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

  • Senseless: 9 fatally shot at Charleston church
  • Senate GOP floats Obamacare “fix”
  • Trade deal save?
  • DA: Worker discussed having inmates kill husband
  • Carter: Not enough recruits to fight ISIS
  • FCC fines AT&T $100 million: Throttling
  • Record 60 million fleeing chaos: UN
  • Greek warning: Key meeting today
9 Fatally Shot at Charleston Church (AP, Guardian, NYT, Post and Courier, TRNS, me)
• Developing – the situation is fluid and will change. A white gunman opened fire during a prayer and study meeting inside a black church in downtown Charleston SC around 9 pm Wednesday night, killing nine people, including the pastor, in an assault that authorities described as a hate crime. The shooter remains at large at time of writing• A female survivor told family members that the gunman initially sat down in the church for a bit before standing up and opening fire, according to Dot Scott, president of the Charleston NAACP. The gunman reportedly told the woman he was letting her live so she could tell everyone else what happened, Scott said

 

• Police Chief Greg Mullen said police were looking for a white male in his early 20s, clean-shaven, with a small, slender build, wearing a grey sweatshirt with blue jeans and Timberland boots. Mullen said police thought they had the suspect tracked with a police dog, but he got away. At least one person was taken to the hospital with injuries in the shooting 
• Mullen said: “We are going to do everything in our power to find this individual, to lock him up, to make sure he does not hurt anyone else.” The FBI will aid the investigation, Mullen told a presser that was attended by FBI Special Agent in Charge David Thomas. Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley called the shooting “the most unspeakable and heartbreaking tragedy.”

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• “The only reason that someone could walk into a church and shoot people praying is out of hate,” Riley said. “It is the most dastardly act that one could possibly imagine, and we will bring that person to justice … This is one hateful person.” Austin Rich, a photographer, was briefly detained as a suspect because of his clothes, but was released

 

• NAACP president Cornell Brooks this morning has put out a statement: “The senselessly slain parishioners were in a church for Wednesday night bible study. There is no greater coward than a criminal who enters a house of God and slaughters innocent people engaged in the study of scripture.”
• State House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford said that the church’s pastor, state Sen Clementa Pinckney (D), was among those killed. Pinckney, 41, was a married father of two who was elected to the state house at age 23, making him the youngest member of the House at the time 
• “He never had anything bad to say about anybody, even when I thought he should,” Rutherford (D-Columbia), said. “He was always out doing work either for his parishioners or his constituents. He touched everybody.” 
• The attack came two months after the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man, Walter Scott, by a white police officer in neighboring North Charleston that sparked major protests and highlighted racial tensions in the area. The officer has been charged with murder. The shooting prompted SC lawmakers to push through a police body camera law&&&

• In a statement, Gov Nikki Haley (R) asked South Carolinians to pray for the victims and their families. “We’ll never understand what motivates anyone to enter one of our places of worship and take the life of another,” Haley said

 

• Soon after Wednesday night’s shooting, a group of pastors huddled together praying in a circle across the street. Norvel Goff, presiding pastor of the prayer group which includes the church, said there will be a prayer vigil at noon today. “This is a hate crime … we stand in solidarity.”• The Emanuel AME Church is a historic African-American church that traces its roots to 1816, when several churches split from Charleston’s Methodist Episcopal church. One of its founders tried to organize a slave revolt in 1822. He was caught and white landowners had his church burned in revenge. Parishioners worshiped underground until after the Civil War

 

