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.


In the News

  • GOP NH summit: Anyone’s game
  • Democrats debate
  • Book “Clinton Cash” targets Clintons and Foundation
  • Gyrocopter man: “Just going postal”
  • GOP: Reconciliation on Obamacare?
  • Migrant deaths in boat sinking: Urgent EU talks
  • Khameini slams U.S. as nuke talks resume
  • 5 years BP Gulf oil spill: Recovery?
  • Affleck tried to hide slave-owning roots
GOP NH Summit: Anyone’s Game

• The fight for the nomination is fluid. Gov Chris Christie (NJ): Down but not out. He’s putting all his chips on winning the Granite State, and received a positive reception in Nashua over the weekend at the event featuring 20+ 2016 GOP hopefuls. He excelled in the town hall format (Politico, NYT, Hill, Union Leader, me)

Hillary Clinton: She was major punching bag. Sen Rand Paul (R-KY) won laughs by cracking she would soon need two planes: “one for her and her entourage and one for her baggage.” Gov Scott Walker (R-WI) wore a suit from Jos. A. Bank and said, “I doubt that the presumptive nominee for the other party has ever been to Kohl’s before.” (meow & hiss)

Desire for fresh faces: A constant refrain during interviews with local party leaders – including those from the establishment wing – is that the 2016 nominee should bring something new and dynamic to the table. For now, that mainly manifests itself in anxiety about the dynastic implications of nominating another Bush – former Gov Jeb Bush (FL)

Foreign policy big issue: Sen Marco Rubio (R-FL) – who was a big hit at the event – invoked his seats on the Senate foreign affairs and intel committees to warn about Iran. Former Gov Mike Huckabee (R-AR) said Iran is a snake and you can’t reason with it: “You get a .410 shotgun or a shovel or a hoe, and you take the snake’s head off before he bites you.”

Common Core: Bush, who was a big cheerleader for it before he got in the race, said: “We don’t need a federal govt involved in this at all.” Sen Ted Cruz (R-TX) said, to loud cheers, “We need to repeal every word of Common Core.” Gov Bobby Jindal (R-LA) boasted that he was in court now “suing President Obama and Arne Duncan…to stop it.”


• Gov John Kasich (R-OH) said on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday that he’s interested in running in 2016. “My family is a consideration. Number two, the most important thing is, what does the Lord want me to do with my life?” (a question many of us ponder daily, John) He said he’s not waiting for lightning to strike, but has been active on the trail, just in case (plan) (Politico, me)

Democrats Debate

• Hillary Clinton is in New Hampshire today and Tuesday. She’s scheduled to visit a small, family-owned children’s furniture and toy manufacturer in Keene today and a community college in Concord Tuesday. The stops are intended to look and feel low-key. She’ll talk about how to make the economy work for everyday Americans  (WaPo, me)

• Former Gov Martin O’Malley (D-MD) said Sunday on CBS that anyone with executive experience and fresh ideas should come forward as a candidate. “If we do that, we can be the party that leads our country into the future – – –

• – – – But we won’t do it if we don’t offer new ideas for the future and break with things like bad trade deals, the systematic deregulation of Wall St that many Democrats were complicit in and helped get us into this mess.” (hmmm, who can he be thinking of)

• Former Sen Jim Webb (D-VA) said on CNN Sunday, “I’m never going to have a political consultant at my side whispering what I should say or how I should dress or whether I should go to Wal-Mart or not. But what we do have is long experience on the issues, in and out of govt, strong beliefs about where the country needs to go and I think the kind of leadership where we can govern.”

• Representing the Clinton camp was Clinton friend Gov Terry McAuliffe (D-VA). On NBC Sunday he said of Republicans: “Every second they’re not talking about how they want to move this country forward is a great one for Hillary Clinton. Let the Republicans spend all their time attacking. That’s fine. You need a positive agenda of how you move folks forward.”

