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.

Flooding from Hurricane Joaquin will impact 65 million people and areas from South Carolina to Massachusetts, even though the storm is unlikely to make landfall in the US (Accuweather)

 

Vatican: Pope Francis’ meeting with Kim Davis not a form of support for her position

 

News Now
  • Oregon shooting at Umpqua college kills 10
  • Obama condemns “routine” of mass shootings
  • Shooter hated religion
  • Chilling 4chan chat

 

  • US warns Russia on Syria
  • September jobs report: 5 things
  • McCarthy’s mess: Republicans scramble
  • FBI chief: No politics in Clinton email probe
  • Google: Hillary’s age, Christie’s weight
Oregon Shooting at Umpqua College Kills 10 (NYT, AP, Guardian, Roseburg News-Review, TRNS, me)
• A 26-year-old man opened fire on a community college campus in rural Roseburg, Ore, Thursday, in a rampage that left 10 people dead and maybe 10 wounded. Students described scenes of carnage concentrated in a public speaking class, and people fleeing in panic from classrooms as they heard shots nearby
 
• Umpqua Community College went into lockdown, and the gunman died in an exchange of gunfire with police officers who responded, law enforcement officials said. At a presser, Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin declined to say whether the gunman was included in the death toll of what was believed to be 10
 
• Law enforcement identified the gunman Thursday night as Chris Harper Mercer, and said he had three weapons, at least one of them a long gun and the other ones handguns. It wasn’t clear whether he fired them all
 
• Stacey Boylan, father of 18-year-old Anastasia Boylan, who was injured in the attack, said he asked people: “Are you a Christian?” and “If you are a Christian then stand up” and they would stand up. He’d say “because if you are a Christian you’re going to see God in about one second” and then he shot and killed them and he kept going down the line and doing this

• Audio: Umpqua Community College shooting – police and fire response, Douglas County, Oregon. Gets really chilling around the 6:00 mark (Broadcastify)

 

• Hanlin said at the presser, “Let me be very clear, I will not name the shooter. I will not give him the credit he probably sought prior to this horrific and cowardly act.”
 
• President Obama, in an impassioned appearance at the WH, said that grief wasn’t enough, and he implored Americans “whether they are Democrats or Republicans or independents” to consider their representatives’ stance on gun control when they voted
 
• Hanlin wrote to VP Joe Biden in Jan 2013 urging against gun control which he said would be “an indisputable insult to the American people.” “Gun control is NOT the answer to preventing heinous crimes like school shootings.” He also stated he’d refuse to enforce any gun control laws the U.S. govt may pass and wouldn’t allow his deputies or federal officers to enforce them (speechless)
 
• The first reports of shots came at 10.38 am. Kortney Moore, 18, said the gunman asked people to stand up and state their religion and then started firing. She said she saw her teacher shot in the head, adding that she herself was on the floor with people who had been shot. One female student escaped by swimming across a stream

• America has 4.4% of the world’s population, but almost half of the civilian-owned guns around the world (Vox). There have been 45 shootings in schools in 2015 – according to Everytown for Gun Safety

 

• Federal law enforcement officials said they were examining an online conversation on 4chan, an anonymous message board, as well as other social media, trying to determine if any of it was linked to the gunman. One writer said: “Don’t go to school tomorrow if you are in the Northwest.” (story below)
 
• Roseburg, a politically conservative town about 180 miles south of Portland, with a population of 22,000, has struggled in recent decades as the timber harvests in the national forests that hug the community have declined. In Aug, Douglas County had an unemployment rate of 8.1%
 
• Oregon is one of seven states with a provision, either from state legislation or court rulings – in this case – that allow the carrying of concealed weapons on public postsecondary campuses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The campus was not, as some commentators and web sites have stated, a gun-free zone
 
• Residents gathered at a Roseburg park Thursday night for a candlelit vigil for the victims. Amazing Grace was played
 
 

• Map: Mass shootings since Sandy Hook – 986 – includes shootings in which four or more people were shot at. 294 this year. 275 days so far this year. Nearly 400 dead. As huge as the number looks, mass shootings still make up a small percentage of America’s gun deaths – more than 32,000 each year (Vox, WaPo)

 
Obama Condemns “Routine” of Mass Shootings (NYT, CNN, TRNS, me)
• President Obama’s rage about gun massacres, building for years, spilled out Thursday night as he acknowledged his own powerlessness to prevent another tragedy and pleaded with voters to force change themselves (don’t think I’ve ever seen him so frustrated – press seemed gobsmacked by it. I didn’t hear a single question shouted out as he left the lectern)
 
• “So tonight, as those of us who are lucky enough to hug our kids a little closer are thinking about the families who aren’t so fortunate,” the president said in the James Brady Press Briefing Room, named for a man severely wounded by a would-be assassin’s bullet – – –
 
• – – – “I’d ask the American people to think about how they can get our govt to change these laws, and to save these lives and let these people grow up.” Obama admitted he was unable to do anything to prevent such tragedies by himself. And he did little to hide the anger and frustration that have deepened
 
• Obama took a veiled swipe at the NRA. “And I would particularly ask America’s gun owners who are using those guns properly, safely, to hunt for sport, for protecting their families, to think about whether your views are being properly represented by the organization that suggests it is speaking for you.”

