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

  • Charlie Hebdo manhunt: Breaking
  • Charlie Hebdo attack: Latest
  • Obama: “America’s resurgence is real”
  • Obama proposes 2 years free community college
  • GOP to unveil DHS funding bill today
  • SCOTUS meets on gay marriage today
  • Keystone oozes forward in Senate
  • 40-hour work week bill passes in House
  • Moderate / Liberal House Dems: at war!
  • Hackers getting in “almost at will”


Charlie Hebdo Manhunt: Developing Fast
• Shots have been fired and there are reports of a hostage being taken as French police close in on suspects linked to the Charlie Hebdo massacre. Several people are said to have been wounded at Dammartin-en-Goele, 22 miles from Paris, and not far from Charles de Gaulle Airport. Officials deny reports of deaths (BBC, AFP, Figaro, MKLNews, me)

• Negotiations are now underway with police at a printing business, reports say, where the two suspects are believed holed up. Residents have been asked to stay indoors and students have been confined to their schools. President Hollande says authorities knew “attacks were possible.”

• Helicopters have been involved in what is the biggest manhunt in the country’s history involving thousands of police. Police have asked the press to stop broadcasting live images from the hostage scene so as not to reveal police locations• Paris correspondent for the Guardian tweets: Yves Albarello, UMP MP for Seine-et-Marne has told @ itele “the two fugitives declared they wanted to die as martyrs.”

• In a separate development, French media reports say police have identified the killer of a policewoman in a Paris suburb Thursday. The shooting is said to be unrelated to the Charlie Hebdo attack• Separately, a blogger has been publicly lashed in Saudi Arabia for “insulting Islam” – witnesses (AFP)
Charlie Hebdo Attack
• As France mourned, thousands of police focused their search on northern France Thursday, where the two brothers suspected of killing 12 people at satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris were reported to have stolen food from a gas station. A car they used in their getaway was found abandoned in the area (NYT, AP, WSJ, Reuters, TRNS, me)

• The sighting of brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi, 34 and 32, captivated a nation that seemed to draw together Thursday, at least for a moment of silence at noon on a rare official day of national mourning, to defend French values like freedom of the press and religious tolerance

• A senior U.S. counterterrorism official said Thursday that both brothers had been put on the U.S. no-fly list and another official said Said Kouachi had traveled to Yemen. A French security official said that American authorities had shared intel indicating that Said had traveled to Yemen several years ago for training• In Washington, President Obama visited the French Embassy on Thursday evening, where he signed a book of condolences and paused for a moment of silence alongside Ambassador Gerard Araud. “Terror is no match for freedom and ideals we stand for,” Obama wrote. He concluded his lengthy entry with “Vive la France!”• Raw vid: The Eiffel Tower pays tribute to Charlie Hebdo (AFP)

• The national mood in France encompassed fear, anger, unity and, ultimately, defiance. Isolated events helped fan anxiety. Thursday morning, a police officer was killed and a city employee was wounded by gunfire near a subway station just south of Paris – appeared unrelated to the newspaper attack, police said

• Police said they had detained several people for questioning in the Charlie Hebdo case and had arrested some of them. They also announced that at least five planned terrorist attacks had been thwarted in France over the last 18 months

• Police had their first big break when they discovered that Said had left his ID card in the first car used by the gunmen, found abandoned Wed evening after a crash. The police reportedly found Molotov cocktails and jihadist banners in the car as well. Thursday evening, police blocked off a road leading into the small town of Longpont• At noon, in a sign of mourning, bells rang, schools stopped classes and corporate meetings were cut short. At mosques, people bowed their heads. Some electronic road signs displayed the words, “Je suis Charlie” – I am Charlie

New Yorker’s cover for 19 January takes on the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo. Powerful

• At Notre Dame Cathedral, pedestrians wept as hundreds stood silent on a grey and rainy day to pay tribute to the victims. Through the vigils and tributes, some people held pencils, a symbol of support for freedom of the press

• Charlie Hebdo announced that it would publish as scheduled next Wednesday and would print 1 million copies, rather than the usual 60,000

• Abdennour Biden, a French Muslim and professor of philosophy, said on Arte TV that the killers “do not deserve the name of Muslims.” In the name of Islam, he said, he would not allow Islam to be “instrumentalized, stolen by these people who say they are avenging the Prophet. It’s a disgrace, an infamy a lie.”

