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.

Egyptian court acquits 26 men in trial over police raid on gays (AP)


In the News

  • Paris: “Je Suis Charlie”
  • Where was the White House? 
  • The intelligence failure
  • WH summit on violent extremism
  • Holder: Attack on U.S. keeps him “up at night”
  • Pols warn, worry
  • Obama pushes cybersecurity
  • House Dems pitch wealth transfer
  • Felony charges for Petraeus?
  • Keystone: Obama under pressure
  • Golden Globes: the politics


Paris: “Je Suis Charlie”
• More than a million people joined over 40 presidents and prime ministers on the streets of Paris Sunday in the most striking show of solidarity in the West against the threat of Islamic extremism since the September 11 attacks. The Interior Ministry described the demonstration as the largest in modern French history: 1.6 million people

• Many waved the tricolor French flag and brandished pens in raised fists to commemorate those killed Wednesday in an attack on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, as well as four others killed at a Jewish supermarket on Friday. Thousands hoisted black and white signs bearing three words: “Je suis Charlie.” (NYT, WaPo, Haaretz, CNN, Reuters, me)

• The world leaders – including President Francois Hollande of France, Chancellor Angela of Germany, PM David Cameron of Britain, PM Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority – joined the march in a solemn line. They moved slowly, clasping arms to show solidarity with the victims. The crowd roared in approval

• Earlier in the day, the French Interior Ministry held what it described as a security summit meeting, bringing together top intel and law enforcement officials from across Europe and North America to discuss ways to prevent terrorism

11 powerful images from the Paris rally on Sunday (mashable)

• AG Eric Holder attended the meeting and announced that the WH would convene an international forum on 18 Feb to discuss new means of countering terrorism. Holder didn’t participate in the rally and march (see below); the U.S. was represented by its ambassador to France, Jane Hartley

• Mustafa Qadir, 32, a Pakistani citizen who works as an environmental consultant in London, traveled to Paris for the march. “We cannot go on like this, living in a state of fear,” he said. “There must be liberty of expression; expression cannot be met with violence.”

• Abbas and Netanyahu appeared side by side Sunday, in an unusual, if momentary, show of shared sympathy. Netanyahu drew some criticism by saying Sunday morning that “any Jew who wants to immigrate to Israel will be received here with open arms.” Hollande reportedly tried to dissuade Netanyahu from attending

• The crowd included Jews wearing skullcaps and Muslims carrying signs reading, “I’m Charlie and Muslim” and “Not in the name of Allah.” As nightfall descended, Hollande and Netanyahu went to the Grand Synagogue of Paris to pay homage to “all of the victims” and received a standing ovation
• Graphic: The links among the Paris terror suspects and their connections to jihad (very handy) (NYT)

Where was the White House?

Today’s liberal-leaning New York Daily News’ front page screams “You let the world down” and shows pics of President Obama, VP Biden, SecState Kerry and AG Holder. It’s difficult to argue with it. Holder was actually in Paris Sunday. His meeting had ended before the rally. Other ministers who’d been at the meeting attended (me, Politico, AP)

• While not necessarily expecting Obama to go (and no, he wasn’t watching football at the time), Biden could have gone. He was, in fact, at home in Wilmington DE. Kerry was on a trade trip to India. Important as that is, one day could have been reshuffled for this. Plus, Kerry spent time in France as a child and is fluent in French. He’s also a big-time global traveler

• You can expect today’s WH press briefing (scheduled for 1 pm) to be an absolute bloodbath. And rightly so. This was an appalling snub of the world. It played into every stereotype of the Arrogant American. U.S. ambassador Jane Hartley, who attended, couldn’t be picked out in a crowd, and is a former Obama bundler, with little diplomatic gravitas

• Kerry has now announced that he’ll travel to Paris Thursday and Friday for talks on countering extremist violence. Earth to Kerry: Too little too bloody late. Kerry said he’s going to reaffirm U.S. solidarity with America’s oldest ally, France. Blah. Kerry is dismissing criticism, stressing U.S. cooperation: “I really think that this is, you know, sort of quibbling a little bit.” No. It’s not

• The WH announced early Sunday morning that it would host a Feb summit on countering violent extremism. A month from now. After rescheduling it from October, for reasons that still haven’t been explained. This debacle is an absolutely pathetic, unforced error by the WH – and one that I doubt would have happened with Obama’s first-term team
The Intelligence Failure
• There are no answers yet. But a big question being asked in Paris is: How did several jihadists – and possibly a larger cell of co-conspirators – manage to evade surveillance and execute a bold attack despite being well known to the country’s police and intelligence services? (NYT, Le Parisien, Hill, me)

• In interviews Sunday, AG Eric Holder declined to say whether a breakdown in French intel contributed to the attacks. “There will be time for an after-action analysis of exactly what we might have done better,” he said on NBC’s Meet the Press (shown up at the rally, for a start)

• An American official – anonymous – said, “These guys
[Said and Cherif Kouachi]  were known to be bad, and the French had tabs on them for a while. At some point, though, they allocated resources differently. They moved on to other targets.”

