TRNS News Notes is brought to you by Victoria Jones. Victoria Jones is the Chief White House correspondent and global analyst of the Washington DC based Talk Radio News Service, where her insight and analysis are made available to over 400 news talk radio stations around the country and internationally.


In the News

  • Obama: Ebola screening will increase
  • Obama: U.S. prepared to contain Ebola
  • Ebola infects Spanish nurse: a first in West
  • SCOTUS rejects gay marriage appeals
  • Why didn’t SCOTUS take up the issue?
  • SCOTUS today: Beards in prison – religious
  • Kobane: “A terrible slaughter is coming” – ISIS
  • Ferguson protests: Judge tosses “5 second rule”
  • Biden’s Middle East gaffes
  • Turkey: Biden is “history”
  • Biden compares Saudi Arabia to “Stalin”


Obama: Ebola Screening Will Increase

• President Obama said Monday the U.S. govt would increase passenger screening in the U.S. and Africa to detect the Ebola virus, even as he resisted calls to impose a ban on those traveling from the three countries most affected by the outbreak (WaPo, NYT, BBC, CNN, Fox, TRNS, me)

• Neither the president nor WH officials elaborated on exactly what those new screenings would entail. At the moment, passengers leaving Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone are screened for symptoms at the airport before departing

• Obama spoke as Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian man stricken with Ebola, remained in critical condition in a Texas hospital. And his remarks came shortly after a nurse in Madrid became the first person known to have contracted the virus outside of Africa

• In his remarks Monday, Obama was sharply critical of countries that he said haven’t responded aggressively enough to the epidemic: “Countries that think that they can sit on the sidelines and just let the U.S. do it, that will result in a less effective response, a less speedy response, and that means that people die,” he said

Obama: U.S. Prepared to Contain Ebola

• Obama emphasized that the country was prepared to contain Ebola: “In recent months we’re had thousands of travelers arriving here from West Africa, and so far only one case of Ebola has been diagnosed in the U.S, and that’s the patient in Dallas.”

• The new screening possibilities being considered by the admin include taking the temperature of travelers from affected countries upon their arrival at major U.S. airports and more closely tracking travel histories for international travelers arriving in the U.S., said a federal official familiar with the discussions – anonymous

• Several Republicans on Monday called for heightened screenings or complete travel bans. Sen Ted Cruz (R-TX) wrote to the FAA, pointing out that the holiday season is nearing and asked whether the agency is planning to limit or suspend air travel to the Ebola-stricken countries

• Public heath officials have warned that a complete travel ban would cause economic harm, hinder the delivery of food and supplies and even limit the ability of doctors, nurses and humanitarian workers to travel into those areas

• Meanwhile, the Dallas hospital treating Duncan said Monday that over the weekend he began receiving an experimental treatment for the deadly disease. Known as brincidofovir, the drug hasn’t been tested in humans and there’s no data showing whether it works in animals – and it may be too late

Ebola Infects Spanish Nurse: a First in West

• A 40-year-old nurse in Spain has become the first health worker to be infected with the Ebola virus outside of West Africa, raising serious concerns about how prepared Western nations are to safely treat people with the deadly illness (NYT, CNN, BBC, me)

• The nurse contracted the illness while treating a Spanish missionary, Father Garcia Viejo, who was infected in Sierra Leone and flown to Madrid’s Carlos Leone III hospital, where he died on 25 Sept. The nurse entered his room only twice, including once after his death

• The case is particularly worrisome to health experts because Spain is a developed country that is considered to possess the kind of rigorous infection control measures that should prevent disease transmission in the hospital. Spain’s health minister said it wasn’t clear how the nurse became infected

• Health officials in Spain said the team was properly equipped with protective gear, including gloves, gowns, masks and eye protection. But experts say the greatest risk comes from removing contaminated gear, which must be done according to a strict protocol to avoid infecting oneself. It takes training and practice

• Antonio Alemany, a health official from the regional govt of Madrid, told a presser Monday that the nurse went on vacation a day after Viejo died. She got in touch with a medical center on 30 Sept after feeling feverish but had been leading “a normal life” while on vacation. Alemany wouldn’t estimate how many people had contact with the nurse – they’re drawing up a list

• The Veterans Affairs Dept is firing four senior execs after a nationwide scandal over long wait times for veterans seeking medical care and falsified records covering up delays (AP, me)

SCOTUS Rejects Gay Marriage Appeals

• The Supreme Court Monday morning turned down all seven pending petitions urging the court to decide whether there’s a right to same-sex marriage under the U.S. Constitution. The justices turned aside petitions challenging appellate decisions that overturned same-sex marriage bans in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin

