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

  • CDC: Ebola guidelines “based on science”
  • Ebola: Govt says “we’re in charge”
  • Nurse freed / Where’s Ron Klain?
  • Ebola: Pols add a cent or two
  • Midterm Madness: One week out
  • VA disability claims soar: Fraud?
  • Claim: Can’t walk / Fact: “Rolling hay bales”
  • UN Report: Human rights in Iran worse
  • Obama pushes advanced manufacturing
  • What’s your worry?


CDC: Guidelines “Based on Science”
• CDC Director Dr Tom Frieden said Monday that new guidelines released to U.S. state health depts call for those who have had direct exposure to the Ebola virus – such as through a needle stick or caring for an Ebola patient without wearing protective gear – to stay off public transport, avoid “congregate” settings, such as offices, and remain primarily at home for 21 days

• Those individuals would also be banned from flying and would undergo “direct active monitoring” by a public health worker who would visit or call daily to check their temperatures and discuss possible symptoms, Dr Frieden said (WSJ, TRNS, WaPo, CNN, Fox, me)

• Health care workers returning to the U.S. from Ebola-stricken countries in West Africa, as well as others considered to be at “some risk” of developing the disease, should also be “intensively monitored” daily by public health authorities. That includes talking about symptoms, “even something as vague as fatigue,” Dr Frieden said (ref to NY Dr Craig Spencer)

• In addition, any travel for health care workers and others at some risk would need to be “coordinated and pre-approved,” Dr Frieden said. But they wouldn’t be asked or ordered to isolate themselves at home, he said

• Dr Frieden said the CDC is discussing the guidelines with state and local health depts, who make the final decision on whether to adopt them. Health depts around the country do generally abide by CDC recommendations, but decisions about whether to quarantine are up to them. “We believe these are based on science,” Dr Frieden said of the guidelines

Ebola: Govt Says “We’re In Charge”
• The federal govt on Monday tried to take charge of an increasingly acrimonious national debate over how to treat people in contact with Ebola patients by announcing guidelines that stopped short of tough measures in NY and NJ and were carefully devised, officials said, not to harm the effort to recruit badly needed medical workers to West Africa

• But Gov Andrew Cuomo of NY and Gov Chris Christie of NJ denounced the guidelines as unsafe for the people of their states, and the Pentagon appeared to be charting an entirely different course as well (NYT, TRNS, TRNS, me)

• UN SecGen Ban Ki-moon weighed in Monday through his spox, without mentioning the U.S. directly. “Returning health workers are exceptional people who are giving of themselves for humanity. They should not be subjected to restrictions that are not based on science.”

• Gen Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff, ordered a 21-day “controlled monitoring period” that could isolate hundreds of troops on their American bases, away from their families, when they return from the Ebola zone in West Africa (nice thank you for your service) (TRNS)
Nurse Freed / Where’s Ron Klain?
• Christie agreed to release nurse Kaci Hickox who had been quarantined in a tent at a hospital so she could travel to Maine, where she lives. In NY, a 5-year-old boy who recently traveled from Guinea tested negative for Ebola. In Baltimore, a potential Ebola patient was placed in isolation at the University of Maryland Medical Center

• The long-awaited federal guidelines were an effort to bring uniformity to a messy patchwork of responses by states, including Florida, Illinois, and most recently, Georgia, which have all announced tougher policies

• But the CDC doesn’t have the power to police internal public health matters, so it’s up to the states to carry out the policy, and it’s far from clear that they’ll fall into line (prob won’t)

• It was unclear what role Ron Klain, President Obama’s designee in charge of managing the response to Ebola between federal and state authorities, played in the standoff between the WH and the governors. WH spox Josh Earnest told reporters Monday that Klain was running “intensive coordination among a range of federal agencies to respond to this very difficult challenge.”
Ebola: Pols Add a Cent or Two
• Rep Adam Schiff (D-CA), a member of the Intelligence Committee, said in a statement Monday: “The initial decision by three states to mandatorily quarantine all healthcare workers returning from West Africa … was rash, ill-considered and contrary to the advice of scientists and health professionals.” (Hill, me)

• Rep Tim Murphy (R-PA), who heads the Energy and Commerce Oversight subcommittee, said on CNN, “Quarantine is the only thing that breaks the link. We have to recognize that, if they travel around, they can put other people at risk from having bodily fluids upon them, and so it is best to do this.” Not many pols are speaking out (elections…)

• Sen Martin Heinrich (D-NM) said on MSNBC, “I think the governors overreacted a little bit but I understand the concern.” “I think there’s probably a happy medium where … we can monitor folks in their home.” Sen Jeff Flake (R-AZ) echoed Heinrich, saying there’s a “happy medium somewhere.” (Madame Zolda, where are you?)

