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.

News Now

  • House showdown: Syrian refugees
  • Democrats want alternate measure
  • Paris attacks: Latest
  • Obama admin pushes encryption
  • APEC: Need to cooperate over terrorism
  • Sanders today: Democratic socialism
  • Fed: December likely for interest hike
House Showdown: Syrian Refugees (Politico, AP, NYT, TRNS, TRNS, me)
• The House is set to approve a bill by Homeland Security chair Michael McCaul (R-Texas) and Rep Richard Hudson (R-NC) today to block any refugees from Syria or Iraq from entering the country unless they pass a strict background check and receive govt certification (so strict they can’t pass it, basically)
• Democratic insiders predicted that anywhere between 40 to 60 Democrats could vote “yes” on the bill, though estimates are fluid and the final tally could be far higher unless the WH can move some votes. The Blue Dog Coalition, with 15 members, said it would support the bill. Some Dems are concerned about looking soft on national security (it’s like the PATRIOT Act again)
• The WH issued a veto threat Wednesday and admin officials are scrambling to persuade Democrats to oppose the measure. The GOP measure is “untenable and would provide no meaningful additional security for the American people,” the WH said in a statement
• Homeland Security Sec Jeh Johnson will brief House Democrats this morning on the WH’s objections to the Syria bill. Some Democrats privately griped that the Obama admin had been too slow in responding to the GOP proposal – “frustration that the WH is not giving them a good enough reason” to oppose the measure
• The bill, the American SAFE Act, HR 4038, would require the FBI, Homeland Security Dept and Director of National Intelligence to certify to Congress that any refugee from Syria or Iraq is “not a threat to the security of the U.S.” before being allowed to settle in the U.S. (all the Paris attackers IDd so far have been EU nationals – but that could change)


• Elaine Morgan, a GOP state senator from Rhode Island, emailed a member of the public Tuesday – but the message went to lawmakers by mistake. She said if Syrian refugees are allowed in RI, a camp could segregate them and protect U.S. citizens. She wrote “the Muslim philosophy is to murder, rape and decapitate” non-Muslims. She said she sent it before editing it (uh huh)… (AP)
• In a meeting with Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis), Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) asked that Democrats be allowed to vote on an alternative measure, but Ryan didn’t agree. Democrats will get a vote on a “motion to recommit,” – a parliamentary procedure that would send the bill back to committee or drastically revise it (which is going nowhere)
• Ryan and the GOP leadership have rushed the bill to the floor, and aren’t allowing any amendments from members of either party (what happened to wide open amendment process of just a week ago?). Leaders rebuffed several efforts to revise the bill, including one that would have given preference to Christian refugees
• Over in the Senate, lawmakers said Sen Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif) and Sen Jeff Flake (R-Ariz) planned to introduce a bill that would restrict visas for any individuals who have been in Iraq or Syria in the past five years. Senate action on the House bill is unlikely until after the Thanksgiving recess
• President Obama, traveling in the Philippines, had earlier ridiculed Congress for failing to come up with legislation authorizing the use of military force in Syria. “And now, suddenly, they’re able to rush, in a day or two, to solve the threat of widows and orphans and others who are fleeing a war-torn land, and that’s their most constructive contribution to the effort?”
• With little chance for the bill to become law, several conservatives said the real action would come on a pending must-pass spending bill that has to clear by 11 Dec in order to keep the govt running. Some want to use that bill to cut off funding for the refugee program – foreshadowing another potential govt shutdown fight (this is the key here – stay tuned after the recess)
• Interactive: Where the 1,854 Syrian refugees admitted to the U.S. since 2012 were placed (note – they aren’t chained up, so can move to other states – even though some pols may wish they were actually tied to stakes) (NYT, me)