Full video statement: President Obama on the shootings at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon (WH). Obama’s statement in print

 

• Obama said that given the frequency of mass shootings, people had “become numb to this.” “Right now, I can imagine the press releases being cranked out. ‘We need more guns,’ they’ll argue. ‘Fewer gun safety laws.’ Does anybody really believe that?” he asked, his voice rising in disbelief
 
• This time, Obama didn’t announce any new initiative to fix the problem. He pointed out that there’s “a gun for roughly every man, woman and child in America. So how can you with a straight face make the argument that more guns will make us safer?”
 
• He pointed out that the govt responds to mine disasters by insisting on safer mines. But guns are seen are seen as so different that Congress has forbidden the federal govt even to collect certain stats, he said. He rejected the notion that the Constitution forbids even modest regulation of deadly weapons
 
• He also asked news organizations to tally the number of Americans killed by terrorist attacks over the last 10 years and compare that with the number killed by domestic gun violence. He challenged voters: “If you think this is a problem, then you should expect your elected officials to reflect your views.”
 
• “We are not the only country on Earth that has people with mental illnesses or want to do harm to other people,” he said. “Each time this happens, I’m going to bring this up, he said. “Each time this happens, I’m going to say that we can actually do something about it.”
 
Shooter: Hated Religion (Daily Beast, me)
• Police have identified the gunman as 26-year-old Chris Harper Mercer. He showed a disdain for organized religion online and then allegedly asked victims about their faith before shooting them – he apparently targeted Christians
 
• An online dating profile linked to Harper Mercer’s email address and featuring a photo of him says he was living with his parents and searching for the “yin to my yang.” It identifies his views as “conservative, republican” and lists “organized religion” as one of his “dislikes.” See lede story for report of Mercer demanding to know victims’ religion before killing them
 
• The MySpace page features a photo of Harper Mercer holding a gun and smiling into the camera. The profile includes images of pro-Irish Republican Army propaganda (yuck). Lithium-Love was another online identity linked to his email address. Under this name, he posted on torrent upload sites, sometimes asking people to donate to his email address to support file-sharing work
 
• In a blog, he expressed admiration for Roanoke shooter Vester Flanagan. “On an interesting note, I have noticed that so many people like him are all alone and unknown, yet when they spill a little blood, the whole world knows who they are…A man who was known by no one, is now known by everyone.” (point of being known when you’re dead is, exactly?)
 
• Harper Mercer’s online presence hinted at an interest in mass shootings, with a torrent account showing he uploaded a BBC documentary about the Sandy Hook killings just three days ago. He portrays himself as a non-drinker, who’s never done drugs, with an affinity for working out (didn’t do him much good, did it)

 

Chilling 4chan Chat
• Federal law enforcement said they were examining a conversation on 4chan, the creepy anonymous online message board, as well as other social media. Problem with 4 chan is messages have a history of being false, misleading and intentionally wrong. Users don’t have to identify themselves, even with a user name. Here’s some of the conversation:
 
• “Some of you guys are alright. Don’t go to school tomorrow if you are in the northwest. happening thread will be posted tomorrow morning. so long space robots.” – the message suspected to be by the shooter
 
• Other weirdo messages soon after: “You might want to target a girls school which is safer because there are no beta males throwing themselves for their rescue”
 
• “Do not use a shotgun. I would suggest a powerful assault rifle and a pistol or 2x pistols. Possibly the type of pistols who have 15+ ammo”
 
• “why don’t you just talk to a girl instead you beta f*ck. no one will respect you for this they’ll just see you for the shit coward you are. go fistfight chad if you want to prove dominance.”
 
* “DO IT”

 

• A bipartisan group of senators introduced “the biggest criminal justice reform bill in a generation,” Sen Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) told reporters Thursday. The bill looks to adjust some mandatory minimums for sentencing, new rules concerning drug crimes and assistance for low risk inmates to return to society earlier (TRNS)
 
US Warns Russia on Syria (AP, AP, Guardian, Reuters, Hill, TRNS, me)
• As Russian warplanes carried out a second wave of airstrikes Thursday in Syria, Moscow admitted it had targeted groups other than ISIS in coordination with the Damascus govt. WH spox Josh Earnest said the airstrikes had targeted areas where there were “few, if any” ISIS forces. That includes a camp of rebels trained by the CIA, the group’s commander said
 
• “If they’re there to support the Assad regime, Russia will have made a catastrophic mistake,” SecState John Kerry said Thursday night on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Kerry said such a scenario would risk “really inviting more jihadists to come into Syria.” (going to do anything about it?)
 
