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

  • “Pure concentrated evil”
  • Nine who were sacrificed
  • Dylann Roof: “A monster”
  • Obama unleashes frustration at fundraiser
  • Senate Democrats block Pentagon funding
  • It’s alive: Trade bill revived
  • Pope wants action on climate change
  • Pope: Republican reax
  • SCOTUS: Texas can ban license plate
“Pure Concentrated Evil” (AP, NYT, Post and Courier, Reuters, TRNS, TRNS, me)
• It was an act of “pure, pure concentrated evil,” Charleston’s Mayor Joseph Riley Jr said – a black community’s leading lights extinguished in a spray of bullets, allegedly at the hands of a young white man who was welcomed into their Bible study session (it was terrorism, and it’s about time we called it that – if he’d been Muslim, we would have)
• Dalton Tyler, the roommate of alleged shooter Dylann Storm Roof, said that Roof had been planning something like this “for six months.” “He was big into segregation and other stuff. He said he wanted to start a civil war. He said he was going to do something like that and then kill himself.” (good – didn’t get chance for easy way out)
• At the WH, a grim President Obama said, “We don’t have all the facts, but we do know that, once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting his hands on a gun.” At least three bomb threats were made Thursday that forced the evacuation of buildings around Charleston, including churches
• Surveillance video showed the gunman entering the church Wednesday night, and Charleston County Coroner Rae Wilson said the gunman initially didn’t appear threatening. Pastor Clementa Pinckney was holding a Bible study session and the gunman sat down for a while and listened, then began to disagree with the discussion

• Vid: President Obama makes statement on Charleston mass shooting (PBS)

• Witnesses said the gunman asked for the pastor when he entered the church and sat next to Pinckney. Almost an hour after he arrived, the gunman suddenly stood and pulled a gun, and Tywanza Sanders, 26, known as a peacemaker, tried to calmly talk the man out of violence (Sanders is a hero and a martyr)
• “You don’t have to do this,” he told the gunman. The man replied, “Yes. You are raping our women and taking over the country. You have to go.” The man took aim at the oldest person present, Susie Jackson, 87. Sanders’s aunt. Sanders told the man to point the gun at him instead, but the man said, “It doesn’t matter. I’m going to shoot all of you.”
• Sanders dived in front of his aunt and the first shot struck him, and then the gunman began shooting others. Sanders’s mother, Felicia, and his niece, lay motionless on the floor, playing dead, and were not shot
• The gunman looked at one woman and told her “that she was going to live so that she can tell the story of what happened,” said City Councilman William Dudley Gregorie

• The Confederate flag at the Statehouse in Columbia was left flying at its full height Thursday, even though the U.S. and South Carolina flags were lowered in mourning. Officials said it’s because the SC Legislature controls if and when it comes down – they should have said it should come down, shouldn’t they, hideous… (Post and Courier, me)

• It was a tip from a commuter that led to the arrest. Deborah Dills was traveling to her job as a part-time florist in North Carolina when she spotted a Hyundai with South Caroline plates. The car and driver matched the police description

• She called her boss, he called the local police, she rushed back onto the highway in pursuit of the Hyundai, pulled up behind the car and read its license plate number, relayed it to her boss who relayed it to the police. A short time later, about 250 miles north of Charleston, the police nabbed Roof

• He waived extradition and will make a court appearance in Charleston this afternoon. AG Loretta Lynch said the attack would be investigated as a hate crime
• Obama, who personally knew the slain pastor, was one of the few politicians to call for stricter gun control. “I’ve had to make statements like this too many times. At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries.” It was at least the 14th time he has made a shooting statement
• Jon Stewart says “I have nothing” as he speaks gut-wrenchingly about the massacre in Charleston on Thursday’s Daily Show
Nine Who Were Sacrificed (AP) WaPo)
Clementa Pinckney: 41, beloved pastor of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, state legislator for 19 years. He became, at 23, the youngest African-American elected to the SC Legislature. “He had a core not many of us have,” said Sen Vincent Shaheen, who sat beside him in Senate chambers. Survived by wife and two children
Sharonda Coleman-Singleton: 45, part-time minister at Emanuel AME Church, worked as speech pathologist at Goose Creek High School, where she was also the girls track coach. Principal said, “She had a big smile. Her No. 1 concern was always the students. She made a difference in the lives of children. She cannot be replaced here at this school.”
Ethel Lance: 70, a member of the church for most of her life, retired after working for more than 30 years on the housekeeping staff at the city’s Gaillard Auditorium. Served as a sexton at the church for the last five years, helping to keep the historic building clean. Lover of gospel music. “She was the heart of the family,” said granddaughter Najee Washington, 22

