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.

Track Hurricane Joaquin (National Hurricane Center) Joaquin is now Category 3, expected to strengthen into a Category 4 storm sometime late today or tonight. Expected to turn north from Bahamas and parallel the East Coast on Friday / Saturday. Landfall? Maybe North Carolina / southern New Jersey on Sunday. President Obama has been briefed (Accuweather)
 
 
News Now
  • No govt shutdown now: Next panic 11 Dec
  • Russia strikes Syria: Assad’s opponents?
  • McCarthy tells truth: Lands in s*&#
  • Clinton email dump: “Secret,” phishing, freakouts
  • Clinton camp moves to check Biden
  • Criminal justice reform: Senate deal
  • Secret Service official wanted to embarrass pol
  • CNBC debate: 3% floor for big stage
  • Peeple: Yelp for humans – oh help
 
No Govt Shutdown Today: Next Panic 11 Dec (AP, Hill, TRNS, me)
• A bitterly divided Congress sent President Obama legislation to prevent a govt shutdown following a 277-151 vote in the House that will keep federal agencies funded through 11 Dec. “The American people deserve far better than last-minute, short-term legislating,” said WH spox Josh Earnest. Obama has signed the bill into law
 
• Approval of such stopgap measures used to be routine, but this year tea partyers demanded that the must-pass measure be used to punish Planned Parenthood, stripping it of federal money because of its practice of supplying tissue from aborted fetuses for scientific research. Only 91 Republicans supported the bill. All Democrats supported it
 
• The bill finances the govt through 11 Dec, providing 10 weeks to negotiate a more wide-ranging budget deal that would carry past the 2016 presidential election. But the talks promise to be difficult. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is resigning from Congress, after telling Republicans he wouldn’t risk a shutdown over Planned Parenthood
 
• The annual appropriations process is supposed to be wrapped up by now. However, Democrats demanding a new budget deal have blocked work in the Senate, while a fight over the Confederate flag halted work in the House with only six of the 12 annual spending bills having passed (real mess)
 
• Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif), the likely new House speaker, hasn’t said whether he supports a deal. The Pentagon and domestic agencies are still operating under automatic curbs that would effectively freeze their spending at current levels. Republicans want to boost defense, while President Obama wants to boost domestic programs

 

• Afghan officials say they have regained control of key areas of the northern city of Kunduz from the Taliban. An op launched overnight saw forces recapture govt landmarks and inflict heavy casualties on the militants, officials said. Fighting is reported to be ongoing (BBC)

 

Russia Strikes Syria: Assad’s Opponents? (WSJ, AP, Politico, TRNS, me)
• Russia launched airstrikes in Syria on Wednesday, catching U.S. and Western officials off guard. One of the airstrikes hit an area primarily held by rebels backed by the CIA and allied spy services, U.S. officials said. The Russian ambassador to France said today the Russian military had coordinated with American counterparts through “confidential channels.” (surprise to US)
 
• Moscow’s entry means the world’s most powerful militaries – including the U.S., Britain and France – now are flying uncoordinated combat missions, heightening the risk of combat in the skies over Syria. SecDef Ash Carter said Russia’s approach to the Syrian war was tantamount to “pouring gasoline on the fire.” (this is now approaching a real FUBAR)
 
• SecState John Kerry met with Russian FM Sergei Lavrov and said he raised concerns about attacks that target regime opponents other than ISIS. Speaking alongside Lavrov, Kerry said Wed that the U.S. and Russia have agreed to hold a military meeting as soon as possible to avoid any direct collisions or exchanges of fire in Syria
 
• The U.S. and allies were angry at the Russians because: they’re supporting Assad; they aren’t coordinating their actions with the existing, US.-led anti-ISIS coalition; they provided terse notice only an hour before their ops; they demanded the U.S. coalition stay out of Syrian airspace; and they struck in areas where anti-Assad rebels – not ISIS – operate (Russians don’t care)
 
• Defense officials criticized Russia’s decision to hit Homs instead of somewhere like Raqqa, the de facto ISIS capital. “This
[Homs] is not an ISIL stronghold,” a senior defense official said. A moderate Western-backed Syrian rebel group said one of its leading officers was killed in the Russian strikes in Homs province

 