• Late Wednesday, the campaign staff of  Republican 2016er Jeb Bush said he was canceling appearances planned for today in Charleston because of the shooting 
• Mullen and Riley are expected to hold another presser at 7 am EST today 
Senate GOP Floats Obamacare “Fix” (Politico, Hill, TRNS, me)
• Senate Republicans are coalescing around a plan to extend Obamacare subsidies for up to two years if the Supreme Court strikes them this month. The court is due to rule within days on whether the president’s health care law allows for people using healthcare.gov to get insurance subsidies  
• If the court rules against the WH and strikes the subsidies, Republicans say they want to protect the more than 6 million people who could lose their subsidies (and keep their own jobs – lots of them are up for reelection in 2016) 
• In a closed-door meeting Wednesday, Republicans crafted the outline of a plan that would extend the subsidies potentially through 2017 and couple them with a delayed repeal of pieces of the law like the individual and employer mandates 
• Only thing is, Democrats are unlikely to be on board with any plan that derails the health law, and President Obama has said he’d veto any bill that hurts his signature domestic policy achievement. A lot of the plan is up in the air – and dependent on the language of the ruling – could be narrow – no clue 
Health Prices Skyrocketing?
• The GOP goal is to get their fractured conference in the same place (good luck) – then link across chambers with House members to make sure they’re all on the same page. Sen Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who has spoken out against a long-term extension of the subsidies, didn’t speak in the meeting (very interesting) 
• GOP talking points are short and sweet: Talk about aiding the more than six million people who rely on subsidized health insurance via Obamacare, and bash the law’s mandates and make clear that Republicans are aiding people, not the health law, senators said (LOL – without the mandates, costs will skyrocket and many people won’t be able to afford health care, anyway) 
• In the House, several top Republicans met with rank-and-file members Wednesday. Under the House framework, under development, subsidies would be kept through 2015 if the court doesn’t allow it already. In 2016, states will have the option of opting out of all ACA rules and regulations (race to the bottom) 
• If the state chooses, it would get a block grant to set up a health program. If the state doesn’t want the block grant, its residents would still get subsidies to use on any plan on or off the exchange. Mandates would be repealed. (so prices would go through the roof) In 2017, all would sunset to encourage a new president to find a new solution (or not, like the last 100 years) 
• The CIA didn’t know in advance that al Qaeda’s leader in Yemen was among the suspected militants targeted in a lethal drone strike last week, according to U.S. officials who said that the op went forward under counterterrorism guidelines that were eased by the Obama admin after the collapse of the U.S.-backed govt in Yemen this year (WaPo)

 

Trade Deal Save? (WaPo, Hill, me)
• A complicated process to save President Obama’s trade agenda kicks off today when the House is set to vote on a bill that would provide the president with fast-track trade powers, known as trade promotion authority (TPA), that the admin says are needed to finalize the international deals it’s currently negotiating 
• To win the needed votes of moderate Democrats, Republican leaders are promising they’ll separately move through Congress an extension of a program that provides job training to workers who are hurt by trade deals – trade adjustment assistance (TAA) (following?) 
• The WH and GOP leaders have been scrambling to figure out a way to move the trade bills – they’re strange bed fellows. Friday, House Democrats helped scuttle fast track by voting against TAA because they saw it as a ploy to force them to give support for Obama to negotiate a trade deal they oppose (it was). Obama met pro-trade Dems Wednesday to sell them on the plan 
• So whether it’s going to work will likely come down to whether pro-trade Democrats, whose votes will be needed in both chambers, believe GOP leaders can move both the bills to the president’s desk  
• Under the plan, the House today will vote to attach the fast-track bill to an unrelated bill. If it passes, the bill would go to the Senate, which would then have to clear the legislation. It’s complicated, and it could play out over several days – and will require extraordinary trust across party lines and between the two chambers (hang on to your hats, then – not much trust there) 
• In a presser Wednesday following its June meeting, Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen said that “most
[policy-makers] are anticipating a[n interest] rate increase this year.” She added that any interest rate would be “data dependent.” Most economists expect the first rate rise to come in September – though it’s all a bit murky (BBC, TRNS, me)

DA: Worker Discussed Having Inmates Kill Husband (CNN, AP, me)

