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.

Video said to be from al Qaeda in Yemen claims it was behind last week’s attack on Charlie Hebdo magazine (BBC)


In the News

  • Charlie Hebdo “Muhammad” cover: debate rages
  • Paris attacks: latest
  • Terror attacks: France vs Nigeria
  • Some in GOP may kill GOP’s DHS bill
  • Obama goes to Iowa: expand internet access
  • Hill leaders meet Obama: meh
  • 2016ers: ready steady
  • Steve Scalise under fire
  • Plot to poison Boehner


Charlie Hebdo “Muhammad” Cover: Debate Rages
• The new Charlie Hebdo issue – out today – features a depiction of the Prophet Muhammad (see below if you choose) crying, on the cover. The magazine, which has published 3 million copies in 6 languages worldwide, has sold out in France. Among extremist sympathizers online, calls for violence had already begun Tuesday (NYT, WaPo, AFP, France24, TRNS, me)
• The rector of Paris’s mosque, Dalil Boubakeur, urged France’s Muslims “to remain calm” over the cover “by avoiding emotional reactions … and respecting freedom of opinion.” The head of a big mosque in eastern Paris, Hammad Hammami, said “We consider these caricatures to be acceptable. They are not degrading for the Prophet.”
• Renald Luzier – Luz – the cartoonist who drew the image, told a presser of about 100 journalists Tuesday, “We have confidence in people’s intelligence, and we have confidence in humor. The people who did this attack, they have no sense of humor. I’m sorry we’ve drawn him again, but the Muhammad we’ve drawn is a man who is crying.”
• Dar al-Ifta, Egypt’s highest authority for religious edicts, issued a statement calling the cartoon “unjustifiably provocative to the feelings of a billion and a half Muslims worldwide who love and respect the Prophet.” The statement called on the French govt to condemn the newspaper’s “racist act which works to incite sectarianism.”
• Laurent Leger, an investigative journalist with Charlie Hebdo, shrugged off the idea, circulating on social media, that the cartoon contained one or even two hidden renderings of male genitalia. “People can see what they want to see, but a cartoon is a cartoon. It is not a photograph.” (I couldn’t find them)
Who is and who isn’t publishing the new Charlie Hebdo cover showing a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad crying, holding up a “Je suis Charlie” sign under the words “All is forgiven.” (link contains cartoon image of the Prophet Muhammad) (Buzzfeed)
Paris Attacks: Latest
• Funerals were held Tuesday in Israel and France for some of those who died in the attacks in Paris last week. The National Assembly, the lower house of Parliament, overwhelmingly approved an extension of the military campaign against Islamic extremists in Iraq (NYT, Reuters, BBC, me)
• The authorities in Bulgaria confirmed Tuesday that they had arrested Fritz-Joly Joachin, a French citizen who was believed to have links to Cherif Kouachi, one of the two brothers suspected in the attack on Charlie Hebdo. The arrest appeared likely to be the first of several in the coming days as authorities try to identify members of a terrorist network
• There was no immediate confirmation of news reports that the weapons used in the attacks last week originated outside France, but officials said that at least one of the Kouachi brothers received training from al Qaeda in Yemen
• Muslim organizations in France issued a joint statement Tuesday expressing concern at the “numerous anti-Muslim acts observed in these days” and calling on the authorities to guarantee the security of mosques
• In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel and other leaders joined a crowd of thousands at a vigil late Tuesday in Berlin. The vigil, organized by the country’s Muslim leaders, was intended to show support for the victims of the attacks in France and for tolerance and peace. Earlier, the chancellor denounced all forms of racism or rejection of foreigners in a speech

• Rep Randy Weber (R-TX) deleted his tweet and apologized for tweeting on Monday night: “Even Adolph Hitler thought it more important than Obama to get to Paris. (For all the wrong reasons.) Obama couldn’t do it for the right reasons” He said it wasn’t his intention to trivialize the Holocaust or compare the president to Adolf Hitler. Really? How could it not have been? Oh – stupidity, maybe

Terror Attacks: France vs Nigeria
• Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, who has been touting his domestic record ahead of a re-election bid next month, was quick to express solidarity with France. “The president believes that the cowardly and ignoble attack by violent extremists is a monstrous assault on the right to freedom of expression,” said a statement by his office the day after the attacks
• The office didn’t release a similar statement about assaults in the northeastern Nigerian town of Baga, that left as many as 2,000 dead The attack there started on 3 Jan and was another bloody marker in a murky, grinding conflict in which info is often scarce, the insurgency is seen as a local problem and violence is routine (AP, me)
• Monday, State Dept spox Marie Harf expressed some exasperation with the relatively little interest in Nigeria’s killings. “I would like to see how many minutes we spend on Boko Haram compared to a march,” she told the press corps. “I just want to point that out to people.”


