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

  • Elections 2015: Results
  • Historic Taiwan / China meeting
  • GOP debates: Little group moves forward
  • Funding: Ryan won’t rule out govt shutdown…
  • Trump promotes book & trashes rivals
  • Failed co-ops: Fuel for GOP war on Obamacare
  • US and Russia planes in Syria test
  • Cop faked own murder: Police presser today
Elections 2015: Results (AP, me)
Governor: Kentucky – Self-described Christian conservative Matt Bevin becomes only the second Republican in four decades to win the governor’s seat in Kentucky, defeating Democratic AG Jack Conway on an anti-Obamacare and gay marriage platform. Bevin wants to replace the state’s version of Medicaid with a plan requiring more money from poor participants (WWJD?)
Legislators: Virginia – Republicans held off an attempt by Democrats to win a majority in the Senate and maintained their 21-19 edge. A gain of just one seat by Dems could have flipped control because Democratic Lt Gov Ralph Northam would serve as the tiebreaker
Marijuana: Ohio – Ohio voters rejected a ballot initiative that would have legalized recreational use by adults 21 and older and allowed for medicinal use by others. Would have created a pot growing monopoly (was opposed by potheads as well as cops and pols)


Gay rights: Houston – Voters rejected a city ordinance that sought to provide non-discrimination protections for gay and transgender people. The city council approved the ordinance last year. Legal challenge. Opponents included a coalition of conservative pastors who said it infringed on their religious beliefs against homosexuality (how impact beliefs actually?)
Housing: San Francisco – Voters rejected an initiative that sought to limit the “sharing economy” services in which people rent rooms directly from others through internet bookings. Would have capped short term housing rentals at 75 days a year and require internet cos like San Francisco Airbnb to pull listings that violate the limit – Airbnb poured millions to oppose
Animals: – Washington voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot initiative 🙂 backed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and animal rights groups that will make it a state crime to buy, sell or trade products coming from certain wild animals. In Texas, voters approved a ballot measure 🙁 that creates a constitutional right for people to hunt, fish and “harvest wildlife” (gag)


• A Russian-built cargo plane carrying some passengers crashed today after taking off from the airport in South Sudan’s capital of Juba, killing from 10-41 people who were on board and others on the ground, an official and a witness said. A crew member and a child on board survived the crash – developing (Reuters)
Historic Taiwan / China Meeting (Reuters, TRNS, me)
• Chinese President Xi Jinping will hold talks with his Taiwanese counterpart Ma Ying-jeou in Singapore on Saturday in the first such meeting of leaders from the two rivals since the Chinese civil war ended in 1949. China deems the island a breakaway province to be taken back, by force if necessary, particularly if it makes moves towards independence
• The unexpected historic meeting comes at a sensitive time in Taiwan, with elections for a new president and legislature being held on 16 Jan amid rising anti-China sentiment, particularly among younger Taiwanese who don’t believe Taiwan benefits from closer economic ties with its giant neighbor
• Ma’s office said in a statement that the purpose of his trips was to “consolidate cross-strait peace and maintain the status quo.” Zhang Zhijun, head of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said the two leaders will “exchange views on promoting the peaceful development of cross-Taiwan Straits relations,” according to a statement (gosh – they almost scripted…)
• Ma is to step down next year due to term limits, with his ruling pro-China Nationalist Party, KMT, trailing badly in polls behind the opposition DPP, which traditionally favors independence and is loathed by the Chinese Communist Party. Experts said China could be trying to influence the election, adding Ma was taking a risk in meeting Xi with the poll 10 weeks away
• WH spox Josh Earnest said Tuesday, “We would certainly welcome steps that are taken on both sides of the Taiwan Strait to try to reduce tensions and improve cross-strait relations. But, you know, we’ll have to see what actually comes out of the meeting.” Previous Chinese attempts to meddle in Taiwan’s elections have backfired – see Reuters story


• Germany’s police – more than 500 – are conducting raids against international human trafficking networks across Germany. Reports say that traffickers are targeting newly arrived refugees. More than 600,000 refugees have arrived in Greece so far this year, most in the last few months, to make the journey overland across the Balkans (AP)
GOP Debates: Little Group Moves Forward With Plans (Hill, Politico, me)
• The push among Republican campaigns to take greater control of debate negotiations collapsed on Tuesday, as candidates split over whether to sign a letter to the TV networks outlining their demands to participate in future debates. Late Tuesday night, Ben Carson campaign manager Barry Bennett circulated a letter to GOP campaign advisers for the networks
• “All the candidates recognize that robust debates are an important part of the primary elections,” the letter states. “It is also important that all debates be appropriate platforms for discussing substantive issues and the candidates’ visions for the future.” (so not all that robust, then, more insipid and weak, in fact – more of a GOP candidates’ rally than anything)
• The letter is significantly scaled back from draft versions that circulated earlier in the week. Gone are demands about the temperature of the debate room, control over camera angles and graphics displayed on screen while the candidates speak, and no shots of their notes (god forbid we should have it confirmed they have to look stuff up – use your hand like Sarah Palin)
• The latest version is merely a list of questions, such as criteria for inclusion, who the moderators will be, the length of the debates, how much speaking time will be allotted for answers and rebuttals, and whether the candidates will be standing at podiums or seated at tables. Bennett hopes to send the letter today (letter in Hill story)
•  Sen Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Tuesday ridiculed the room temperature demand. “I don’t care about the room temperature. Go to Iraq, walk around with 60 pounds of gear. They don’t complain.” (nicely done, sir)


