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

  • Belgium makes arrests / Brussels high alert
  • Obama: ISIS “bunch of killers”
  • Obama / Hollande summit Tuesday
  • Prince Charles inserts foot in mouth over Syria/climate
  • Trump: Maybe black protester should have been beaten
  • Trump’s bogus claim about “Arabs” and 9/11
  • Carson wants to monitor – everyone?
  • Iran sentences WaPo journalist to jail
  • Victorious Edwards moves to Louisiana transition
Belgium Makes Arrests / Brussels High Alert (BBC, NYP, Guardian, Reuters, TRNS, me)
• Belgian police have made 16 arrests in anti-terror raids, but suspected Paris attacks gunman Salah Abdeslam remains at large, authorities have said. A total of 22 raids were carried out Sunday across Brussels and Charleroi, prosecutor Eric Van Der Sypt said. No weapons or explosives were found
• Brussels remains on the highest level of terror alert – No.4. Universities, schools and the metro system are closed today. More than 130 people died and 350 were injured in the Paris attacks 10 days ago. Brussels has been on lockdown all weekend amid a manhunt for Abdeslam. His brother called for him to turn himself in
• Police fired two shots at a car during an operation in the Molenbeek district of Brussels, injuring one suspect who was later arrested. Today, UK PM David Cameron is holding talks with French President Francois Holland on cooperation in the fight against ISIS. They have agreed to step up cooperation in the fight
• Patrons of a gay bar in Brussels said that Abdeslam was a regular there – known for boozing, smoking hash and flirting with other men. “We had him down as a rent boy,” a bartender named Julien said of Abdeslam. Others said he was known for long days playing video games. ISIS brutally punishes homosexuality – often hurling gay men off tall buildings

• Belgians support #BrusselsLockdown – they’ve been asked not to tweet details about police activity they’re seeing – by tweeting CAT pics. Cats rule the internet, after all (including mine, who supported #BrusselsLockdown on Sunday) (Buzzfeed, me)


• Belgian PM Charles Michel said that authorities feared “an attack similar to the one in Paris, with several individuals who could also possibly launch several attacks at the same time in multiple locations.” BBC understands that another of the suspected attackers arrived in Greece under the names of M al-Mahmod
• Dozens of U.S. special operations troops will arrive in Syria “very soon” as promised by President Obama’s admin, special envoy Brett McGurk told CBS Sunday. The troops will help organize local forces battling ISIS in northern Syria, McGurk said
• Homeland Security Sec Jeh Johnson said on NBC on Sunday, “We have no specific credible intelligence about a threat of the Paris type directed at the homeland here.” “With this holiday season coming up, we want the public to continue to go to public events, celebrate the holiday season, travel, be with their families and the like.” (out on a limb)
• Meanwhile, Mali said Sunday that investigators were following “several leads” after 19 people were killed in an attack on a luxury hotel claimed by three Islamist groups. The deadly strike on Mali ended Friday when Malian commandos stormed the Radisson Blu hotel in the capital, Bamako, after an eight-hour siege and freed 170 hostages
Obama: ISIS “Bunch of Killers” (Politico, AP, me)
• President Obama said Sunday at a presser in Kuala Lumpur that ISIS  are “a bunch of killers with good social media.” They are “dangerous,” but, “our way of life is stronger. We have more to offer.” “Prejudice and discrimination helps ISIL and undermines our national security,” Obama said, referring to Christian-Muslim tests for entry to the U.S.
• “They can’t beat us on the battlefield, so they try to terrorize us into being afraid, into changing our patterns of behavior, into abandoning our allies and partners into retreating from the world,” Obama said. “As president I will not let that happen.” (his timing for this trip has been unfortunate; even if his tone had gone down well – hasn’t – being away hasn’t helped him)
• The man behind the attacks, Obama said at another point, is “not a mastermind. He found a few other vicious people, got their hands on some fairly conventional weapons, and, sadly, it turns out if you’re willing to die, you can kill a lot of people.” “I want to be very clear about this: I am not afraid that ISIL will beat us because of their operations.”
• “In addition to hunting down terrorists, in addition to effective intelligence, and in addition to missile strikes, and in addition to cutting off financing … the most powerful tool we have to fight ISIL is to say that we’re not afraid; to not elevate them; to somehow buy into their fantasy that they’re doing something important,” Obama said (yes – and he must reinforce it)