• Speaking Thursday at the UN, Russian FM Sergei Lavrov said, “I would recall that we always were saying that we are going to fight ISIL and other terrorist groups.” He added, “If it looks like a terrorist, if it acts like a terrorist, if it walks like a terrorist, if it fights like a terrorist, it’s a terrorist, right?” The Assad regime calls all rebel groups “terrorists” (and murders civilians)
 
• Russian President Vladmir Putin denied reports that civilians were killed in any Russian bombings. “We are ready for such information attacks,” he said. An independent analyst said that the Qataris – acting with the agreement of Saudi Arabia – have begun flying in planeloads of weapons to Turkish airbases – (so some backfiring going on and potential spread of the war)
 
 
 
• Lt Gen Robert Otto, deputy chief of staff for intel and surveillance for the Air Force, said the Russians have been dropping “dumb bombs” – munitions that are not precision guided. That could lead to the deaths of innocent civilians, he said, and create more terrorists than they kill
 
• The Pentagon began talks via video teleconference with Russian military officials on ways to avoid U.S. and Russian forces firing on each other in Syria. Otto said, “I have a low level of trust in the Russians. It’s trust but verify. … I would not envision a relationship where I would share some of my intelligence with them.”
 
• A British based monitoring group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the Russian strikes had killed 30 civilians, including six children and six women. The U.S. and Russia agree on the need to fight ISIS but not about what to do with Assad (this is an utter disaster – this is Ukraine – nose under the tent get in, stay in, all over again)
 
• Meanwhile, hundreds of Iranian troops have arrived in Syria in the last 10 days and will soon join govt forces and their Lebanese Hezbollah allies in a major ground offensive backed by Russian air strikes, two Lebanese sources told Reuters. The op would be aimed at recapturing territory lost by Assad’s govt to rebels (let’s everybody join in, why not)

 

• In a letter to Congress on Thursday, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said the federal govt will hit a legal debt limit and be unable to borrow more money around 5 Nov. He said the govt would likely have less than $30 billion in cash at that point and urged Congress to “take action as soon as possible and raise the debt limit” (WSJ)
 
September Jobs Report: 5 Things (WSJ, me)
Hard numbers: The September jobs report will show the U.S. economy’s resilience in the face of stock market turmoil and economic troubles abroad. Economists surveyed by WSJ estimate payroll growth of 200,000 and a jobless rate holding steady at 5.1%. The govt’s report comes out at 8.30 am EDT today
 
The big picture: August’s gain of 173,000 jobs marked the second weakest month of job creation this year. Was it a blip or the start of an extended slowdown? Should have a clue soon. The three month average is currently running at 221,000 – a strong enough pace to continue to chip away at unemployment. But a dip could raise fears of a stall amid foreign fears
 
Where are the lost workers? The unemployment rate is already within the 4.9% to 5.2% range that the Federal Reserve (interest rate?) considers the economy’s long run average. But one key reason for the sharp drop in joblessness is a shrinking labor force – and Americans 25-54 who are employed or actively looking for work has fallen despite strong job growth
 
Wage mystery: Hourly earnings of private sector workers rose an average 2.2% in the year through August – roughly in line with the trend since the economy emerged from recession. Stronger growth in wages could signify that the labor market is nearing a full recovery more than six years after the downturn
 
Industry breakdown: Industry job figures will offer clues on what effect economic turmoil overseas is having on the U.S. Depressed oil prices have meant jobs at oil and gas extraction were down nearly 3% this year through August. But retail and leisure jobs are up in part due to lower gas prices that have boosted Americans’ pocketbooks

 

• T-Mobile said Thursday that around 15 million of its U.S. customers (massive) may have been exposed in a data breach at Experian, which processes the telecom carrier’s credit applications, during Sept this year. Stolen data includes Social Security numbers, drivers license numbers or passport numbers (Hill)
 
McCarthy’s Mess: Republicans Scramble (Hill, Hill, Hill, TRNS, me)
• Republicans are scrambling to contain the damage from House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif) remarks (goofy gaffe) about the Benghazi Committee amid a firestorm of criticism. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Thursday said, “This investigation has never been about former SecState Clinton and never will be.”
 