• In the U.S., Gen Michael Flynn, a former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said, “The strategic impact of this attack is exactly what they
[many al Qaeda affiliates] wanted. What they wanted is international condemnation. It is counterintuitive to us, but it makes perfect sense to them. That is what makes them heroes.”

• There’s nothing in the Qu’ran about blasphemy being forbidden, BTW. It’s not a thing. There’s no punishment in the Qu’ran for blasphemy. It’s just not an issue. It came up after Muhammad’s death as a tradition. And now it’s totally out of control. It’s nothing to do with Muhammad


Obama: “America’s Resurgence Is Real”
• President Obama on Thursday announced new measures to try to assist a still-sluggish housing market. Speaking in Phoenix AZ, Obama said his decision to lower rates on federally issued mortgages would make purchasing a home cheaper for hundreds of thousands of people across the country (NYT, AP, Fox, me)

• Obama said the changes would help improve an economy that was already on the rebound. “This progress is not an accident. It is what happens when you have policies that put middle class families first. What we are doing is working and we’ve got to keep at it. We’ve got to stay at it.”

• Obama’s hoping that the modest move on housing – it could produce savings of about $900 for each home buyer – will help address tighter lending that has made home loans harder to come by for many people, one of the lingering effects of the economic collapse in 2008

• Officials said the housing announcement was the first in a series of “SOTU spoilers” that Obama will reveal in a series of speeches leading up to the State of the Union address. In a speech in Knoxville TN today, the president is expected to announce measures intended to make college more affordable (see related story)

• Meanwhile in Washington, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said the president was bragging about an “economy that we all know could be doing better.” And he criticized the president for not visiting the Veterans Affairs hospital in Phoenix that was at the heart of a scandal involving delayed care, although his motorcade drove very close to the facility

• Thursday, Boston was chosen as the American bid city to host the 2024 Summer Olympics over LA, San Francisco and Washington by the U.S. Olympic Committee. Rome wants the Olympics, Paris, Berlin may want to weigh in and South Africa is expected to bid, too (NYT, me)
Obama Proposes: 2 Years Free Community College
• President Obama will announce today that the federal govt will work with states to waive the first two years of community college tuition for some students. If states go along, the program would cover full-time and half-time students who maintain a 2.5 grade point average and “make steady progress toward completing a program,” the WH said in a fact sheet

• The federal govt would cover three-quarters of the average cost of community college for those students. WH officials declined to reveal how much such a program would cost, although they called it “significant.” And they acknowledged in a conference call with reporters that the program was unlikely to quickly win approval in Congress (NYT, Buzzfeed, me)

• States that choose to participate would have to contribute the remaining funds necessary to eliminate tuition for the eligible students. No price tag was included in the fact sheet, and the WH provided no estimate of the number of students who might qualify. Obama will announce the initiative at Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville TN

• About 7.7 million Americans attend community college for credit, of whom 3.1 million, or 40%, attend full-time, according to the American Assn of Community Colleges. Overall, the federal govt provides about $9.1 billion to community colleges, or about 16% of the total revenue the colleges receive. Tuition from students provides $16.7 billion a year, or nearly 30% revenue• The plan is modeled after Tennessee’s free community college program, called the Tennessee Promise. Sen Lamar Alexander (R-TN) will attend Obama’s announcement today. In an op-ed Thursday, he expressed concern about the federal role in such a program. “Let other states emulate Tennessee’s really good program,” he wrote

Vid: Sen Barbara Boxer (D-CA) announced Thursday that she won’t seek re-election as a senator, ending a 30-year career in Congress. The race to replace could cost $1 billion. In a statement, VP Joe Biden referred to Boxer as his “soul mate”


GOP to Unveil DHS Bill Today
• House Republicans will unveil their bill this morning to fund the Dept of Homeland Security through the end of September while trying to block President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. GOP leadership expects to post the bill online today, setting up an early-to-midweek vote. DHS funding runs dry 28 February (Politico, Hill, me)

