TRUMP ON PATH TO CLINCH: Math says no one can catch him — SENATORS may cave — PHRASES candidates repeat most – STATE DINNER menu — GUESTS at Mrs. Reagan funeral

By Mike Allen (@mikeallen; [email protected]) and Daniel Lippman (@dlippman; [email protected]) Good Friday morning. SPRING AHEAD this weekend. And let’s dance: We’re two days from March Madness “Selection Sunday” -- men’s NCAA tournament bracket announced 5:30 p.m. Story Continued Below THE MATH -- “Why Trump’s rivals can’t catch him,” by Scott Bland and Steve Shepard: “Trump is the only Republican candidate with a realistic chance of winning the 1,237 delegates necessary to claim the party’s presidential nomination, according to a POLITICO analysis. A close examination of demographics, polling, and delegate allocation rules in the remaining states suggests there is a path for Trump to win a majority of delegates, but it is a tightrope walk ... “Trump needs to win over 54 percent of the remaining delegates to clinch ... ‘A number of us who have done modeling district-by-district ... see ... Trump finishing in the 1,350- to 1,370-delegate range if he wins Ohio and Florida, and right around 1,200 without them,’ said one neutral Republican strategist ... “Barring major upsets in Florida and Ohio [on Tue.], Ted Cruz will need to win approximately 70 percent of the remaining delegates to clinch the nomination outright. That essentially makes Cruz’s path to 1,237 as unlikely as Marco Rubio’s route.” http://politi.co/1WdRFEr **SUBSCRIBE to Playbook: http://politi.co/1M75UbX --“Trump makes inroads with megadonors,” by Ken Vogel: “The shift ... is ... a reflection of their disdain for ... Hillary.” http://politi.co/1LfZl8L --CNN’s Manu Raju: A “surprisingly large number of Republican senators are open to backing Trump. The billionaire businessman would dramatically boost turnout and help Republicans down-ballot.” http://cnn.it/1RbAm2j --“Cruz lands first Senate endorsement: Mike Lee” Continue Reading

N.Y. DAILY NEWS: Trump’s new NY HUD director planned Eric Trump’s wedding, has no housing experience — DEMS drub GOP at baseball game — A RECORD 24,959 tickets sold — PENCE hires McGuireWoods’ Cullen — B’DAY: Bres

Driving the Day Good Friday morning. THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: “President Trump chooses inexperienced woman who planned his son Eric’s wedding to run N.Y. federal housing programs,” by Greg Smith: “She’s arranged tournaments at Trump golf courses, served as the liaison to the Trump family during his presidential campaign, and even arranged Eric Trump’s wedding. Now President Trump has appointed longtime loyalist Lynne Patton -- who has zero housing experience and claims a law degree the school says she never earned -- to run the office that oversees federal housing programs in New York. “Patton was appointed Wednesday to head up the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Region II, which includes New York and New Jersey, where she’ll oversee distribution of billions of taxpayer dollars. Patton’s tight relationship with the Trump clan dates back to 2009, when she began serving as the family’s ‘event planner.’ … She also claims on her LinkedIn page to have obtained a juris doctorate degree in 2000 from Quinnipiac University School of Law in Connecticut. Next to the J.D. notation is written (N/A) without explanation. On Thursday school registrar Jim Benson said Patton attended for two semesters but did not graduate. She also listed Yale University but HUD officials couldn’t explain why that was there. Patton, who begins her Region II job July 5, did not return calls seeking comment.Story Continued Below “As head of the biggest HUD regional office in the U.S., Patton will oversee distribution of billions in cash to public housing authorities -- including NYCHA -- as well as tens of thousands of rental vouchers and block grants that fund housing inspections and senior citizen programs.” http://nydn.us/2sikxU8 -- N.Y. DAILY NEWS COVER: “She planned Eric Trump’s nups & falsely touts law degree. Now Prez has decided new housing boss in N.Y. is Continue Reading

Governors Ball 2017: Everything we saw Saturday including Childish Gambino, Wu-Tang Clan and The National Guard

