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

  • Jerusalem synagogue attack: 4 killed
  • Keystone Senate vote: 60 votes??
  • Immigration / Govt shutdown?
  • Ferguson: state of emergency for Missouri
  • U.S. reviewing how it handles taking of U.S. hostages
  • Iran talks start today: deadline looms
  • Democrats lash out at Pelosi
  • Dems: Pelosi and leaders don’t get it
  • Second Ebola patient dies in U.S.

Jerusalem Synagogue Attack: Four Killed

• Two Palestinians from East Jerusalem stormed a West Jerusalem synagogue today, attacking worshipers praying inside with a pistol, knives and axes, and killing four people before they were killed in a shootout with police, officials said. Israel is calling it a “terrorist attack.” (AP, BBC, me)
• SecState John Kerry in London said the attack is an “act of pure terror and senseless brutality and violence.” He called on Palestinian leaders to condemn it “in the most powerful terms. He blamed the attack on Palestinian calls for “days of rage” and said Palestinian leaders must take serious steps to refrain from such incitement
• Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to “respond with a heavy hand” to the attack, which he described as a “cruel murder of Jews who came to pray and were killed by despicable murderers.” “This is a direct result of incitement led by Hamas and
[Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, known as] Abu Mazen.”
• Hamas and another Palestinian militant group, Islamic Jihad, praised the attack. Israel has designated both groups as terrorist organization. Abbas condemned the attack in a statement and called for an end to Israeli “provocation.” The attack happened at a religious seminary site in a largely orthodox area in the Har Nof neighborhood.

• Pictures posted online by an Israeli military spox show a bloodied meat cleaver – apparently used in the attack – inside the building. An injured man wearing his prayer shawl can also be seen lying on the ground, with blood smattered nearby. One of the attackers apparently worked in a nearby grocery store


Keystone Senate Vote: On the Brink

• Supporters of the Keystone XL pipeline in the Senate scrambled Monday to gather one last vote to pass a bill that authorizes the project that would send Canadian oil to the Gulf, a task made harder after President Obama made his toughest comments yet on the topic. All 45 Republicans support the pipeline (Reuters, me)
• Sen Mary Landrieu (D-LA) said Monday evening that she has 60 votes: “I feel very comfortable…it could be more.” Asked who the last vote is, Landrieu winked at reporters as she boarded a Senate elevator. The Senate could vote as early as today at 6.15 pm EST (C-Span must-see TV. Not popcorn, more of a jambalaya show)
• Obama said during his Asia trip last week that the pipeline wouldn’t lower fuel prices for drivers, but would allow Canada to “pump their oil, send it through our land, down to the Gulf, where it will be sold everywhere else.” His adviser John Podesta reiterated Obama’s message in a call with reporters on Monday
• Sen John Hoeven (R-ND) plans to reintroduce the bill in Jan or Feb if it doesn’t pass today. Supporters could introduce a standalone bill or attach Keystone language to another bill that would be hard for Obama to veto. Hoeven also believes there are currently 60 or 61 votes, according to his spox
• Republicans say they’ll have 60 votes next year after the party’s strong showing in the midterms which will give them new senators including Jodi Ernst (IA) and Cory Gardner (CO)

• Cyril Scott, President of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe based in South Dakota, said in a statement that it will be an “act of war” if Congress authorizes the pipeline. “We will close our reservation borders to the Keystone XL. Authorizing Keystone XL is an act of war against our people.” (Hill)

Immigration / Govt Shutdown?

• Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and five other senior Democratic senators on Monday urged President Obama to use his executive powers to make changes to the country’s immigration system and outlined revisions they would like to see included (Hill, Roll Call, me)
• Sen Rob Portman (R-OHO on Monday said funding for the govt runs out on 11 Dec. “And if the president acts before Dec 11, I think there will be a lot of Republicans who will be frustrated with him and say, ‘OK, we’re not going to provide funding for him to execute this executive order.’ That’s not shutting down govt.”
• Reid said on the Senate floor Monday, “Republican leaders want to work together to keep the govt funded. We’ve heard there will be no govt shutdown, but some in their caucus are saying some scary things.” “How is it possible that there is even talk of this happening again?” (err – why not – no repercussions)
• In a Roll Call op-ed, House Appropriations Committee chair Hal Rogers (R-KY) urged Congress to pass a full-fledged spending bill that lasts until 30 Sept 2015. To do otherwise would be “punting” on important duties and put the U.S. “on an uncertain and unstable fiscal path.”
• “Worst of all, it would send a signal to the American people, just weeks after they told us to get our acts together, that we haven’t been listening,” Rogers wrote. He’s currently negotiating with Senate Appropriations Committee chair Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) to craft an “omnibus” spending bill that would last until 30 Sept 2015

