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

  • Haley: Confederate flag must go
  • Obama shocks with N-word
  • Trade deal: Wyden’s on board
  • Iran talks may drift past deadline
  • Benghazi committee releases emails
  • South Sudan’s crisis worsens
  • SCOTUS boosts privacy rights: Hotel case
  • EPA touts major new climate report


Haley of SC: Confederate Flag Must Go (NYT, Reuters, TRNS, me)
• Gov Nikki Haley (R-SC) on Monday called on lawmakers to take down the Confederate battle flag in the state capitol, a week after a white gunman allegedly shot dead nine black worshipers at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. “It’s time to move the flag from the capitol grounds,” Haley told a presser in the state capital, about 100 miles from the shooting

• The WH announced that President Obama would travel to Charleston on Friday to deliver the eulogy at the funeral of Rev Clementa Pinckney, pastor of the church and a state senator. Haley called on lawmakers, whose normal legislative session wraps up this week, to address the issue over the summer – and said she’d order a special session if they didn’t

• A group of both black and white leaders called for a rally today at the State House in Columbia to bring their demand that the flag come down directly to lawmakers. Meanwhile, Dylann Roof has been charged with nine counts of murder in the shooting. Widely seen photos show him brandishing the Confederate flag

• They’ll have a special session. The next challenge will be to get the two-thirds vote needed to move the flag. Kudos to Haley for switching positions. And it certainly helps her in the GOP veepstakes. Republican National Committee even saw the writing on the wall and issued a statement in support of moving the flag – after it was safe, of course

• Earlier, South Carolina political and religious leaders called for action on the flag at a presser in North Charleston. “Ridding the flag from the front of the State House is a start,” said state Sen Marlon Kimpson, who is black. “But let me underscore this: It will not solve the racial divide in South Carolina.”

• A spox for the Sons of Confederate Veterans, a group that honors southern Civil War soldiers, called the move premature. “This is the very worst time to be considering historic changes,” said Ben Jones, a spox and a former U.S. Rep from Ga. “Slavery, it ain’t like it was a Southern sin. It was a national American sin. It built Wall Street and the American economy.”

• In Tennessee, both Democrats and Republicans called for the removal of a bust of Confederate general and early KKK leader Nathan Bedford Forrest from an alcove outside the Senate’s chambers. And Wal-Mart announced Monday that it’s removing any items from its store shelves and website that feature the Confederate flag (about time, too)

• Republican presidential candidates, GOP lawmakers and the lone black Republican in the House are returning donations from the leader of white supremacist group the Council of Conservative Citizens, cited by Charleston murder suspect Dylann Roof, or giving the money to charity (AP, TRNS) (people don’t know who’s giving them money – bigger problem)
Obama Shocks With N-Word (Politico, TRNS, me)
• President Obama’s glad he said what he said. And he believes America proved his point on Monday: We still struggle to have a genuine discussion about race in this country. Aides said that walking into Marc Maron’s garage to tape a podcast on Friday, Obama knew he’d probably get asked about race, and he knew roughly what he wanted to say (good for him)

• “Racism: We’re not cured of it,” Obama told Maron. “It’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say nigger in public, that’s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It’s not just a matter of overt discrimination. Societies don’t overnight erase everything that happened 200 to 300 years earlier.”

• “Is the reaction all good? No, but that’s never the goal,” said Valerie Jarrett, an Obama senior adviser and friend who was in the room for the interview. “It was a really important point for people to hear. I think he’s glad that he said it. And he is encouraged that people were able to hear his broader message.” But a lot of people didn’t hear the broader message

• The reaction didn’t surprise Obama, not after the past 6 1/2 years. Not after living through a debate about his birth certificate that only the truly delusional would say wasn’t about his being black. Not after everything from Jeremiah Wright to the nooses that got tweeted at him as soon as he opened his @POTUS Twitter account