• The official acknowledged that American spy agencies tracked Westerners, particularly young men, traveling in and out of Yemen much more closely after a failed Qaeda plot to blow up an airliner on Christmas Day 2009. But the official said the U.S. left the monitoring of the Kouachi brothers and other French citizens to that country’s security’s services

• One reason for the lapses may be that the number of possible jihadists inside France has continued to expand sharply. France has seen 1,000 to 2,000 of its citizens go to fight in Syria or Iraq, with about 200 returning, and the task of surveillance has grown overwhelming.

• Cherif Kouachi came under the sway of Amedy Coulibaly in prison. They were members of a network that called for waging jihad in Iraq, known to authorities as the Buttes-Chaumont group. The group has produced some of Europe’s most militant jihadists (NYT)
Question of Resources
• Intel officers had also identified the Kouachi brothers as being previously involved in jihad-related activities, for which Cherif was convicted in 2008. Investigators have also linked Cherif to a plot to free from prison an Islamic militant, which French news outlets have reported that Amedy Coulibaly was also implicated in that case

• Much remains unclear about the three suspects. But the French apparently knew, or presumably should have known, either on their own or through close intel cooperation with the U.S., that Said had traveled to Yemen in 2011 – where he befriended Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the underwear bomber, who lived across the hall from him for a time

• Yemen has been an American priority, not a French one, making it likely that the Kouachi brothers and Coulibaly were put lower on the priority list, intel analysts said Friday. Indeed, Coulibaly met President Nicolas Sarkozy in July 2009 at a news media event to encourage youth employment (OMG)

• Experts in intel said it was a question of resources. About 20 people are needed to follow an individual full-time, 24 hours a day. Further, “we are understaffed,” complained an officer involved in the search of Cherif Kouachi’s apartment. “We would need to triple our staff to better protect the city”

• The attacks are likely to aggravate the problems of President Francois Hollande, already widely considered weak and indecisive. He’s had a short-term boost politically, but the attacks have already sharpened his clash with far-right leader Marine Le Pen. She was not invited to the rally Sunday and she reveled in the slight

• Amedy Coulibaly, one of three gunmen killed by police Friday, spoke from the grave Sunday in a slickly produced video, declaring allegiance to ISIS, describing his role, and urging young French Muslims to take up the fight. A cache of weapons and jihadi flags was found in an apartment
WH Summit to Counter Violent Extremism
• President Obama will invite allies to a 18 Feb security summit in Washington on ways the U.S. and other govts can counter violent extremism and domestic radicalization, AG Eric Holder said Sunday after meeting justice and interior chiefs in Paris (Reuters, WSJ, Hill, TRNS, me)

• The 18 Feb event will highlight efforts at home and abroad aimed at stopping extremists from “radicalizing, recruiting, or inspiring individuals,” the WH said in a written statement. The summit will also discuss how local communities can run their own programs involving educators, religious leaders, law enforcement and medical professionals (they don’t know how…)

• French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve said after the Sunday meeting that European interior ministers “agree that we need to put in place better control on certain passengers, on the basis of objective criteria and with respect for fundamental liberties and without disrupting cross-border travel.”

• Cazeneuve said the internet needs to remain a space for free expression, but that Europe should fight against abusive use of the web to spread hate speech, anti-Semitic messages and the recruiting of vulnerable young people for violence

• “We need to work more closely with internet companies to guarantee the reporting and if possible removal of all content that amounts to an apology of terrorism or calls for violence and hatred,” Cazeneuve said (hmmm)

• Interactive: Tracking the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attack (NYT)

Holder: Attack on U.S. Keeps Him “Up at Night”
• AG Eric Holder said Sunday on CBS’s Face the Nation that the possibility of a Paris-style terrorist attack in the U.S. is very real and keeps him “up at night.” “It is something that we worry about all the time. It is something that we meet about all the time,” (Hill, me)

• Holder said on NBC’s Meet the Press that while al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility Friday for the attack on Charlie Hebdo magazine, the U.S. has no “credible information” about the true sponsor of the killings