• Sen Mark Begich (D-AK) has conceded his hard-fought race to Sen-elect Dan Sullivan (R-AK), giving the GOP what’s likely to be a 54-seat Senate majority heading into next Congress. That’s if Rep Bill Cassidy (R-LA) beats Sen Mary Landrieu (D-LA in next month’s runoff – likely (Hill, me)

Ferguson: State of Emergency for Missouri

• Gov Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency for all of Missouri on Monday, ahead of an anticipated announcement from a grand jury in the shooting death of Michael Brown and protests expected to take place in the St Louis area. The order was certain to add to mounting tension. Some protesters said it was premature
• The order comes as the St Louis area awaits a grand jury’s decision on whether it will indict officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Brown, an unarmed, black, 18-year-old, in Ferguson on 9 August. A decision’s expected mid to late November. Unknown whether the jury’s still hearing testimony or is deliberating (AP, Reuters, NYT, ABC News, TRNS, me)
• The emergency order clearly puts the St Louis County PD in charge of protests and civil unrest in the city of Ferguson and empowers a “Unified Command” made up of that dept as well as the St Louis Metropolitan Police and the Missouri State Highway Patrol
• Several dozen protesters took to the streets Monday outside the courthouse in Clayton MO where the grand jury is seated. Protesters expressed anger that, 101 days after Brown was shot and killed, it was still unclear what will happen to Wilson (it’s getting clearer)

• An FBI intelligence bulletin issued in recent days is warning law enforcement agencies across the country that the decision will likely lead some extremist protesters to threaten or even attack police officers or federal agents and infiltrate otherwise legitimate public demonstrations with the intent to incite and engage in violence

• Audio: Absolutely must-listen – astonishing, garbled, embarrassing, hesitant answer by Gov Jay Nixon to press question of whether the buck stops with him now that he’s called out the National Guard

U.S. Reviewing How it Handles Taking of U.S. Hostages

• President Obama has ordered a review of the taking of hostages by overseas terrorist groups, according to a letter by Christine Wormuth, the Pentagon’s undersecretary of defense for policy. The move follows criticism from some relatives of slain Americans (Daily Beast, WSJ, Hill, me)
• The review, the letter says, is designed to improve interagency coordination in hostage cases and will examine intelligence-collection efforts and how the govt engages with family members. The mother of James Foley, who was killed by militants in August, said the govt “failed” her son. Also, that they would be prosecuted if they paid ransom
• The letter, first reported by the Daily Beast, didn’t indicate that the admin would review U.S. prohibitions on paying ransoms to free American hostages (so not much use, then). The letter says that DoD would “leverage all feasible means to secure the release of U.S. persons held abroad.”
• The disclosure of the review came in response to letters from Rep Duncan Hunter (R-CA), who’s been critical of the Obama admin for not doing enough to secure the release of American hostages held overseas. “A review is long overdue,” Hunter said in a statement Monday
• ISIS says it has executed U.S. aid worker Abdul-Rahman Kassig – formerly Peter – a former Army Ranger who served in Iraq before traveling to Syria to bring medical relief to victims of the civil war

Iran Talks Start Today: Deadline Looms

• As top negotiators arrive in Vienna for high-level talks starting today aimed at securing an agreement on Iran’s nuclear capabilities ahead of a 24 November deadline, the U.S. is expressing disappointment with Tehran’s failure to engage with an International Atomic Energy Agency investigation into suspected atomic bomb research (Reuters, NYT, BBC, me)
• Western officials say Iran must improve cooperation with the long-running IAEA inquiry as part of a broader diplomatic settlement which Tehran and six world powers aim to reach by 24 November
• Potentially complicating those efforts, an IAEA report on 7 November said Iran was failing to address suspicions it may have worked on designing an atomic bomb. Iran says it has no such aim and that its nuclear program is entirely peaceful
• Meanwhile, President Obama’s top national security advisers put the chance of reaching an agreement this month at 40 to 50%. “In the end this is a political decision for the Iranians,” Obama told a small group of recent visitors to the WH (and it will be for you)