• At the briefing Monday, WH spox Josh Earnest answered question after question about that word: No, this wasn’t a precooked WH plan to inject it into the conversation, no, the president has no regrets about using the word. And naturally, no questions about what Obama was actually talking about. (usual WH briefing stuff. Shallow, front-row nonsense)
• As many as 18 million people are now thought to be affected by the recent Office of Personnel Management data breach, FBI director James Comey briefed lawmakers last week. The U.S. plans to raise directly the breach in annual security talks with China that began in Washington on Monday, an official said – should be fun (AP, me)

Trade Deal: Wyden’s In (Hill, Hill, Hill, me)

• Sen Ron Wyden (D-Ore), top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, on Monday said he’ll back a plan hammered out with Republican leaders to bundle several trade bills, including fast-track trade authority and a measure to help workers displaced by foreign competition – this boosts the chances of the legislation getting to the WH – pro-trade Dems are following him

• Wyden’s support for the trade package emerged after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnelle (R-Ky) agreed Friday to attach a bill that would give the Commerce Dept more power to punish countries that use illegal subsidies to gain ground in the global marketplace. The bill strengthens anti-dumping and countervailing duty rules

• McConnell said Monday that he wants to wrap up work on the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 (TPA-2015), HR1890 – fast-track – and the

Trade Adjustment Assistance Reauthorization Act of 2015, HR.1892 – worker assistance – before the Senate leaves for a week-long recess (yes, gentle reader, yet another one)

• The Senate is expected to take a procedural vote on agreeing to a House-passed trade promotion (TPA) bill today. Under McConnell’s plan, a separate trade adjustment assistance (TAA) measure is being added to a trade preferences bill that the Senate will take up on Wednesday – this is a gamble. Sen Jeff Sessions (R-Ala) is pushing Republicans to vote no

• “With just a little more trust, a little more cooperation and simply voting consistently, we’ll get there,” McConnell said. He’s tried to pressure Democrats to vote the same way they did last month, when the Senate passed trade bill that included both TPA and TAA – no guarantee that they will. Some may have gone wobbly. But he’s got Wyden, now
• Afghanistan’s UN Ambassador Zahir Tanin told the UN Security Council Monday that “armed enemies of the country have embarked on a new offensive against the Afghan govt and its people following the end of the International Security Assistance Force’s combat mission.” Hours earlier, Taliban forces attacked the Afghan parliament in Kabul (TRNS, me)
Iran Talks May Driiiift Past Deadline (WSJ, me)
• Iranian and Western officials said Monday they may not seal a final nuclear deal by the 30 June deadline but insisted they’re committed to trying to unblock the remaining obstacles. The Obama admin has said it doesn’t want the talks to drift beyond 30 June, arguing the obstacles to a final deal could grow over time (they already have)

• Iranian FM Javad Zarif told reporters Monday evening after meeting European FMs, “I believe that … if there is political will to accept the realities and move forward based on what we agreed in Lausanne, then there is a good possibility that we can finish this by the deadline or a few days after the deadline.” (define realities for us, Javad)

• The two sides are aiming for a deal that would see tight international sanctions on Tehran lifted over time in exchange for Iranian steps to block its path to nuclear weapons. Major issues in the way of a deal are what access UN atomic agency inspectors would have to Iranian military sites under a deal and the timing of sanctions relief (not gonna get done by the 30th)

• The six powers have said the IAEA must have access to any site where it thinks Iran is engaged in banned activities. But Iran’s parliament over the weekend passed a bill that would ban inspections of nonnuclear military sites and would prevent access to nuclear scientists and documents – echoing demands by Ayatollah Khameini

• UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said Monday evening after his meeting with Zarif, “We understand the sensitivity around some of these issues and we are working hard to find ways that address the concerns that Iran has expressed but still maintain our red lines about full verification” of a deal (stand-off looming, if no one budges – Zarif may not have the freedom to)

• Sen Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Sen Mark Kirk (R-Ill) have introduced legislation that would withhold 5% of State Dept’s operating budget for every 30 days that an annual human rights report, which includes Iran, is delayed – was due in Feb. Cruz says having the report is “critical” before Congress votes on a long-term deal on Iran’s nuclear program (Hill)