• “Al Qaeda affiliates like al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula have moved what they do to smaller kinds of attacks. They have inspired around the world to engage in these small attacks that involve only one or two people and a small number of arms that can have a devastating impact as we’ve seen in France,” Holder said on Face the Nation

• Lots of time for face time with the U.S. media, but no time for solidarity with the victims of the attack or the rest of the world, apparently

• For those who have wondered about Muslim condemnation of the Paris attacks, or who have said that there hasn’t been any, here are 46 examples of Muslim outrage. From a king (Morocco), to foreign ministries, to organizations to individuals – all outraged – and this is the tip of the iceberg

Pols Warn, Worry
• Rep Michael McCaul (R-TX), chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, said on CBS’s Face the Nation Sunday, “We had the woman, the female terrorist, leave and go to Syria. But she’s on a no-fly list. So I think Europe has to strengthen and tighten its travel restrictions, but we need to look at protecting this country because I see it as a real threat.”

• Senate Intelligence Committee chair Richard Burr (R-NC) said on ABC’s This Week on Sunday, “The thing that worries me the most right now is the buzz on social media. Whether it comes from a specific group like ISIS or it’s just on the chat rooms, the target is just to go out and kill law enforcement and other officials.” (Hill, Politico, me)

• “The visa waiver program is the Achilles heel of America,” Senate Intelligence Committee ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said on CNN’s State of the Union. “[Terrorists] could come back from training, they go to a visa waiver country and they could come into this country.” (point)

• Sen John McCain (R-AZ) said on CNN’s State of the Union, “ISIS right now is winning. We need to go after them. We need to have more boots on the ground. We need a no-fly zone. We need to arm the Free Syrian Army. And we need a coherent strategy that can be presented to Congress.”
Obama to Push Cybersecurity
• President Obama will use n event today at the Federal Trade Commission to lay out the next steps of a plan to tackle identity theft and improve consumer and student privacy. It follows a plan Obama announced last Oct to tighten security for the debit cards that transmit federal benefits to millions of Americans (AP, NYT, Politico, me)

• The Personal Data Notification and Protection Act would demand a single, national standard requiring companies to inform their customers within 30 days of discovering their data has been hacked. Obama is expected to say that the current patchwork of state laws doesn’t protect Americans and is a burden for companies that do business across the country

• Tuesday, Obama will discuss cybersecurity, including ways of getting the private sector and federal govt to voluntarily share more cybersecurity info. He’ll do so at the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, a part of Homeland Security that shares info among the public and private sectors

• Obama’s focus on cybersecurity follows the recent hacks of Sony Pictures, for which the U.S. blames North Korea. The House Foreign Affairs Committee has called for a public hearing Tuesday that will examine that country’s hacking capabilities. The focus will be on steps the U.S. is taking to curtail or protect against Pyongyang’s apparent capabilities

• Obama’s proposals are part of what the WH calls “SOTU spoilers,” a series of announcements that preview Obama’s State of the Union address, scheduled for 20 January. “I figured, why wait? It’s like opening your Christmas presents a little early,” Obama said last Wednesday in Michigan

• 252,000 jobs were created in December, the Labor Dept announced Friday, with broad-based gains across a wide array of sectors. The unemployment rate was 5.6% in December, down from 5.8% in November, partly because some people dropped out of the workforce. Revisions showed employers added 50,000 more jobs in Oct and Nov than previously estimated (WSJ)
House Dems Pitch Wealth Transfer to Middle Class
• Senior Democrats, dissatisfied with the party’s tepid prescription for combating income inequality, are drafting an “action plan” that calls for a massive transfer of wealth from the super-rich and Wall Street traders to the heart of the middle class (WaPo, me)

• The centerpiece of proposal, set to be unveiled today by Rep Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), is a “paycheck bonus credit” that would shave $2,000 a year off the tax bills of couples earning less than $200,000. Other provisions would nearly triple the tax credit for child care and reward people who save at least $500 a year

• The windfall – about $1.2 trillion over a decade – would come directly from the pockets of Wall Street “high rollers” through a new fee on financial transactions, and from the top 1% of earners, who would lose billions of dollars in lucrative tax breaks

• With Republicans in control on Capitol Hill, Democrats have little hope of pushing the plan through Congress. Instead, they’re looking to craft an alternative to GOP plans to cut tax rates for the top earners, and to shape a new Democratic agenda for 2016 that offers voters the promise of genuine change

• To spur employers to increase pay, the plan would target corporations, prohibiting companies from deducting executive performance bonuses in excess of $1 million, a benefit worth $66 billion from 2007 to 2010. To claim the deduction, companies would have to demonstrate that workers had shared in the company’s good fortunes by increasing wages about 4%
Felony Charges for Petraeus?
• AG Eric Holder cast doubt Sunday on a report that the FBI recommended criminal charges against former CIA director David Patraeus. “I don’t want to really comment on what is an ongoing investigation,” Holder said on ABC’s This Week. “But I will say that frequently those things that we characterize as leaks – they are frequently inaccurate.”

