During Thursday night's GOP debate, moderator Jake Tapper asked Donald Trump about the recent spate of violence at his rallies, including an episode on Wednesday where a white man was charged with assault after punching a black protester at a Trump rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

"This is hardly the first incident of violence breaking out at your rallies," Tapper said. "Do you believe that you've done anything to create a tone where this kind of violence would be encouraged?"

Trump responded that he didn't condone this behavior. Tapper then proceeded to rattle off a series of Trump's own quotes from the campaign trail, including one instance in which he said about a protester: "I'd like to punch him in the face."

Trump responded by blaming the protesters: "We have some protesters who are bad dudes, they have done bad things," Trump said. "They get in there and start hitting people. We had a couple big, strong, powerful guys doing damage to people." Trump added that he relies on local police to remove protesters from his events, saying, "If they're gonna be taken out, I'll be honest, I mean, we have to run something."

Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of Burma's National League for Democracy party, smiles after the first session of the country's popularly elected parliament in the capital Naypyidaw on February 1, 2016.

Update (3/15/2016): Burma's Parliament on Tuesday elected Htin Kyaw as the country's first civilian president after more than half a century of direct or indirect military rule. Members of parliament reportedly broke into applause when the result was announced. "Victory!" Htin Kyaw said. "This is sister Aung San Suu Kyi's victory."

Pro-democracy champion and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi won't be Burma's next president, but she's one step closer to ruling her country anyway: On Thursday, her political party nominated one of her closest aides as a presidential candidate. If Parliament formally selects him next week—as it's expected to do—he'll likely serve as a proxy, with Suu Kyi pulling the strings from behind the scenes.

After decades of brutal military rule and five years of a military-backed but quasi-civilian government, Suu Kyi's party won a landslide victory in Burma's general election in November. But Suu Kyi, the country's most popular politician, can't become president because Burma's constitution—written by military generals—makes her ineligible for the position. So instead, her party has nominated her aide Htin Kyaw for the job. "He is the closest to Aung San Suu Kyi and he is the one who would completely follow her advice," a member of her party told the Washington Post. The president will be chosen by Parliament from among three nominees and will assume office in April; after dominating the general election, Suu Kyi's party holds enough seats to ensure its nominee is selected.

The Obama administration and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have been pushing for years for democratic reform in Burma. After the general election, for example, President Obama personally called Suu Kyi to commend her work as a democracy champion. Still, Burma's military has retained power over key ministries and continues to attack ethnic-minority rebel groups. "Burma's not free yet," Sean Turnell, a Burma expert in Sydney, told NPR. "It's in a process of moving towards something better, but it's not in that place of being a functioning democracy yet."

Corey Lewandowski, center, and Donald Trump.

Amid allegations that he grabbed Breitbart News reporter Michelle Fields and nearly pulled her to the ground at a campaign event for Donald Trump, Corey Lewandowski, Trump's campaign manager, took to his personal Twitter account to respond. 

Lewandowski linked to a GotNews post that alleged that former Rep. Allen West of Florida sexually harassed two women, including Fields. The piece was written by Chuck Johnson, who has been called "the web's worst journalist," and initially stated that Fields had confirmed the allegation, before correcting that error to state that Fields had declined to comment.

Trump Supporter Sucker Punches Black Protester

On Wednesday night, a black man, Rakeem Jones, protested a Donald Trump rally in North Carolina. As he was being escorted out of the rally by men in "Sheriff's Office" uniforms, Jones was punched in the face by a Trump supporter wearing a cowboy hat. The officers then quickly wrestled Jones to the ground, pinned his arms behind his back, and led him out of the venue.

As of Thursday morning, the latest poll shows Trump up by 14 points in North Carolina.

Update: Reuters reports that the man seen punching Jones has been charged with assault. On Thursday evening, the man who punched the protester, identified as John McGraw, told Inside Edition that his actions were justified. 

"Yes he deserved it," he said. "The next time we see him, we might have to kill him. We don't know who he is. He might be with a terrorist organization."

In 2005, Barack Obama had only been in the Senate for a few months, but he was already a rising star in the Democratic Party. Four years later, he would be in the White House, and seven years after that Donald Trump would be the Republican front-runner to replace him as president. He couldn't have known that then, of course, when he mentioned The Apprentice star in a commencement address at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois.