It's difficult to stay woke if you're completely dehydrated. Thousands of bandana-clad festivalgoers made their pilgrimage to Randalls Island Saturday for a slate of performances dominated by hip hop and EDM. Saturday's longest lines were for the free water stations. Kudos to festival organizers for having plenty of resources to keep people healthy and happy throughout the day, as well as staffers who went out of their way to help any sick attendees. That dehydration was the biggest safety issue on Saturday was a blessing given the scary news in London (from which the crowd, with sketchy cell service, was for the most part insulated) and the tragedy at Ariana Grande's concert in Manchester last month. Speaking of safety, an increased security presence was felt, but it wasn't overly oppressive. Getting in and out of the festival grounds was fairly seamless, but entrances and exits were lined with security guards, police officers and even The National Guard. Safe and sound, attendees trickled over to the Big Apple stage for a rocking set from Car Seat Headrest. The band, fronted by Will Toledo, ripped through some of their best material from "Teens of Denial" and "Teens of Style." A few years ago, rock bands like Car Seat Headrest were all over festival lineups. But as tastes have skewed more toward the electronic end of the spectrum, the band was one of the few true we-all-play-instruments-and-we-like-to-rock acts of the festival. They seemed to not take that responsibility lightly, especially on "Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales," which seemed to convert some casual set-watchers to new fans. Switching it up completely was Stormzy, the UK rapper who is a hero of the emerging grime scene across the pond. Grime is a genre that hasn't completely made it over to the States yet. However, based off the bombastic reaction from the crowd, Stormzy might not only play the role of hero, but also that of grime Continue Reading

Controversial New Castle County farmland deals in limbo

A controversial chapter in New Castle County farmland preservation will soon come to an end.In one scenario, taxpayers will pay Gary Warren and Jaymes Lester $6 million to bar development on their farms near Port Penn in what would be among the most expensive per-acre price paid in state farmland preservation history.If the County Council rejects the plan some claim is a sweetheart deal for the farmers, County Executive Thomas P. Gordon says he will be forced to build a sewer line reaching Port Penn Road, one of the last arterials below the canal between U.S. 13 and the Delaware River not to see large-scale developments that have fueled a building boom in the southern part of the county.Gordon has pushed the plan to buy development rights of the farmers and allow them to continue living on and working their properties. Building sewer, he argues, will seed townhouses and Mc-mansions on some of the county's best farmland.But Gordon's proposal is now the subject of an independent review by U.S. Department of Agriculture Inspector General Phyllis K. Fong, who has been asked by opponents of the deal to determine if the appraisals used to determine the farms' value skewed the price far beyond market value.Once Fong completes her work, County Council will vote to either cut a check or kill the deal.Delaware Audubon Society and some County Council members claim the two farmers have worked a favorable, backroom deal, arguing that Gordon could find options for limiting growth other than making the men millionaires."I don't want to pay someone this amount of money for them to keep their land," said Councilwoman Janet Kilpatrick. "Preservation was not meant to make people rich.”Counters Gordon: "I will predict that one day this country will have to grow its own food in its own states. These are rated as high tillable land. This is not meant to be the growth area."Gordon has Continue Reading

October concerts in Phoenix: Arizona State Fair, Disturbed, Kongos

The Arizona State Fair brings Flaming Lips, Slayer and Iggy Azalea to town in a month that also features concerts by the likes of Sia, Mumford & Sons, Florida Georgia Line, Disturbed, R. Kelly, Keith Urban, Stevie Nicks and Five Finger Death Punch. Meanwhile, local music fans should be packing their camping supplies for the annual Apache Lake Music Festival. And Jimmy Eat World will be topping the bill at the 93.3 Alt AZ Zombie Prom.Crossfade LAB welcomes Dominican-born writer/composer/performance artist Rita Indiana and the Tucson-based desert-rock legends Calexico, in conversation with writer and cultural critic Josh Kun. As to what that conversation may entail, the event announcement says, "these artists have paid keen attention to issues of national tradition and the borders of identity, while delving into the roles of mythology, popular culture, and cultural heritage in how everyday people survive and thrive amidst precarious conditions." And stick around after as Crescent Ballroom throws itself a well-deserved fifth-anniversary party with DJ Dirtyverbs, DJ Musa Mind and Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra.Details: 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 3. Crescent Ballroom, 308 N. Second Ave., Phoenix. $10. 602-716-2222, crescentphx.com.The five-time Grammy nominee is bringing her Nostalgic for the Present Tour to Phoenix with two great support acts – Miguel and AlunaGeorge. Her performances earlier this year at Coachella  were heralded as “one of the greatest moments in Coachella’s 17-year history” by Yahoo! Music and "freakin’ legendary" enough to "blow your goddamn mind” by Buzzfeed. Her first arena tour is in support of her latest album, "This is Acting," which has pulled in raves from Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, the New York Times and the New Yorker, whose reviewer described it as “the Platonic ideal of a modern pop Continue Reading