• NYT reported Friday that the FBI and Justice Dept had recommended felony charges against Petraeus for allegedly sharing classified info with former mistress Paula Broadwell at the time of their affair, by giving her access to his CIA email account and other highly classified info (Hill, NYT, WSJ, WaPo, me)

• Petraeus, a retired four-star general who served as commander of American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, has said he never provided classified info to Broadwell, and has indicated to Justice that he has no interest in a plea deal that would spare him an embarrassing trial (very interesting)

• Sen Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said Sunday on CNN that Petraeus had “suffered enough.” “He lost his job as CIA director because of [his affair]. How much do we want to punish somebody?” Sen John McCain (R-AZ) said, “It’s a violation of any citizen’s rights to have that information leaked, much less a man that is a genuine American hero.”

• Holder defended the investigation, saying it has been conducted in an “appropriate way.” The decision whether to seek an indictment against Petraeus ultimately lies with Holder, who declined to say whether his ruling would come before he leaves his post this year (also interesting)
Keystone: Obama Under Pressure
• President Obama came under new pressure on Friday to make a decision on the Keystone XL oil pipeline as the Nebraska Supreme Court cleared the way for its construction through the state and the House passed a bill to approve the project. The measure goes to the Senate, which is likely to pass the bill in the coming weeks (NYT, TRNS, Hill, TRNS, me)

• Friday, the WH said that Obama’s veto threat still stood. But WH officials said that Obama would veto the measure not out of opposition to the pipeline itself, but because it would remove the president’s authority to make the decision and instead transfer that power to Congress

• Sen John Hoeven (R-ND) said on Fox News Sunday, “Right now we’ve got about 63 [votes], but we’re going to the floor with an open amendment process.” The Senate needs 67 votes to override a presidential veto

• State Dept has conducted multiple reviews of the project since 2008, most recently an 11-volume environmental analysis released last January. State is waiting for eight other govt agencies to weigh in on whether the pipeline is in the national interest, but Obama could pre-empt that process by making the decision at any time

• Republicans and some Democrats support the pipeline because they say it will create jobs and promote economic growth, while environmentalists and other Democrats oppose the project, saying the process for extracting the oil sands petroleum creates significantly more planet-warming carbon emissions than the process for conventional oil

• Anita Ekberg, star of La Dolce Vita, has died aged 83. She was branded a “sex goddess” (OMG this pic) for her performance. The moment where she wades through Rome’s Trevi Fountain in a strapless dress is considered one of cinema’s most iconic scenes. She said they had to lift her out of the water because her legs were freezing (BBC, me)
Golden Globes – the Politics
• Cecil B. DeMille award winner George Clooney said in his acceptance speech Sunday night, “They didn’t march in protests, they marched in support of the idea we will not walk in fear. So, Je Suis Charlie. Thank you.” (AP, me)

• Hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler used their opening monologue well. “Tonight we celebrate all the great television shows that we know and love, as well as all the movies that North Korea was OK with,” Fey quipped

• During the introduction of “Into the Woods,” Poehler said, “Cinderella runs from her prince, Rapunzel is thrown from her tower for her prince and Sleeping Beauty just thought that she was getting coffee with Bill Cosby.”

• Common, who won for original song for “Glory” used in civil rights film “Selma,” said in her acceptance, “I am the unarmed black kid who maybe needed a hand but instead was given a bullet. I am the two fallen police officers murdered in the line of duty. ‘Selma has awakened my humanity.'”

• Aaaand Ricky Gervais pretty much behaved when he took the stage to present an award: “I’m not going to start picking on things you’ve done,” he told his fellow actors. “Some of it immoral. A lot of it illegal. If we’ve learned one thing, it’s that famous people are above the law. As it should be.”
• Vid: Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s opening monologue at Golden Globes – includes major skewering of Bill Cosby. Complete list of winners – best motion picture drama “Boyhood” / best motion picture comedy or musical “The Grand Budapest Hotel” (Deadline)

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Victoria Jones – Editor

TRNS’ Nicholas Salazar and Loretta Lewis contributed to this report


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