Susie Jackson: 87, longtime church member and sang in the choir. She and Ethel Lance were cousins. Said to be a loving, giving woman with a great smile. Fond of playing slot machines, was scheduled to go on a church-sponsored trip to Chicago on Sunday and was looking forward to going to the top of the Willis Tower

&&&

Cynthia Hurd: 54, manager of one of the busiest branches of the Charleston County library system. In her honor, the system closed all 16 of its branches Thursday. The library said in a statement she was a “tireless servant of the community who spent her life helping residents.” Survived by her husband
DePayne Middleton Doctor: 49, minister at Emanuel AME Church. Had just started her job as an enrollment counselor at Southern Wesleyan University. “She was a woman of God,” said Joel Crawford, who worked with her. Before that, she worked for years for Charleston County, helping to administer grants aimed at helping the county’s poorest residents
Tywanza Sanders: 26, graduated last year from Allen University, where he studied business. School described Sanders as “a quiet, well-known student” with “a warm and helpful spirit.” On Instagram, Sanders described himself as a poet, artist and businessman. Final post was quote: “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” Hero
Myra Thompson: 59, studying to be a minister. “She was just an unbelievable woman,” said William Gregorie, a Charleston city councilman. “She got the job done. Whatever you gave her to do. I think Myra will be remembered for her sincerity and her commitment to her religious ideals.”
Daniel Simmons: 74, pastor retired from another church in Charleston who worshiped every Sunday at Emanuel AME and visited Wednesday for Bible studies. His daughter said he was alive when emergency crews reached the church, but died later at the hospital
Dylann Roof: “A Monster” (NYT, AP, Daily Beast, NYDN, Reuters, me)
• The Facebook picture chosen by Dylann Storm Roof shows a scowling young white man against a swamp dripping with Spanish moss. His black jacket is adorned with two flags – one from apartheid-era South Africa, the other from white-ruled Rhodesia – that have been adopted as emblems by modern-day white supremacists
• Roof’s current address is listed as Eastover, SC, a very small town southeast of Columbia with an overwhelming African-American population. On Facebook, many of his 88 friends are black. Roof has two prior brushes with the law, a pending felony drug case and a misdemeanor trespassing charge from April
• Recently, Roof reconnected with Joseph Meek, a childhood buddy he hadn’t seen in five years. Roof started railing about the Trayvon Martin case and “he said blacks were taking over the world. Someone needed to do something about it for the white race. He said he wanted segregation between whites and blacks. I said, ‘That’s not the way it should be,’ but he kept on.”
• Meek became worried enough that several weeks ago he took away and hid Roof’s .45-caliber handgun, which Roof had bought with money given to him by his parents for his 21st birthday. But at the urging of his girlfriend, Meek returned the gun because he was on probation and didn’t want to get into trouble

• Graphic: The attack, the suspect and the crime (NYT)

