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.

MH17 inquiry finds plane shot down by Russian-made missile fired from rebel-held east Ukraine (Daily Times)

 

News Now
  • Dem debate: Why watch?
  • Liberals push for left-ish questioner
  • The fab five: Game plans
  • US steps up Syria campaign
  • Ryan freezes race for speaker
  • Israelis killed in bus attack in Jerusalem
  • No Labels event: Trump’s #fail
  • Clinton campaign aims at House Benghazi panel
  • Iran convicts WaPo reporter for spying

Dem Debate Tonight: Why Watch? (NYT, Politico, NYT, CNN, AP, me)

• The challenge for CNN is daunting. The first two GOP primary debates – one Fox News, one CNN – broke ratings records, drawing nearly 50 millions viewers combined – the Donald Trump factor. In addition, tonight, there’s baseball. The New York Mets vs LA Dodgers and St Louis Cardinals vs Chicago Cubs in playoff games – GOP debates didn’t have sports
 
• The mood will be set a little slower. CNN is giving the Democrats two full minutes at the beginning of the broadcast (8:30-11 pm ET) to introduce themselves, in their own uninterrupted words (two minutes is an eternity – oh come on, CNN, 90 seconds max)
 
• The Fab Five: Former Gov and Sen Lincoln Chafee (RI); former Sen and SecState Hillary Clinton (NY); former Gov Martin O’Malley (Md); Sen Bernie Sanders (Vt); former Sen and Navy Sec Jim Webb (Va) – not on the stage, but hovering like a ghost will be undeclared possible candidate VP Joe Biden
 
• Debate moderator Anderson Cooper said, “I believe if somebody says something that is factually incorrect, it’s a good thing to point out what the record shows.” Juan Carlos Lopez, anchor at CNN en Espanol, and Dana Bash, CNN’s chief political correspondent will be on stage. Don Lemon will ask questions submitted through Facebook (he’d ask the wildest, if free to)
 
• CNN said it planned to highlight issues of interest to Democratic primary voters; areas in which the candidates have clear policy differences; and concerns of Latino voters, as the debate is taking place in Nevada, with a high share of Hispanics. It’s thought the vast majority of Republican debate viewers weren’t primary voters – curiosity seekers

• Twit pic of lectern number 6 – just in case VP Joe Biden decides to jump into the race and join tonight’s Democratic primary debate in Las Vegas (CNN). Bill Clinton is joining Hillary in Las Vegas. All the journos hope he’ll be in the spin room post-debate. All the details you need to know about tonight’s debate (Politico)

 

Liberal Push for Left-ish Questioner
• An online petition was being circulated Monday by the liberal group RootsAction urging CNN to add a left-leaning questioner to its panel. The argument is that a journalist, from outlets like The Nation or Mother Jones, could raise a topic that a more mainstream moderator might miss that’s important to the left wing base (it’s fair – GOP had Hugh Hewitt)
 
• Rep Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), the vice chair of the Democratic National Committee, said she was disinvited from the debate by the DNC after she asked for more debates. Bernie Sanders’ campaign has offered her a ticket (Debbie Wasserman Schultz, DNC chair, is behaving like she’s in high school)
 
• Hillary Clinton rallied a sea of workers from the Culinary Workers Union, protesting outside the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas on Monday. She spoke for less than five minutes, but was forceful and energized. “We’re here together in solidarity to organize,” Clinton loudly declared
 
• “You have a right to safe working conditions, you have a right to a living wage and you have to say yes to all of that and you have to say no to efforts to prevent you from organizing, and that means saying no to Donald Trump,” Clinton told the crowd
 
The Fab Five: Game Plans (WSJ, me)
Hillary Clinton: Under the most pressure as the front-runner, and tumbling in the polls. She must make the case that she stands for more than the fulfillment of a personal career goal. Likely to tack to the left. Must dos: What does she truly believe? What’s her vision for the country?  Emails: Just apologize, no caveats, no justification
 
