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

  • It’s over! Escaped killer shot, captured
  • Greek banks shut: Stocks slide
  • Gay marriage backers win at SCOTUS
  • From majority opinion
  • From dissents
  • Justice arrived “like a thunderbolt” / Pols
  • SCOTUS today: Last Big Three
  • Obama preaches, sings: Protests racism
  • Iran wish list led to U.S. talks
  • 3 Islamist terror attacks: Latest
  • Music news: Yes / BET

 

Escaped Convict Shot, Captured as Hunt Ends (NYT, AP, WaPo, me)
• David Sweat, 35, the remaining prison escapee on the run in northern New York, was shot by State Police Sgt Jay Cook and taken into custody Sunday after a 23-day manhunt that began with an improbable escape from two-maximum security cells and ended in the rain-drenched woods just south of the Canadian border
• “The nightmare is finally over,” Gov Andrew Cuomo (D) declared at a presser. “These were really, really dangerous men.” The saga that’s gripped the region for the past three weeks ended the way it began, with a scene straight from a Hollywood script (which TV network grabs it?)
• Officials said Cook, a firearms instructor patrolling alone on a rain-drenched road near the border, stopped to question a strange man jogging along the shoulder. He recognized the man as Sweat and told him to come over – instead the man broke into a run and attempted to dash across an open field and into cover of trees on the other side
• Cook gave chase and eventually fired on Sweat, shooting him twice in the torso. Sweat was unarmed. “He realized that Sweat was going to make it to a tree line and could have possibly disappeared,” NY State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico told reporters Sunday. Sweat is in Albany Medical Center in critical condition• Graphic: How the manhunt unfolded – Pics! Maps! (NYT)
The manhunt for Sweat and fellow inmate Richard Matt, who was shot and killed by police on Friday, broke open two days ago when state police received a call from a civilian who said someone had shot at a trailer her was towing as he drove by. That led police to a cabin in Malone NY where they smelled gunpowder and saw signs the cabin had recently been abandoned
• A cough gave Matt away. A tactical team zeroed in and found the escapee, who was armed with a 20-gauge shotgun, according to police. When he refused to surrender, Matt was shot and killed. No sighting of Sweat at the site
• Officers found traces of Sweat’s DNA on a pepper shaker not far from where Matt was killed. The men may have been attempting to mask their scent with the spice to evade search dogs, a ruse used in the 1967 film “Cool Hand Luke.” (can’t make it up – no one would believe this)
• Over the weekend, police flooded the area, forming a 22-mile-radius circle that provided little opportunity for Sweat to escape – if he was inside
Gin Did Him In
• It was the gin that did him in. Matt smelled of grape gin. The booze had been stored for some years at a cabin owned by members of the Willett family in Franklin County. When Bob Willett, a corrections officer, came to check the cabin and saw the gin bottle on the counter, some spilled, and smelled the gin, he knew it was a lead. He reported it
• Officials say that Sweat and Matt broke out of their cells either on the night of 5 June or early 6 June, using tools allegedly smuggled to them in frozen meat by correctional officer Gene Palmer. Court docs revealed that Palmer, arrested on Wed, had previously given the men tools in exchange for paintings from Matt, who won him over
• Palmer also provided art supplies and gave the prisoners access to catwalks they would later use in their escape. Sweat and Matt were in adjacent cells on the prison’s now defunct honor block, where inmates were allowed to cook their own food on a hotplate on the catwalk
• Instead of cooking the meat, they extracted the tools and used them over several nights to cut through the backs of their cells. The men then clambered onto the catwalks, which brought them into a “labyrinth of tunnels” where they found a contractor’s job box. They cut away at the prison wall, sawing through layers of pipe, chains, steel and sewer
“Have A Nice Day!”
Before fleeing, they left a taunting yellow sticky note on a pipe: “Have a nice day!” it read. Another prison worker, Joyce Mitchell, 51, was said to have provided the smuggled tools. She was arrested and is charged with aiding the escape. She doesn’t believe Palmer was aware the meat contained contraband
• Mitchell discussed having the murderers kill her husband, Lyle and agreed to be their getaway driver but got cold feet and checked into the hospital, a prosecutor said. She was reported to have been won over by Matt, who made her feel “special.” There are reports that she had sex with the men, though she claims Matt just tried to kiss her a few times (sure)
• Instead, the men fled on foot, sheltering in the forests and in cabins that were still empty so early in the summer. But tell-tale clues of their presence – a wrapper, a trace of DNA, a footprint, a whiff of their scent – gave them away, leading investigators closer even as thousands of tips and sightings drew attention away. In the end, the men never got more than 50 miles away• Richard Matt, who had metal front teeth, was convicted of torturing, murdering and dismembering his former boss who he then threw into a river. He had tossed the 76-year-old man, in his pyjamas, into the trunk of a car, and driven him around for 27 hours to try to get him to tell where some money allegedly was. He then broke his fingers back off and snapped his neck with his own hands. Sweat was no peach, either
Greek Banks Shut: Stocks Slide (BBC, me)
• The Greek govt has confirmed that banks will be closed all week, after a decision by the European Central Bank not to extend emergency funding. In a decree, it cited the “extremely urgent” need to protect the financial system due to the lack of liquidity. Cash withdrawals will be limited to $66 a day for this period – not limited for foreigners
• President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke on Sunday and agreed it’s “critically important” to find ways to keep Greece in the euro zone, the WH said. Saturday, Treasury Sec Jack Lew urged European finance ministers and the IMF to continue working together toward a “sustainable solution” to reforms in Greece
• Shares across Europe and Asia fell in trading today on fears of a Greek exit from the 19-member eurozone – Grexit – with the euro dropping against the U.S. dollar. Greek PM Alexis Tsipras has called for a referendum over bailout terms to be held on 5 July after talks between Greece and eurozone countries over bailout terms ended without agreement
• Greeks lined up to withdraw money from ATMs over the weekend, leaving a number of cash machines dry. However, the Greek decree said that cashpoints would “operate normally by Monday noon at the latest.”• Eurozone ministers blamed Greece for breaking off the talks and published proposals by European creditors that it said were on the table, but Greece described creditors’ terms as “not viable” and asked for an extension of its current deal until after the vote was completed
• Puerto Rico needs to restructure its debt and should make reforms including cutting the number of teachers and raising property taxes, a report by former IMF economists on the island’s financial woes said. “Puerto Rico faces hard times,” the report said. “A crisis looms,”. Puerto Rico’s governor will address the island today (Reuters)