• Tuesday, McCarthy said on Fox News: “Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee. A special committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable.” (she needs to practice her martyr’s face in front of a mirror before her appearance on 22 Oct)
 
• “I think he should apologize. I think he should withdraw it,” said House Oversight Committee chair Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) on CNN. “I think it’s an absolutely inaccurate statement as to what we’re doing.” “I totally disagree with those
[McCarthy] comments,” added Rep Justin Amash (R-Mich) on CNN. Democrats pounced on GOP leaders to disband the committee
 
• “It is unconscionable that the U.S. House of Representatives is continuing to use millions of dollars in taxpayer funds for political purposes, and we urge you to immediately disband the select committee on Benghazi,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) and other Democrats said (pointlessly) in a letter to Boehner on Thursday
 
• House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) piled on, saying the comments show the committee is “an unethical operation” because Republicans have used taxpayer money “for their own political purposes.” She said, “It’s obvious it should be disbanded,” but added that since Republicans won’t do that, Democrats should continue to participate (so they can pile on, too)

 

• The No. 4 House Republican, Rep Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash) was booed by the audience at the Washington Ideas Forum Thursday, while attempting to deny the Benghazi committee was politically motivated. The audience hissed, booed and some shouted: “You’re lying!” (what, no spitting?) (HuffPo)

 

FBI Chief: No Politics in Clinton Email Inquiry (NYT, NYT, WaPo, me)
• FBI director James Comey said Thursday that he was certain the bureau would be able to complete the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s personal email account in a timely, nonpolitical manner. “I am following this very closely, and I get briefed on it regularly,” Comey said to reporters at FBI HQ (I’ll bet he does)
 
• The FBI opened a probe this summer into how classified material was handled in connection with Clinton’s account when she was secstate in response to a referral from the IG of the intelligence community. He said sensitive national security info had been found in the account. It’s illegal to have classified info on an unsecure network (but no charges suggested)
 
• “If you know my folks, you know they don’t give a rip about politics,” Comey said. “And my job as director of the FBI is to ensure that we remain those things I said we are: competent, honest and independent – and that we do our work well. Part of doing our work well is we don’t talk about it while we do it.” (gnashing of teeth by journos)
 
• Comey wouldn’t say whether he’d make the results of the investigation public. Clinton, a Democratic 2016er, has said that she complied with all federal laws and regs regarding email use. But her poll numbers nosedived. And a new WaPo/ABCNews poll this month showed that just 33% of registered voters said “honest” and “trustworthy” applied to her
 
• So Clinton’s decided to make an appearance on Saturday Night Live this weekend. She knows she needs to fix her image – fast. Particularly since Democratic 2016er Sen Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) has amassed a million online donations over the past five months and he’s raised about $26 million since July
 
• Watch Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu blast the countries of the UN for their “deafening silence” in what he says is Iran’s latest threat to destroy Israel – then at 3:48 watch his 0:44 seconds of “deafening silence” as he glares at the UN audience. He also hammers the Iran nuclear deal (C-Span)
 
Google: Hillary’s Age, Jeb’s Height, Christie’s Weight (AP, me)
• Hillary Clinton’s age. Jeb Bush’s height. Chris Christie’s weight. Donald Trump’s net worth. Carly Fiorina’s marital status and Bobby Jindal’s birthplace – among the top questions that Google was asked about each candidate over the past couple of months. Different stuff from what traditional pollsters provide – what you really want to know
 
• Showing he’s sharp, shortly after Google first release questions posed about each candidate, GOPer Marco Rubio’s campaign released a video in which he answered some of them (my GOP man to watch). Google gets some three billion requests each day, said Simon Rogers, data editor for Google’s News Lab
 
• Height is clearly a thing with Google searchers. Besides Bush, that was the top question about Christie, John Kasich, George Pataki and Rand Paul. Age is also a biggie. But Chris Christie’s two big questions: weight lost and height. Earlier in the summer, voters were asking: “Who is Ben Carson?”
 
• After age and height, searchers asked about Clinton: “What did Hillary do wrong?” Also whether she was still running or if she was in trouble. (ooh ouch) A frequent question was why Fiorina was fired as Hewlett Packard’s chief exec, Mike Huckabee’s views on the Iran deal and Rubio’s position on gay marriage
 
• As the campaign moves along, the types of queries from voters are likely to become much more specific, Rogers said. Should remind journos that voters know much less about candidates than they do. Privately, in front of a computer screen, they’ll questions they wouldn’t necessarily bring up publicly
 

• Rocking into the weekend with “Dopamine” – DIIV – first single from their new album “Is The Is Are”

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___________________
Victoria Jones – Editor

TRNS’ Nicholas Salazar, Loree Lewis, Anthony Herrera and Ryan Prete contributed to this report

 

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