Benghazi Committee Releases Emails (Politico, Reuters, TRNS, me)
• The House select committee on Benghazi on Monday released roughly 60 emails that former adviser Sidney Blumenthal sent to Hillary Clinton on her private server when she was SecState. Chair Trey Gowdy (R-SC) challenged the State Dept to say whether or not it already possessed the messages from Blumenthal, and gave it until the end of the day

• In releasing the emails, Gowdy rejected a request from the panel’s Democrats and Blumenthal’s attorney to release a transcript of the nearly nine-hour deposition that Blumenthal gave the committee last week. Gowdy said he’d call a nonbusiness meeting of the committee to discuss why Blumenthal’s transcript “should be treated differently from all others”

• In a statement, ranking member Rep Elijah Cummings (D-Md) slammed Gowdy. “Before today, Chairman Gowdy had not officially released a single email from a single witness in this entire investigation, which has lasted more than a year. Now, he has apparently decided that this one witness is so crucial that his emails – and his alone – must be released.”

• Gowdy, however, “refuses to release Mr Blumenthal’s deposition transcript, which includes his responses to hundreds of questions posed by Republicans about these very same emails and puts them in proper context,” Cummings said

• “By the Chairman’s own admission, these emails have absolutely nothing to do with the attacks in Benghazi, and their selective release demonstrates the select committee’s singular focus on attacking Hillary Clinton and her bid for president,” according to Cummings

• The U.S. says an air strike in Iraq has killed Ali Awni al-Harzi, an ISIS militant linked to the Benghazi attacks. The Pentagon says al-Harzi died on 15 June in Mosul, which is controlled by ISIS. U.S. Amb Chris Stevens and three other Americans died in the Benghazi attacks on 11 September 2012 (BBC, TRNS)

South Sudan’s Crisis Worsens (NYT)
• Nearly half the population of the world’s newest nation, South Sudan, is in danger of going hungry. New atrocities are reported almost every day. And more than 1.5 million people have fled their homes

• It’s been less than two years since a power struggle between the nation’s leaders plunged South Sudan into chaos, inflaming old ethnic tensions that almost immediately tore this new country apart. Despite repeated attempts at peace, some of the deadliest fighting of the civil war has erupted in the last few months

• “Details of the worsening violence against children are unspeakable,” director of Unicef, Anthony Lake, said in a statement this week. “Survivors report that boys have been castrated and left to bleed to death. Girls as young as 8 have been gang raped and murdered. Children have been tied together before their attackers slit their throats.”

• Even the spox for the military, the South Sudanese Liberation Army, acknowledged that the conflict was pointless. “This is a senseless war,” said Col Phillip Guarang.” The country’s economy is in free fall, and the cost of food, gas and other essentials has skyrocketed

• By April, 3.8 million people didn’t have enough food. Within a month, that number had grown by nearly a million. “A staggering number of people are going hungry,” said Joyce Luma, the director of the World Food Program in South Sudan


• Tens of thousands have sought refuge in UN camps, many for more than a year. In Malakal, more than 7,000 people arrived in the last two months, swelling the compound’s population to more than 30,000. With families piled on families, much of the camp has become an open sewer

• In 2011, when South Sudan voted to separate from Sudan, the leaders of the new nation’s two largest ethnic groups – the Dinka and the Nuer – joined in forming a govt. Then, in Dec 2013, President Salva Kiir, a Dinka, accused his former VP, Riek Machar, a Nuer, of plotting a coup. Fighting spread from the capital and has been most intense where there are oil fields

• For Kiir and Machar, it’s not just territory, they also need alliances with the nation’s many other ethnic groups. When the militia leader of one of the nation’s largest groups, the Shilluk, broke from the govt in May, and began an assault on towns leading to the remaining oil fields, it represented a major blow to Kiir’s hold on power. Most of the nation’s budget comes from oil