• The legislation, which will include a number of other immigration-related policies, is a result of multiple meetings between House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and lawmakers from across the ideological spectrum of the Republican conference

• Many Republicans doubt the House legislation will be able to pass the Senate, where the legislation would need to garner the support of 60 senators. But the House Republican leadership will tell its members today that they can’t prejudge what the Senate will or won’t do with the legislation. Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said, “The House is going to work its will.”
SCOTUS Meets on Gay Marriage Today
• The nine justices of the Supreme Court, who opted in October not to take up the issue of state bans on gay marriage, are set to meet behind closed doors today to consider once again whether to hear any cases on the contentious issue. Cases are pending in Ohio, Tennessee, Michigan, Kentucky and Louisiana (Reuters, me)

• The legal issue is whether the state bans violate the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law. An announcement could be made today, though SCOTUSblog says it will probably be another week

• In October, the court decided not to intervene in the gay marriage issue when seven separate cases were pending. That decision not to hear the cases had huge legal implications because it meant that gay marriage went ahead in five states and paved the way for it to begin in several others. It’s now legal in 36 states compared with 19 before October

• If the court agrees to take one or more of the cases, it would have another chance to rule on when, if ever, gay men and women in the 14 states that now bar them from marrying could get marriage licenses. The case would likely be argued in the spring with a ruling in June• A 6 Nov decision by the Cincinnati-based 6th Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold marriage restrictions in four states may increase pressure on the court to take up the matter. It was the first of the nation’s regional federal appeals courts to uphold gay marriage prohibitions after a wave of other rulings declaring the bans unconstitutional

New extended video of aftermath of the Tamir Rice, aged 12, police shooting in Cleveland, shows police officers stood by without rendering medical aid as the boy lay wounded next to their patrol car. And one officer tackled Tamir’s 14-year-old sister pushing her to the ground. She was handcuffed and could watch her brother suffer. Tamir later died. Appalling (me, TPM)
Keystone Oozes Forward in Senate
• The Senate Energy Committee on Thursday passed legislation approving construction of the Keystone XL pipeline in a 13-9 vote. The bill will be brought to the House floor to begin an open amendment process early next week. All Democrats on the committee except Sen Joe Manchin (D-WV) voted no. All Republicans voted yes (Hill, Fox, NYT, TRNS, me)

• Sen Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), incoming chair, slammed the WH: “There is already a veto threat out there, but I don’t think it should deter us. The country, but also the world, is watching the U.S. to see if we are ready to lead as a global energy superpower.”

• New ranking member Maria Cantwell (D-WA) asked: “What is the emergency here for Congress to usurp process?” She called the bill a “sweetheart deal” from Congress and said she would propose an amendment that requires corporations to pay into an oil spill trust fund

• Sen Bernie Sanders (I-VT) offered an amendment that would try to put Republicans on the record about their beliefs about climate change. “It’s simple, do we agree with the international scientific community that climate change is real, or do we not?” Sanders asked

• Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said in a statement: “If the president is serious about supporting bipartisan infrastructure projects, he will reverse his veto threat and support these American jobs.” The WH argues the bill would circumvent the ongoing State Dept review of the Canada to Texas pipeline – on hold due to litigation in Nebraska

• The Senate approved legislation Thursday to reauthorize the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act for six years, Despite some Democratic reservations over language they said would weaken Wall St regulations, President Obama is expected to pass the bill, the first sent to his desk in the new GOP-controlled Congress (Hill, TRNS, me)
40-Hour Work-Week Bill Passes House
• The House on Thursday in a 252-171 vote approved legislation that would waive fees on businesses that don’t offer health insurance to employees working fewer than 40 hours per week. Only 12 Democrats voted yes. No Republicans opposed the measure. The bill is at the center of a heavy corporate lobbying campaign (Hill, TRNS, me)

• The WH has threatened to veto the bill, which strikes at the heart of the healthcare law’s mandate that businesses provide insurance. The bill is the GOP’s first chance to deliver an anti-Obamacare bill to the president’s desk. It will now advance to the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has promised it will see a vote

• “This bill will allow you to work 10 more hours without health care. Isn’t that wonderful?” Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said. “I’m sure every American worker is saying, ‘Thank God the Republicans are going to have me work 10 more hours before I can get health insurance. Aren’t you generous.'”