• Larry Darrell Upright from North Carolina, who died at 81, made a last political stand with his obituary on Friday. In lieu of flowers, “memorials may be sent to Shriners Hospital for Children. Also, the family respectfully asks that you do not vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016. RIP Granddaddy.” (Politico, me)

New Book, “Clinton Cash” Targets Clintons and Foundation

• “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Govts and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich,” by Peter Schweitzer doesn’t hit shelves until 5 May, but it’s proving the most anticipated and feared book of a presidential cycle still in its infancy. NYT obtained a copy

• The book asserts that foreign entities who made payments to the Clinton Foundation and to Mr Clinton through high speaking fees received favors from Mrs Clinton’s State Dept in return

• Schweitzer’s  examples include a free trade agreement in Colombia that benefited a major foundation donor’s natural resource investments in the South American nation, development projects in the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake in 2010

• And more than $1 million in payments to Mr Clinton by a Canadian bank and major shareholder in Keystone XL pipeline around the time the project was being debated in the State Dept

• “Clinton Cash” is potentially more unsettling than some other recent critical books, both because of its focused reporting and because major news organizations including the Times, WaPo and Fox News have exclusive agreements with the author to pursue the story lines found in the book

Republicans Pounce on New Clinton Book

• Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which includes Sen Rand Paul (R-KY) and Sen Marco Rubio (R-FL), both 2016ers, have been briefed on the book’s findings, and its contents have already made their way into several Republican presidential candidates’ campaigns

• Conservative “super PACs” plan to seize on “Clinton Cash” and a pro-Democrat super PAC has already assembled a dossier on Schweitzer, a speech writing consultant to former President George W. Bush and a fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution who has contributed to the conservative website

• “During Hillary’s years of public service, the Clintons have conducted or facilitated hundreds of large transactions” with foreign govts and individuals,” he writes. “Some of these transactions have put millions in their own pockets.” From 2001 to 2012, the Clintons’ income was at least $136.5 million, Schweitzer writes, using a figure previously reported in WaPo

• The Clinton Foundation has come under scrutiny for accepting foreign donations while Mrs Clinton served as SecState. Last week, the foundation revised its policy to allow donations from countries like Germany, the Netherlands and Britain but prohibit giving by other nations in the Middle East


• Security will be high as tens of thousands of runners and hundreds of thousands of fans are expected to hit the streets of Boston today for the 119th running of the Boston Marathon. The race goes on during a pause in the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, convicted this month in the 2013 Marathon bombings (Reuters)


Gyrocopter Man: “Just Going Postal”

• House Homeland Security Committee chair Rep Michael McCaul (R-TX) said on ABC Sunday of last week’s gyrocopter incident: “In this case, the guy was just going postal.” He also said, “It was under the radar so the Capitol police, when I talked to them, said had it got any closer to the Capitol they were prepared to shoot down the aircraft.” (Hill, Fox, AP, me)

• Rep Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), chair of the House Oversight Committee said on Fox News Sunday that Secret Service officials will brief panel members this week about the incident. Chaffetz said he’s giving Secret Service officials some time “so they can sort out their story.”

• Secret Service spox Brian Leary said the agency interviewed gyrocopter pilot Doug Hughes in Florida in Oct 2013 after obtaining “information from a concerned citizen about an individual purporting their desire to land a single-manned aircraft on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol or WH.” Leary said the info was shared with Capitol police and there was a “complete and thorough investigation”

• Hughes had hoped to deliver letters to each individual member of Congress. He said Sunday, “We’ve got bigger problems in this country than worrying about whether the security around D.C. is ironclad. We need to be worried about the piles of money that are going into Congress.”

• “The message was two pages long to Congress that they are going to have to face the issue, OK, of campaign finance reform and honesty and govt so that they work for the people.” A reporter asked if Hughes considers himself a patriot. First, he said that everyone gets to make their mind up about him. Pressed, he said: “No, I’m a mailman.”
• An intruder climbed the fence on the south side of the WH complex about 10.25 pm Sunday night, but was quickly taken into custody, the Secret Service said. The individual carried a package that was examined and found to be harmless, an agency spox said (WaPo)


GOP to Use Reconciliation on Obamacare?