Paris Attacks: Latest (Guardian, WaPo, AP, BBC, Daily Mail, TRNS, me)
• The identity of the man who died in the St Denis, Paris, raid on Wednesday hasn’t been confirmed, but WaPo reports that he’s Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the target of the operation and the alleged coordinator of the Paris attacks. Authorities said identifying the remains would require forensic tests (mangled)
• Authorities in Belgium have launched six raids today in the Molenbeek suburb and other parts of Brussels linked to Paris suicide bomber Bilal Hadfi. French PM Valls told parliament today, “There is also a risk of chemical or bacteriological weapons” by ISIS against France
• French police say there may be a third terrorist’s body under the rubble of the apartment building in St Denis. The woman who blew herself up inside the apartment Wednesday was named in reports as Abaaoud’s cousin Hasna Aitboulahcen, 26, a French-Moroccan known to the intel services
• Police arrested eight people – seven men and one woman – but confirmed that neither Abaaoud nor Salah Abdeslam, one of the men who carried out the attacks, were among them. Salah Abdeslam is believed to be at large, and French police have distributed the number plate of a Citroen Xsara they think he might be driving


• ISIS circulated a picture of a Schweppes Gold soda can that they say brought down a Russian jet. The pic appeared in the latest issue of the militant’s propaganda rag, Dabiq. Experts NYT spoke to said it was nothing new and wouldn’t be hard for an experienced bomb builder to make. However, there’s nothing to say that it was the actual bomb


• Footage of an ISIS gunman rampaging through a Paris street has emerged, in which it appears one woman’s life is saved when the killer’s firearm jams as he tries to shoot her
• French President Holland has defended “temporary restrictions on freedom” as Paris has banned public marches planned for the UN’s climate change summit later this month, citing security concerns
• Hollande confirmed that France will accept 30,000 refugees in the next two years, ahead of a trip next week to DC, where he intends to urge President Obama to intensify the war against ISIS
• The mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio (D), appeared in Times Square with police commissioner Bill Bratton late Wednesday night after an ISIS video threatened an attack on the city. De Blasio said the video was an “obvious attempt to intimidate the people of New York City,” but stressed there was “no specific or credible threat.”


Obama Admin Pushes Encryption (AFP, Hill, Hill, WSJ, me)
• FBI director James Comey, speaking at a cybersecurity conference Wed in New York, said the bureau has tracked ISIS recruiting efforts on Twitter. But when ISIS commanders find a recruit willing to die for the cause, they move their communications over to encrypted platforms, “going dark,” he said. Comey didn’t say whether encryption was used in the Paris attacks
• Comey’s remarks were part of a big push by law enforcement and intel officials for access to encrypted phones and communications, in the face of new software and devices promoted by companies as impervious to govt surveillance. U.S. counterterrorism officials haven’t determined whether terrorists used encrypted communications in the attacks (seems key to argument)
• French media report that one of the Paris terrorists’ mobile phone, recovered from a trash can near the Bataclan, appears to have been unencrypted. Media report the phone contained a map of the concert hall and a text message sent shortly after the first gunman entered the venue reading, “Let’s go, we’re starting.” It was a traditional text
• ISIS uses a 34-page Arabic manual to instruct its followers on how to stay invisible on the internet, including warnings to avoid Instagram because it’s owned by Facebook. Users are directed to use Apple’s encrypted FaceTime and iMessage features. Guidelines explain how online anonymity software Tor “hides your identity” (we already knew this stuff)
• NYT said in an oped Wed that the issue in the Paris attacks wasn’t a lack of data, “but a failure to act on info authorities already had.”
• French police said on Twitter that Diesel, a 7-year-old female Belgian Malinois, “was killed by terrorists in the ongoing operation.” They posted a pic of Diesel standing in front of a row of officers. The hashtag #JeSuisChien – “I am a dog” – was used by many Twitter users as a form of respect for Diesel on Wednesday