• Donald Trump said in Keene NH Wednesday night, “I’m putting the people on notice that are coming here from Syria as part of this mass migration. If I win, they’re going back.” “They could be ISIS, I don’t know.” He also voiced support for Russia’s military involvement in Syria. “I think they will be fighting ISIS.” (errr) (+ meet Noujain Mustaffa, 16, a “could be ISIS” disabled Syrian teen…) (BBC, me)

McCarthy Tells Truth, Lands in S*&#

(AP, CBS, Politico, CNN, NYT, me)
• House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s campaign for speaker veered into damage control mode Wednesday after he suggested that the House Benghazi committee can take credit for Hillary Clinton’s slumping numbers. His comment was made on Fox News as he sought to court conservative support (he’ll still prob win, but he looks really stupid and naive)
 
• “Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right?” said McCarthy. “But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Because she’s un-trustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened had we not fought and made that happen.” (rookie mistake to say it)
 
• Clinton, on MSNBC, said the comments were “deeply distressing…When I hear a statement like that, which demonstrates unequivocally that this was always meant to be a partisan political exercise, I feel like it does a grave disservice and dishonors not just the memory of the four that we lost, but of everybody who has served our country.” (a gift to her – hit out of park)

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• McCarthy’s comment gave credence to Democratic accusations that the committee’s real aim is to attack Democratic presidential candidate Clinton. From the WH lectern, spox Josh Earnest said: “Leader McCarthy has committed the classic Washington gaffe of saying something that everybody already knows is true.” Statement from McCarthy’s spox:
 
• “The select committee on Benghazi has always been focused on getting the facts about the attacks on our diplomatic facilities in Libya that led to the death of four Americans.” … “These inquiries have nothing to do with politics and everything to do with the consequences of what the former sec has done and her confusing, conflicting and demonstrably false responses.”
 
• McCarthy’s comment raised questions for conservatives about his maturity. “I’ve heard from a lot of members of the Freedom Caucus that are very concerned about having a leader that we don’t just go out of the frying pan and into the fire,” said Rep Matt Salmon (R-Ariz), one of the rebels who helped push John Boehner (R-Ohio) out
 
• The Benghazi committee’s ranking member, Rep Elijah Cummings (D-Md), was scathing: “Republicans have blatantly abused their authority in Congress by spending more than $4.5 million in taxpayer funds to pay for a political campaign against Hillary Clinton.” (also the longest running select committee in history)

 

• Candidates in play for GOP leadership: Front-runners! Hard-right faves! Waiters in the wings! (NYT)

 

Clinton Email Dump: “Secret,” Phishing, Freakouts (NYT, Politico, Politico, me)
• Three emails sent to Hillary Clinton in 2011 when she was secstate contained info that should have been considered “secret,” the govt’s second-highest classification, according to a State Dept review of about 6,300 pages of her emails made public Wednesday. The emails have now been marked secret (bit laaate)
 
• Also among the emails released were five that appear to be attempts by hackers to penetrate Clinton’s email system. The messages appear to be notices of speeding tickets from the NY State Dept of Motor vehicles. But the emails are well known as phishing attempts by hackers in Russia. Unknown if Clinton clicked on them (gift to GOP re her homebrew server)
 
• In one Feb 2010 email to aide Huma Abedin, Clinton complains: “Right now I’m fighting w the WH operator who doesn’t believe I am who I say and wants my direct office line even tho I’m not there.” In one email, Clinton tells Abedin that she can’t turn on her phone’s ringer
 
• In one email, Clinton demanded to know who “made the decision that State will not use the terms ‘mother’ and ‘father’ [in passports] and instead substitute ‘parent one and two.'” Clinton wrote someone should “address this today” to avoid “a huge Fox-generated media storm led by Palin et al.” “I’m not defending that decision, which I knew nothing about, in front of this Congress.”
 