 

 

Gay Marriage Backers Win at SCOTUS (NYT, TRNS, me)
• In a long-sought victory for the gay rights movement, the Supreme Court on Friday ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage. Justice Anthony Kennedy, a President Ronald Reagan appointee, wrote the majority opinion in the 5-4 opinion. He was joined by the court’s four more liberal justices
• “Their
[gay couples’] plea is that they do respect it [marriage], respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”
• Chief Justice John Roberts, in a dissent joined by Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, said: “If you are among the many Americans – of whatever sexual orientation – who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today’s decision. … But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.”&&&
• As late as October, the justices ducked the issue, refusing to hear appeals from rulings allowing same-sex marriage in five states. That decision allowed a tacit victory for gay rights, immediately expanding the number of states with same-sex marriage to 24, along with DC, up from 19
• Largely as a consequence of the Supreme Court’s decision not to act, the number of states allowing same-sex marriage has since grown to 36, and more than 70% of Americans live in places where gay couples can marry
• The court didn’t agree to resolve the issue for the rest of the nation until January, in cases filed by gay and lesbian couples in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. The court heard extended arguments in April and the justices seemed sharply divided over what the Constitution had to say about same-sex marriage
Really cool interactive: Watch the legalization of gay marriage state by state from 1992 through the Supreme Court’s ruling on Friday (NYT)
From Majority Opinion (NYT, me)
• Justice Anthony Kennedy: “The fundamental liberties protected by this Clause [due process] include most of the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights. … In addition these liberties extend to certain personal choices central to individual dignity and autonomy, including intimate choices that define personal identity and beliefs.”
• “The generations that wrote and ratified the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment did not presume to know the extent of freedom in all its dimensions, and so they entrusted to future generations a charter protecting the right of all persons to enjoy liberty as we learn its meaning.”
• “The Nation’s courts are open to injured individuals who come to them to vindicate their own direct, personal stake in our basic charter. An individual can invoke a right to constitutional protection when he or she is harmed, even if the broader public disagrees and even if the legislature refuses to act.” continues – –
• “The idea of the Constitution ‘was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the court.'”
• “Finally, it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrine, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned. … The Constitution, however, does not permit the State to bar same-sex couples from marriage on the same terms as accorded to couples of the opposite sex.”
• Vid: President Obama speaks on the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision in the Rose Garden on Friday morning (NYT)
From Dissents (NYT, me)
• Chief Justice John Roberts: “But this Court is not a legislature. Whether same-sex marriage is a good idea should be of no concern to us. Under the Constitution, judges have power to say what the law is, not what it should be.”
• Roberts: “The majority’s decision is an act of will, not legal judgment. The right it announces has no basis in the Constitution or this Court’s precedent. The majority expressly disclaims judicial ‘caution’ and omits even a pretense of humility, openly relying on its desire to remake society according to its own ‘new insight’ into the ‘nature of injustice.'”
• Justice Clarence Thomas: “In its haste to reach a desired result, the majority misapplies a clause focused on ‘due process’ to afford substantive rights, disregards the most plausible understanding of the ‘liberty’ protected by that clause, and distorts the principles on which this Nation was founded.”
• Justice Antonin Scalia: “Except as limited by a constitutional prohibition agreed to by the People, the States are free to adopt whatever laws they like, even those that offend the esteemed Justices’ ‘reasoned judgment.’ A system of government that makes the People subordinate to a committee of nine unelected lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy.”