• To take the oil fields, the rebels had to take Malakal. Right now, it’s a stand-off, with opposing forces sitting on opposite sides of the Nile. Malakal has changed hands at least eight times. In the latest round of fighting, govt forces began an offensive in Unity State, with reports suggesting they had reached Machar’s hometown, Leer

• More than a dozen Western diplomats and officials, speaking on background because peace talks are underway, expressed thinly veiled disgust with the situation. “What is happening now is that all the parties are trying to secure as strong a position as possible before the rainy season comes and the fighting stops,” one Western official said
• Actor Meryl Streep will today send a letter to each member of Congress. “I am writing to ask you to stand up for equality – for your mother, your daughter, your sister, your wife or yourself – by actively supporting the Equal Rights Amendment,” Streep writes. Congress passed the Equal Rights Amendment in 1972 – but it’s never been added to the Constitutios. (not gonna happen – GOP) (AP, me)
SCOTUS: Boosts Privacy Rights in Hotel Case (Politico, NYT, TRNS, me)
• The Supreme Court 5-4 boosted privacy rights Monday by striking down as unconstitutional a Los Angeles city ordinance requiring hotel operators to show a list of registered guests to the police on demand. (nosy – get a warrant) Meanwhile, the court will next issue opinions on Thursday and Friday of this week

• Court said it was against the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches because the legislation gave hotel managers no chance to seek a ruling from a judge or magistrate before complying with a police request. The court’s liberals joined with Justice Anthony Kennedy to control the outcome

• “Even if a hotel has been searched 10 times a day, every day, for three months, without any violation being found, the operators can only refuse to comply with an officer’s demand to turn over the registry at his or her own peril,” wrote Justice Sonia Sotomayor for the majority

• Sotomayor said it was unlikely that insisting on a subpoena or warrant in most cases would disrupt logical police investigations. “The City has cited no evidence suggesting that without an ordinance authorizing on-demand searches, hotel operators would regularly refuse to cooperate with the police,” she wrote

• Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the minority that hotels and motels fit the definition of closely-regulated businesses where the courts have traditionally allowed authorities to enter and examine business records without probable cause or a warrant. He wrote that there are more than 100 cities and counties with a registry-inspection requirement similar to LA’s

• The Supreme Court ruled 8-1 Monday that a 66-year-old program that lets the govt take raisins away from farmers to help reduce supply and boost market prices is unconstitutional. The justices said forcing raisin growers to give up part of their annual crop without full payment is an illegal confiscation of private property (just ripping it off) (AP, me)

EPA Touts Major New Climate Report (WaPo, Hill, TRNS, me)

• A global agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions would prevent nearly 70,000 premature American deaths annually by the end of the century while sparing the country hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of economic losses, according to a major govt study from the EPA on the cost of climate change (big claim – report has lots of others, too)

• The report, a five-year, peer-reviewed analysis that assesses the benefits of alternative strategies for dealing with climate change, concludes that every region of the country could be spared severe economic disruptions that would result if greenhouse gas concentrations continue to soar

• The report seeks to measure the potential gains for Americans under an international deal to keep global temperatures from rising by more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over historical averages. The report concludes that the effort expended in combating climate change would yield a substantial dividend for Americans, with benefits accumulating

• The report’s authors acknowledged that they didn’t attempt to factor in all of the costs related to cutting greenhouse gases, or consider potential impacts overseas (would have been interesting). Diplomats from 197 countries meet in Paris in December to try to negotiate a treaty on reducing carbon emissions, but many climate experts have doubts about its outcome
• Joyce Mitchell, the prison worker accused of helping two convicted killers break out of a maximum-security NY jail this month, smuggled them vital tools concealed inside frozen chunks of hamburger meat. And authorities say they have recovered items from a remote cabin in northern NY state that may be linked by Richard Matt and David Sweat (NYP, Fox)

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Victoria Jones – Editor

TRNS’ Justin Duckham, William McDonald, Nicholas Salazar, Luke Vargas, Loree Lewis, William Hadden, Claire Woodcock, Elizabeth Wilks Parry and Sydnee Fried contributed to this report


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