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 crash: Investigators believe bomb
  • GOP debate: Christie, Huckabee to kiddie table
  • Founding Fathers: Ben Carson said WHAT now?
  • October jobs: 4 things to watch
  • US warplanes shot staff fleeing Afghan hospital
  • US offended at comments by Netanyahu’s “new” spox
  • TPP: Countdown begins – “exclusions up the wazoo”
  • Defense spending bill / Guantanamo
 
Plane Crash: Investigators Believe Bomb (BBC, NYT, Telegraph, TRNS, me)
• UK investigators looking at what caused a Russian airliner to crash in Egypt on Saturday believe a bomb was put in the hold prior to take-off. The UK suspended all flights to and from the Egyptian resort of Sharm el Sheikh two days ago. The move came after it said the incident was likely to have been caused by terrorism, BBC reports
 
• It had received intel based on intercepted communications between militants in the Sinai Peninsula. However, both Egypt and Russia have said it’s too early to draw conclusions. The Metrojet Airbus A321 was flying from Sharm to St Petersburg when it came down in Sinai, killing all 224 people on board. Most of the victims were Russian
 
• Security service investigators suspect someone with access to the aircraft’s baggage compartment inserted an explosive device inside or on top of the luggage just before the plane took off. France and Belgium have joined Britain in advising citizens against all but essential travel to Sharm el Sheikh. British tourists are now leaving Sharm – with only hand baggage

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• President Obama said Thursday in an interview on Seattle’s radio station KIRO, “I don’t think we know yet. Whenever you’re got a plane crash, first of all you’ve got the tragedy, you’re got making sure there’s an investigation on site. I think there is a possibility that there was a bomb on board. And we are taking that very seriously.”
 
• Sinai-based militants linked to ISIS said they destroyed the plane, but didn’t say how. ISIS has called for a war against both Russia and the U.S. over their air strikes in Syria. Egypt’s President al Sisi, on a visit to the UK, told reporters that security at the airport was tightened 10 months ago at the UK’s request (their concern is tourism – so i’m a bit cynical about this)
 
• However, I heard a British tourist interviewed on BBC radio very early this morning say that he was at Sharm airport in the past few days, and a baggage handler asked for a twenty pound sterling bribe to take his luggage through without going through security. The tourist said he didn’t think anything of it, gave the man the money – and avoided all security checks
 
• The Telegraph reports that employees of Sharm airport aren’t required to pass through security, unlike their counterparts at Western airports (actually this has been a problem here in the U.S.). Lending credence to the bomb theory is images that appear to show holes in the remains of the plane’s fuselage punched from the inside out (walks like a bomb, quacks like a bomb…)
 
• The New York state AG on Thursday launched an investigation into whether Exxon Mobil misled investors and the public about its use of climate science in business activities, a major victory for environmentalists seeking to marshal the energy that propelled the Keystone XL campaign into a new anti-fossel-fuel push (Politico)
 
GOP Debate: Christie, Huckabee to Kiddie Table (Politico, AP, Hill, me)
• Gov Chris Christie (NJ) and former Gov Mike Huckabee (Ark) failed to make the cut for the main stage at next Tuesday’s Fox Business Network/WSJ debate. The two GOP 2016ers failed to meet the 2.5% average polling threshold, so they’ll both be bumped to a 6 pm kiddie table debate, appearing alongside former Sen  Rick Santorum (Pa) and Gov Bobby Jindal (La)
 
• Sen Lindsey Graham (SC), former Gov George Pataki (NY) and former Gov Jim Gilmore (Va) failed to register enough in four recent national polls to participate in the 10 Nov event at all. They needed just 1% support in one of the four polls (ridiculous that the most experienced politician of the lot, Graham, isn’t in the debates)
 
• Graham’s campaign fired off a statement. “It is ironic that the only veteran in the race is going to be denied a voice the day before Veterans Day. In the end, the biggest loser tonight is the American people and the Republican presidential primary process that has been hijacked by news outlets.” (100% correct)