• Clinton County DA Andrew Wylie said at a presser Wednesday that Joyce Mitchell had talked to inmates Richard Matt and David Sweat about them killing her husband, Lyle, who also works at the Clinton Correctional Facility in upstate NY. The two murderers escaped on 6 June and remain on the lam. Joyce Mitchell, a prison shop instructor/friend, was arrested 12 June 
• Lyle Mitchell talked with authorities at the state police barracks with his attorney Wednesday. Investigators have no info that Lyle Mitchell knew about the escape plan or assisted in it, Wylie said. Meanwhile, state police expanded the search area for the killers, but have reduced the number of officers from more than 800 to more than 600 – trail is going cold 
• Joyce Mitchell, who’s believed to have had sexual relationships with both men – in the tailoring shop (!) – is charged with helping the killers flee by providing them with hacksaw blades and other tools. Lyle visited her in jail Tuesday. The county sheriff described her as “composed” during the visit. Her lawyer has described her state as “distraught, very weepy and upset.” 
• Lyle Mitchell didn’t know about a sexual relationship between his wife and either fugitive, a source tells CNN. He learned of the alleged murder plot from his wife, the source said. Joyce Mitchell told him about their plans and that his life could be in danger, a source with direct knowledge of the investigation• Authorities are investigating whether the inmates threatened Mitchell to force her to help, a source said. They think she got cold feet about the plan, which is why she didn’t show up with the getaway car, but checked herself into the hospital with a panic attack (I’d panic too at that point)

 

• The FBI is in the midst of a broad campaign to disrupt potential terrorists inspired by ISIS, with several arrests expected before 4th July, law enforcement officials said. Hundreds of investigations are underway in all 50 states (ABC News)

 

Carter: Not Enough Recruits to Fight ISIS (Politico, Hill, AP, TRNS, me)
• The U.S. will fall way short of meeting its goal of training 24,000 Iraqi forces to fight ISIS militants this fall, SecDef Ash Carter told the House Armed Services Committee Wednesday. He said the U.S. has received only enough recruits to train about 7,000 – in addition to about 2,000 counterterrorism service personnel (are we surprised?) 
• In addition, “Our train and equip mission in Syria has been challenging, but the requirement for capable and motivated counter-IS ground force there also means we must persist in our efforts.” (translation – they can’t find anyone who’s any good in Syria, either). President Obama withdrew from Iraq in 2011 and has vowed not to send U.S. forces back there 
• Critics in Congress have argued that the current strategy, which they view as weak, could be strengthened by deploying U.S. troops in Iraq as spotters for airstrikes. “If their [local Iraqi forces] spine is not stiffened by the threat of ISIL on their way of life, nothing we do is going to stiffen their spine,” said Gen Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (point) 
• Committee chair Rep Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) sought to place blame for recent gains by ISIS on Obama. “The situation in the Middle East has deteriorated substantially in the last six years. There seems to be nothing coming from the WH to change that trajectory.” 
• Top Democrat on the committee, Rep Adam Smith (Wash), asked whether Baghdad should be told, “time’s up.” “As I’ve said many times before, that cow has left the barn. Iraq is fractured. You can make a pretty powerful argument, in fact, that Iraq is no more.” Carter replied: “Sectarianism is not a good outcome there. We’ve been to that movie.” (this flick’s a dud, too)

 

• The House voted 139-288 Wednesday to defeat a resolution requiring President Obama to remove troops stationed abroad fighting ISIS within the next six months. So the troops will stay, despite the absence of a formal congressional authorization for military action against the group. Nineteen Republicans and 120 Democrats voted for the measure (Hill)
 