• Scalia: Says at the beginning of his dissent that what the law says about marriage “is not of immense personal importance to me.” Even attacks Kennedy’s writing style: “The opinion is couched in a style that is as pretentious as its content is egotistic.” And says the decision is “lacking even a thin veneer of law” and is “judicial Putsch.”
• Pic: North Portico of the WH illuminated in rainbow colors on Friday in recognition of the Supreme Court’s historic gay rights ruling (Boston Globe)
Justice Arrived “Like a Thunderbolt” / Pols’ Reax (Politico, Buzzfeed, Politico, TRNS, TRNS, me)
• “Progress on this journey often comes in small increments, sometimes two steps forward, one step back, propelled by the persistent effort of dedicated citizens. And then sometimes, there are days like this, when that slow, steady effort is rewarded with justice that arrives like a thunderbolt,” said President Obama, speaking in the Rose Garden after the decision
• Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a statement he was “disappointed” with the decision. But he didn’t say the House would consider legislation pushed by some conservatives to strip federal courts of jurisdiction for marriage-related litigation or block the use of federal funds to enforce a same-sex marriage ruling (interesting)
• Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) said after the decision, “I disagree with the court’s ruling. Regardless of one’s personal view on this issue, the American people, through the democratic process, should be able to determine the meaning of this bedrock institution in our society.” (also restrained)
• Gov Scott Walker (R-Wisc), a 2016er, said at a conservative summit in Denver on Saturday, “To me, it is not freedom from religion, it is freedom of religion, which ultimately means we have the right to practice our religious beliefs and not have others interfere.” He didn’t repeat his Friday call for a constitutional amendment for states to define marriage
• Former Gov Mike Huckabee (R-Ar), a 2016er, said on an Iowa radio show on Friday, “Justice Roberts apparently needs medication for schizophrenia because his opinion is almost the direct opposite of his logical in the opinion yesterday.” Sen Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said on Sean Hannity’s radio show Friday, “Today is some of the darkest 24 hours in our nation’s history,”
• Vid: Riot police broke up a gay pride parade in Istanbul Sunday with rubber bullets and water cannon. (dreadful) Pride parades took place worldwide over the weekend, taking on special meaning with the Supreme Court decision Friday
SCOTUS Today: Last Big Three (WSJ, me)
Execution Methods: At issue: Whether the sedative midazolam presents an unconstitutional risk of severe pain in executions of condemned criminals. Three men on Oklahoma’s death row claim that midazolam, the anaesthetic the state plans to deliver before paralytic and heart-stopping drugs, is unreliable, exposing them to unconstitutional risk of severe pain
Power-Plant Emissions: At issue: Whether the EPA unreasonably disregarded costs when it decided to regulate power plant emissions of mercury and other air toxins. The regs would cost $9.6 billion annually, EPA estimated. EPA said it was appropriate to consider only public health risks – not industry costs
Congressional Redistricting: At issue: Whether a state may transfer redistricting authority from the legislature to a nonpartisan independent commission. Arizona voters in 2000 passed a ballot initiative that shifted responsibility for drawing congressional districts from the state legislature to an independent redistricting commission (2 GOP, 2 Dem, 1 independent)
• Vid: President Obama delivers the eulogy at funeral of Rev Clementa Pinckney (YouHot News)   Vid: President Obama leads the congregation in singing Amazing Grace at Pinckney’s funeral(C-Span)
Obama Preaches, Sings: Protests Racism (Politico, TRNS, me)
• President Obama brought a crowd of 5,500 mourners to their feet and led them in singing “Amazing Grace” in an act of defiance Friday against the hatred that fueled the killings of nine African-Americans at the legendary Emanuel AME Church – a eulogy that was also a call to action to battle the systemic racism he said the attack must force America to confront
• He was, preachers who followed him said, “the Reverend President.” Children left in poverty, a criminal justice system in need of reform, denied voting rights: this is what the white supremacist killing African-Americans in a church should remind the country of, Obama said
• The Confederate flag – “we all have to acknowledge that the flag has always represented more than ancestral price,” Obama said bluntly, giving his eulogy for Rev Clementa Pinckney – must come down. “But I don’t think God wants us to stop there.”

