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

  • Escaped killers: Latest
  • Airstrike in Libya: AQ militant dead?
  • Clinton pushes Obama on trade
  • Obama’s trade defeat: “Procedural snafu”
  • Jeb Bush kicks off campaign today
  • Hillary Clinton kicks off campaign
  • Spokane NAACP leader in race furor
  • Netanyahu accuses world leaders: Wobbling on Iran
  • South African court: Sudan’s leader can’t leave
  • Shark! Teens lose limbs in attacks in NC


Escaped Killers: Latest (NYT, CNN, AP, Fox, Fox, me)

• Joyce Mitchell, 51, the prison tailor shop instructor accused of helping two murderers escape from an upstate New York prison 10 days ago, will appear in court today. She was charged Friday with supplying hacksaw blades, chisels, a punch and a screwdriver to the men (felony). Her lawyer entered a not guilty plea on her behalf


• Mitchell had allegedly planned to help them escape and agreed to be the getaway driver but got cold feet and checked herself into the hospital with a panic attack. The killers, David Sweat and Richard Matt, were planning to kill her husband, a law enforcement source told the New York Daily News (shouldn’t think her prospects were too rosy, either)


• Joyce Mitchell said she was supposed to drive the men to her home, but “didn’t say she was going to help them” kill her husband. She was supposed to drive the men seven hours away from Clinton Correctional Facility. “The three of them were going to move on together,” said Clinton County DC Andrew Wylie. “That was the plan.”


• Mitchell was apparently charmed by Matt to the point that “she thought it was love,” but “one of the reasons she didn’t show up was because she did love her husband and didn’t want to do this to him,” Wylie said (nice of her)

Graphic: Manhunt for murderers (NYT)


• Wylie said there was no evidence the men had a Plan B once their getaway driver backed out and no vehicles had been reported stolen in the area. That led searchers to believe they were still in the area. At the same time, New York Gov Andrew Cuomo (D) cautioned that, for all anyone knew, they could be in Mexico by now – (so, basically, not a clue where they’ve scarpered)


• With frustrations rising and questions multiplying, Cuomo will announce today a formal investigation by the state IG into “all factors involved in the escape. It’s critically important to examine the circumstances that enabled these inmates to escape in the first place,” Cuomo said in a statement


• The manhunt has apparently been set back by conflicts between law enforcement agencies pursuing the men. NYT reported that the New York State Police, the lead agency, has refused to share info about the planning and scope of the search


• Some of the other agencies involved are local police, the Clinton County Sheriff’s Dept, the state Correctional Services Dept, the state Environmental Conservation Dept and the U.S. Marshals


• Eyes on the Supreme Court: Fair elections, same-sex marriage, Obamacare, clean air, housing discrimination, lethal injections, license plates, political maps – what will the court rule on today?



U.S. Airstrike in Libya: AQ Militant Dead? (NYT, AP, Hill, me)

• The U.S. military says it launched weekend airstrikes targeting and likely killing an al Qaeda-linked militant leader in Libya charged with leading the attack on a gas plant in Algeria in 2013 that killed at least 35 hostages, including three Americans


• An Islamist with militant ties, however, said the airstrikes missed Mokhtar Belmokhtar, instead killing four members of a Libyan extremist group the U.S. has linked to the 11 Sept 2012 Benghazi attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. (so either way, a win)


• U.S. officials said they’re still assessing the results of the Saturday strike, but Pentagon spox Col Steve Warren said Sunday, “I can confirm that the target of last night’s counterterrorism strike in Libya was Mokhtar Belmokhtar,” Neither U.S. officials nor the Libyan govt provided proof of Belmokhtar’s death which likely requires DNA


• If confirmed, the death of Belmokhtar would be a major counterterrorism victory for the U.S, against one of the world’s most wanted terrorists. Among his militant names is Laaouar or the One-Eyed, because it’s said he may have lost an eye fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan. A major cigarette trafficker, he’s also known as Marlboro Man