Bernie Sanders: In the run-up, he’s signaled he’ll be going on offense. After Clinton came out against TPP trade deal, he said, “To be very frank with you, it would have been more helpful to have her on board a few months ago.” He’s just stated that he’s a “Democratic Socialist” not a “Capitalist.” He may need to explain that – voters aren’t crazy about “Socialists”
 
Martin O’Malley: One clear goal: Introducing himself to a nation that largely has no idea who he is. He’s mainstream – a logical fallback for some voters should Clinton falter. He needs a breakout debate, but needs to advance issues that galvanize votes – not just push the need for more debates
 
Jim Webb: Who? A couple of months ago, each of the Dem candidates showed up to address a DNC meeting in Minneapolis, except for Webb. DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz told the audience that Webb was busy taking his daughter to college. If Webb can actually make it tonight, viewers may hear who he is and why he’s in the race
 
Lincoln Chafee: Why? At his announcement speech he put forward a really vital and pressing question: Should Americans convert to the metric system? OK then

 

• Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) has appointed a special task force to explore changes to the filibuster rule and other procedural hurdles – including whether to eliminate filibusters on motions to proceed to legislation. The pressure on McConnell is coming largely from freshmen senators (who don’t remember being in the minority – bite you in butt) (Hill)
 
US Steps Up Syria Campaign (BBC, Reuters, me)
• The U.S. military has delivered more than 45 tonnes of small arms, ammunition and grenades to rebels fighting ISIS in northeastern Syria. C-17 transport aircraft, accompanied by fighter escorts, dropped pallets of supplies overnight in Hassakeh Province, a Pentagon spox said – they were picked up by the rebels
 
• It comes days after the U.S. abandoned a $500 million plan to train thousands of “moderate” rebels to fight ISIS. The Pentagon said the pallets were intended for Syrian Arab groups whose leaders have been vetted and who enjoy the confidence of the U.S.-led coalition battling ISIS
 
• A spox for one of the groups, the Raqqa Revolutionaries Front, told Reuters that they had been told that the supplies were to help them launch a joint offensive on the city of Raqqa – an ISIS stronghold – with the Kurdish Popular Protection Units (YPG) militia (see below for not-so-nice stuff on YPG)
 
• Meanwhile, in northwestern Syria, Russian jets reportedly intensified their attacks on rebel positions, as govt forces battled to regain control of the strategic area. Fighting was focused on the village of Kafr Nabudeh, in Hama Province, activists and officials said
 
• Also Monday, an attempt by Russian President Putin to win over opponents of Russia’s bombing campaign was snubbed. A Saudi Arabian source said that the defense minister told Putin that Russia’s intervention would escalate the war and inspire millions from around the world to go there and fight. Riyadh would continue to support President Assad’s opponents

 

• A report by Amnesty International accuses the U.S.-vetted Kurdish YPG, now a key ally, of razing entire villages in northern Syria after capturing them from ISIS. This appeared to be in retaliation for residents’ perceived sympathies with or links to ISIS. The acts amount to war crimes, Amnesty says. Residents in villages say the majority didn’t back ISIS (BBC)

 

Ryan Freezes Race for Speaker (Politico, NYT, CNN, me)
• Rep Paul Ryan (R-Wis) has said he doesn’t want to be speaker of the House but he’s considering it. And until he flatly rules it out, the other potential candidates for the chamber’s top job – nearly two dozen names and growing – are forced to proceed gingerly (I’m thinking odds are narrowing that he’ll go for it)
 
• The best example is Rep Bill Flores (R-Texas). The third-termer who chairs the Republican Study Committee sent a letter to his House colleagues on Monday indicating he’s considering a campaign for speaker – only if Ryan doesn’t run
 
• Ryan’s spox, Brendan Buck, preemptively tweeted Monday Morning: “Before you ask, nothing has changed and I don’t anticipate any news this week.” Buck is right. The race is practically frozen until Congress returns from recess on 20 October (everyone’s scattered)
 
• Meanwhile, five Texans are mulling a race: Flores, Mike McCaul, Mike Conaway, Mac Thornberry and Pete Sessions. All would yield if Ryan got in. Rep Marsha Blackburn (Tenn) is interested if Ryan isn’t. Mike Pompeo (Kan) is putting out feelers. Reps Jason Chaffetz (Utah) and Daniel Webster (Fla) are already in. Chaffetz says he’d get out if Ryan gets in
 