• The justices’ action, announced without comment, appears to clear the way for same sex marriages in those states in short order. Six other states could also see the practice quickly legalized under court rulings already handed down. Within weeks, the practice could spread from 19 states where it’s legal now to 30 states (Politico, NYT, WaPo, WSJ, CNN, LAT, me)

• Conservatives were puzzled, disappointed and, in some cases, outraged by the outcome, since it takes only four justices to grant review of a case and the four most conservative justices last year dissented from the decision striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act as violating the rights of gays and lesbians

• In a separate case decided on the same day last year, the justices also sidestepped the broader question of whether state bans violated the Constitution but allowed gay marriage in California

• The justices could take up a future case, but their move on Monday could send a strong signal to lower court judges that rulings striking down marriage bans are consistent with the U.S. Constitution

• The six  states that will effectively legalize gay marriage as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision are: Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming


Why Didn’t SCOTUS Take Up the Issue?

• Among the possibilities why the court didn’t take up the issue are that a majority believes it would be premature to intervene and wants to see more lower court action, or that on this deeply polarized court neither the liberals nor the conservatives could be certain of how the issue would be resolved and didn’t want to risk forcing a national precedent now

• Opponents of gay marriage said they would continue to defend state bans in court. “The people should decide this issue, not the courts,” said Byron Babione, a lawyer with the conservative Alliance Defending Freedom

• Evan Wolfson, who heads the group Freedom to Marry, said gay rights advocates still want the high court to intervene and provide a definitive ruling covering all 50 states. “The Supreme Court should bring the country to a nationwide resolution,” Wolfson said

• Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg may have given a clue to the court’s decision when she suggested to an audience at the University of Minnesota Law School last month, “When all the courts of appeal are in agreement there is no need for us to rush to step in.” However, she also predicted the issue would come before the court “sooner or later.”

• Sen Ted Cruz (R-TX) called the court’s move “tragic and indefensible” and vowed to introduce a constitutional amendment allowing states to ban gay marriage. “This is judicial activism at its worst,” Cruz said in a statement (WaPo)


SCOTUS Today: Beards in Prison – Religious

Today, the justices will take up the case of Arkansas prison inmate Gregory Holt, who says his Muslim beliefs require him to grow a half-inch beard. Arkansas prison officials permit no beards, with the exception of inmates with certain skin conditions, who can have beards a quarter-inch long (AP, TRNS, me)

• Prison officials say their rule is a matter of security because beards can be used to hide prohibited items, and 18 states are backing the state’s argument

• But groups across the political spectrum and the Obama administration say Holt has a right to grow a beard under a federal law aimed at protecting prisoners’ religious rights

• More than 40 states already allow beards, with little evidence that inmates have tried to hide prohibited items in them (wouldn’t they fall out?)


• Representatives of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement have agreed to hold formal talks with the govt. No date’s been set but the students made it clear the talks would be called off if the remaining demonstrators were cleared from the streets by force (BBC)


Kobane: “A Terrible Slaughter is Coming”

• ISIS militants have entered the key Syria-Turkey border town of Kobane and taken control of three districts after street-to-street fighting with Syrian Kurd defenders. As many as 9,000 ISIS fighters entered the eastern districts on Monday, raising their black flag on buildings and hills (BBC, Atlantic, me)

• “A terrible slaughter is coming. If they take the city, we should expect to have 5,000 dead within 24 to 36 hours,” Rooz Bahjat, a desperate-sounding Kurdish intelligence official, told the Atlantic. “It will be worse than Sinjar,” the site of a recent ISIS massacre that helped prompt President Obama to fight ISIS

• Asya Abdullah, a leading Kurdish politician in Kobane, said Monday, “There are still thousands of civilians in the city and ISIS is using heavy weapons. If they are not stopped now, there will be a big massacre.” More than 160,000 Syrians have fled the town, mostly Kurds, but as many as 50,000 civilians remain

• U.S. Central Command earlier confirmed an air strike on Monday by U.S.-led forces had “destroyed two IS fighting positions south of Kobane” but Abdullah said the strikes in the area were “ineffective.” The city is full of refugees from other parts of Syria

• Bahjat said he is receiving reports that Turkey is pulling its troops back, rather than risk armed confrontation with ISIS. “It’s unbelievable – Turkey is in NATO, so you literally have NATO watching what is happening in this town. Everyone can see it – the TV cameras are there, watching. It’s terrible.”