Clinton Pushes Obama on Trade (Politico, Hill, TRNS, TRNS, me)

• Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton on Sunday urged President Obama to work with congressional Democrats who dealt a stunning setback to his trade agenda on Friday and to seek tougher labor protections in a proposed Pacific trade deal. Clinton had until now declined to take a stand on the trade deal (not sure she took much of one on Sunday)


• At a campaign stop in Iowa, Clinton said: “There are some specifics in there that can and should be changed.” She said: “The president should listen to and work with his allies in Congress, especially Nancy Pelosi,” – referring to Minority Leader Pelosi (D-CA) – who gave a powerful floor speech Friday against the trade deal (Clinton gave no specifics of what specifics)


• House Ways and Means Committee chair Paul Ryan (R-WI) said on Fox News Sunday he’s still “optimistic” the stalled legislation can be “turned around” but “the president has a lot of work to do with his own party to turn this around, to salvage this.”


• Many House Democrats, led by Pelosi, voted down a key part of the trade package Friday, scuttling a last-minute in-person appeal by Obama Friday morning on the Hill to grant his fast track negotiating authority to complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Now, to gain it, nearly 80 Democrats are likely to have to change their votes (gonna be tough)


“Procedural Snafu”

• The 126-302 vote that scuttled the legislation – for now – was one to reauthorize a program to help workers who lose their jobs because of a trade deal to get retraining. The program had long been supported by Democrats and unions. But this time they decided to throw it under the bus in order to scuttle the overall trade deal


• WH spox Josh Earnest on Friday described it as a “procedural snafu” and noted that a new vote might be held this week. The WH plan is to give the House space to untangle the “snafu.” Meanwhile, Obama and his staff will continue to work on Democrats (it’s really the Dems’ snafu to untangle)


• What complicated everything was that the GOP-led House structured the trade vote as a tandem. Once the Trade Adjustment Assistance Reauthorization Act of 2015, HR.1892 went down to defeat, it didn’t matter that the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 (TPA-2015), HR1890 passed – which it did. Both needed to pass


• Because the Senate had already passed both, so unless both passed, neither would advance. So Republican leaders have to sort themselves out and the WH has to sort itself out and House Democrats have to decide if they want to protect workers – or else the program will expire – or if scuttling the trade deal is more important to them. Lot of sorting out to do…



Jeb Bush Kicks Off Campaign Today (CSMonitor, Miami Herald, Reuters, NYT, me)

• As he launches into the 2016 presidential race today, former Gov Jeb Bush (R-FL) has one thing going for him: money. He’s raised something approaching $100 million – far more than his Republican rivals. He’s also ahead of the pack in most opinion polls. But that’s about it, folks


• Other than raising money, he’s been torn between defending and distancing himself from George W. Bush, been unable to assuage party activists uneasy with his immigration and education views and run into a wall of opposition on the right. Bush advisers say he’s prepared for a long, contentious battle for the nomination (phew  – exhausting)


• Bush is scheduled to make his candidacy official this afternoon at 3:00 pm at Miami Dade College. Later this week, he’ll travel to New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina and then Nevada next week. His aides are circulating talking points among surrogates likely to speak on his behalf:


• “create 19 million new jobs….disrupt the broken Washington culture that has been good for Washington lobbyists in DC but left the rest of America behind….Our enemies no longer fear us, and our friends no longer trust us. It’s time we re-engage and stand with our allies.”


• It’s not clear whether his family name is a help or a hindrance. “My life story is different,” Bush said on CNN Sunday. “I don’t have to disassociate myself from my family, I love them, but I know that for me to be successful, I’m going to have to show my heart and tell my story.” But watch for him to take some kind of swipe at Sen Marco Rubio (R-FL) today


• Just ahead of his launch, Jeb Bush released this “making a difference” video


Hillary Clinton Kicks Off Campaign (Politico, Politico, me)

• Hillary Clinton kicked off her presidential campaign Saturday with a speech to a crowd of thousands on NYC’s Roosevelt Island. Her candidacy would be a battle “for everyone who’s been knocked down but refused to be knocked out.” “I will be the youngest woman president in the history of the United States.”