Obama / Hollande Summit Tuesday
• In recent conversations, Obama has refused to give ground on his insistence that Bashar Assad needs to give up power as part of the stabilization of Syria. That’s expected to be one of the main points that French President Hollande will press him to concede when he meets with the president at the WH on Tuesday (Obama has nobody to replace Assad with, though)
• After the Paris attacks, the French feel that there’s no more time to put into waiting out Assad’s collapse, and Holland will be pressing for more immediate intervention to combat ISIS. That would include a level of partnership with Russia and President Putin that’s left Obama unenthused – and which he said again Sunday he viewed skeptically

• Putin “needs to go after the people who killed Russia’s citizens,” Obama said, noting that Russian strikes haven’t targeted ISIS so much as groups that are fighting both Assad’s forces and ISIS, and that he believes Putin underestimated the threat of ISIS to Russians. Overall, “Destroying ISIS is not only a realistic goal. It’s gonna get done.” (he has to keep saying it)

• The House bill that passed last week that effectively stops refugees from Syria and Iraq from coming into the U.S. looks likely to stall in the Senate, particularly with the time that will pass until Congress returns after the Thanksgiving break. Obama has indicated that he would be willing to consider some changes to the refugee system

• Saturday Night Live skewers Ben Carson, Fox and Friends and Democratic National Committee chair Rep Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fl) – all in the space of four and a half minutes in its cold open. Couldn’t happen to three nicer targets (SNL)


Prince Charles: Climate Change = Syrian War/Terrorism (Reuters, me)
• Britain’s Prince Charles has pointed to the world’s failure to tackle climate change as a root cause of the civil war in Syria, terrorism and the consequent refugee crisis engulfing Europe. The heir to the British throne is due to give a keynote speech at the opening of a global climate summit in Paris next week (here we go –  Charles wading in where he’s “not supposed to”)
• Charles said in an interview with Sky News, recorded before the 13 November Paris attacks, that such symptoms were a “classic case of not dealing with the problem.” “Some of us were saying 20 something years ago that if we didn’t tackle these issues, you would see ever greater conflict over drought…which means that people have to move.”
• “And in fact there’s very good evidence indeed that one of the major reasons for this horror in Syria, funnily enough, was a drought that lasted for about five or six years, which meant that huge numbers of people in the end had to leave the land but increasingly they came into the cities.”
• Britain’s royal family is expected to stay out of politics, and the 67-year-old prince has faced accusations of meddling in the past when he has spoken out about climate change and sustainability. Asked whether there was direct link between climate change, conflict and terrorism, Charles said, “Absolutely.”
• “We never deal with the underlying root cause which regrettably is what we’re doing to our natural environment,” he said noting that far greater problems lay ahead if climate change wasn’t addressed immediately (imagine he’s had a phone call from the Palace…not disagreeing necessarily, but telling him he should bloody well keep his mouth shut)