• Vid: Bree Newsome climbs up and takes down the Confederate battle flag at the South Carolina capitol over the weekend and is immediately arrested

• “For too long,” Obama called out to the crowd, talking about the legacy of racism. “Too long!” the crowd called back. Dylann Roof, the shooter, “drew on the long history of mobs and arson and shots fired at churches – not random, but as a means to control. A way to terrorize and oppress.” Obama paused. “God works in mysterious ways. He didn’t know he was being used by God.”
• “I feel robbed, cheated, and cut short,” the reverend’s wife, Jennifer Benjamin Pinckney, wrote in an essay in the program for the funeral of her husband. “I feel badly that our girls will never have their father to watch them grow. But I am thankful for one consolation, that your life was not in vain.”
• The Obamas were joined by a congressional delegation led by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who came via his first-ever flight with Obama on Air Force One. VP Joe Biden and Dr Kill Biden arrived separately. Gov Nikki Haley (R-SC) joined, as did both U.S. senators, Rep Jim Clyburn (D-SC). Hillary Clinton also attended
• “Every time something like this happens, someone says we should have a conversation about race,” Obama said. “We talk a lot about race. There’s no shortcut. We don’t need more talk.”

 

• VP Joe Biden paid a surprise visit to services Sunday morning at Emanuel AME Church, Charleston. “I know from experience, and I was reminded of it again 29 days ago, that no words can mend a broken heart.” Biden’s son Beau died of brain cancer last month. Services were held Sunday for Rev DePayne Middleton-Doctor, one of the nine victims (WaPo)
Iran Wish List Led to U.S. Talks (WSJ, me)
• Iran secretly passed to the WH beginning in late 2009 the names of prisoners it wanted released from U.S. custody, part of a wish list to test President Obama’s commitment to improving ties and a move that set off years of clandestine dispatches that helped open the door to nuclear negotiations. Talks in Vienna are down to the wire today
• The secret messages, via an envoy sent by the Sultan of Oman, also included a request to blacklist opposition groups hostile to Iran and increase U.S. visas for Iranian students, according to officials familiar with the matter
• The U.S. eventually acceded to some of the requests, these officials said, including help with the release of four Iranians detained in the U.S. and the UK: two convicted arms smugglers, a retired senior diplomat and a prominent scientist convicted of illegal exports to Iran
• The exchanges through 2013 helped build the foundation for the first direct talks between the two nations since the 1979 Islamic revolution, current and former U.S. officials involved in the diplomacy said&&&
• Clandestine meetings between U.S. and Iranian officials that started three years ago in Oman’s capital, Muscat, have yielded negotiations that aim to curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for removal of international sanctions. Negotiations in Vienna will continue past Tuesday’s deadline as crucial questions remain
• With a deal in sight, some worry the U.S. will give up too much without getting significant concessions in return. The Obama admin initially called for an end to Tehran’s nuclear fuel production, a dismantling of many of its facilities and a rollback of its missile program – goals that have been dropped
• Some U.S. officials say an accord could moderate Tehran’s revolutionary govt and reopen it to the West. Others in the Obama admin, and leaders in Israel and the Arab states, see the deal as a payoff – Tehran temporarily curbs its nuclear work in exchange for the lifting of sanctions• Vid: Shortly after liftoff on Sunday, a SpaceX Falcon 9 blew up. The rocket carried a cargo ship bound for the International Space Station (NYT)
Three Islamist Terror Attacks: Latest
Tunisia (AP, BBC, TRNS, me)
• The student who massacred 38 vacationers on a Tunisian beach and at a luxury resort hotel in Sousse had help in carrying out the attack, interior ministry spox Mohamed Ali Aroui said. Police were searching for more suspects. The attacker’s father and three roommates were detained. At least 30 Britons were among the 38 killed
