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
 
  • Plane exec: “Mechanical impact…in air”
  • GOP campaigns issue debate demands
  • Ryan won’t work with Obama on immigration
  • GOP 2016ers push on Syria
  • Healthcare.gov prices jump: Shop
  • Benghazi, emojis in new Clinton emails
  • WH aims to stop release of new Obama-Clinton emails
  • Jeb Bush launches campaign reboot today
  • Turkey: Erdogan re-elected in shocker
 
Plane Exec: “Mechanical Impact…In Air” (NYT, WSJ, AP, me)
• An executive from Metrojet, the carrier that operated the plane, said at a presser this morning that the only reasonable explanation for the crash of a Russian passenger plane over Egypt “could only have been a mechanical impact on the plane in the air.” Alexander Smirnov said, “We exclude technical problems and reject technical error.”
 
• The Airbus A321 had just reached a cruising altitude of about 33,000 feet when, around 20 minutes after taking off from the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el Sheikh, it suddenly plummeted some 6,000 feet. Over the next 20 seconds the plane abruptly climbed and descended several times before radar contact was lost, according to FlightRadar24.com (how awful)
 
• Unraveling what led to the disaster that caused the aircraft to fall from the skies above the Sinai Peninsula on Saturday, killing all 224 people aboard, could take weeks, aviation safety experts said. Explanations include a sudden mechanical or structural failure to a more troubling scenario, like a terrorist attack. The destination was St Petersburg
 
• According to Egyptian aviation authorities, air traffic controllers received no distress call. The remains of the plane’s tail section, which had been damaged in a 2001 accident, were found several miles away from the rest of the plane. Many bodies were found a significant distance from the main debris field – all an indicator of the plane coming apart midair
Pilot Error? Stall? ISIS?
• The black boxes were recovered from the crash scene on Saturday and investigators in Cairo are analyzing their contents. Some experts raised the possibility of pilot error. A plane that was fully loaded with passengers and fuel, ascending too rapidly through the warm desert air might have risked an aerodynamic stall, some analysts said

• The Egyptian affiliate of ISIS, known as Sinai Province, claimed responsibility for downing the plane. Most analysts remain skeptical that ISIS militants in the area possess missiles with sufficient range to strike aircraft flying at cruising altitudes. Several airlines suspended flights over Sinai until more is known about the cause of the crash


 
• “Could it be that someone put a bomb in the hold?” said Mark Rosenker, a former chairman of the U.S. NTSB. “That is just one of the elements that needs to be looked at.” The shock wave of an onboard explosion would normally be captured by the mics of the cockpit voice recorders, experts said

• A govt plane brought the bodies of 144 passengers back to Russia today. Russia held a day of mourning on Sunday for the 224 people, mostly young families on vacation, who died in the plane crash. Throughout the day, flowers and stuffed animals piled up at a makeshift memorial at Pulkovo Airport in St Petersburg


 
 

• The Supreme Court today will hear whether the exclusion of all the black prospective jurors is a form of racial discrimination in violation of a defendant’s constitutional rights under a test the high court laid out in 1986 (AP)

GOP Campaigns Issue Debate Demands (NYT, Politico, WaPo, TRNS, me)

• Representatives from most Republican campaigns emerged from an Alexandria Hilton Sunday evening with a modest list of debate demands, including opening and closing statements of at least 30 secs; “parity and integrity” on question – similarly substantive questions, no so-called lightning rounds; and approval of any aired graphics (or else?)
 
• The campaign reps also moved to take the Republican National Committee out of the debate negotiating process, calling for the campaigns to negotiate directly with the TV networks over format, and to receive info about the rules and criteria at least 30 days before each debate (or they walk?)
 
• Ben Ginsberg, a top Republican lawyer and debate negotiator who was invited to serve as facilitator at the meeting, is drafting a letter – without the RNC’s input – that the campaigns plan to send to the networks within 48 hours. Ginsberg called the RNC immediately after the meeting (fly on phone)

&&&


 
• In an attempt at damage control Friday, the RNC suspended a 26 Feb debate scheduled to be hosted by NBC News and the NBC-owned Spanish language network Telemundo. Sunday, shortly before the meeting, the committee shook up its debate staff. The campaigns remained divided on a host of issues
 
• One flash point in the meeting came when Jeb Bush’s campaign manager pushed to reinstate the  planned Telemundo debate. Donald Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski pushed back hard, threatening to boycott the event entirely. “We don’t want that,” one person present quoted Lewandowski. “We won’t go.” (I’ll bet – stay away from Hispanic voters LOL)
 
• Curt Anderson, a Jindal adviser, who has been relegated to undercard debates, suggested doing away with undercards and they discussed how many candidates should appear on one stage. Lewandowski pushed back. I don’t need 14 people on a stage, he said, saying that all they do is throw potshots at Trump, according to a person present (hey just Trump alone?)
 