• Friend Christen Scriven said that Roof told his friends at the trailer park last Wednesday that he wanted to kill people at the College of Charleston. The friends assumed Roof, known for his dry sense of humor, was joking. “He’s weird. You don’t know when to take him seriously and when not to,” said Scriven, who is black
• John Mullins, who went to high school with Roof, described him as a heavy drug user. Roof “had that kind of Southern pride, I guess some would say – strong conservative beliefs. He made a lot of racist jokes, but you don’t really take them seriously like that. You don’t really think of it like that.” (you don’t?) Now, it appears that Roof was “not joking.”
• One of Roof’s uncles, Carson Cowles, said that Roof had received a .45-caliber handgun as a birthday present from his father (so, a different version from him buying it). Before police caught Roof, Cowles said Thursday, “He’s a monster and they need to catch him, and he needs to pay for what he’s done.”
• Heidi Beirich, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s intelligence project, which tracks activity of American hate groups, said the gunman’s reported comments reflected a major topic on white supremacist internet forums, which are preoccupied with the idea that whites are being hugely victimized by blacks and no one is paying attention
• The specter of white women being sexually assaulted by black men has a long history as well, Beirich said: “It’s probably the oldest racist trope we have in the U.S.”
• Vid: Anniston AL Police Dept has two hate group members on the force. It’s placed them on admin leave following an article by the Southern Poverty Law Center detailing their membership in the neo-Confederate hate group League of the South. Lt Josh Doggrell claims in a video that his superiors and fellow officers supported his beliefs. PD says not
Obama Unleashes Frustration at LA Fundraiser (WaPo, AP, me)
• President Obama unleashed a torrent of frustration Thursday night over Washington gridlock at a fundraiser for about 250 hosted by filmmaker Tyler Perry. “When I ran in 2008, I in fact did not say I would fix it. I said we could fix it. I didn’t say, ‘Yes I can.’ I said, ‘Yes, we can.'” (he’s about had it with the whole thing at this point)
• The president continued: “If you’re dissatisfied that every few months we have a mass shooting in this country killing innocent people, then I need you to mobilize and organize a constituency that says this is not normal and we are going to change it and put pressure to elect people who insist on that change.” (was him?) There was sustained applause
• Obama cited a letter he’d received from a man in Colorado who had voted for him twice but was “deeply disappointed” over continuing gridlock. “On that issue, I had to tell him ‘You’re right,'” Obama said. “I am frustrated. You have every right to be frustrated because Congress doesn’t work the way it should. Issues are left unattended.”
• “The incentives that are built into the system reward short term, reward a polarized politics, reward being simplistic instead of being true, reward division. And as mightily as I have struggled against that, I told him, ‘You’re right. It still is broken.'” (and not sure it’s going to get fixed any time soon, folks)
• He told attendees: “If you’re concerned about racial polarization in this country, it’s nice to have dialogues around race, but me making a good speech – and I’ve made some good speeches on the subject – that’s not going to solve the problem. What are you going to do to reach out in your own community?”
Senate Democrats Block Pentagon Funding (AP, Hill, TRNS, me)
• The Senate on Thursday passed, 71-25, a $612 billion defense policy bill that calls for arming Ukraine forces, prevents another round of base closures and makes it harder for President Obama to close Guantanamo, among other things. Obama has threatened to veto the bill. It still has to be reconciled with the House bill
• Moments after the overwhelming vote to establish military policy, Democrats blocked a separate bill that provides the actual funds for the Pentagon! The vote was 50-45 – 10 short of the votes necessary to move ahead – so nothing’s actually happening
• Democrats oppose the way the bill dodges congressional spending caps by padding an emergency war-fighting account that’s exempt from the caps. They argue that if Republicans want to break through spending caps on defense, they should be able to do so for domestic spending, too – good for geese and ganders, in other words
• “You just voted for the troops, now you’re going to vote against them? Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) asked, semi-incredulously. Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) argued against “doing funny money” on defense and maintained that the GOP was short-changing the FBI and NIH. Democrats hope to force Republicans to the negotiating table
• Just hours before the vote, top Senate Democrats sent McConnell a letter urging him to convene a mini-summit to find a way to match the Pentagon budget boost with increases for domestic programs, such as education and law enforcement. They suggested “immediately.” So far, it’s not happening – rumblings of – wait for it – govt shutdown in the fall
It’s Alive: Trade Bill Revived (Hill, TRNS, me)
• The House Thursday took the first step toward reviving the WH’s trade agenda by narrowly passing legislation, 218-208, granting President Obama fast-track authority. The bill now goes to the Senate, where the WH and GOP leaders are seeking to strike a deal with pro-trade Democrats. It’s sooo convoluted
• Deja vu. It’s the second time in a week the House has voted to approve the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 (TPA-2015), HR1890, which would make it easier for President Obama to complete a sweeping trans-Pacific trade deal
• But in last week’s vote, the House GOP paired the fast-track bill with Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) that gives aid to workers displaced by trade deals. Both measures needed to be approved for the entire package to move forward – strategic mistake on GOP leadership part
• Even though House Democrats really like TAA, they voted against it last Friday to kill fast-track, which is deeply opposed by unions and other liberal groups. What now? The problem lies in the Senate, which previously approved a package that included both bills
•  Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has teed up a procedural vote for Tuesday on a standalone fast-track bill. Trade Adjustment Assistance Reauthorization Act of 2015, HR.1892 would come after that. Anything could go wrong at any time with any of this… Don’t count on Senate Democrats to be on board with Senate Republicans
• Whoa: Major break with the WH – Hillary Clinton said Thursday she probably wouldn’t vote for fast-track if she were still in the Senate. “I certainly would not vote for it unless I was absolutely confident that we would get Trade Adjustment Assistance,” she said in an interview with Jon Ralston on Ralston Reports (Hill, me)
Pope Wants Swift Action on Climate Change (NYT, Hill, CNN, Guardian, Hill, TRNS, me)
• Pope Francis on Thursday called for a radical transformation of politics, economics and individual lifestyles to confront environmental degradation and climate change, as his much-awaited papal encyclical blended a biting critique of consumerism and irresponsible development with a plea for swift and unified global action (earth’s getting hotter, our fault)
• Francis’s most stinging rebuke is a broad economic and political critique of profit-seeking and the undue influence of technology on society. He praised some achievement, particularly in medicine, science and engineering, but: “Our immense technological development has not been accompanied by a development in human responsibility, values and conscience.”
• He goes after the powerful: “The failure of global summits on the environment make it plain that our politics are subject to technology and finance. There are too many special interests, and economic interests easily end up trumping the common good and manipulating information so that their own plans will not be affected.” He argues that the poor suffer most from warming
• Francis chastises those who cite Genesis as evidence that man has “dominion” over Earth and thus an unlimited right to its resources. “Not a correct interpretation by the Church.” The Bible teaches human beings to “till and keep” the garden of the world, he said – and gives definitions for “till and keep”
• He calls on ordinary people to pressure politicians for change. Bishops and priests around the world are expected to lead discussions on the encyclical in services on Sunday. But Francis is also reaching for a wider audience when in the first pages of the doc he asks “to address every person living on this planet.” President Obama praised the encyclical in a statement
• Doc: Read an annotated version of the Pope’s Encyclical on the Environment: “Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home.” / And if you’re up for it, read the full 183 pages here
Republican Reax (AP, AP, me)
• Congressional Republicans, without reading the tome, are shrugging off Pope Francis’ call for urgent action on climate change and dismissing his attempt to frame global warming as a moral issue
• Sen James Inhofe (R-Okla), chair of the Senate Environmental Committee and Congress’ leading climate change skeptic (denier, whichever you prefer), warned that the pope’s encyclical will be used by “alarmists” to push policies that will lead to tax increases that would hit the poor hardest. Plus, he disagreed with “the pope’s philosophy on global warming.” (‘natch)
• And Rep Ken Calvert (R-Calif), who chairs the House spending subcommittee that deals with the environment, said: “We respect the pope’s point of view, but it’s not the final determination, is it?” (yes, it is, if you’re Catholic, actually)
• Republicans vying to replace President Obama were a little quieter. A number of them, including Sens Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rand Paul (R-Ky) didn’t respond to requests for comment. Francis is to address lawmakers in September in the first speech by a pope to Congress. Who’s going to shout out “You lie!” when Francis talks climate? Bolt of lightning…