• The Democratic Party is moving left – so’s she. “While many of you are working multiple jobs to make ends meet, you see the top 25 hedge fund managers making more than all of America’s kindergarten teachers combined. And, often paying a lower tax rate.”


• She’s OK with President Obama. She’s not trying to distance herself from Obama. If she’s to win using Obama’s 2012 map, she needs to use Obama’s base and that means showing him the respect that Al Gore wouldn’t show her husband in 2000. This she is apparently prepared to do


• She hardly even mentioned being SecState or achievements in her role at the State Dept. Last week, a Clinton campaign official told Politico, amusedly, that the GOP field was in a “state of delusion” by focusing so intently on foreign policy when poll after poll shows most Americans are more concerned with the water-treading economy


• She’s 67 years old – deal with it. There was plenty of hip-sounding alternative music at the event. But she riffed off a slam from Marco Rubio a while back, who said she was from “yesterday.” She picked The Beatles’ “Yesterday” to ridicule Republicans, saying, “They believe in yesterday.”


• Biggest applause line was blasting pro-life Republicans: “They shame and blame women, rather than respect our right to make our own reproductive health decisions.” Also: “We should ban discrimination against LGBT Americans and their families so they can live, learn, marry and work just like everybody else.”

Fun pie charts! All the presidential announcement speeches so far broken down into brightly colored pie charts by topic (surprisingly fascinating) (NBC News)


Spokane NAACP Leader Cancels Meeting Amid Furur (Buzzfeed, Guardian, Fox News, KREM TV, me)

•  Leader of the Spokane NAACP, Rachel Dolezal, canceled a chapter meeting for today where she was expected to address the furor sparked over her racial identity. Some have questioned whether she had the authority to do so. Her parents have said she’s falsely identified herself as black for years. They say she’s white (you decide)


• Dolezal’s public identity came under scrutiny Friday when a reporter from KXLY asked her about her racial identity. The questioning led up to: “Are your parents – are they white?” Dolazel walked away from the mic, leaving her purse and keys, and went into a nearby clothing store. Her mother said Friday she has a history of “seeking to reinvent reality.”


• Dolezal has built a wide-ranging career as an expert and advocate for the black community. She teaches many African-American related classes at Eastern Washington university. She appears publicly as a spox on race-influenced police violence. The city of Spokane is investigating whether she lied about her ethnicity when she applied to be on the police board


• For nearly a decade, she’s claimed to be black, although her mother has said the family’s ancestry is Czech, Swedish and German, with a trace of Native American. She’s produced a copy of Dolezal’s birth certificate. Dolezal has been portraying a black man as her father. The man, Albert Willkerson, said Saturday that he “didn’t want to throw anyone under the bus.”


• Her mother, Ruthanne Dolezal, said Rachel began to “disguise herself” after they adopted four African-American children more than a decade ago. Rachel Dolezal’s adopted brother, Eric said, “She puts dark makeup on her face and says she black. It’s basically blackface.” He said that some years ago, she had warned him: “Don’t blow my cover.” (something funny here)



• Pics and vids: Zoo animals on the loose in capital city Tbilisi, Georgia, following floods which killed at least 10 people (they’re not all happy pics) (Buzzfeed)


Netanyahu Accuses World Powers of Wobbling on Iran (Reuters, me)

• Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday accused world powers of stepping up concessions to Iran to enable a nuclear deal by 30 June even as Iran balks at demands for heightened UN inspections. He didn’t offer further details


• Netahyahu’s energy minister and point-man on the talks, Yuval Steinitz, said it appeared that world powers were prepared to accommodate Tehran’s resistance to expanded, short-order UN nuclear inspections and demand to continue R&D of uranium centrifuges that make nuclear fuel


• Saturday, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani said his country, in the name of protecting state secrets, could reject stepped-up inspections – even at the cost of missing the 30 June deadline. But in a televised address Sunday, Rouhani played up the benefits of reaching a deal that would end the hardship of sanctions (which is it?)