• The attacker has been identified as Seifeddine Rezgui, 24, a university graduate. The attack was claimed by ISIS. An official said a swimmer had found the attacker’s cellphone in the Mediterranean. The phone showed the attacker spoke with his father just before the assault
• Britain has deployed 16 senior detectives to Tunisia. Hundreds work the case in the UK. The attacker methodically moved from the beach to the hotel’s swimming pool, and admin areas. The only words he uttered were to tell Tunisians to get away. It was tourists, he made clear, he wanted to kill
• The Dept of Homeland Security, the FBI and the National Counterterrorism Center have issued a bulletin to local local enforcement across the U.S. about a heightened concern surrounding July the 4th, but nothing specific (I’m not going to anything – no loos, anyway)
France (Reuters, me)
• The suspected Islamist who attempted to blow up an American-owned French chemical plant on Friday has admitted killing his manager beforehand, a source close to the investigation said, as police linked the suspect to a French militant now in Syria
• Yassin Salhi, 25, killed Herve Cornara in a parking area before arriving at the plant where he tried in vain to cause a major explosion. His cellphone revealed that he’d taken a selfie with the severed head before his arrest and sent the image to a Canadian phone number
• The phone number belongs to a French national, known by his first name Sebastien-Younes, who has been in Syria since last year and whose last known location was the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa. The suspect is said to have associated with hardline Islamists over more than a decade and had previously been flagged as a potential risk
• The Pentagon on denounced Friday’s terror attacks in Tunisia, France and Kuwait. “We know that ISIL has claimed responsibility for one,” said spox Col Steve Warren. “At this point it’s too soon to tell if these various and far-flung attacks were coordinated centrally or whether or not they were coincidental.” (TRNS)
Kuwait (Reuters, me)
• Kuwait on Sunday identified the suicide bomber behind its worst militant attack as a young Saudi Arabian man, and said it had detained the driver of the vehicle that took him to a Shiite Muslim mosque where he killed 27 people. The bomber was previously unknown to security authorities and flew into Kuwait at dawn on Friday
• The timing of his arrival suggests he had a network already in place in Kuwait. The Kuwaiti interior ministry said it was looking for more partners and aides in this “despicable crime.” ISIS’s Saudi Arabian arm claimed responsibility for the attack on the mosque, where 2,000 worshipers were praying at the time
• The attack was the most significant act of Sunni militant violence in Kuwait since 2005. The bombing has sharply heightened regional concerns because ISIS appears to be making good on its threat to step up attacks in the holy fasting month of Ramadan. The group’s seeking to expand: priority target is the Arabian peninsula, in particular Saudi Arabia
Music News (me, Reuters)
• Vid: RIP Chris Squire, founding member and bassist of Yes. Here’s an amazing solo. Jon Anderson wrote Sunday: “We met at a certain time when music was very open and I feel blessed to have created some wonderful, adventurous music with him. … We travelled a road less travelled and I’m so thankful that he climbed the musical mountains with me.”• Actor Michael B. Jordan gave a speech on behalf of BET at the 2015 BET Awards Sunday night, recognizing the thousands of Americans who have marched and demonstrated over the deaths of young black men at the hands of police in the past 12 months. Nicki Minaj and Kendrick Lamar won best female and male hip-hop artists

• Vid: Diddy led an all-star 20th anniversary tribute to Bad Boy Records. Twitter went nuts when he fell into a hole on stage, mid performance. Diddy quickly got up and carried on with the performance

• In a hotly anticipated moment, Janet Jackson was presented with the inaugural Ultimate Icon Music Dance Visual Award. “It’s been a very long journey to this moment. My heart is so full,” said Jackson, dressed in a white jump suit

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_____________________Victoria Jones – Editor

TRNS’ Justin Duckham, James Cullum, Shane Farnan, Mike Stankiewicz, Anna Merod and UN Desk contributed to this report

 

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