• The Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday that the bill would increase the deficit by about $46 billion because it would lower the number of companies liable for penalties and therefore reduce govt revenues

• Multiple GOP lawmakers, including McConnell, were quick to dismiss the estimates. “It is wreaking havoc out in society regardless of what the CBO view may be of the impact on the U.S. budget. We know the impact on the family budget and it’s not good,” McConnell said Wednesday

Moderate / Liberal House Dems: At War
• Moderate House Democrats are warring with the dominat liberal faction over the leftward shift of the caucus, arguing that they’ll never win back the majority if they don’t change their message. Tension reached a boiling point during a closed-door caucus meeting Wed over the party’s stance towards Wall Street banks – multiple sources at the meeting

• Liberal Mass Rep Mike Capuano incensed the moderates when he said if Democrats support rolling back Dodd-Frank regulations, “you might as well be a Republican.” Capuano’s comments were so pointed he immediately offended the handful of Democrats who had voted with Republicans previously on the issue and still support it – sources (Politico, me)

• Exchanges were described as “intense and emotional.” Moderate Dems were angered because that same legislation had garnered support from more than 70 Democrats in the 113th Congress, but became a political landmine after Sen Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) criticized the legislation as a Wall Street handout&&&

• Tensions continued to run high later. Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) caught incoming fire when he attended a meeting of the New Democrat Coalition, a pro-business faction of the caucus, later in the day. Reps Gerry Connolly (VA), John Carney (DE) and Jim Himes (CT) all voices strong opinions – sources in the room

• A Dem aide, in the meeting, said members brought up concerns about the Dec govt spending bill and the lack of pro-business messaging in the midterms. Lawmakers said they were tired of feeling like their integrity was in question and that the caucus no longer respects members who aren’t progressive – multiple sources

• Hoyer told them he understood their frustration, but that they also need to attend caucus meetings and raise their issues there. “He added that it’s important for the moderates to assert themselves whenever possible, which they agreed they’d do more frequently going forward,” the Democratic aide said

• Hoyer followed up with a statement including, “Unlike the deep divisions we’ve seen in the Republican conference, Democrats welcome a range of viewpoints and have remained unified on the vast majority of issues that have come before the House.”

• The Obamas may not get their security deposit back when they leave 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Speaking on housing in Phoenix Thursday, President Obama said Bo and Sunny “have been tearing things up occasionally. We’re going to have to clean things up a little bit.” (WaPo)
Hackers Getting In “Almost At Will”
• At this point, hackers “are bypassing conventional security deployments almost at will,” according to a report out Thursday from security firm FireEye. Of the 1,200 companies FireEye reviewed, every retailer was compromised, every healthcare and pharmaceutical company was breached and all but 9% of entertainment and media orgs were infiltrated

• In many industries, the attacks are increasingly launched with the direction or support of a govt. “Given the widespread failings of conventional security deployments, organizations must consider a new approach to securing their IT assets,” FireEye said. The security firm collected data between Jan and June 2014 (Hill, Vox, me)

• Govt-backed hackers increasingly focused their efforts on the legal, healthcare, high tech and retail industries in the first half of 2014. Govt-launched intrusions at law firms have doubled since FireEye’s first report on the issue in late 2013. Govt-sponsored breaches at healthcare, high tech and retail companies were all up roughly a third

• Overall, just over a fourth of all cyber assaults were supported in some fashion by govt officials. “This continued shortcoming is especially alarming given that nearly all of the advanced malware used in these breaches are well-known to security researchers and vendors,” FireEye said

• Industry groups have argued these attacks could be better thwarted if Congress were to pass legislation to enable the public and private sectors to exchange cyber threat info. Rep Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD) will reintroduce today a controversial bill (CISPA) that would help the public and private sectors share info about cybersecurity threats

• New trailer for “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Slightly hotter than the first lame one, but still rather tame, IMHO

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______________Victoria Jones

TRNS’ William McDonald, Nicholas Salazar and Loretta Lewis contributed to this report


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