• Republicans in control of Congress are divided on whether to use a special tool to push Obamacare to President Obama’s desk with a simple Senate majority. Such legislation would almost certainly be vetoed by Obama, so some Republicans believe using the maneuver, known as reconciliation, would waste a good opportunity to achieve other budget goals (WSJ, me)

• Other Republicans said it would violate their campaign pledge to not at least send a repeal of the health law to Obama’s desk. House Republicans have voted repeatedly to repeal the law, but the Senate hasn’t voted on a stand-alone measure just repealing the ACA

• House and Senate budget negotiators convene today for the first public meeting on meshing their fiscal 2016 blueprints. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said last week he expects the House to pass the combined budget by the end of the month

• Republicans, who control the House and 54 of the Senate’s 100 seats, could use reconciliation to pass certain legislation tied to the budget with a simple majority. The health law can be addressed under reconciliation because it changes spending, revenue or the federal debt limit. Each of those topics can be addressed just once under reconciliation each budget cycle

• Democrats said an effort to repeal the health law would be counterproductive at a time when lawmakers have overcome partisan politics on issues including legislation giving Congress a greater role in the Iran nuclear talks and reaching a permanent fix for calculating Medicare reimbursement to doctors

• Former President Bill Clinton on Sunday blinked back tears at a ceremony as he praised the residents of Oklahoma City 20 years after the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. “Service, honor, kindness,” Clinton said of Oklahomans’ response. President Obama issued a statement Sunday saying that “the passage of time will never extinguish the pain we feel.” (Hill)

Migrant Deaths in Boat Sinking: Urgent EU Talks

• Italian PM Renzi said trafficking was “a plague in our continent” and bemoaned the lack of European solidarity after the latest capsize of a boat in the Mediterranean Saturday night. The 70ft long boat was believed to be carrying up to 700 migrants, and only 28 survivors have been rescued (BBC, AP, me)

• EU foreign ministers are expected to address the issue at a meeting today. Human smugglers are taking advantage of the political crisis in Libya. Up to 1,500 migrants are now feared to have drowned this year alone. Managing the situation requires political will, coordination and money from the EU’s 28 countries. Not easy to achieve

• The migrants reportedly fell overboard when they rushed to draw the attention of a passing Portuguese merchant ship, causing their ship to capsize. One survivor said there were as many as 950 people on board, though this hasn’t been verified. He said many were locked below decks and not allowed to leave

• The EU has been criticized for its policy since the rescue operation, Mare Nostrum, was ended last year. Some EU members said they couldn’t afford it and expressed concerns that it was encouraging more migrants. It now runs a more limited border control operation called Triton

• Renzi called trafficking “the slavery of the 21st century.” French President Hollande called for “more boats, more over flights and a more intense battle against people trafficking,” while Maltese PM Muscat said Europe and the international community would be judged by history if they continued to “turn a blind eye” to the plight of migrants


• Federal authorities said late Sunday that they had arrested six people in Minnesota and California in connection with an investigation into young men who have traveled or tried to travel to Syria to fight alongside ISIS (AP, Fox)

Khameini Slams U.S. as Nuke Talks Resume

• Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khameini told several hundred military commanders Sunday on annual Army Day that the U.S. “created the myth of nuclear weapons so they could say the Islamic Republic is a source of threat. No! The source of threat is America itself, with its unrestrained, destabilizing interventions.” (Reuters, WSJ, NYT, TRNS, me)

• Khameini, who has final say over most matters of state in Iran, introduced two new red lines on 9 April, saying Iran wouldn’t allow inspections of military sites and insisting that all sanctions must be removed in one go once the final accord is signed

• Talks resume in Vienna this week aimed at forging a final deal. President Obama said Friday at a joint presser with Italian PM Renzi that he would sign bipartisan legislation that would temporarily suspend his power to waive sanctions imposed by Congress while lawmakers review and possibly vote on any agreement

• Obama also said, “Our main concern here is making sure that if Iran doesn’t abide by its agreement, that we don’t have to jump through a whole bunch of hoops in order to reinstate sanctions. That’s our main concern. And it will require some creative negotiations by John Kerry and others. And I’m confident we will be successful.”