• A 19-year-old Chicago man was arrested at O’Hare International Airport over the weekend on charges he was attempting to travel overseas to join ISIS. Mohammed Hamzah Khan, a U.S. citizen, was attempting to fly to Turkey via Austria and then Switzerland, authorities said (TRNS)


Ferguson Protests: Judge Tosses “5 Second Rule”

• A federal judge ruled Monday that the “5 second rule” – a policy being enforced by some officers in Ferguson MO that required protesters to be moving at all times during demonstrations or be subject to arrest – was unconstitutional and violated the protesters’ First Amendment rights (WaPo, HuffPo, me)

• “The practice of requiring peaceful demonstrators and others to walk, rather than stand still, violates the Constitution,” U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry wrote in the ruling. “Some law enforcement officers told people that they could stand still for no more than five seconds.”

• Legal observers sent by national organizations quickly decried the rule and protest leaders insisted that it was an attempt to undermine their right to demonstrate. The ACLU formally challenged the policy on constitutional grounds

• Top law enforcement officials continue to insist that they never formally instructed officers to carry out such a policy. MO Highway Patrol Capt Ron Johnson said he’d not heard of the rule until the lawsuit was filed. St Louis Police Chief Jon Belmar said Monday that his officers wouldn’t be enforcing any such policy

• However, WaPo reporters on the ground in Ferguson witnessed officers on several nights instructing protesters that they must continue to walk up and down the street or else they would be placed under arrest

Biden’s Middle East Gaffes

• VP Joe Biden “has enough character to admit when he’s made a mistake,” WH spox Josh Earnest said Monday. “The fact of the matter is the vice president is somebody who continues to be a core member of the president’s national security team.” (NYT, Hill, WaPo, Politico, me)

• Over the weekend, Biden apologized to the crown prince of  Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates for remarks he made, and the day before that, he apologized to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. So what had Biden said? It was during a roving mic Q&A session at a forum (uh oh) last week at Harvard University

• “They were so determined to take down Assad and have a proxy Sunni-Shia war, they poured hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad. Except that the people who were being supplied were al Nusra and al Qaeda, and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world.” (about the UAE and Saudi)

• Biden said, “President Erdogan told me, ‘You were right. We let too many people through. So we’re trying to seal the border.'” Both the Turks and the UAE are key allies in the U.S. alliance now fighting ISIS. What Biden said is widely accepted in foreign policy circles to be true – but not something said publicly in Washington circles


• President Obama made a similar point to reporters in the WH briefing room on 28 August, although he didn’t name any countries: “The truth is that we’ve had state actors who at the time have thought that the way to advance their interests is, well, financing some of these groups as proxies is not such a bad strategy.”


Turkey: Biden Is “History”

• Well! Erdogan responded with a furious outburst, calling his relationship with Biden “history,” demanding an apology and denying that he’d either made the comment to Biden or that Turkey had allowed foreign fighters to cross its borders

• Biden called Erdogan Saturday to apologize, and the WH issued a separate statement in which the VP said that Biden didn’t intend to imply that any of those allies had “intentionally” facilitated terrorists

• The UAE’s foreign ministry issued an angry statement, expressing “astonishment” at Biden’s remarks and demanding a “formal clarification.” Biden apologized

Biden Compares Saudi Arabia to Stalin

• But there remains Saudi Arabia. In addition to lumping the kingdom in with the others for funding jihadi groups, Biden was asked at the Harvard forum about Saudi Arabia’s civil right record (oh no). Bear in mind that Saudi has offered to host a training camp for moderate Syrian rebels battling ISIS and Assad

• Biden said in reply to the civil rights question: “We knew

[Joseph] Stalin was [a] no-good SOB from the beginning. But there is a thing called self-interest.” Josh Earnest on Monday said he didn’t “have anything to say more about those particular comments at this point.” (I’ll bet he didn’t)

• Biden is now trying to connect with Saudi leaders, a senior official said, to suggest that he didn’t mean to suggest that Saudi Arabia backed al Qaeda or other extremist groups in Syria. He’s probably going to have to deal with the Stalin comment, too

• Biden’s comments come at the end of a particularly gaffe-prone period during which he’s apologized to Jewish groups for using the word “shylock” and raised eyebrows for praising former Senate colleague Robert Packwood (R-OR) who resigned in 1995 after multiple accusations of sexual harassment – at a Democratic women’s conference



• Vid: Man confronts allegedly homeless elderly woman who’s driving a new car. He’d been giving her money for days. He goes absolutely ballistic (KFOR, me)


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Victoria Jones

TRNS’ Nicholas Salazar, Shane Farnan and Paayal Zaveri contributed to this report



The Talk Radio News Service is the only information, news booking and host service dedicated to serving the talk radio community. TRNS maintains a Washington office that includes White House, Capitol Hill and Pentagon staffed bureaus, and a New York office with a United Nations staffed bureau. Talk Radio News Service has permanent access to every breaking newsevent in the Washington, D.C. area and beyond.