• Any changes would be applied to debates after next week’s Fox Business Network debate. Among the reasons, according to an operative in the room, was that “people are afraid to make Roger
[Ailes] mad,” a reference to the network’s chief (so they’re tough. but not that tough. pathetic to avoid Telemundo – so lame)

 

• Former Sen Fred Thompson (R-Tenn), died Sunday in Nashville following a recurrence of lymphoma. He was 73. After his Senate term expired in 2003, he joined NBC series Law and Order. He appeared in over 20 films. He was a lawyer by training and served as committee counsel in the Senate Watergate hearings. In 2007, he briefly sought the GOP presidential nomination (AP)

Ryan Won’t Work With Obama on Immigration (WaPo, NYT, Reuters, Hill, me)

• Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis) said in a series of TV interviews on Sunday that he won’t work with the Obama admin on immigration reform. “Look, I think it would be a ridiculous notion to try and work on an issue like this with a president we simply cannot trust on this issue,” Ryan said on CBS (why not? what to lose?)
 
• “We’ve been too timid on policy, we’ve been too timid on vision – we have none,” Ryan said on Fox News Sunday. “We have to show people what our alternatives are and that is the kind of leadership I think people are hungry for here,” he said on ABC (so be bold and work on immigration – with someone you don’t trust – it’s what antagonists do)
 
• “Being an effective opposition party means being honest with people up front about what it is you can and cannot achieve,” Ryan said on CNN in response to a question about defunding Planned Parenthood. “We have a president that isn’t going to listen, that isn’t going to sign lots of our bills into law.” (so you’re out of luck, Freedom Caucua)
 
• Ryan said he would continue going home to Janesville, Wis, at weekends. During the week, he will continue to sleep on a cot in his Capitol Hill office. “I’m just a normal guy,” he said
 
• A gym rat, he offered one direct criticism of former Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) – the cigarette-smoke-infused offices he left behind. “I’m going to have to work on the carpeting in here,”
he said on NBC. “You know, if you ever go to a hotel room or get a rental care that’s been smoked in? That’s what this smells like.” (it’s in the walls – you’re stuck with it)

 

• Boehner, in a CNN interview on Sunday, said God told him to do it. “I laid every ounce of Catholic guilt I could on him. … ‘You have no choice. This isn’t about what you want to do. It’s about what God wants you to do. And God has told me, he wants you to do this.” (God’s so busy telling politicians what to do)
 
GOP 2016ers Push on Syria (WSJ, Reuters, TRNS, me)
• Republican presidential candidates accused President Obama on Sunday of showing weakness in U.S. policy in Syria, doubting that his small deployment of up to 50 special operations troops will make much difference without a coherent broader strategy. (it won’t) The Friday announcement marked a reversal of Obama’s vow not to send U.S. ground troops in
 
• Former Gov Jeb Bush (R-Fla) said on NBC that “we need to be engaged with safe zones and air power to be protecting the safe zones, both for the refugees as well as a fighting force. What we need to do now is what the president is kind of tepidly moving towards, which is to embed with the Iraqi military to provide support.”
 
• Sen Marco Rubio (R-Fla) said on CBS that the Obama admin’s move to send special ops forces in to Syria is “an important tactical step forward” that should be reinforced with more airstrikes. Rubio said ISIS won’t be defeated unless they face an army of Sunni Muslim forces, which “won’t happen without American assistance at some level.”
 
