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

  • Climate change protest takes New York
  • UN climate summit: Low expectations
  • WH security breach: Tourist screening next?
  • Why not release the dogs?
  • Officers don’t carry Tasers
  • Gonzalez concerned atmosphere collapsing
  • Obama: Halt movement of terror recruits
  • ISIS: Pols on ground troops
  • Amb Power: U.S. won’t do airstrikes alone
  • Finally: Afghan power-sharing deal
  • DHS staffing exodus crisis
  • Poll: GOP has enthusiasm edge
  • Feinstein: No place for NFL domestic abuse


Climate Change Protest Takes New York

• The People’s Climate March marched through the heart of Manhattan Sunday with a message of alarm for world leaders set to gather Tuesday at the UN for a summit meeting on climate change. The march was joined in solidarity by demonstrations across the globe, from Paris to Papua New Guinea (NYT, NYDN, AP, Reuters, me)

• From the scientists holding an oversize chalkboard to the Hurricane Sandy survivors, the march was an inclusive affair. It attracted former VP Al Gore. It drew the SecGen of the UN, Ban Ki-moon, and it included Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York, who’s committed NYC to an 80% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050

• But mostly it was an event for concerned ordinary people. At one point in the afternoon, the march came to a halt because the entire 2.2 mile route was full. Organizers estimate that 311,000 people marched the route. Signs said things like: “There Is No Planet B” and “Forests Not For Sale”

• On W. 58th St., the minaret of an inflatable mosque bobbed next to a wooden replica of Noah’s Ark the size of a school bus. Nearby, Capuchin Franciscan monks in flowing brown robes, in town from Rome for the march, mingled with nuns, while a group flying a pagan flag beat a drum

• The climax came in early afternoon. Crowds had been quieted for a moment of silence. Then at exactly 1 pm, a whistle pierced the silence, setting off a minute-long cacophony intended as a collective alarm on climate change

• A few blocks from the climate march, SecState John Kerry convened a meeting of foreign ministers of the 17-member Major Economies Forum, focused on climate change. Kerry said he intends to keep the focus on climate change throughout the week
UN Climate Summit: Low Expectations

• President Obama will deliver remarks Tuesday at the UN climate summit in New York, where more than 120 world leaders hope to recapture the momentum lost after the disappointing 2009 climate summit in Copenhagen, when world leaders left without a binding treaty. No binding treaty is expected at this one, either

• The summit’s expected to jumpstart a series of much publicized initiatives and partnerships. There will be a massive commitment to combat deforestation. There will be initiatives announced to clean up agriculture and make freight shipments greener (AP, NYT, Guardian, BBC, me)

• The U.S. heads into the summit in the strongest position it’s been in years. It has cut emissions by 10% from 2005 to 2012, more than any other country. Officials say about half of that reduction is due to the economic recession, but it puts the U.S. well on the way to its goal of 17% by 2020 from 2005 levels


• The months of May, June and August were the warmest of any on record in the U.S. A study issued earlier this year said the West Antarctic ice sheet was starting to collapse and it was unstoppable

• The nations of the world have agreed to try to limit warming to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, which would require that emissions slow down and then largely stop in the next 30 years or so (so, not so likely then)

• If they continue on their present course through the century, scientists say, the earth could warm by as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit above the preindustrial level, which would likely be incompatible with human civilization in its current form (so the end of the world as we know it)

WH Security Breach: Tourist Screening Next?

• The Secret Service will beef up security around the WH today. It is also considering screening tourists and other visitors at checkpoints a few blocks from the WH before they enter the public areas in front of the building, in response to the episode Friday in which a man with a knife managed to get through the front door of the president’s home after jumping the fence

• Along with checking bags, the screening would give Secret Service agents and Secret Service officers a chance to interact with visitors and try to identify those who may pose a problem. But they don’t want to restrict access to the WH or turn the area into a seeming militarized zone (NYT, CNN, me)

• According to officials briefed on the review, one of the biggest questions senior Secret Service officials want answered is why officers on the ground didn’t deploy attack dogs that are specifically trained to stop intruders, even those sprinting across the WH lawn. Early assessment is that they should have unmuzzled and unleashed the dogs (yes)

• Another puzzler is why the guard at the front door of the WH didn’t follow procedure and lock the door as soon as an alarm signaled that someone had breached the fence (very odd)

• Gonzalez had been questioned in the last few months by Secret Service personnel outside the WH after they noticed him loitering. He hadn’t been arrested, nor was he warned to stay away from the WH, as the Secret Service often warns people it’s concerned about

WH Security Breach: Why Not Release the Dogs?