• Preliminary analysis of the cockpit recording of the crashed Russian plane suggests the crew may have had little or no time to react – contradicting earlier reports the crew realized they had an emergency. U.S. satellite imagery detected heat around the plane just before it went down in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, two U.S. officials said. Could mean a bomb blast, an engine exploded – many things (WSJ, AP)
Funding: Ryan Won’t Rule Out Govt Shutdown (CNN, Hill, me)
• Well, there goes the honeymoon. Put away your naughty undies and unusually shaped toys. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis) warned the WH and Democrats Tuesday that Republicans won’t back down from a fight over govt spending that, left unresolved, could result in a mid-December govt shutdown (Ho Ho Ho)
• “This is the legislative branch, and the power of the purse rests within the legislative branch. And we fully expect that we are going to exercise that power,” Ryan said at his first presser since elected speaker last week, when pressed over whether he planned to attach legislative policy riders to a must-pass spending bill that Congress needs to approve before 11 December
• President Obama and congressional leaders struck a major deal last week that lifts sequester spending caps, sets spending levels and raises the debt ceiling for two years. But appropriators will need to pass an omnibus spending bill to prevent a shutdown by 11 Dec. That’s when a stopgap measure, or continuing resolution (CR), is set to expire
• Obama and Democrats are insisting on a “clean” spending bill, free of controversial policy riders or “poison pills.” But conservatives will be pressing their GOP leaders to attach a slew of amendments, including one to defund Planned Parenthood (here we gooo again – Obama’s not going to sign it)
• Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md) called Ryan’s refusal to rule out controversial riders “inconsistent with his duty to the responsible stewardship of the House.” “Playing chicken with the president of the U.S. is not responsible,” Hoyer said. “I would hope that he lead, not follow, his more radical elements in the House.” (over the Niagara Falls in a barrel more like)


• Clearly seeking an inter-chamber do-over, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis) told Senate Republicans at a Tuesday Senate GOP lunch that he wants to work from a unified agenda in 2016 to avoid any more missteps between the two GOP-led chambers (Politico)
Trump Promotes Book & Trashes Rivals (NYT, Fox News, Politico, TRNS, me)
• Inside the pink marbled atrium of the Trump Tower on Tuesday, GOP 2016er Donald Trump signed copies of his new book “Crippled America,” and leveled broadsides. Sen Marco Rubio (R-Fla), his surging opponent, “is a disaster with credit cards. All you have to do is look.” “He has a very bad record with finances, with his houses, he certainly lives above his means.”
• “I like Ben
[Carson], but Ben can’t do the job, I mean there’s no question about it,” Trump said. “He’s not going to be able to negotiate with China. It’s not his thing … it’s not in his wheelhouse, he’s never done it before, and I don’t think it’s, you know, meant for him.” Trump called Carson “very weak on immigration.” (trump claims to hit only when hit – Carson hasn’t hit)
• Trump said at one point that he was incapable of performing an impression of former Gov Jeb Bush (R-Fla) because “I don’t like showing people sleeping at a podium.” Trump is scheduled to host Saturday Night Live this weekend. More than a dozen of the nation’s leading Hispanic groups plan a rally today outside 30 Rockefeller Plaza to protest Trump’s hosting
• WH spox Josh Earnest was asked about Trump’s remark that Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen “is highly political and she’s not raising rates for a very specific reason – because Obama told her not to because he wants to be out playing golf in a year from now and he wants to be doing other things and he doesn’t want to see another bubble burst during his admin.”
• Earnest said Trump was  “somebody who’s declared bankruptcy like four times, too,” to chuckles in the briefing room. “So consider the source of that advice.” Trump hasn’t filed personal bankruptcy. Earnest said, “This admin goes to great lengths to ensure that the Fed” can make monetary policies that are in the in best interests of the country and economy