• Sen Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Fox News Sunday called Obama’s move “a failure on all fronts,” saying American special ops forces are heading “into a very bad spot with no chance of winning.” “Sending 50 American special forces into Syria in the eyes of ISIL shows that Obama is not ‘all in,’ it is a sign of weakness to ISIL,”
 
• The special ops forces are headed to northeastern Syria to assist Syrian rebel units that are spearheading what the Pentagon says will be a new military offensive against ISIS there. The U.S. forces are to link up with local forces in Kurdish-controlled territory whose mission will be to cut supply lines to ISIS in their stronghold of Raqqa (and now ISIS knows about it – great)

 

• ISIS fighters drove Syrian govt forces from a western town on Sunday. Talks between world powers in Vienna on Friday adjourned with calls for a nationwide ceasefire but key differences remained between rivals. Iran’s Ayatollah Khameini said elections should be held, echoing a Russian proposal. Assad’s opponents dismiss the idea as a ruse to keep him in power (Reuters)
 
Healthcare.gov Prices Jump: Shop Around (AP, NYT, me)
• In Tennessee, the state insurance commissioner approved a 36% increase for the largest health insurer in the state’s individual marketplace. In Iowa, the commissioner approved rate increases averaging 29% for the state’s dominant insurer. But in New York, state officials said rates would rise an average of 7%
 
• Federal officials acknowledged Friday that many people logging into healthcare.gov on Sunday for the first day of the Affordable Care Act’s third open enrollment season would need to pick new plans to avoid substantial increases in premiums (private insurance is jumping too – mine is – and there’s less choice)
 
• Federal subsidies for low- and moderate-income consumers will keep pace with premiums for a benchmark plan, the second-lowest-cost “silver” plan, a senior health official said. But some new bronze and silver plans have deductibles of upwards of $5,000 – making them virtually useless for average consumers (what’s the point? how can you access it?)
 
• Meanwhile, the 2012 Supreme Court decision that upheld the law’s individual coverage requirement also gave states the choice to decline expanding Medicaid. Across the South, Republican-led states have turned down the Medicaid option, leaving millions uninsured
 
• Many are trapped in what’s called the “Medicaid gap.” They can’t get health insurance through healthcare.gov because the law prevents people below the poverty line from using the insurance exchanges. So the private insurance alternative is closed to them, even as their states refuse to expand public coverage

 

•  A series of little earthquakes shook Black Canyon City north of Phoenix on Sunday night. The largest, a 4.1, “rattled homes.” “We were babysitting my granddaughter…and she woke up,”  one reader said. “I thought it was my dog falling off my bed,” another said. Dennis Lester said, “Save the pies!” (azcentral.com)
 
Benghazi, Emojis in New Clinton Emails (NYT, Hill, WSJ, me)
• Former SecState Hillary Clinton and other State Dept officials were told by someone at the U.S. embassy in Tripoli, Libya on 14 Sept, 2012 – three days after the Benghazi attacks – “Our monitoring of the Libyan media and conversations with Libyans suggest that the films [sic] not as explosive an issue here as it appears to be in other countries in the region.”
 
• “And it is becoming increasingly clear that the series of events in Benghazi was much more terrorist attack than a protest which escalated into violence.” The email advised Clinton and other officials to be “cautious in our local messaging with regard to the inflammatory film trailer” so as not to “draw unwanted attention to it.”
 
• Clinton said at a hearing with the House Benghazi committee in Oct, “I still believe to this day that the video played a role. I think it is important to look at the totality of what is going on.” (it did play a role – question is how much) A cache of 7,000 pages of Clinton emails were released by the State Dept on Friday, as part of an ongoing rolling release in response to FOIA requests
 
• An email sent to Clinton in April 2011 said that Ambassador Chris Stevens, one of four Americans killed in the 2012 embassy attacks, would meet with Libyan officials to “make a written request for better security at the hotel and for better security-related coordination.”

 

• Clinton complained that her BlackBerry didn’t allow her to send emoticons. In Feb 2012, she wrote that she was “quite bereft” about it. Two months later, she wrote again to top aide Philippe Reines. “On this new berry, can I get smiley faces? Reines: “For email, no. I don’t think so – you need to type them out manually like 🙂 for happy, or :-II if you want to express anger at my tardiness.” (NYT)

 

WH Aims to Stop Release of Obama-Clinton Emails (NYT, me)
• The WH will try to block the release of a handful of emails between President Obama and former SecState Hillary Clinton, citing longstanding precedent invoked by presidents of both parties to keep presidential communications confidential, officials said Friday (not surprising – WH has been really firm about this all along)
 