• Sen Marco Rubio (R-Fla) needled Donald Trump on the radio this week with great NH talk show host Jack Heath. “He follows the news very closely, he’s obsessed with the news…so anytime he reads something or something happens, like a poll is not as good as he wants it to be, he gets really weird and he does and says weird and strange things.” (Buzzfeed)

 

• Donald Trump and Ben Carson will stand center stage at the 9 pm (save us, so late) main stage event. To Trump’s right – Sen Marco Rubio (Fla), then former Gov Jeb Bush (Fla), then Gov John Kasich (Ohio). To Carson’s left will be Sen Ted Cruz (Texas), then Carly Fiorina and then Sen Rand Paul (Ky)
 
• The undercard debate begins at 6 pm, and will be moderated by Fox Business’ Sandra Smith, Trish Regan and WSJ Washington Bureau Chief Gerald Seib. The main stage debate will be moderated by Fox Business’ Neil Cavuto and Maria Bartiromo, plus WSJ Editor-in-Chief Gerard Baker (too many moderators – should be two max. can’t control things – one’s enough)
 
• How crazy is the poll system? At this time in 2007, polls showed that former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (NY) was far ahead of his closest challenger with eventual nominee, Sen John McCain (Ariz), in third. And Hillary Clinton was leading then-Sen Barack Obama (Ill) by about 20 percentage points… (it’s a bloody stupid system, and nationalizes the race too early)
 
 

• Whoa! Apparently not a scarier version of Donald Trump’s hair – it’s a Vine of a spotted skunk doing a handstand – trying to scare away aggressors – consider me well warned off, Monsieur Le Pew Trump (me, Dept of Interior)

Founding Fathers: Ben Carson Said WHAT Now? (WSJ, me)

• Ben Carson tried to compare his own lack of political experience to that of the Founding Fathers. Trouble is, he got his history wrong. In a Facebook post Wed, GOP 2016er Carson asked if the American people really want officials with political experience. “Every signer of the Declaration of Independence had no elected office experience.” (is he ignorant or makes it up?)
 
• “That’s just patently false,” Benjamin Carp, an associate professor of history at Brooklyn College and author of books on the American Revolution. Carp said Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Adams, John Hancock and many other signers had been elected members of their colonial assemblies, prior to signing the declaration – and believes a majority had held elective office
 
• That was echoed by Gordon Wood, an emeritus professor of history at Brown University and a leading scholar of the American Revolution, who said Carson’s claim was “wrong.” He said most of the signers hadn’t been governors, since those were appointed by the British Crown, but Stephen Hopkins (RI) had been an elected governor
 
• A spox for the Carson campaign, after being contacted about the error, said Carson had changed his post to say that the signers had no “federal” elected office experience. Carp said changing the Facebook post to say no “federal” elected experience was “ridiculous” because there was no federal govt prior to that time (bit weaselly)
 
• Carp said signing the Declaration of Independence took genuine political skill and experience, because it required convincing their fellow colonists to go down a dangerous road. “To claim those people were amateurs is simply a falsehood.” (maybe they modeled for the Sphinx, too, with biblical figure Joseph, after they put all that grain in the pyramids)
 

• Ben Carson’s campaign has released a radio rap ad to appeal to young, black voters. Errr – this is not sort of it… Carson says he “probably would have taken a little different approach”  – or not like this video, come to that, shouldn’t think

 

October Jobs: 4 Things to Watch (WSJ, me)
• The October jobs report out this morning will show whether hiring from July to September was a temporary or lasting slowdown, as economies overseas struggle and manufacturing activity in the U.S. loses steam. Economists surveyed by WSJ estimate payroll growth of 183,000 and the unemployment rate falling to 5% (so that’ll be off…)
 
October rebound: October’s report will have to bring some relatively positive news after three months of disappointing job growth in order to keep a possible December interest rate rise on the table. Payrolls grew by an average of just 167,000 each month
 