• WH spox Josh Earnest on Monday during the press briefing took a swipe at New Jersey Gov Chris Christie’s weekend Ebola policy. Pointing to the case of nurse Kaci Hickox, Earnest said, “Her service and commitment to this cause is something that should be honored and respected. And I don’t think we do that by making her live in a tent for two or three days.” (meow)
• Senate prediction: One week out from Election Day, I predict Republicans will take over the Senate with 52 seats
Midterm Madness: One Week Out
• President Obama is visiting Milwaukee today to campaign for Gov Scott Walker’s (R-WI) Democratic opponent, Mary Burke. She’s a Madison School Board member and former state commerce chief who’s invested millions of her personal wealth in the race (Politico, Politicalwire, Hill, NH Journal, Reuters, me)

• Sen John McCain (R-AZ) on Monday slammed fellow Senate Armed Services Committee member Sen Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), saying that she’s not a “serious member” of the committee. “I don’t see her at very many of the hearings,” McCain said after an event for NH GOP Senate candidate Scott Brown

• House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair Rep Steve Israel (D-NY) will host a caucus-wide, members-only conference call this afternoon to make a cash plea one week ahead of the midterm elections (“we’re dying here”)

• A new USA Today/Suffolk University poll in Louisiana finds no candidate reaching the 50% required to avoid a runoff in the crowded 4 Nov election. But in a head-to-head matchup, Bill Cassidy (R) has a solid 48% to 41% lead over Sen Mary Landrieu (D) with 11% undecided – the undecideds likely hold high unfavorables for Landrieu

• Bill Clinton acknowledged Sunday at a campaign event that Republicans appear poised to make gains. “They may skate in this election. They may get away with all this money they’ve put in to convince everybody if you’ve got a ‘D’ behind your name you’re a terrible person. But it’s not good for America.”

• Vid: Clever Sen Mitch McConnell (R-KY). It’s not a new idea, but it’s great timing. Funny, fuzzy campaign ad going into final week featuring himself – and bloodhounds


VA Disability Claims Soar: Fraud?
• From fiscal 2009 to 2013, the number of medical disability claims received by the Veterans Benefits Admin – a branch of the Dept of VA – climbed 44%, while the number of doctors called upon to evaluate the claims rose only 22%, according to the VA (WSJ, me)

• “Claims are coming in a lot faster than what the VA is able to handle,” said Daniel Bertoni, a director at the U.S. GAO, which investigates federal spending. A March 2013 GAO report found that claims jumped 29% from 2009 to 2011 but the agency processed only 6% more. (whoa) A VA spox said its processing of claims is “within standards.” (low standards)

• Concerns over whether benefits are being properly vetted come as disability payments rose to more than $53 billion in 2013, up from about $35 billion in 2009, roughly a 53% increase. The VA expects to pay out over $60 billion in 2014, according to the agency

• Regulators have seen evidence that fraud is slipping through. The VA’s Office of the IG says it investigates only a small percentage of complaints, but that “stolen valor” arrests – cases that involve false claims of military service or disability – are on the rise, with 72 arrests so far in 2014, up 71% since 2009

• Newly appointed VA Secretary Robert McDonald said at a recent presser that “tens of thousands” of additional medical staff were needed at the VA in order to improve veterans’ access to its services
Claim: Can’t Walk / Fact: “Rolling Hay Bales”
• Earlier this year, a veteran rated by a VA doctor as having near-complete blindness was arrested and convicted of fraud after he was observed driving on a daily basis, according to a May report issued by the VA’s IG…

• Another IG investigation, published in July, reported that a veteran receiving $7,500 a month in disability for loss of use of both legs had been seen “ambulating freely” and “rolling hay bales.” He was convicted, sentenced to two years in jail and ordered to pay partial restitution

• In the past 10 years, the number of veterans receiving disability compensation for PTSD more than tripled, while recipients for mental disorders of all types more than doubled, the VA says

• According to a GAO report released in June, some examiners spent 15 minutes completing a PTSD evaluation that, if done correctly, should have taken multiple hours. A 2011 survey by the VA found that 85% of VA professionals “never” or “rarely” conducted additional tests to better diagnose PTSD