• Although Ayatollah Khameini has authorized President Hassan Rouhani and FM Javad Zarif to negotiate with the U.S. and its partners, intelligence analysts believe that the supreme leader may decide whether to approve a deal only after his negotiators come home with the details. He’s a hard-liner and he’s surrounded by hard-liners (he’s an obfuscator, too)

• Nearly 36 million people worldwide, or 0.5% of the world’s population, live as slaves, a survey by anti-slavery campaign group Walk Free says. That’s 20% more than 2013 because of better methodology. India has the most slaves and Mauritania has the highest percentage (BBC)

Democrats Lash Out at Pelosi

• A list of grievances and grumbles – from election losses, to routine procedures erupting into nasty fights – has shaken the confidence many Democrats have in their leader. So while Nancy Pelosi will be unchallenged for the top House Democratic post today, the incoming minority leader is about to be in the worst position with her caucus since 2010
• “I want to see members who have a better handle on the caucus brought in, whether they be young or old. I want people who have a good pulse of what is going on in our caucus…people who are more inclusive,” said Rep Marcia Fudge (D-OH), the Congressional Black Caucus’ chair (Politico, me)
• A few Democrats are expected to vote against Pelosi today, though not many. Pelosi has bristled at suggestions that it may be time for her to move on after a dozen years running the Democratic Caucus, dismissing questions about her age and ability

Dems: Pelosi and Leaders Don’t Get It

• There’s clearly concern throughout the Democratic Caucus that the party’s agenda and message aren’t resonating with voters in the way they need to get back into power. While Pelosi and her allies appear to believe Democrats just need to tinker with the leadership team and do a better job of turning out the base – that won’t cut it with many of their colleagues
• “We need to focus more on middle-class issues,” said Rep Mike Capuano (D-MA). “When was the last time the Democratic Caucus as a caucus – not individually – really talked about jobs? For me, we don’t do that enough.”
• “I still believe very strongly that we can’t be ‘Republican Lite’ and galvanize your voters,” said Rep Jim Clyburn. “All you gotta do is look and see how Allison Lundergan Grimes was running until she couldn’t answer that question [whether she voted for Obama], and she started to plummet.”
• Outgoing DCCC chair Rep Steve Israel (D-NY) has started to try and stem frustrations from Democratic donors, who are upset with the election results. He held a conference call last Thursday. Several Democratic lobbyists said Dems will have to make the case that they have a credible plan in place before they open their checkbooks again

• Uber, the taxi app, is trying to dig itself out of a hole after its senior VP for business, at a private dinner last week, detailed a plan to propose digging into journalists’ private lives as a sort of defense against what he saw as a wave of recent antagonistic press coverage – included very nasty stuff against female journos (Buzzfeed, NYT, me)

Second Ebola Patient Dies in U.S.

• Dr Martin Salia, a surgeon who contracted Ebola while working in Sierra Leona, died early on Monday of the disease at a Nebraska hospital, the second death from the virus out of 10 known cases treated in the U.S. He was a native of Sierra Leone and a permanent U.S. resident (Hill, WaPo, TRNS, Reuters, Fox, CNN, me)
• Salia had been in very critical condition when he arrived at the hospital on Saturday afternoon, Dr Phil Smith, director of the biocontainment unit, said at a presser. “He had no kidney function, he was working extremely hard to breathe and he was unresponsive,” Dr Daniel Johnson said
• Salia was put on dialysis within hours of his arrival and required intubation and mechanical ventilation within 12 hours. He was given plasma from an Ebola survivor and the drug ZMapp on Saturday
• Salia’s initial Ebola test in Sierra Leone came back negative, but when his symptoms remained nearly a week later, he took another test. This one came back positive. His family wonders what would have happened if he had received earlier treatment
• Separately, National Nurses United will hold a presser today at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in Washington DC, calling on the agency to act with swift regulations, instead of CDC recommendations, for protecting hospital workers from Ebola
• Mass murderer Charles Manson, 80, has gotten a license to marry “Star” Burton, 26, who visits him in prison. “Y’all can know that it’s true,” she said. Burton believes Manson’s innocent. There will be no conjugal visits. He’s been in jail since 1969 for the Tate-LaBianca murders (AP, me)

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Victoria Jones

TRNS’ Loretta Lewis contributed to this report

 

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