Dollar dampening: The dollar’s continued strength has nipped into profits for companies with significant business overseas, particularly those in the mining and energy sectors. Despite the strong dollar, exports of U.S. services – such as travel, consulting and financial services – are up nearly 2% in the first nine months of 2015
 
Wages: Waxing or waning? The Labor Dept reported last week that employment costs grew 0.6% in the third quarter, and rose 2% from a year ago. In September, average hourly earnings rose 2.2%. Different in different industries – mining and logging were down 4.5% from the year before in September’s report, while “financial activities” were up 3.8%
 
Inner strength: Some areas of the domestic economy, like health care and hospitality, have been growing consistently throughout the recovery. The health care industry added 34,000 jobs in Sept and could be good in Oct. Public sector jobs, mostly in state and local govt, also rose by 24,000 last month and could be another place to look for growth

 

• The House approved 363-64 a $325 billion, six-year transportation bill on Thursday, the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015, HR 3763, after a weeklong vote-a-rama. The measure includes a reauthorization of the controversial Export-Import Bank’s charter. It must be reconciled with a Senate bill (TRNS, Hill)
 
US Warplanes Shot People Fleeing Afghan Hospital (Reuters, NBC News, TRNS, me)
• Medical aid group Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said Thursday it was hard to believe a U.S. strike on an Afghan hospital last month was a mistake, as it had reports of fleeing staff being shot from an aircraft.  An internal report said many staff described “seeing people being shot, most likely from the plane” as they tried to flee the main building, under attack by the U.S.
 
• At least 30 people, including three children, were killed when the hospital in Kunduz was hit by a powerful U.S. attack aircraft on 3 Oct while Afghan govt forces were battling to regain control of the northern city from Taliban forces who had seized it days earlier
 
• The U.S. has said the hospital was hit by accident and two separate investigations by the U.S. and NATO are underway. But the circumstances of the incident, one of the worst of its kind during the 14-year conflict, are still unclear. The WH said President Obama had been briefed on the MSF report (attack was an hour – awfully long “accident”)
 
• On 1 Oct, the group “received a question from a U.S. govt official in DC, asking whether the hospital or any other of MSF’s locations had a large number of Taliban ‘holed up’,” the report said. “MSF also expressed that we were very clear with both sides to the conflict about the need to respect medical structures as a condition to our ability to continue working.”
 
• The hospital was treating wounded combatants from both sides as well as civilians. “Treating wounded combatants is not a crime,” said MSF General Director Christopher Stoker to reporters while presenting the report. (it isn’t, under Geneva Conventions) MSF says fighters are prohibited from bringing weapons into the facility

 

US Offended at Comments by Netanyahu’s New Spox (Reuters, TPM, NYT, me)
• The U.S. takes offense at comments by Israeli PM Netanyahu’s new (or not) public diplomacy chief accusing President Obama of anti-Semitism and suggesting that SecState John Kerry had the mental abilities of a 12-year-old, the State Dept said Thursday (good start, that)
 
• State said Kerry had spoken to Netanyahu Thursday (fly in phone) and understood that the Israeli leader “will be reviewing” the appointment of Ran Baratz after a U.S.-Israeli summit meeting at the WH next week. Baratz, 42,  had said that Obama’s criticism of a Netanyahu speech against the Iran deal was “how modern anti-Semitism looks like in the modern world.”
 
• Obama and Netanyahu are due to meet and try to mend fences after fierce feuding over the Iran deal that Israel opposes. As head of public diplomacy and media, Baratz, a conservative academic, would be tasked with improving Israel’s reputation in the world. His comments were published previous to his appointment
 
• Within hours of Baratz’s appointment on Wednesday, Israeli media outlets found a clutch of cuttings, headline-grabbing quotes on Facebook and articles he had penned on news websites.  He sniped last week at largely ceremonial President Reuven Rivlin for flying coach, suggesting he wasn’t important enough for ISIS to kill
 