(Hat tip Michael Scherer)

Here's the relevant bit:

In Washington, they call this the Ownership Society. But in our past there has been another term for it - Social Darwinism, every man and woman for him or herself. It's a tempting idea, because it doesn't require much thought or ingenuity. It allows us to say to those whose health care or tuition may rise faster than they can afford - tough luck. It allows us to say to the Maytag workers who have lost their job - life isn't fair. It let's us say to the child born into poverty - pull yourself up by your bootstraps. And it is especially tempting because each of us believes that we will always be the winner in life's lottery, that we will be Donald Trump, or at least that we won't be the chump that he tells: "You're fired!"
But there a problem. It won't work. It ignores our history. It ignores the fact that it has been government research and investment that made the railways and the internet possible. It has been the creation of a massive middle class, through decent wages and benefits and public schools - that has allowed all of us to prosper. Our economic dominance has depended on individual initiative and belief in the free market; but it has also depended on our sense of mutual regard for each other, the idea that everybody has a stake in the country, that we're all in it together and everybody's got a shot at opportunity - that has produced our unrivaled political stability.

 

After the networks called the Michigan and Mississippi primaries for Donald Trump, the Republican front-runner gave a free-flowing, bonkers press conference at the Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Florida. Just…watch:

Should Donald Trump become president, he would have a slew of lofty foreign policy promises to fulfill. Trump has vowed to decapitate ISIS, persuade Mexico to pay for a wall along the border, and impose harsh penalties on imports from China, and he's said he would "probably get along with [Russian President Vladimir Putin] very well." So who's advising the Republican front-runner on his foreign policy platform? On Tuesday's episode of MSNBC's Morning Joe, Trump struggled to confirm the existence of a foreign policy team on his campaign, just a day after his rival Marco Rubio unveiled an 18-member National Security Advisory Council.

As reported by NBC News' Ali Vitali, Trump stumbled over a question from Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski.

Somehow, Brzezinski's co-host Joe Scarborough managed to respond to her question even more bumblingly than Trump.

On the campaign trail, Sen. Bernie Sanders often mentions his work as a civil rights activist in the early 1960s, when he was a campus organizer for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). As a leader of the University of Chicago chapter, he led sit-ins to protest racial discrimination at university-owned properties and picketed a Howard Johnson's restaurant.

Now we know a little bit more. L.E.J. Rachell, a researcher with the CORE Project, which is dedicated to collecting and preserving the records of CORE, recently uploaded four documents offering more details about Sanders' involvement with the group. During this period in 1961, UChicago's CORE chapter was sending white and black volunteers to university-owned housing facilities in the neighborhood to determine if the school was honoring its anti-discrimination policy.

The most interesting of the CORE Project documents is a testimonial written by Sanders himself. In it, he details a "test" he conducted of a hotel just off campus. He visited to see if it would rent a room to his older brother, Larry, and the clerk assured him that they would. When UChicago CORE finished its testing, the results were clear—rooms that were available to white students were not available to black students. The next year they launched a series of sit-ins to force the university's hand.

Take a look:

The CORE Project

Here's a testimonial from Wallace Murphy, an African American man who visited the university realty offices to inquire about an apartment rental one week before Sanders' drop-in:

The CORE Project

Castille with fellow Pennsylvania Supreme Court justices in September 2011

The US Supreme Court heard arguments last week as to whether Ronald D. Castille, a former chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, should have stepped aside from considering the appeal of a death penalty case he personally greenlighted when he was Philadelphia's district attorney.

It seems pretty obvious, doesn't it? "He made the most important decision that could be made in this case," Justice Elena Kagan commented during oral arguments.

Castille didn't think so. Back in 2012, public defenders for Terrence Williams—who was convicted and sentenced to death at age 18 for murdering a 56-year-old named Amos Norwood—asked Castille to step aside because he oversaw the prosecutors who handled the case. The judge explained to the New York Times that he was merely functioning as an administrator. "I didn't try the case," he said, according to the paper. "I wasn't really involved in the case except as the leader of the office."

But Castille had additional baggage that raise questions about his involvement.

An appeals judge found that Andrea Foulkes, the prosecutor who tried Williams on Castille's watch, had deliberately withheld key evidence from the defense—and thereby the jury. Norwood, the victim, had started a relationship with Williams when the boy was 13 and abused him, sexually and otherwise, for years. Although the details weren't known at the time, the prosecution suppressed trial evidence suggesting Norwood had an unnatural interest in underage boys.