Trump: Maybe Black Protester Should Have Been Beaten (WaPo, CNN, Buzzfeed, me)
• Donald Trump on Sunday said a black protester at a weekend rally in Birmingham, Ala, was “so obnoxious and loud” that “maybe he should have been roughed up” by white audience members at a Saturday rally attended by thousands of nearly all whites (this is turning horribly dangerous now, resembling lynch mobs, with Trump as a Grand Poo-Bah, condoning it)
• Mercutio Southall Jr – a well-known local activist who has been repeatedly arrested while protesting what he says is unfair treatment of blacks – interrupted Trump’s rally and could be heard shouting “Black lives matter!” A fight broke out, prompting Trump to briefly halt his remarks and demand the removal of Southall
• “Get him the hell out of here, will you, please?” Trump said Saturday. “Throw him out!” At one point, Southall fell to the ground and was surrounded by several white men who appeared to be kicking and punching him, according to video captured by CNN. A WaPo reporter witnessed a man put his hands on Southall’s neck and heard a woman repeatedly shout, “Don’t choke him!”
• As security officers got Southall to his feet and led him out of the building, he was repeatedly pushed and shoved by people in the crowd. The crowd alternated between booing and cheering. There were shouts of “All lives matter!” (apparently not Southall’s)
• “Maybe he should have been roughed up because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing,” Trump said on Fox on Sunday. “I have a lot of fans, and they were not happy about it. And this was a very obnoxious guy who was a troublemaker who was looking to make trouble.” (protesting at a rally? In America? Absolutely disgusting? Ahh – Trump’s America…)
•  Fact checker: Trump’s outrageous claim that “thousands” of New Jersey Muslims celebrated the 9/11 attacks (WaPo)
Trump’s Bogus Claim About “Arabs” & 9/11
• Also in Birmingham, Trump claimed he watched as “thousands and thousands of people” in Jersey City, NJ, cheered the fall of the World Trade Center on 9/11, giving the impression he was talking about Muslims in the U.S. being happy so many Americans died in the attacks. Officials have repeatedly debunked those persistent – wrong rumors – and it’s Paterson, NJ, too
• But Trump stood by his (what I’m going to call a) lie on ABC on Sunday. “It did happen. I saw it. It was on television. I saw it. There were people over in New Jersey that were watching it, a heavy Arab population that were cheering as the buildings came down. Not good.”
• But Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop tweeted that Trump “has memory issues or willfully distorts the truth, either of which should be concerning for the Republican Party.” In a statement, the Anti-Defamation League called the claims “irresponsible” and “factually challenged.” Jerry Spaziale, the Paterson police commissioner told WaPo, “That never happened.”
• Meanwhile, as the video of the beating of the black protester circulated on social media, some of Trump’s supporters tweeted to call the protesters “thugs, “Dem plants” and a variety of obscene names. Several wrote that the protesters opened themselves up to the possibility of violence by attending the rally (Trump’s America…)

• It’s a miracle – watch! Adele saves Thanksgiving for this family and friends who are bickering. The aunt “who saw ISIS” at the supermarket and the grandparent intrigued by the “very interesting trend” of transgenderism. Adele’s “Hello” saves the day (SNL)

Carson Wants to  Monitor – Everyone? (Hill, TPM, Hill, AP, me)
• “What I have said is that I would be in favor of monitoring a mosque or any church or any organization or any school or any press corps where there was a lot of radicalization and things that were anti-American,” Carson told reporters Saturday in South Carolina. He didn’t explain how an admin would decide what constitutes “radicalization” or “anti-American” (press corps?)
• Another GOP 2016er, Sen Rand Paul (R-Ky), said Sunday on CBS, “What they’re not telling you and what they’re being dishonest about is that we still have the phone records program.” He noted that France’s surveillance programs are “1,000-fold greater than we have.” “They still didn’t know anything about this.” (they actually found them through an old-fashioned tip)
• 2016er Gov Chris Christie (R-NJ) dodged answering on CNN whether he thought the 75 refugees already living in his state should be forced to leave. “Jake, what should’ve happened is we should’ve been informed about it and we were not. We should have these folks vetted and vetted well.” (they are vetted) Christie said last week he wouldn’t allow 5-year-old Syrian orphans in
• GOP 2016er Donald Trump said on ABC that he would bring back waterboarding. “I would bring it back, yes. I would bring it back. I think waterboarding is peanuts compared to what they’d do to us.” (and what makes us different from them – now, at least – not at his rallies, though)
• Asked if he’d rule out a database on all Muslims in the U.S., Trump said: “No, not at all. I definitely want a database and other checks and balances. We want to go with watch lists. We want to go with databases.” (but without the Constitution, apparently). Trump also refused to rule out an independent bid for president – needs to be treated “fairly” by GOP