• The Paris shootings, whose victims included prominent cartoonists, had an enormous impact beyond France’s borders because they were seen as an assault on “fundamental liberty” and an “existential attack on all of Europe,” said Michael Jennings, of the School of Oriental and African Studies in London
• Survivors of the Baga killings described the horrors they witnessed but independent reporting from the scene is virtually impossible for now because the town remains under Boko Haram control. There may be 150 dead (Nigerian military estimate), several hundred or as many as 2,000 (other estimates)
• Muna Ndulo at Cornell University said the attackers in Paris were French citizens of foreign descent who said they were inspired by al Qaeda and ISIS, raising sensitive questions of “inclusivity” and immigration and security policy that many countries can relate to. Boko Haram fighters are often Nigerians who may feel alienated by poverty and poor governance
• Jennings warned, “All too often, conflicts have been assumed to be localized, just left alone until they reach a pitch where they show their international significance. The danger is that we don’t see the links, we don’t see people moving back and forth.”
• SecState John Kerry meets his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif in Geneva today to try to advance the negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program. A wildcard in the talks is the impact of plunging oil prices on Iran’s diplomatic position. The U.S. team meets Iranian officials Thursday (WSJ, NYT, Reuters, me)
Some in GOP May Kill GOP’s DHS Bill
• More than a dozen House Republicans have told the GOP whip operation that they won’t vote for a Republican amendment that could leave hundreds of thousands of young immigrants open to deportation. These Republicans say the leadership is catering to the far-right elements of the party and they disapprove of the underlying policy (oops)
• But there’s danger for the GOP if the amendment, written by Rep Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), fails. Without it, there’s a chance that conservatives won’t vote for the Dept of Homeland Security funding bill, which would be an embarrassing loss for the leadership team (Politico, Hill, me)
• “It’s mean-spirited,” said one House Republican – anonymous. “Once people have come forward, and they have turned in all their info, their ID, where they live, they’re now planning their lives based on
[the fact that] they can live here … it’s a step beyond what has to be done.”
• The House began two hours of debate on the bill Tuesday night. Republicans are using it as a vehicle to defund President Obama’s executive action on immigration. An hour’s worth of debate on five amendments will commence this morning
• Rep Nita Lowey (D-NY), the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, accused Republicans of tempting another govt shutdown despite bipartisan compromises for the underlying spending bill. “It’s taken less than two weeks for the Republican Congress to prove that it cannot govern responsibly,” Lowey said
Obama Goes to Iowa: Expand Internet Access
• President Obama heads to Cedar Falls, IA, today to lay out new steps to increase access to affordable, high-speed broadband across the country. Cedar Falls is Iowa’s only gigabit city, which means the highest-speed broadband fiber with capacity of up to 1 gigabit per second is installed directly to its homes and businesses: gold standard (AP, Des Moines Register, me)
• Obama laid out plans this week as part of a push for new cybersecurity legislation – a week before his State of the Union address – that increases govt info-sharing and protects businesses from lawsuits for revealing cyberthreats. Yet the proposals are similar to congressional legislation that’s been languishing on Capitol Hill, partly due to privacy concerns
• On Tuesday, at a branch of DHS, Obama cited the Sony hack as he said cybercriminals are doing as much damage, or more, than traditional criminals. “As a nation, we are making progress. We are more prepared to deal with cyberattacks, but attackers are getting more sophisticated. All of us – govt and industry – need to be doing better.”
• A key part of the proposals, which have some GOP support, would enable cybersecurity info-sharing between U.S. agencies and the private sector. But that sharing has already been taking place – with uneven results – for more than 16 years
• Sung Kim, the State Dept’s special rep for North Korea, told the House Foreign Relations Committee Tues that he would travel to China to discuss what U.S. officials charge is a North Korean cyberattack on Sony Pictures. He said the attack should have been a “wake up call to China” about the threat Pyongyang poses to China and its businesses (WSJ)
Not a “Silver Bullet”
• Obama’s plan would encourage the private sector to share cyberthreat info with DHS, according to a WH factsheet. Companies would qualify for targeted liability protection but would have to comply with certain privacy restrictions
• The WH said this week the proposals also would modernize U.S. laws to combat cybercrime, such as allowing for the prosecution of the sale of botnets, large numbers of hacked computers that can be directed remotely to attack targets and outlaw the sale of stolen credit card or bank account numbers. Experts said such crimes are already covered under existing laws
• This “isn’t a silver bullet,” said Mark Jaycox, with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group. “We need to tackle the low-hanging fruit, the basic security precautions,” such as regularly updating computer servers and requiring robust passwords. Such issues could have played roles in recent high-profile breaches
• EFF said while the govt should have appropriate tools to investigate cybercrime, recent domestic surveillance revelations [Snowden] show law enforcement “certainly doesn’t need more legal authorities to conduct digital surveillance.”
• In President Obama’s latest move using executive authority to tackle climate change, the WH will announce plans this week to cut methane gas emissions from oil and gas production by up to 45% by 2025 from the levels recorded in 2012, according to a person familiar with the plan – asked not to speak about it – naughty (NYT, me)
Hill Leaders Meet Obama: Meh
• As he opened Tuesday’s meeting with congressional leadership, President Obama urged leaders to stake out areas of compromise on trade, tax reform and cybersecurity, saying he was hopeful that a “spirit of cooperation and putting America first” will prevail (AP, WSJ, Hill, me)
• However, in just the first week of the new GOP-controlled Congress, Republicans have taken aim at core elements of the president’s agenda, including legislation on immigration and health care that the WH has vowed to veto (five veto threats in all)
• House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) office said that the Ohio Republican made clear that the House would push forward on a bill that would block the president’s executive actions on immigration and also urged the president to sign a bill approving construction of the Keystone XL pipeline
• WH spox Josh Earnest said, “In the first five days that they’ve been in session, they’ve advanced five pieces of legislation all the way to the rules committee that they already know this president strongly opposes.”
• Despite the areas of disagreement, the WH and Boehner both raised the prospect of working together on trade, overhauling the nation’s complex tax code, cybersecurity and an authorization for the use of military force against ISIS that GOP leaders said the WH may soon deliver to Capitol Hill for consideration