• Baratz has apologized to Netanyahu in a phone call (more flies in phone) and statement. Netanyahu distanced himself from the comments and is reconsidering the appointment… They will meet after Netanyahu’s U.S. trip. Baratz resides in a settlement in the occupied West Bank and called in 2004 for building a third Jewish temple on the contested Temple Mount compound

 
• President Obama has made a “realistic assessment” that a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians isn’t possible during his final months in office, U.S. officials told reporters Thursday. The two leaders will also discuss a fresh wave of Israel-Palestinian violence, and discuss steps to prevent confrontations between the parties in the absence of a peace deal (AP)

TPP: Countdown Begins (Reuters, Politico, me)

• U.S. unions, lawmakers and interest groups questioned the long-awaited text of a landmark U.S.-backed Pacific trade deal on Thursday, setting up a potentially long and difficult path to ratification by the U.S., the biggest of the 12 partners
 
• Arguments over the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, aimed at cutting taxes and tariffs on commerce in 40% of the world’s economy, are set to focus on transparency and how the pact affects workers and businesses. “It’s worse than we thought,” Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, told reporters on a conference call Thursday
 
• “The text that I’ve read so far includes annexes and exclusions up the wazoo,” said Rep Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), a member of the House Ways and Means Committee. “You think you’ve seen it all? You have not. Exclusions to rules by each country. Bilateral deals with Japan, and more than 50 two-way side letters.” (wazoo is a highly technical term)
 
• President Obama, who championed the deal, will have to muster support among moderates in DC to ensure ratification. “The TPP means that America will write the rules of the road in the 21st century,” Obama said in a post online. “It we don’t pass this agreement – if America doesn’t write those rules – then countries like China will.”
 
• The WH formally notified U.S. lawmakers on Thursday that the president intends to sign the deal. That started the 90-day clock before his signature triggers the next step in a process of seeking final congressional approval. The earliest the TPP could come before Congress is March – just as primary season is heating up, so it could become a (jolly) campaign issue

• The full text of the Trans-Pacfiic Partnership is finally online – here you go, settle down with some smores and hot chocolate. you’re here for the duration (Medium, me)


 
 
Defense Spending Bill / Guantanamo (AP, Hill, Hill, TRNS, me)
• The House on Thursday passed 370-58 – overwhelming – a revised $607 billion defense policy bill that restricts President Obama’s efforts to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. WH spox Josh Earnest said Wednesday there was no veto threat, but Obama remained opposed to provisions hampering his ability to transfer the detainees (and?)
 
• Obama vetoed the original bill over a larger spending issue. But that dispute was resolved, and Obama on Monday signed a bipartisan budget bill that avoids a catastrophic default and puts off the next round of fighting over federal spending an debt until after next year’s elections. Among other things, this year’s National Defense Authorization Act:
 
• Provides a 1.3% pay increase to service members and a new retirement option for troops. Authorizes lethal assistance to Ukraine forces fighting Russian-backed rebels. Extends a ban on torture to the CIA. Authorizes the president’s request of $715 million to help Iraqi forces fight ISIS
 
• The WH is preparing to release the admin’s plan to close Guantanamo, which is expected to propose transferring some detainees to places in the U.S. where they could be securely held – heavy opposition on Capitol Hill (NIMBY). The law currently bans detainees from being transferred to U.S. soil, but facilities in several states have been discussed
 
• Wed, Earnest hinted that Obama might use his executive authority to close the prison, even though he says he wants to work with Congress to close it. That prompted Sen Pat Roberts (R-Kan) to place a hold on Obama’s nominee for the secretary of the Army, Eric Fanning
 
• Rocking into the weekend: One night only, folks! Memphis guy Justin Timberlake joins the great new CMA winner Chris Stapleton on stage at the CMA Awards 2015 for a rolling “Drink You Away” and “Tennessee Whiskey” – what a jam – I’ll be your Tennessee Whiskey, Justin

 

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Victoria Jones – Editor

TRNS’ Nicholas Salazar and Loree Lewis contributed to this report

 

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