• On a visit to Israel last week, chairman of the joint chiefs Gen Martin Dempsey sought to reassure Israel of “unshakable” U.S. military support. Dempsey said long-term prospects were “far better” with an Iran that was not a nuclear weapons power. The U.S. says it stands by the 30 June deadline, but other officials have said the date might be missed


• SecState John Kerry, who was released from hospital Friday, said he would be “totally engaged” with the nuclear talks despite his broken leg from a cycling accident



• To combat Russian aggression in Europe, the Pentagon is proposing to move battle tanks, other vehicles and heavy weapons for thousands of American troops to Baltic and eastern European countries, U.S. and allied officials say (NYT)


South African Court: Sudan’s Leader Can’t Leave (BBC, Reuters, me)

• A South African court will decide today whether Sudan’s leader, Omar al-Bashir, should be arrested for war crimes and genocide. The Pretoria High Court says Bashir must stay until it rules today whether he should be handed over to the International Criminal Court (ICC) (he should IMHO)


• Bashir is in Johannesburg for an African Union (AU) summit. He’s accused of committing war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide during the Darfur conflict. About 400,000 people have died and more than two million have fled their homes since rebels took up arms in 2003, the UN says


• Bashir was welcomed by South African officials as he arrived in Johannesburg. There are tensions between the ICC and the AU, with some on the continent accusing the court of unfairly targeting Africans


• If Bashir is allowed to travel home unimpeded, South Africa’s actions will be bitterly condemned internationally as a blow against the credibility of the ICC. And if Sudan’s president is detained, then Pretoria will be accused of luring a fellow African leader into a trap


• State Dept spox John Kirby said in a statement Sunday that, while the U.S. was not a party to the Rome Statute that sets out crimes falling within the jurisdiction of the ICC, “In light of the atrocities in Darfur, we call on the Govt of South Africa to support the international community’s efforts to provide justice for the victims of these heinous crimes.”



Shark! Teens Lose Limbs in Attacks in NC (Reuters, Independent, me)

• A 13-year-old girl and 16-year-old boy each lost an arm Sunday in separate shark attacks at the same North Carolina beach. Oak Island Mayor Betty Wallace said that the female swimmer was attacked first, around 4.15 pm. Less than 90 minutes later, as responders were still attending to her, the boy was attacked


• The town manager sent a team to get everyone out of the water, Wallace said, adding that the Brunswick County Sheriff’s office was sending a helicopter up and down the coast to patrol for a shark. Wallace said town officials would meet this morning to decide whether to officially close the beach to the public


• The beach at Oak Island, a town of about 7,000 year-round residents, was crowded Sunday, and “the weather was beautiful,” Wallace said. The twin attacks came two weeks before the July 4th weekend, when Oak Island’s population typically swells with 30,000 to 40,000 visitors. Wallace said shark encounters are virtually unheard of there


• Steve Bouser and his wife were at the beach at the beginning of a week’s vacation when he said people began yelling: “Come in! Get out of the water! Get out of the water!” “I saw someone carry this girl

[out of the water] and people were swarming around and trying to help. It was terrible.”


• He said there was a lot of blood and people were trying to apply makeshift tourniquets to stop the bleeding. “It was so much like a scene from Jaws,” his wife Brenda added (gonna need a bigger boat, then)

• Pic: Bad King John (hiss) signed (forced by rebel barons) the Magna Carta 800 years ago today (1215) at Runnymede, England. Among other things, it promised access to swift justice. It influenced the early American colonists. Here’s a 3 min animated video narrated by Monty Python’s Terry Jones explaining its early story

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Victoria Jones – Editor

TRNS’ Loree Lewis and Washington Desk contributed to this report


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