• NYT reports that far-right media figures have embarked on a furious internet expedition to “cover Rep Paul Ryan in political silt.” They’re trotting out the concern that he’s too far left – the concern in 2012 when he ran as VP was that he was too far right (fascinating – his entire record is being twisted)

 

Jerusalem: Israelis Killed in Attack on Bus (BBC, me)
• Shooting and stabbing attacks in Jerusalem and northern Israel have left two Israelis dead and many injured, the Israeli ambulance service says. Sixteen were wounded, eight seriously, when two assailants opened fire and stabbed passengers on a bus in Jerusalem. Police shot the attackers
 
• Near-daily stabbings by Palestinians have left Israelis dead and wounded over the past two weeks. Several attackers and at least 17 other Palestinians have been killed in the upsurge of violence. Police said officers arrived at the scene of today’s bus attacks and shot the attackers, killing at least one
 
• Elsewhere in the city, a man ran over three people at a bus station and then stabbed them with a knife, police said. The attacker was shot by police. Also today, a Palestinian stabbed an Israeli man, moderately wounding him, at a bus stop in Raanana, north of Tel Aviv, police said. The attacker was captured and reportedly beaten by passers-by
 
• Later, an Israeli woman was stabbed and wounded in a second attack in Raanana, police said. The attacker was arrested by police. Tensions between Israelis and Palestinians have escalated since last month, fueled by clashes at the al Aqsa mosque, a holy site in Jerusalem, in the West Bank and across the Gaza border, as well as the wave of stabbings
 
• The clashes at the holy site were fueled by a rumor among Palestinians that Israel was attempting to alter a long-standing religious arrangement governing the site. Israel repeatedly dismissed the rumors as incitement
 
No Labels Event: Trump’s #Fail (Politico, TRNS, me)
• The event organizers called for problem-solving and civility, policy substance over sideshows. But Donald Trump snarked that President Obama “bombed” on 60 Minutes. Other presidential candidates can’t talk about polls because they’re all doing “lousy.” And when any of them criticize Trump, “I go after them and they drop out of the race.” Attendees weren’t impressed
 
• “In the spirit of problem-solving, I’m wondering if you’re at all concerned that some of your divisive language you use on the campaign trail undermines your ability to sole problems,” a questioner said, to raucous applause. “I went to Ivy League schools, I know what’s divisive, I know what’s not divisive,” Trump replied (and apparently runs with divisive every time)
 
• “Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think you’re a friend to women,” a young woman said to applause. But before she could ask her question, Trump interrupted her, asserting “I respect women incredibly” and noting many work for him and he has provided opportunities for women, It was only after the crowd called him out that the woman was able to complete her question
 
• Most of the other politicians who appeared were careful to stress their willingness to work across the aisle and make trade-offs to reach solutions. “Please,” said a woman with a microphone, turning to the media in the audience. “Don’t make today about Donald Trump.” (errr)
 
• A young man in a Harvard sweatshirt asked Trump to clarify comments he has previously made about South Korea. “Are you from South Korea?” Trump asked the questioner, who appeared to be Asian-American. (gag me with a spoon) “I was born in Texas, raised in Colorado,” he replied. The crowd cheered for him. The people won

 

Clinton Campaign Aims at House Benghazi Panel (Politico, NYT, me)
• Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign sent “friends and allies” talking points Monday arguing that a major front-page NYT article on the House Benghazi committee demonstrates that the inquiry has “devolved into a fully partisan effort to hurt Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.” Clinton is scheduled to testify before the panel on 22 October
 
• The talking points, obtained by Politico, show a clear desire to use the Times report to build political momentum. “It turns out the partisan plot to turn the taxpayer-funded Benghazi committee into a front for attacking Hillary Clinton went all the way up to the Speaker of the House himself,” the Clinton campaign statement says
 
• Boehner spox Kevin Smith defended the panel’s investigation. “Hillary Clinton’s emails regarding Benghazi, which she and her staff tried to hide from investigators and the public for years, are relevant to the committee’s investigation and our efforts to get the truth for the four families who lost their loved ones in this terrorist attack.”