• The Secret Service Saturday launched a security review to learn how Omar Gonzalez, 42, who was carrying a knife, was able to get inside the front door of the WH after jumping a fence and sprinting more than 70 yards across the North Lawn – the first time that’s ever happened (WaPo, TRNS, me)

• Within seconds, the man who his public defender said served three tours in Iraq – and relatives said served as a sniper – got to the front doors of the North Portico, turned the brass knob and stepped inside the vestibule. The Obama’s had left for Camp David a few minutes before. The president issued a statement of support for the Secret Service

• Once inside, Gonzalez was grabbed and subdued by an officer standing post inside the door. Gonzalez had a folding knife with a three and a half inch serrated blade. The front door was unlocked at the time. It’s a frequently used door, just one flight of stairs away from the Obama’s living quarters

• A trained Belgian Malinois attack dog that would bite and hold the intruder – the Secret Service’s fail-safe measure for stopping intruders when officers can’t – wasn’t released in this case. The reasons are under investigation (see above)

• Vid: Amateur video of the WH intruder running across the grounds towards the front door

Officers Don’t Carry Tasers

• The Secret Service trains its officers not to shoot intruders on the grounds unless they appear armed, or are wearing bulky clothes or backpacks that could indicate they’re carrying a bomb. Many questioned how officers can assess the real risk in 20 seconds. The officers don’t carry Tasers (why not?)

• Officers at the scene considered Gonzalez to be unarmed and likely mentally disturbed, a law enforcement official familiar with the incident said, and thus a low risk. One source familiar with the incident said a sniper on scene had Gonzalez in his rifle sights just in case

• Sunday, Rep Peter King (R-NY) called the breach “absolutely inexcusable.” “There can be a lot of conspiracies against the president – a lot of very complex assassination plots. This is the most basic, the most simple type of procedure.”

• Former agents said they fear the breach may be related to a severe staffing shortage the agency has struggled with in the last year in its Uniform Division – primary responsibility for securing WH grounds. The service has been flying in agents from field offices around the country to do temporary duty. They wouldn’t know the grounds or response plans as well

• As TRNS’ correspondent William McDonald, who was on WH pool duty Friday, exited security clearance at the southwest entrance during the evacuation, he saw two agents standing with their guns drawn and a man in civilian clothes telling the agents that they “need to get their s#*t together.”

Gonzalez: Concerned Atmosphere Collapsing

• Gonzalez told agents who apprehended him that he was very concerned the “atmosphere was collapsing” and he needed to get the president to get the word out to the people. Gonzalez is expected to appear in court today

• Gonzalez’ former stepson, Jerry Murphy, said Sunday that Gonzalez owns “plenty of firepower” that he could have brought with him if he meant any harm. Murphy said Gonzalez never goes anywhere without his knife and he’s sure his former stepfather didn’t intend to hurt anyone

• Saturday afternoon, Kevin Carr was arrested after trying to get onto the WH grounds. He approached a WH gate on foot, then showed up a little while later in his car at another gate. He entered the vehicle screening area and refused to leave. He was arrested for trespassing

• The service has struggled with some embarrassing episodes recently. In spring 2012, a dozen agents were shipped home from a presidential trip in Cartagena, Colombia, where they were implicated in a night of carousing and boozing with prostitutes

• SecState John Kerry met his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif Sunday in New York for talks on Iran’s nuclear program and the threat posed by ISIS. Zarif has slammed the U.S.-led coalition as “the coalition of the repenters” – saying many of the countries have been supplying or assisting ISIS over the past few years (WSJ, me)
Obama: Halt Movement of Terror Recruits

• President Obama will preside on Wednesday over an unusual meeting of the UN Security Council poised to adopt a binding resolution that would compel all countries to put in place domestic laws to prosecute those who travel abroad to join terrorist organizations and those who help them, including by raising funds (NYT, me)

• The resolution, proposed by the U.S., would require states to criminalize attempts to travel abroad to join a terrorist organization and to prevent foreign terrorists from entering or traveling through their territory. It would also compel states to require airlines operating in their territory to share passenger lists and for states to share info about suspects