FCC Fines AT&T $100 Million: “Throttling” (USA Today, CNN, me)
• The FCC said Wednesday it plans to fine naughty AT&T Mobility $100 million for misleading customers about its “unlimited” data plans, imposing the agency’s largest proposed fine ever in alleging that the carrier “severely” slowed down the data speeds for customers with such plans – throttling 
• AT&T failed to notify its customers that they could receive speeds slower than the normal network speeds AT&T advertised, the FCC said. If customers used more than 5 gigabytes of data for the month, the carrier slowed its data transmissions to levels that made using mobile apps difficult or impossible. AT&T doesn’t sell unlimited to new customers now 
• “We will vigorously dispute the FCC’s assertions,” AT&T said in a statement. “The FCC has specifically identified this practice as a legitimate and reasonable way to manage network resources for the benefit of all customers and has known for years that all of the major carriers use it. We have been fully transparent with our customers…” 
•  AT&T, which introduced its unlimited plans in 2007, started capping data speeds for unlimited customers after 5 gigabytes four years later, the FCC said. Customers were slowed for an average of 12 days per cycle. Since then, the FCC says it has received “thousands of complaints” from AT&T’s unlimited data customers 
• Separately, researchers at cybersecurity firm NowSecure say every Samsung device – 600 million – has a significant flaw that lets in hackers. The flaw potentially allows hackers to spy on anyone using a Samsung Galaxy. You can be exposed by using public or insecure wifi. NowSecure say they told Samsung seven months, but nothing has yet been done  
• The Obama admin is considering appointing a “czar”-like official to oversee the enforcement of a nuclear deal with Iran, one of several options it’s weighing to ensure the still unfinished accord doesn’t unravel, according to sources familiar with the discussions (Politico) 
Record 60 Million Fleeing Chaos: UN (BBC, NYT)
• The number of people displaced by war, conflict or persecution reached a record high of nearly 60 million around the world in 2014, a UN report says. The doc by the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, says the number of people forced to flee their homes rose by 8.3 million from the previous year 
• The continuing conflict in Syria is seen as a major factor behind the record numbers. UNHCR head Antonio Guterres said: “the world is a mess.” “The drama is that if people think that humanitarians can clean up the mess, it’s no longer possible. We have no capabilities to pick up the pieces.” (staggering statement) 
• Guterres said that the number of displaced people had increased to 42,500 per day in 2014 from 32,000 the year before. The report says that 59.5 million people were displaced by the end of 2014. They include the more than 2.5 million displaced in the Darfur region of Sudan and the 1.5 million Afghans still living in Pakistan 
• The numbers included 19.5 million refugees, 38.2 million internally displaced people and 1.8 million still awaiting the outcome of asylum claims. More than 50% of the refugees were children. The authors said their findings mean that one in every 122 people on the planet were either a refugee, internally displaced or seeking asylum

 

• Sooo, around about the time Americans will go cashless, Treasury will put a woman on the $10 bill. Not alone of course. Couldn’t trust her on her own. She will share space with Alexander Hamilton. She must be dead, though. People will get to vote for who. Sen Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), who introduced a bill for a bill, ($20, actually) is thrilled (NYT, me)

 

Greek Warning: Key Meeting Today (BBC, me)
• Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said Wednesday that a meeting of eurozone finance ministers today could “set the scene” for a deal between Greece and its creditors. But, when asked if there could be an agreement today, Varoufakis said: “I do not believe so.” 
• In return for more funding, international creditors want further reforms from Greece. But the ruling Syriza party is resisting those demands and, with talks deadlocked, fears are growing that Greece may default on its debts. Greece has two weeks remaining to strike a deal with its creditors or face defaulting on an existing 1.6 billion euro loan repayment to the IMF 
• Wednesday, Greece’s central bank warned that the country could be on a “painful course” to default and exit from both the eurozone and the EU. The Bank of Greece also warned that the country’s economic slowdown would accelerate without a deal 
• Attention will be focused this morning on a speech by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the German parliament. Merkel is under pressure from politicians in her own coalition to take a hard line with Greece. Keep your eyes on the U.S. stock market as the day unfolds – what happens in Europe may influence what happens on Wall Street today 
• Wednesday, Andreas Scheuer, secretary-general of the CSU party, said the Greek govt were “behaving like clowns sitting in the back of the classroom, although they have received explicit warnings from all sides that they might fail to pass to the next grade.” 
• NBC News plans to announce today that Brian Williams won’t return to his position as anchor of its Nightly News show, four months after the network suspended him for exaggerating his experiences during a helicopter attack in Iraq. He’s expected to move to MSNBC, probably in a breaking-news role. Lester Holt will stay on at Nightly News (NYT)

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_____________________Victoria Jones – Editor

TRNS’ William McDonald, James Cullum, Sydnee Fried and Washington Desk contributed to this report

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