 

• The private email server that Hillary Clinton used while secstate used remote-access software that allowed connections directly from the internet, AP reports today. Such software was also the target of industry and govt warnings about its security vulnerabilities (AP)
 
• The NYT report says that anonymous senior GOP officials said that speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) had long been suspicious of the admin’s handling of the attacks and that Clinton’s emails gave him a way to keep the issue alive and to cause political problems for her campaign
 
• The new Clinton talking points also describe as “an explosive development” the emergence over the weekend of a former Benghazi panel staffer who claims he was fired in part for resisting efforts to focus the probe squarely on Clinton and the State Dept
 
• Major Bradley Podliska claims to be a conservative Republican, but said in interviews with CNN and NYT that he was forced out of the panel after objecting to partisanship in the inquiry. Benghazi committee chair Rep Trey Gowdy (R-SC)  said that Podliska was the one obsessed with Clinton and the grievance has to do with military service leave
 
• The Clinton campaign briefing says Clinton still plans to appear before the panel 22 Oct, but chiefly to respect the memories of the four Americans killed in the 11 Sept 2012 Benghazi attack. “But make no mistake: this committee stopped being about Benghazi a long time ago,” the talking points continue

 

• Playboy magazine is to stop publishing images of naked women as part of its redesign. Its U.S. owners say the internet has made nudity outdated (no kidding) and pornographic mags are no longer so commercially viable (who would pay?). However, the mag will still feature women in provocative poses – though not fully nude (NYT, BBC, me)
 
Iran Convicts WaPo Reporter for Spying (WaPo, me)
• WaPo correspondent Jason Rezaian, imprisoned in Tehran for more than 14 months, has been convicted of spying, Iranian state TV reported. It’s not clear whether he was convicted of all charges. Rezaian and the Post have strongly denied the accusations. Not known what sentence has been imposed. Rezaian has 20 days to appeal – and will
 
• Martin Baron, exec editor of the Post, called the guilty verdict “contemptible.” “Iran has behaved unconscionably throughout this case, but never more so than with this indefensible decision by a Revolutionary Court to convict an innocent journalist of serious crimes after a proceeding that unfolded in secret, with no evidence whatsoever of any wrongdoing,” – statement
 
• Top Iranian officials, including President Rouhani, have repeatedly floated the idea of a prisoner exchange in recent weeks. Rouhani has suggested that Iran might push to expedite the release of Rezaian and two other Iranian Americans if the U.S. freed Iranian citizens convicted of violating economic sanctions against Tehran

 

• Iran’s parliament passed a bill today supporting the govt in implementing a nuclear deal with world powers, state news agency IRNA said, in a victory for the govt over conservative opponents of the deal (Reuters)
 
• A petition by the Post on the first anniversary of his detention to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said Rezaian had limited contact with his lawyer, no opportunity to present witnesses or evidence in his defense or challenge any evidence against him. It said hard line Judge Salavati is clearly biased in favor of the prosecution
 
• Rezaian’s case came up repeatedly in talks in Switzerland between U.S. and Iranian negotiators over Tehran’s nuclear program. The U.S. side pressed for the release of the jailed journalist, as well as the two other imprisoned Americans, and asked for info on a missing American
 
• But as Rezaian’s imprisonment continued, it became increasingly apparent that his case was caught up in internal rivalries in Iran between hard-liners implacably hostile to the U.S. and (so-called) relative moderates supporting Rouhani, who was elected in 2013. Hard-liners, under Ayatollah Khameini are firmly in control of key levers of power
 
• Want to get caught drunk driving? Film yourself doing it with live-streaming app Periscope. Lots of concerned citizens called Lakeland PD in Florida Saturday evening when 23-year-old Whitney Beall drove home “so fu*king drunk,” in addition to being lost (icing on cake). The cops finally nabbed her through logging into a Periscope account and spotting identifying landmarks – DUI (Mashable)

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___________________
Victoria Jones – Editor

TRNS’ Justin Duckham contributed to this report

 

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