• WH officials said their refusal to release the emails isn’t based on their content, but rather is intended to defend the principle that presidents must be free to receive advice from their top aides without fear that the conversations will be made public during their term in office. WH officials said they weren’t asserting executive privilege (err – yet)
 
• Obama is following a well-worn precedent that he and his predecessors have established. Obama has repeatedly resisted efforts by Congress to turn over the president’s private communications, which by law are exempt from Freedom of Information laws that are often used to pry information out of other parts of an admin
 
• Obama told CBS News in March that he learned about Clinton’s use of a private email serve “the same time everybody else learned it – through news reports.” WH spox Josh Earnest clarified that Obama was aware she sometimes used a private email address but didn’t know the details about how the server was set up
 

• Sen Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) is airing the first TV ad of his presidential campaign. It’s a bio spot that describes his up-by-the-bootstraps childhood in Brooklyn and has imagery of Dr Martin Luther King. “People are sick and tired of establishment politics and they want real change,” Sanders says in the ad, at one of his rallies (NYT)

Jeb Bush Launches Campaign Reboot Today (Reuters, AP, me)
• Battered by weeks of negative headlines, former Gov Jeb Bush (R-Fla) launches (or gives it a go, anyway) a campaign reboot today with a “Jeb Can Fix It” tour and release of an e-book that reveals a more personal side to a 2016 candidate who has struggled on the public stage

• Bush’s dismal performance at a debate of GOP presidential candidates last week in Colorado was an added burden to a candidate once considered the favorite for the nomination and now suffering drooping poll numbers and fund raising

• In Tampa today, Bush hopes to begin a political comeback. He will give a speech presenting himself as a problem-solving politician who carried out conservative reforms as Florida’s governor from 1999 to 2007

• A campaign aide said the speech will be a “rejection of the ‘competing pessimisms’ created in the [President] Obama era in favor of leadership that solves problems.” (will he attack Rubio? Would take away a bit from his sunny messaging) He’ll take the message to South Carolina and then on a three-day bus tour of New Hampshire

• The tour coincides with the release of a 730-page e-book, entitled “Reply All,” It’s a compilation of many of the email exchanges he had with Floridians during his time as governor. The emails cover everything from his drive for tax cuts and education reform in Florida to dealing with hurricanes and a little girl who said her piano teacher smelled like “dead alligators.”

 

• One agonizing step from ecstasy last season, this time the Kansas City Royals reign after their latest incredible comeback. Christian Colon singled home the tiebreaking run in the 12th inning and the bound-and-determined Royals rallied to beat the New York Mets 7-2 in 12 innings early today for their first World Series championship since 1985 (AP)

 
Turkey: Erdogan Re-Elected in Shocker (BBC, me)
• Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has won a critical parliamentary election, regaining the majority it lost in June. With almost all votes counted, the state-run news agency said the AKP had won 49.4% of the vote, with the main opposition CHP on 25.4%
 
• President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said voters had “shown that they prefer action and development to controversy.” The pro-Kurdish HDP crossed the 10% threshold needed to claim seats. The nationalist MHP will also take seats in Ankara. Early today, Erdogan called on the world to respect Turkey’s national will
 
• Erdogan called the vote after the AKP lost its parliamentary majority for the first time in 13 years in June and attempts to form a coalition govt failed . AKP won substantially more than the 276 seats needed in order to form a govt alone – but 14 seats short of the number needed to call a referendum on changing the constitution and increasing Erdogan’s powers
 
• AKP’s opponents had said the vote was a chance to curb what it sees as the increasingly authoritarian tendencies of Erdogan. After its shock landslide victory, EKP today begins the process of forming a new govt. It almost equaled its best ever result, swaying voters with its message of stability after weeks of violence with the PKK Kurdish rebels
 

• There’s now hope that the two sides may be spurred to return to peace talks. There are also fears that the political polarization stoked by Erdogan could deepen and a clampdown on free speech worsen as the AK Party feels emboldened

• STOP – you don’t have to eat it all at once! Eat your leftover Halloween candy in this order, depending on what lasts the longest (hint – Peeps stay fresh for two creepy years…) (Time, me)

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___________________
Victoria Jones – Editor

TRNS’ Loree Lewis and Nicholas Salazar contributed to this report

 

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