• The resolution is under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which means that it’s legally binding, though nothing in the measure calls for military action. If passed, the measure would be difficult to enforce. Diplomats said there’s wide support for the measure and it’s expected to pass (sounds a big paper-tigerish)

• The U.S. heads the Security Council during this year’s session of the General Assembly this week. The fact that Obama will preside over a special session on foreign fighters underscores the importance the admin places on the issue and on the president’s strategy to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIS

• This will be only the second time any president of the U.S. has led a session of the Security Council. The first time was in Sept 2009 when Obama was chair of a session on nonproliferation. The draft resolution sidesteps the contentious question of what is a terrorist organization. It leaves it to each state to decide for itself (bit of a biggie)
• Turkey’s deputy PM says 130,000 Syrian refugees have crossed the border into Turkey after fleeing the advance of ISIS. He says Turkey’s prepared for the “worst case scenario” should more refugees stream in (AP, me)
ISIS: Pols on Ground Troops

• “I don’t see how ultimately we can avoid putting combat troops on the ground in some capacity,” said Rep Peter King (R-NY) on Fox News Sunday. “I don’t know why the president says up front we will not put boots on the ground. Why take that off the table?” (Hill, WaPo, Politico, Fox, me)

• Rep Adam Schiff (D-CA), who serves on the Intel Committee with King, said: “I want a president who is not going to accept everything the military says uncritically. … Do we really want to be in a position where 13 years from now we are massively occupying Syria and Iraq? I don’t think that’s what we want.”

• Former SecDef Robert Gates said on ABC, “What the admin is trying to communicate is that we’re not going to send battalions, we’re not going to send brigades. But there will have to be, I think, to achieve the mission the president has assigned, some American boots on the ground and in harm’s way.”

• Former British PM Tony Blair said on CNN, “We’re not re-running Iraq or Afghanistan, but I think that we’ll undoubtedly, over time, need to hit ISIS not simply through an aerial campaign, but also on the ground. The question will be whether, can those people, if they’re supported locally, can they do that job or will we have to supplement that?”

• American officials say that a Syrian group called Khorasan has emerged as the cell in Syria that may be the most intent on hitting the U.S. or its installations overseas with a terror attack – may pose as much of a danger as ISIS (NYT)
Amb Power: U.S. Won’t Do Airstrikes Alone

• U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, did a round of Sunday shows. On Wednesday, President Obama will be convening a Head of State Summit with the UN Security Council to discuss fighting terrorism during the UN General Assembly in New York (Politico, Hill, WaPo, CNN, ABC, me)

• On ABC’s This Week, Power said of the U.S.’ potential airstrikes in Syria, “I will make you a prediction, George, which is that we will not do the airstrikes alone, if the president decides to do the airstrikes.”

• Power declined to name which countries would participate, but suggested they would announce “specific commitments” soon. Obama and other top U.S. officials are attending the annual UN General Assembly in New York this week, in part to try to woo more partners to the U.S.-led coalition

• Power also said that, while there’s broad support among Security Council members for taking the fight to ISIS, the U.S. has the legal right to launch Syrian strikes without the group’s explicit backing. She suggested that Russia wouldn’t veto such authority

• Senate Intelligence Committee chair Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) described the horror of ISIS’ killings on Sunday on CBS. “I have a picture of what I estimate to be a 6-year-old girl in a gingham party dress, white tights, a little red band around her wrist, and she’s lying on the ground and her head is gone.” (Hill)

Finally: Afghan Power-Sharing Deal

• A deal to form a govt of national unity in Afghanistan was signed at a ceremony in Kabul Sunday. The signing comes after months of wrangling following presidential elections in April and June (BBC, WSJ, me)

• Under the deal, Ashraf Ghani becomes president, while runner-up Abdullah Abdullah nominates a CEO with powers similar to those of a prime minister. Both sides have accused the other of fraud. After the audit, the final gap between the candidates was less than three points – a big drop from Ghani’s lead after the first count of 13 points

• The U.S. hailed the deal as “an important opportunity for unity.” One of the new president’s first tasks is widely expected to be signing a bilateral security agreement with the U.S. The deal will allow a small force of soldiers to remain beyond 2014 to train Afghan security forces. President Karzai refused to sign

• Sunday’s deal was made possible by months of intense American cajoling and pressure, with SecState John Kerry alone calling the rival candidates nearly 30 times since the June election
DHS Staffing Exodus Crisis