Williams had previously killed another older man he'd been having sex with—51-year-old Herbert Hamilton. (Williams was 17 at the time of the crime.) The jury in that case, presented with evidence of their relationship, voted against the death penalty and convicted Williams of third-degree murder, a lesser charge. But Foulkes, who prosecuted both cases, told the Norwood jury that Williams had killed Norwood "for no other reason but that a kind man offered him a ride home."

So there's that. And then, as death penalty appeals lawyer Marc Bookman points out in an in-depth examination of the Williams prosecutions for Mother Jones, Castille was a big fan of the death penalty:

In the five years before the Williams case came onto its docket, the court, led by Chief Justice Ronald Castille, had ruled in favor of the death penalty 90 percent of the time. This wasn't too surprising, given that Castille had been elected to his judgeship in 1993 as the law-and-order alternative to a candidate he labeled soft on crime…

"Castille and his prosecutors sent 45 people to death row during their tenure, accounting for more than a quarter of the state's death row population," the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette noted in 1993. "Castille wears the statistic as a badge. And he is running for the high court as if it were exclusively the state's chief criminal court rather than a forum for a broad range of legal issues." Castille was pretty clear about where he stood: "You ask people to vote for you, they want to know where you stand on the death penalty," he told the Legal Intelligencer, a law journal. "I can certainly say I sent 45 people to death row as District Attorney of Philadelphia. They sort of get the hint."

Castille also had it out for Williams' defenders, with whom his old office was at odds. Bookman again:

Castille had a fraught relationship with the Federal Community Defender Office, a group of lawyers who represent numerous death row inmates, including Williams. Castille claimed that federal lawyers had no business appearing in state courts. He complained bitterly over the years about their "prolix and abusive pleadings" and about all the resources they dedicated to defending death row inmates—"something one would expect in major litigation involving large law firms."

The defenders, for their part, routinely filed motions arguing that Castille had no business ruling on the appeals of prisoners whose prosecutions he had approved—particularly not in a case in which his office was found to have suppressed evidence helpful to the defense. But as chief justice, Castille had the last word. He denied all such motions, and accused the federal defenders of writing "scurrilously," making "scandalous misrepresentations," and having a "perverse worldview."

It's not too hard to predict which way the Supreme Court will rule—although whether their decision helps Williams get a resentencing is another matter. America's justice system makes it unbelievably hard to get a second chance once you are convicted of a serious crime.

But all of this brings up a broader, question: Prosecutors like Castille are appointed to the bench in far greater numbers than former defenders—even President Barack Obama has perpetuated this trend. Which is why it was so worthy of note that California Gov. Jerry Brown, under federal pressure to reduce incarceration in the Golden State, has broken with his predecessors and moved in the other direction. Northern California public station KQED recently pointed out that more than a quarter of Brown's 309 judicial appointments have been former public defenders, whereas only 14 percent were once DAs. (31 percent had some prosecutorial experience.) From that report:

"We never had a tradition that said to be a judge you had to be a district attorney. That developed probably in the '90s," Brown said. "The judges are supposed to be independent. You want judges that have a commercial background, you want judges that have a prosecutorial background, city attorneys, or county counsel, or small practice, plaintiffs' practice—you want a diversity, instead of kind of a one note fits all."

When it comes down to it, politicians are still eager to appear tough on crime. But is it really good policy—financially or ethically—to stack the bench with judges who are accustomed to being rated according to the number of people they lock away?

"Most district attorney judges that I've experienced are unable to divorce themselves from their background once they become a judge," Michael Ogul, president of the California Public Defenders Association, told KQED. "They are still trying to help the prosecution, they are still trying to move the case toward conviction or toward a harsher punishment." 

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced on Monday that he has ruled out a presidential bid. In an editorial on Bloomberg View, Bloomberg wrote that he feared his entry into the race would only strengthen Republican front-runner Donald Trump's chances at the White House.

"As the race stands now, with Republicans in charge of both Houses, there is a good chance that my candidacy could lead to the election of Donald Trump or Senator Ted Cruz," he said. "That is not a risk I can take in good conscience."

Read Bloomberg's editorial in its entirety here.