• WH spox Josh Earnest told reporters Tuesday that President Obama “would like to have this determination [of Keystone XL pipeline] be completed before he leaves office” and wasn’t inclined to extend the seven-year review process even longer. TransCanada has asked for the project’s permit to be suspended because a section is awaiting approval in Nebraska (WaPo)
Failed Co-Ops: Fuel for GOP War on Obamacare (NYT, me)
• So far, 11 of the 23 nonprofit health insurance companies created with $2.4 billion in federal loans under the Affordable Care Act  have failed. That’s left more a half million consumers hunting for other coverage and handed Republicans a new weapon for their war on the health law
• “Any start up faces the inherent risks of building a business from the ground up,” Dr Mandy Cohen, the COO at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told the House Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday at a contentious hearing. Cohen said federal officials hadn’t been lax or negligent in supervising the co-ops (pretty lousy track record at CMS, though)
• But the co-ops have faced stiff challenges as they struggle to create networks of doctors and hospitals, win the support of consumers, and try to compete with larger insurance companies that have much more insurance, particularly in pricing. Also, Congress has eliminated two-thirds of the funding that Democrats had hoped to offer the fledgling insurers
• Chair Rep Kevin Brady (R-Texas) said, “Only in Washington would a group of bureaucrats think they knew how to micromanage competition instead of letting consumers and markets do what they do best.” (but if you strangle the co-ops in the womb it doesn’t help them much)
• But ranking member Rep Jim McDermott (R-Wash) said Republicans had sabotaged the program. Obamacare set aside $6 billion for the program, but only about $2 billion has actually been spent, Cohen said


• The Obama admin said Tuesday that it would hold a forum on the high prices of some prescription drugs on 20 Nov. The forum would seek ways to speed up the discovery of innovative drug treatments while making them more affordable. The move came amid stories of price manipulation and polls that show drug prices as a top voting concern (NYT)


US and Russia Planes in Syria Test (BBC, Reuters, Politico, TRNS, TRNS, me)
• One American and one Russian plane have carried out a “planned communications test” in the skies over Syria, U.S. officials say. The Pentagon said the test lasted about three minutes and was designed to “validate the safety protocols” agreed last month. Then, both countries’ planes entered the same “battle space” and came within miles of each other
• Earlier Tuesday, the Russian foreign ministry said it wasn’t crucial for Syria’s President Assad to stay in power. Asked if saving Assad was a matter of principle for Russia, spox Maria Zahkarova said, “Absolutely not, we never said that.” (weasel words) “What we did say is a regime change in Syria could become a local or even regional catastrophe.”
• Earlier Tuesday, Russian Deputy FM Mikhail Bogdanov said that Moscow was aiming to host a round of talks between Syrian govt officials and members of the country’s opposition in Moscow next week. In DC, the State Dept said it was premature for Russia to invite the Syrian opposition to talks in Russia (feeling left out, much, and sulking?)
• Monday, the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps said that Russia “may not care if Assad stays in power as we do.” “We don’t know any better person to replace him.” A senior regional official familiar with diplomatic contacts on Syria said, “Forget it. There is no Russian-Iranian difference over the matter of Assad.”

• In DC, lawmakers on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee want a closed briefing on the Obama admin’s Syria policy before deciding whether to pursue a vote to approve the ongoing U.S. campaign against ISIS. As the committee weighs a vote, panel members are hoping to be briefed late this week by officials from State Dept and Special Forces


• Hillary Clinton is showing a new TV spot in Iowa and New Hampshire in which the only words are the candidate talking about ending gun violence. She’s at a town hall event in the spot and calls for universal background checks (NYT)


Cop Faked Own Murder – Police Presser Today (WaPo, AP, me)

• The Lake County, Ill, Sheriff’s office will announce today that Lt Charles Joseph Gliniewicz, whose shooting death led to a massive manhunt in September, killed himself in an elaborately staged suicide, an official briefed on the investigation told AP (this was so strange)

• Gliniewicz was found dead on the morning of 1 Sept in a remote area of Fox Lake. Moments earlier, the veteran cop had radioed that he was pursuing two white males and a black male on foot. When his fellow officers arrived, they found Gliniewicz bleeding to death with his .40-caliber pistol nearby. Authorities scoured the area for signs of the suspected cop killers

• The revelation of suicide could alter public perception of not only Gliniewicz, but also the argument that cops are increasingly under attack in America. According to recently released FBI data, assaults on police officers dropped sharply in 2014 and are at their lowest point since 1996

• Weirdly, in a case similar to Glineiwicz’s disputed death, an Arkansas police officer was arrested Tuesday for allegedly lying about being shot during a traffic stop. Sgt David Houser, 50, of the England PD was charged with filing a false police report. As in Fox Lake, Housesr’s claim sparked a massive manhunt as officials searched the state for a Hispanic man in an SUV

“The more we investigated, the more it became clear that the details of his story were inconsistent,” said England Police Chief Nathan Cook, who fired Houser Monday. “Why would you ever make that up? asked Lonoke Sheriff John Staley. “What would he gain from that? It’s just amazing to me.”

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Victoria Jones – Editor

TRNS’ Loree Lewis and Nicholas Salazar contributed to this report


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