 

• NBC’s Brian Williams was just too big to fire. He’s been demoted to MSNBC after exaggerating his “wartime” experiences. And Step No 1 on the road to redemption is today when he faces old colleague Matt Lauer for a mea culpa interview on the Today Show – but how will we know Brian’s telling the truth?
SCOTUS: Texas Can Ban Special License Plate (Hill, TRNS, me)
• The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Texas can ban a special license plate with the Confederate flag, in a decision that saw conservative Justice Clarence Thomas side with his liberal colleagues in a surprising twist (pigs squealed so loudly as they flew around the chamber that Chief Justice John Roberts had them escorted out)
• The case stems from the decision by the Texas DMV Board not to approve a license plate design by the Texas Sons of Confederate Veterans. The Board has allowed a number of other specialty plates for other groups (state makes lots of money from plates) and was challenged in court
• The opinion by Justice Stephen Breyer upheld the state board’s decision, arguing that issuing specialty or vanity license plates is a form of govt speech, not individual speech by the person requesting the plate
• Breyer writes that the govt “would not work” without giving it the right to take positions on certain issues without fear of violating the Constitution’s free speech protections. Allowing the Confederate flag onto license plates, he argues, could give the appearance that Texas “has endorsed that message” behind the flag
• In dissent, Justice Samuel Alito notes that Texas has more than 350 specialty plates honoring a slew of groups. “If a car with a plate that says ‘Rather Be Golfing’ passed by at 8:30 am on a Monday morning, would you think: ‘This is the official policy of the State – better to golf than to work'” he asks

• Rocking into the weekend with a leaked video by Madonna – “Bitch, I’m Madonna” feat. Nicki Minaj, Katy Perry, Beyonce and Miley Cyrus) – hey, I watched it the minute it escaped. If it’s already been taken down, sorry 🙁

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___________________

Victoria Jones – Editor

TRNS’ William McDonald, Nicholas Salazar, Patrice Harris, Sydnee Fried and Cortney Smalley contributed to this report

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