• An exodus of top-level officials from the Dept of Homeland Security is undercutting the agency’s ability to stay ahead of a range of emerging threats, including potential terrorist strikes and cyberattacks, according to interviews with current and former officials (WaPo, me)

• Over the past four years, employees have left DHS at a rate nearly twice as fast as in the federal govt overall, and the trend is accelerating, according to a review of a federal database

• Why? Employees widely describe a dysfunctional work environment, abysmal morale, and the lure of private security companies paying top dollar that have proliferated in DC since the 9/11 attacks

• The dept’s terrorism intelligence arm has cycled through six directors during the Obama admin, decimating morale and contributing to months-long delays in releasing intel reports

“Toxic Culture”

• A parade of high-level departures, on top of other factors, has meanwhile helped slow the rollout of key cybersecurity initiatives, including a program aimed at blocking malicious software before it can infiltrate civilian govt computers

• With the crisis of unaccompanied minors crossing the southwest border, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has had six commissioners under President Obama, four of them in a caretaker role because they weren’t confirmed by the Senate

• And at the TSA, the hemorrhaging of senior and junior personnel has had a “tremendous effect.” Kenneth Kasprisin, a former acting TSA head who left in May, attributes the defections to “a toxic culture” and “terrible morale.”

• Kasprisin said in agency tests in which undercover operatives try to sneak weapons or explosive through airport security, security employees are increasingly missing the contraband, with the frequency of failures reaching a “frightening” level

• Pic: Sen Mary Landrieu (D-LA) helps a man do a keg stand at a Louisiana State University tailgating event on Saturday (Hill)

Poll: GOP Has Enthusiasm Edge

• Three-quarters of Republican voters say this year’s congressional elections are much more important or somewhat more important than other elections, a WSJ/NBC News/Annenberg Survey finds. And only 57% of Democrats grade the midterms as more important than other elections (WSJ, me)

• With Republicans aiming to regain control of the Senate, the polling’s consistent with signs that GOP voters are more enthusiastic about voting than Democrats this year. President Obama and other Dem leaders have been warning their party their party about this for months

• Younger voters, who tend to back Democrats but are less likely to turn out during midterms, are among the least interested. In the poll, only 20% of voters under 35 said they had a keen interest in the election

• Among people age 65 and older, 62% said they’re highly interested in the election. Some 54% of Republicans said they’re highly interested in the election, compared to 44% of Democrats

• At the same time, more people in the survey said they’d rather have Democrats control Congress than Republicans, 46% to 42%. (looks like they’re going to be disappointed, then)

Feinstein: No Place for NFL Domestic Abuse

• Sen Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) spoke about domestic abuse within the NFL on CBS’ Face the Nation Sunday. “There is no place for this. Period. I believe very strongly that if a player is arrested, they should be suspended, and if they are convicted that ends it. This has gone on too long, It is getting too bad.”

• The player Feinstein specifically discussed was the San Francisco 49ers’ Ray McDonald. The defensive lineman was arrested for striking his pregnant fiancee and was still on the team’s Sunday line-up (Reuters, Hill, WaPo, ESPN, BBC, me)

• The Baltimore Ravens knew about the video of star running back Ray Rice knocking out his then-girlfriend in an elevator within hours of the assault and the NFL team later sought leniency for him, ESPN reported Friday. ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” said it spoke to more than 20 sources for the report

• It said it found a “pattern of misinformation and misdirection” employed by the Ravens and the league since the incident. ESPN said the Ravens’ director of security learned of the video when he reached an Atlantic City police officer by phone. The officer described the footage of the assault within hours of it happening

Ravens Push Back

• The Ravens said the ESPN report contained “numerous errors, inaccuracies, false assumptions and, perhaps, misunderstanding.” The Ravens said they would address all of these this week

• ESPN said its interviews, when viewed together, showed a league and a franchise whose actions, and inaction, “combined to conceal, or ignore, the graphic violence of Rice’s assault.”

• NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a Friday afternoon (news dump time) presser that he “got it wrong” in dealing with the violence scandals. He said he hasn’t considered stepping down (of course not) 

• He announced the NFL’s plans to set up a new personal conduct committee and draft new rules for the league’s players and staff. He said the league will partner with the National Domestic Violence Hotline and National Sexual Violence Resource Center

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Victoria Jones

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.

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