• In 2010, an aide wrote: “FYI. Israelis spinning up a storm, starting with plane briefing on the way over,” noting that one report said the Israelis “sounded a bit cocky.” “They always sound cocky – in the air or on the ground,” Clinton wrote back. She was pressing PM Netanyahu’s govt to make concessions towards a peace settlement

 

• The switch to chip and signature for credit cards is today. But advocates wanted chip and pin, like they have in Europe, as that’s an extra layer of security (pathetic half measure). Retailers say cyber thieves are already finding ways around the chip. “Locked the front door and left the back door open,” said an expert. And online fraud won’t decrease – likely increase (Hill, me)
 
Clinton Camp Moves to Check Biden (NYT, me)
• Hillary Clinton campaign operatives are now viewing VP Joe Biden’s entry into the presidential contest as a serious possibility and are trying to rally the party’s apparatus and its donors to her side. They’ve flooded uncommitted Democrats with emails, phone calls and a plea for them to sign a letter pledging to support Clinton at the 2016 convention
 
• This Saturday, hours before Biden appears as the keynote speaker at the annual gala of the influential gay and lesbian political group, Human Rights Campaign, Clinton will breakfast with them. Tuesday former Pres Bill Clinton will do The Late Show with Stephen Colbert – after Biden’s now viral appearance ( they’re panicking – as they should)
 
• Clinton’s team has been adamant that they’re not behind efforts to draw negative attention to Biden, or to do anything to pressure him. There have been a series of phone calls in the last week from Clinton and two top aides to financier and Democratic donor Robert Wolf, who is supporting Clinton but who recently met privately with Biden
 
• Clinton raised roughly $28 million during the last three months – a sharp drop from the $47.5 million of the previous three month, partly summer sluggishness and also the possibility Biden will get in. Biden’s allies are making clear they’re watching Clinton’s poll numbers and the email fallout (he’s looking more and more likely – question may be timing)
 
• Some superdelegates, who have significant influence in the nomination process, and have withheld their endorsement of Clinton partly because they’re waiting to see if Biden will get in, have experienced heightened pressure from the Clinton campaign (so he needs to make a decision, partly for fear people will cave to the Clinton machine)
 
Criminal Justice Reform: Senate Deal (Politico, me)
• A bipartisan group of Senate leaders has reached a deal on criminal justice legislation that would allow well behaved prisoners to earn time off their sentences and effectively reduce long criticized mandatory minimums for non-violent drug offenders, according to aides familiar with the agreement and sources off the Hill
 
• Senate Judiciary chair Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Sens John Cornyn (R-Texas), Dick Durbin (D-Ill), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) have agreed to a package to make the system fairer, particularly for African Americans, following the Baltimore and Ferguson riots
 
• The deal is a major boost for an issue that President Obama hopes to make a central part of his legacy. While sentencing reform for nonviolent drug offenses is a major piece, it doesn’t go as far as Democrats had originally hoped, according to a source close to the negotiations. It’s expected to be introduced in the Judiciary Committee today
 
• In the deal – ongoing since spring – lawmakers tried to strike a balance between critics who want to do away with mandatory minimums altogether, including 2016 Sen Rand Paul (R-Ky) and top Judiciary Dem Pat Leahy (Vt), and Grassley and Cornyn who have been wary of such proposals
 
• The deal does include the main components of the Cornyn-Whitehouse CORRECTIONS Act on prison reform, which aims to reduce overcrowding and cut recidivism rates by letting low risk prisoners earn reduced sentences and improving program that prepare inmates for life after prison (not clear how much floor time there is for it)

 

• Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared before world leaders Wed that he’s no longer bound by agreements signed with Israel and called on the UN to provide international protection for Palestinians, in the most serious warning yet that he might walk away from engagements with the Jewish state. The Palestinian flag was raised at the UN for the first time (AP, TRNS)
 
Secret Service Official Wanted to Embarrass Congressman (WaPo, me)
• The assistant director of the Secret Service suggested the agency release embarrassing info about Rep Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) after the congressman scolded the director for a series of security lapses during a hearing, according to a report released Wed by the agency’s IG (payback is a bitch – then payback is another bitch)
 
• “Some information that he might find embarrassing needs to get out,” Asst Director Edward Lowery wrote in an email on 31 March. “Just to be fair.” Two days later, the Daily Beast reported that Chaffetz had applied to be a Secret Service agent in 2003 but was rejected. Lowery denied to investigators that he ordered the file leaked (hmmm?)
 
• The file on Chaffetz, which was housed in a restricted database, was viewed by as many as 45 Secret Service agents in March and April. The IG report also found the file had been widely shared and spread to nearly every layer of the agency. Eighteen supervisors knew the private info was being widely disseminated (great security)
 
• “Chairman Chaffetz and I have worked together to help restore the Secret Service to its standing as the most elite protective agency in the world,” said House Oversight Committee ranking member Rep Elijah Cummings (D-Md). “Today’s findings by the IG go directly against this goal and are completely and utterly unacceptable and indefensible.”
 