APEC: Need to Cooperate Over Terrorism (AP, me)
• Asia-Pacific leaders in Manila, Philippines today called for govts to urgently increase cooperation in the fight against terrorism as they held annual talks overshadowed by the Paris attacks. They will “strongly condemn all acts, methods, and practices of terrorism,” AP reports
• The statement, which also mentions attacks in Beirut and against a Russian airliner over Sinai, is a departure from convention for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum which normally focuses on trade and business issues
• The APEC bloc groups the U.S. and China with middle powers such as Australia as well as developing nations in Asia and South America. It accounts for about 60% of the global economy. President Obama, China’s President Xi Jinping and Japanese PM Shinzo Abe are at the summit
• Reacting to reports of the killing of a Chinese hostage by ISIS that underscored the threat of terrorism across the globe, Xi called the group the “common enemy of humankind” in comments quoted by Xinhua. ISIS said Wed it had killed Fan Jinghui, 50, and a Norwegian who it was holding for ransom
• The APEC leaders called for a renewed effort to eliminate poverty. They said economic growth has lifted many people out of poverty but it “continues to be a reality” for millions in the region. APEC has its detractors and anti-globalization protesters clashed with police near heavily guarded summit venues
Sanders Today: Democratic Socialism (WaPo, NYT, Hill, USA Today, me)
• Sen Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) plans to give a major address this afternoon at Georgetown University on democratic socialism, the philosophy of govt that’s guided his political career and become a major topic of conversation as he seeks the presidency (and many say is his major obstacle to election – besides Hillary Clinton)
• Sanders wants America to embrace a “second Bill of Rights,” a program for economic and social justice that President Franklin D. Roosevelt called for in 1944. Sanders’ campaign said Wed that he believes, “as Roosevelt did, that all Americans should have a right to a job with a living wage; health care; education; social security; housing and freedom from unfair competition and monopolies.”
• Aides said Sanders’s speech will also contain a section on foreign policy, with a focus on defeating ISIS. Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, former SecState, has scheduled an address today in New York on that subject in the wake of the Paris attacks (dueling speeches – she must be furious…)
• At an event in Iowa last month, Sanders explained himself: “To me, democratic socialism means democracy: It means creating a govt that represents all of us, not just the wealthiest people in this country,” Sanders said, noting that Medicare, Social Security, libraries and fire depts are all the fruits of a kind of socialism
• During a stop in New Hampshire, Sanders playfully asked an audience of students: “Does anyone here think I’m a strong adherent of the North Korean form of govt? That I want all of you to be wearing similar colored pajamas?” (well, not exactly a fashion plate)



2016 fact checks: Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz – yes, the exaggeration gang’s here – and many, more of them, too (NYT, me)

Fed: December Still Likely for Interest Hike (WSJ, Reuters, me)
• Federal Reserve officials on Wednesday continued to flag December as a likely time for interest rates to rise after seven years near zero, with two expressing confidence they’ll be able to pull off a rate hike smoothly despite fears of an abrupt market reaction. Investors increased the odds for a hike next month to 72% from 64% on Tuesday
• Minutes from their October meeting stated “some” Fed officials felt in October it was already time to raise rates. “Some others” believed the economy wasn’t ready. The wording meant that minorities on both sides of the Fed’s rate debate are pulling in different directions, while a large center inside the central bank was inclined to move (drama, understated)
• Reasons to avoid delay: They risked creating uncertainty in financial markets by holding off; they risked allowing financial market excesses to build due to low rates; they risked signaling a lack of confidence in the economy if they didn’t more rates higher; and they would be ignoring cumulative gains in the economy already registered
• The Fed’s October statement helped convince skeptical markets that a rate hike may finally be imminent after several years of near zero rates. But the October session also saw several bankers begin grappling with longer term issues that may be relevant to the pace of subsequent rate hikes
• For now, however, Fed officials seem confident that the central bank will meet its twin goals of full employment and stable 2% inflation

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Victoria Jones – Editor
TRNS’ Loree Lewis, Brittany Gervais and Ryan Prete contributed to this report

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