• Obama refrained from criticizing Russia for deciding to resume sales of S-300 antiaircraft batteries to Iran, which it had suspended for years. Such batteries worry military planners who say they could make it much more difficult for the U.S. or Israel to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities if the agreement breaks down

• The WH issued a statement Sunday condemning “in the strongest terms the brutal mass murder purportedly of Ethiopian Christians by ISIL-affiliated terrorists in Libya.” “That these terrorists killed these men solely because of their faith lays bare the terrorists’ vicious, senseless brutality.”


5 Years BP Gulf Oil Spill: Recovery?

Today marks the five year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster which killed 11 people. To assess the health of the Gulf of Mexico, AP surveyed 26 marine scientists about two dozen aspects of the fragile ecosystem to see how this vital waterway has changed. On average, the researchers graded an 11% drop in the overall health of the Gulf of Mexico (AP, me

• The surveyed scientists on average said that before the spill, the Gulf was a 73 out of a 0 to 100 scale. Now it’s a 65. In the survey, scientists report the biggest drops in rating the current health of oysters, dolphins, sea turtles, marshes and the seafloor. The AP also interviewed more than two dozen other scientists

• BP put out a 40-page report in March, pronouncing the Gulf mostly recovered. “This is in large part due to the Gulf’s resilience, natural processes and the effectiveness of response and clean-up efforts mounted by BP under the direction of the federal govt.”


• The federal govt doesn’t think the Gulf is back. At least not yet. “Obviously the Gulf is not as healthy as it was,” NOAA chief scientist Richard Spinrad said. He ticks off how everything about the spill and its effects were large: the “massive kill-off” of coral, the dolphin deaths, the diseased fish and problems with oil on the seafloor

• Example: Dolphins – common bottlenose dolphins have been dying at a record rate in northern parts of the Gulf of Mexico since the BP spill, according to NOAA and other scientists who have published studies. From 2002 to 2009, the Gulf averaged 63 dolphin deaths a year

• That rose to 125 in the seven months after the spill in 2010 and 335 in all of 2011, averaging more than 200 a year since April 2010. That’s the longest and largest dolphin die-off ever recorded in the Gulf. But the number of deaths has started to decline. Turtles, fish, birds, marshes, beaches, etc here


• Vid: Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott downs a schooner of beer (about 14 fl oz) in 7 seconds – to raucous cheers from a crowd of Aussie rules football fans – probably guaranteed reelection for life. Last year, Abbott warned of the perils of binge drinking… (BBC, me)


Affleck Tried to Hide Slave-Owning Roots

• Oscar winning director and actor Ben Affleck, who stars in upcoming Batman v Superman, asked producers of the PBS show Finding Your Roots to hide the fact that one of his ancestors was a slave owner, according to a newly published batch of hacked emails involving Sony. Show host Henry Louis Gates, a prominent Harvard professor, appeared upset but complied (Guardian, me)

• The emails were published by Wikileaks. It’s not clear how the group acquired the emails, which it published with up to 30,000 others involving Sony that are believed to be part of a large batch stolen last summer in a cyber-attack blamed on a group affiliated with North Korea

• Friday, Gates issued a statement, saying in part: “Ultimately, I maintain editorial control on all of my projects and, with my producers, decide what will make for the most compelling program. In the case of Mr Affleck, we focused on what we felt were the most interesting aspects of his ancestry.”


• The emails show that Gates consulted Sony. Gates is an eminent scholar of African and African American history. In 2009 he was arrested over a fierce dispute with a police officer near his home in Cambridge MA. The two men ended up being hosted by President Obama for a “beer summit” in the WH garden

• In an email to Sony’s chief exec Michael Lynton shortly before the second season premiere, Gates wrote, “We’ve never had anyone ever try to censor or edit what we found. What do we do?” Lynton asked who else knew about the info. Gates replied that the producers, the star’s PR agents, and PBS knew. He said to do it would be a violation of PBS rules

• Lynton wrote back: “It is tricky because it may get out that you made the change and it comes down to editorial integrity. We can talk when you land.” – Gates was about to take a flight. Gates said in the final email: “Once we open the door to censorship, we lose control of the brand.” However, that part of Affleck’s story never aired


Viral vid: Exuberant St Bernard walks boy!

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Victoria Jones – Editor

TRNS’ William McDonald contributed to this report

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