• Benefits examiners also can’t use publicly available info to see if an applicant is able to work. An internal VA statement from 2012 prohibits examiners from the use of “personal info about a veteran or service member found on the internet or through social media” in evaluating a veteran’s claim. The VA said such info isn’t verified (clue, though)


• In a bizarre new video released by ISIS (uber-creepy), British hostage and journalist John Cantlie gives a tour of the Syrian city of Kobane and denounces Western coverage of the fighting in the city. It’s a remarkably slick video, which makes it more hideous. WaPo thinks they first part may have been doctored (WaPo, me)

UN Report: Human Rights in Iran Worse

• Between June 2013 and June 2014, at least 852 people were executed in Iran, Ahmed Shaheed, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran, said Monday, on the eve of the release of a damning report on Iran’s human rights abuses. Shaheed’s report contains the Iranian govt’s rebuttal of his findings – they say he’s biased against Iran

• The report comes at an increasingly delicate time for Iran’s international image. A 24 November deadline is looming in its negotiations with the U.S. and other powerful countries on limiting its nuclear program, in exchange for a listing of onerous economic sanctions. President Hassan Rouhani was elected as a reformer. Has he improved human rights? (hell, no)

• Shaheed emphasizes what he calls worsening conditions for Iranian women. Girls as young as 9 can be married, so long as a court gives its blessings. “Nonconsensual sexual relations in marriage” are allowed under the law. New quotas that limit women’s higher education have sharply reduced the percentage of female students entering university

• “The state of freedom of religion and belief in Iran is not improving. It is deteriorating,” Dwight Bashir, deputy director of policy and research at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, said in a statement (NYT, Fox, Daily Star, me)

• The UN report says at least 300 people are currently in prison for their religious beliefs or practices, including 120 Baha’is and 49 Christians. “In addition, many of the lawyers who had accepted sensitive Baha’i or Christian cases had been imprisoned or had to flee the country,” the report said

• WA state school shooter Jaylen Fryberg, 15, lured the five victims to convene at the cafeteria via text message before the shooting began, Snohomish County Sheriff Ty Trenary said Monday. They were seated at a table. The motive is still unclear (WSJ, Fox, CNN, ABC, NYT, me)


Obama Pushes Advanced Manufacturing

• President Obama is expanding his push for increased manufacturing in the U.S. by directing federal money toward new technologies, apprenticeship programs and competitions designed to assist small manufacturers (AP)

• The WH announced the executive actions Monday as part of the day’s focus on manufacturing, which admin officials consider one of the bright spots of the economic recovery. The measures would:

• Allow the Pentagon, NASA and the Energy and Agriculture depts to collectively spend $300 million to develop advanced materials and new technology for sensors and digital manufacturing

• Direct $100 million in Labor dept funds for apprenticeship programs aimed at advanced manufacturing

• Authorize the Commerce dept to spend $150 million over five years in 10 states to help manufacturers adopt and market new technologies

• Alleged WH fence jumper Dominic Adesanya, 23, who was brought down by two Secret Service dogs, was ruled incompetent to stand trial on Monday. He’ll undergo more psych testing and treatment before his next court date. He acted weird in court Monday (TRNS, me)

What’s Your Worry?

• Top of the list: 69% of people frequently or occasionally worry about having their credit card info stolen by hackers (yes), according to a poll by Gallup released Monday. Another 62% worry about having their computer or smartphone hacked (yes) (Hill, me)

• The next worry listed was home burglary, with 45% saying they worry about that, nearly 20 points below cyber crime. Similarly, 42% worry about their car being stolen (yes – recently vandalized), while 31% worry about being mugged. Eighteen percent worry about either being murdered or being a victim of sexual assault or a hate crime

• Many have already seen their hacking fears come true. Info on tens of millions of individuals has been stolen from banks and retail giants in hacks (yes). Twenty-seven percent of people said they had info associated with a credit card stolen in the last year (yes me – two years ago)

• Wealthy people are more likely to worry about their credit card info being stolen or having their online device hacked. Some 85% of people with a household income of more than $75,000 worry about stolen credit info. And 50% of people living in a household that makes less than $30,000 say the same

• People ages 50 to 65 are the most likely to worry about having their credit info stolen at 77%. People ages 30 to 45 are the most likely to worry about a hack of their smartphone or computer at 69% (may have a bit of a worry thing, I just realized…)

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Victoria Jones

TRNS’ William McDonald, Nicholas Salazar, Luke Vargas and Celina Gore contributed to this report


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