• Conservative Mauricio Macri has been confirmed as the winner in Argentina’s presidential elections after his center-left ruling party opponent conceded. Macri, the current mayor of Buenos Aires, danced on stage at a victory rally. Economic reform will be his priority, as he campaigned on pledges to bring new investment into the ailing economy (BBC)
Iran Sentences WaPo Reporter to Jail (WaPo, me)
• Iran has sentenced detained WaPo journalist Jason Rezaian to an unspecified prison term following his conviction last month on charges that include espionage, Iranian state TV reported Sunday. Rezaian went on trial in four closed court hearings at Tehran’s Revolutionary Court over the past months. Last month, he was convicted of spying and other charges
• “Every day that Jason is in prison is an injustice. He has done nothing wrong,” WaPo foreign editor Douglas Jehl said. “Even after keeping Jason in prison 487 days so far, Iran has produced no evidence of wrongdoing. His trial and sentence are a sham, and he should be released immediately.”
• WaPo, U.S. officials and Rezaian’s family have all called for his release. Iran doesn’t recognize dual nationality. Iran’s state media have said Rezaian collected info on Iranian and foreign individuals and companies circumventing sanctions and passed them on to the U.S. govt. Iranian state TV has repeatedly called Rezaian an “American spy.”
• Earlier this month, the intel dept of the powerful elite Revolutionary Guard claimed in a report to parliament that Rezaian is an agent seeking to “overthrow” Iran’s Islamic ruling system
• His incarceration and trial played out as Iran and five world powers, including the U.S., negotiated a landmark Iranian nuclear deal. Iranian media in August quoted officials discussing the possibility of swapping Americans detained in Iran for 19 Iranians held in the U.S. It’s unclear, however, whether that’s been seriously discussed between Iranian and U.S. officials

• A gunfight between two groups erupted on Sunday in a New Orleans park where hundreds of people were gathered for a block party and the filming of a music video, leaving 16 people wounded, police said. Circumstances surrounding the shooting were not immediately clear. No fatalities were reported (Reuters)


Victorious Edwards Moves to Louisiana Transition (AP, Politico, me)
• Fresh off a strong victory in the Louisiana governor’s race, Democrat John Bel Edwards began to work Sunday on his plans for the transition into his new office and an upcoming term in which he’ll have to grapple with a hefty state financial crisis as he follows term-limited Gov Bobby Jindal (R) into office
• He’ll be expected to enter the governor’s mansion in mid-January with a roadmap for closing a looming $1 billion budget shortfall and correcting widespread financial woes, while working with a Republican-led legislature that may not see eye-to-eye with his politics
• The governor-elect announced his transition leaders the day after a decisive 12 percentage point win over Republican U.S. Sen David Vitter. The one-time favorite for the job, Vitter saw his campaign collapse in an embarrassing rebuke when the race became a referendum on his character, including a years-old prostitution scandal (DC madam)
• Edwards repeated his campaign pledge to govern with a moderate and bipartisan approach. “Our approach to governance is going to be much different than it has been under Gov Jindal, We’re going to be very inclusive. We will be very moderate. And we’re going to govern from the perspective of being Louisianans first,” he said
• Those campaign promises will be tested quickly as Republicans wait to see if he builds a cabinet and leadership team that includes members of the GOP. Louisiana is awash in red ink. The state’s Medicaid program for the poor, elderly and disabled is projected to be short millions to continue all its services this year. Next year’s budget is projected to have a $1 billion gap


• American Music Awards winners (some): Artist of the year: One Direction; Soul/R&B album: “Beauty Behind The Madness” The Weeknd; Pop/rock duo/group: One Direction; New artist: Sam Hunt; Country artist male: Luke Bryan; Country artist female: Carrie Underwood; Alternative rock artist: Fall Out Boy; Rap/Hip-hop artist: Nicki Minaj

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Victoria Jones – Editor

TRNS’ Washington Desk contributed to this report


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