Biggest and best upcoming events around Phoenix

You won't want to miss any of these concerts, festivals and other events in the weeks and months ahead in metro Phoenix. You can even start planning your summer - including where to go to have fun away from the heat! Want to check out even more events?MORE EVENTS: Best things to do in Phoenix this week | 111 fall festivals around Phoenix | Top events for kids this week | Latest concert announcementsKirkman, who is the author of the New York Times bestseller “I Can Barely Take Care of Myself” also stars in a Netflix original comedy special “I’m Gonna Die Alone (And I Feel Fine).” Kirkman is also a regular on numerous late night shows like “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and her weekly podcast “I Seem Fun: The Diary of Jen Kirkman” is typically in the top 100 on iTunes.Details: September 1-3. 7:30 p.m. Thursday; 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. Friday; 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday. Stand Up Scottsdale, 5101 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale. $10 and $15. 480-882-0730, standupscottsdale.com.Experience the cool indie vibe of downtown Phoenix at this popular monthly art walk. More than 70 galleries participate with special exhibits, bands, DJs and food and drinks. The bars and restaurants near the arts venues are packed, and many, including the intimate Lost Leaf Bar & Gallery, hip Carly’s Bistro and funky Third Space, display works by local artists and feature live music. Roosevelt Row is the general hot spot, and there is a free trolley that takes visitors around to the different neighborhoods including Grand Avenue and the major museums just north of downtown.Details: 6-10 p.m. the first Friday of the month; hours vary by location. Downtown Phoenix along Roosevelt Street and Grand Avenue. Five shuttle stops available at Phoenix Art Museum, Heard Museum, Oasis on Grand, CityScape and Arizona Center. Free. 602-256-7539, artlinkphoenix.com.The ninth annual Saboten Continue Reading

Are Meat Puppets really the best Arizona band? Thrillist says yes

Are Meat Puppets the best band out of Arizona? Thrillist seems to think so. The entertainment and travel website went ahead and chose one band from each state.Its pick for Arizona? The underground legends who found themselves suddenly thrust into the zeitgeist of the post-Nirvana '90s after being hand-selected by the late great Kurt Cobain to join Nirvana on the set of "MTV Unplugged," where they performed their own songs. That's good work if you can get it.Now, a few months after taking their well-deserved place in the The Arizona Music & Entertainment Hall of Fame, they've been selected as the best band in the history of Arizona music.As the Thrillist editors explain it, "While 'Hey Jealousy' by the Gin Blossoms might be the most immediately recognizable song by a band with Arizona origins — unless you grew up yelping along to Jimmy Eat World's pop-punk anthem "The Middle" — the Meat Puppets are the quintessential Arizona band."They might not have the hits of an act like Alice Cooper or the chops of a group like Calexico, but their combination of punk ideals, eclectic taste and untamed spirit speaks to the mysterious character of the Southwest. "While blending country, hardcore and psychedelic rock, the Meat Puppets have endured longer than many of their SST Records peers of the 1980s, crafting a quirky legacy — and a lengthy discography — that's difficult to pin down but impossible to deny."So what exactly constitutes an Arizona band? Thrillist laid out criteria as follows:"The band must have been formed in or primarily based in the state in question. Lots of groups move to Los Angeles or Nashville or New York City after scoring a record deal, but they're not from those cities. "Only groups, not individual artists, are considered. This admittedly skews the list away from hip-hop and country, but it also skews toward not driving us totally insane trying to wade Continue Reading

IT’S CAN’T SEE TV. Starting on Thanksgiving, football games will debut on NFL Network, but most of you will be left in the dark

The National Football League has been officially introduced to the cold, hardball ways of the cable TV industry. With only 12 days left until the NFL Network debuts with the first of its eight prime-time games, cable operators Cablevision and Time Warner have refused to carry the network. The NFL is in a rare position of not getting its way. While NFLN is in 41 million homes, it has virtually no exposure in the New York market (unless you are a Comcast or satellite service subscriber). The stalemate has continued for three years, ever since NFLN launched on Nov. 4, 2003. But when NFL owners passed on Comcast's reported standing offer of $400 million per year for a new Thursday/Saturday package (Comcast would have aired it on Versus), and decided to put the games on their own network, the strategy was apparent. NFLN would use the games as an enticement for cable operators to carry the network. To this point the strategy has not worked, at least with Cablevision and Time Warner. How is this playing with NFL owners? As the NFLN's first ever regular season telecast nears - Broncos-Chiefs on Thanksgiving night - are they discouraged about not having wider distribution, especially in the country's largest media market? More importantly, are the owners thinking about putting the eight games back up for bid to another network in 2007? "Absolutely not," said Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, the chairman of the NFL's TV Committee. "We're building an asset. Our current broadcast contracts (with Fox, CBS, NBC, ESPN) are (worth) about $24 million over the next six years. We're not really worried about those eight games as far as getting more money is concerned. We're much more interested in building the asset, which is the NFL Network. " Bowlen said NFL owners were not surprised about the hard line taken by cable operators who do not carry NFLN. "The signals were out there," Bowlen said. "Some of these cable companies are loathe to help build assets they think they're Continue Reading