 

• Radio talk show host Michael Savage calls Sen Bernie Sanders (I-Vt): “the liberal weasel Jew – that’s what I call Bernie Sanders” –  who hates America and Christians – in a revolting rant against the Democratic presidential contender (me, Right Wing Watch)

 
CNBC Debate: 3% Floor For Big Stage (Politico, Vox, TRNS, me)
• CNBC has set a floor of 1% in polls conducted by NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox, CNN and Bloomberg released in the five weeks before the 28 Oct debate, in order to participate in any part of the debate, being held in Boulder, Colo
 
•Candidates who have an average of 3% in polls will be on the primetime, 8 pm EDT debate stage, CNBC announced Wednesday. A 2.5% average will be rounded up to 3%. All other candidates with at least a 1% in any poll will be invited to the undercard debate
 
• So, with recent polling averages, the main stage would feature Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz fairly comfortably. John Kasich, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee and Rand Paul can’t get too comfortable – bit itchy, in fact – and Paul’s in danger of falling below 3% right now
 
• According to most recent polls, the little debate stage if held today would feature Bobby Jindal and Rick Santorum, but neither Lindsey Graham nor George Pataki and Jim Gilmore have hit 1% in one of the recognized polls – so, quite a big platform for Jindal and Santorum
 
• In recent days, several campaigns have lashed out at the Republican National Committee and accused it of trying to cull the field (bet it is). The debate will focus on the economy, jobs and retirement. Moderators: CNBC anchors John Harwood, Carl Quintanilla and Becky Quick

 

• About 10% of all likely voters in a new GOP national poll by Suffolk University/USA Today said they’d describe Donald Trump as an “idiot,” a “jerk,” “stupid” or “dumb,” while 6% called him “arrogant” and another 6% called him “crazy” or “nuts.” Meanwhile, 5% called him a “buffoon,” a “clown,” “comical” or a “joke” (likely voters likely on point) (Politico, me)

 

Peeple: Yelp For Humans – Help (WaPo, me)
• Help. Peeple is Yelp for human beings. When the app launches, probably late November, you’ll be able to assign reviews and one- to five- star ratings to everyone you know: your exes, your co-workers, the old guy next door (absolutely ghastly idea)

• You can’t opt out – once someone puts your name in the Peeple system, it’s there unless you violate the site’s terms of service (incentive to misbehave?) And you can’t delete bad or biased reviews

• Imagine every interaction you’ve ever had suddenly open to the scrutiny of the internet public. Co-founder Julia Cordray says Peeple’s “integrity features” (redundant notion) are fairly rigorous, if you raise concerns about shaming or bullying. To review anyone, you must be 21, have a Facebook account, and review under your real name (whole thing is bullying)
 
• You must also affirm that you “know” the person in one of three categories: personal, professional or romantic. To add someone to the database who hasn’t been reviewed before, you must have that person’s cell phone number (very intrusive – does Peeple then get the number? – and does it mean you can be added against your will? Sounds vaguely illegal – or should be)
 
• Positive ratings post immediately; negative ratings are queued in a private inbox for 48 hours in case of disputes. If you haven’t registered for the site, and thus can’t dispute those negative ratings, your profile only shows positive reviews. (what about accuracy? consent? grossness? lack of privacy?) Bad behaviors include profanity, sexism and mention of private health conditions (eww)

 

Kayak Eating Bear Confounds Woman (Verge, me)
•  An Alaska woman pepper sprays a bear in the face. The bear, miffed, turns around and sets about destroying her kayak. “Why are you breaking my kayak?” “Please stop breaking my things!” She calls the bear “Bear!” throughout. “It’s not even food! It doesn’t even taste good!” “Gosh darn it, why are you doing that?” “Stop that, Bear!” “You’re supposed to be asleep!”
 
• Mary Maley was on a 107-mile kayak journey from Ketchikan to Petersburg, and says she was forced to swim out to a nearby sailing boat, hitching a ride back to the city of Wrengell to repair her damaged vessel. “Bear,” presumably, is now asleep, its belly fully of yummy kayak. The video is must-see. Naughty bear



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___________________
Victoria Jones – Editor

TRNS’ William McDonald, Ryan Prete, Loree Lewis and Luke Vargas contributed to this report

 

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