• Video uploaded to Facebook this week appears to show police in Michigan punching and kicking a handcuffed man who’s lying on the ground. “What’d you say?” one officer shouts, “Jesus? You’re calling Jesus? You fu*ker! Don’t you dare. Don’t you fu*king dare.” (Detroit News, TPM, me)
2016ers: Ready Steady
• Former Gov Mike Huckabee (R-AR), a possible 2016er, doubled down Tuesday on his recent criticism of Beyonce, knocking the Obamas’ for allowing their daughters to listen to her music. Huckabee has called her “mental poison,” and in his new book accuses husband Jay-Z of “exploiting his wife” like a “pimp.” (she makes her own business decisions)
• Yet Huckabee, a devout and modest Christian, has played bass on “Cat Scratch Fever” live on his Fox News show with (disgusting) singer Ted Nugent. Here are some lyrics: “Well, I make the pu$$y purr with the stroke of my hand, They know they gettin’ it from me” – you get the idea (WaPo, Hill, Buzzfeed, Forbes, WSJ, Politico, NYT, Reuters, me)

• Sen Rand Paul (R-KY) is in the early voting state of New Hampshire today to meet with business leaders, political leaders and activists ahead of a potential run. He’ll focus on two issues in particular: guns and Common Core standards as he seeks to take back the political spotlight as a conservative firebrand


• Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP nominee, will give brief welcome remarks at a reception during the Republican National Convention’s annual meeting in San Diego on Friday. Those close to him say he’ll decide in a matter of weeks. Romney would be making a third run for the WH. Many Republicans have doubts about that and aren’t enthused
• Meanwhile, Sen Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) was finally asked a future tense question. Forbes asked her: “Are you going to run for president?” Her response was one word: “No.” That didn’t stop the liberal groups urging her to run, however – and it won’t stop them
• Top WH adviser John Podesta will take a senior advisory role, likely campaign chairman, in Hillary Clinton’s prospective presidential bid after he leaves the Obama admin in February. RNC chair Reince Priebus says Bill Clinton’s – past and possibly current – private life would be “fair game” if Clinton makes her widely predicted run
• Gov Chris Christie (R-NJ) is setting up a leadership PAC as early as this month that could help finance political travel and provide a fund-raising vehicle for would-be donors. His top money man is prepping a meeting for top Christie donors
• IRS Commissioner John Koskinen warned Tuesday that, facing a new round of budget cuts, the agency plans to delay IT improvements, audit fewer taxpayers and send out refunds more slowly. Oh – and the IRS still might have to shut down for two days this year (Hill, me)
Steve Scalise Under Fire
• Just 11 protesters lined the sidewalk outside the Capitol Hill Club Tuesday afternoon as “Team Scalise” hosted an event for about 300 well-heeled donors. Spotting a congressman, Aaron Black , an organizer, chanted, “Racist, sexist, antigay,” and the group joined in: “KKK, go away.”
• Things got worse earlier for Scalise in the day when the Hill reported that six years before he spoke to a white supremacist group, while he was a state legislator, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) voted against a resolution apologizing for slavery, according to a 1996 article from New Orleans’s Times-Picayune (NYT, Hill, Times-Picayune, me)
• Scalise later backed a watered-down version that expressed “regret” for slavery. But the article identifies him as one of two lawmakers who tried to kill the original resolution, which apologized to African-Americans for the state’s role “in the establishment and maintenance of the institution of slavery.” (I regret having an extra cookie – that’s the diff)
• “Why are you asking me to apologize for something I didn’t do and had no part of?” Scalise is quoted in the paper as saying. “I am not going to apologize for what somebody else did.” Scalise’s spox didn’t respond to two emails and a voice message seeking comment, the Hill wrote Tuesday
• Two years after Scalise gave the speech to the white supremacist group (for which he’s now apologized), in 2004, as a state rep, Scalise also voted against making Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday a state holiday. He voted against a similar measure in 1999. No one from Team Scalise has explained the votes. Drip drip drip
Plot to Poison Boehner
• “Bartender Mike” who worked at House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) Ohio country club is facing federal charges after authorities accused him of threatening to shoot Boehner and poison his drinks, according to court docs unsealed on Tuesday
• Michael Hoyt, 44, told authorities in Oct that he had lost his job at the club because several members had complained he had a bad attitude, the docs said. Among those members, Hoyt said, was Boehner. Hoyt has a long history of mental illness and said he started to hear the devil’s voice from the speakers in his car after he was fired. Voices said that Boehner was evil
• “Hoyt advised that he often poured drinks for Boehner and could have already put something in his drink, but he did not,” the docs said. “Hoyt stated that no one checks the drinks he poured for Boehner and it would have been very easy to slip something into his drink.”


• Hoyt told the authorities that “he was Jesus Christ and that he was going to kill Boehner because Boehner was mean to him at the country club and because Boehner is responsible for Ebola,” the docs said. Hoyt was placed in a psychiatric hospital after authorities learned of his threats against the speaker, according to the docs
• Hoyt emailed Boehner’s wife, Debbie shortly after he was fired. In one email he said, “Mrs Boehner, I was fired. I could not email Mr Boehner directly because of the ZIP code block on his email. It doesn’t matter anyway. If he took a real interest in anything, he would ensure his club was better than the country, but they are exactly the same and life goes on.”
• Police searched Hoyt’s home and seized an SKS assault rifle magazine, two boxes of 7.62 ammo, 35 loose rounds, a speed loader and a box of .380 rounds. They also found a bullet hole in the wall of a bedroom. They later recovered Hoyt’s SKS assault rifle from Hoyt’s mother’s home. She said she removed it because he was becoming increasingly agitated (speechless)

• Vid: Clever doggie rides bus alone to dog park, wins hearts (AP)

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Victoria Jones

– Editor

TRNS’ Washington Desk contributed to this report


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