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

  • Greece teeters on the brink
  • Obama: Greece & Europe – make a deal
  • US, Cuba to announce embassy openings
  • Iran deal deadline pushed back
  • DoJ report faults police in Ferguson
  • Seventh black church burns: Arson?
  • Court: NSA can restart bulk data collection
  • Hillary Clinton email dump: Carpets
  • Jeb Bush tax returns dump
  • Chris Christie: “I mean what I say”

 

Greece Teeters On the Brink (BBC, AP, me)
• Greece has missed the deadline for a payment of $1.72 billion to the International Monetary Fund, hours after eurozone ministers refused to extend its bailout. But the ministers say they will discuss a last-minute request from Greece for a new two-year bailout in a conference call today

• Stock markets across Europe surged higher today on a report on the Financial Times website that Greece will accept all the bailout demands of creditors bar a couple of changes. Greek PM Tsipras appears to be making big concessions

• Greece is the first advanced country to fail to repay a loan to the IMF and is now formally in arrears. There are fears that this could put Greece at risk of leaving the euro.  Close to 1,000 banks re-opened in Greece today for those with pensions without bank cards to make a one-time withdrawal
• With the eurozone bailout expired, Greece no longer has access to billions of euros in funds and couldn’t meet its IMF repayment. The European Central Bank has also frozen its liquidity lifeline to Greek banks. Meanwhile, ratings agencies have further downgraded the country’s debt. Greece is cut off from all international financing and skating on thin ice
• Part of the new deal Greece has suggested would involve a restructuring of its huge debts, but some of its proposals won’t be acceptable to other eurozone countries. So there’s uncertainty as Greece prepares for a referendum Sunday. Some EU officials have suggested that if the outlines of a deal can be done in the next days, the Greeks could cancel the referendum
• Greece’s left-wing Syriza govt, elected on an anti-austerity platform, has been in deadlock with its creditors for months over the terms of a third bailout. German Chancellor Angela Merkel earlier said she’s ruled out further negotiations until after Sunday’s referendum, which will ask Greeks if they want the deal offered by their creditors – Greeks are leaning no
Obama: Europe & Greece – Make a Deal (NYT, me)
• President Obama said Tuesday that he was trying to prod European leaders to salvage a deal to keep Greece in the eurozone.”I’ve spoken to my European counterparts, encouraging them to find a resolution,” he said just hours before Greece missed a debt payment to the IMF of 1.6 billion euros or $1.72 billion
• The comments reflected escalating efforts by his admin – on the sidelines of the Greek debt crisis but increasingly anxious about its ramifications – to prevail on European leaders to relax some of their demands on Greece in the interest of finding a solution (and despite WH spox Josh Earnest saying Monday the crisis “doesn’t pose a major risk” to the U.S. banking system)
• Treasury Sec Jack Lew spoke by phone Tuesday with the finance ministers of three important eurozone countries – the Netherlands, Italy and France. Lew emphasized the importance of “pragmatic compromise” to keep Greece in the monetary union (not sure they’re in the mood)
• Financial markets remained relatively calm as officials on both sides of the Atlantic emphasized that they were still seeking a deal. The crisis in Greece is “something that we take seriously, but it’s not something that I think should prompt overreactions,” Obama said at a joint presser with President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil
• American concerns go beyond the economy and the global markets. Greece is a member of NATO, and its economic estrangement from other members of the group, which operates by consensus, has the potential to complicate American foreign policy at a time of rising tensions with Russia and turmoil in the Middle East – (especially if it turns toward Russia for help)
• The Export-Import Bank’s charter expired at midnight Tuesday. President Obama held a conference call with members of the business community Tuesday to highlight his solidarity with bank supporters, while Democrats in Congress ripped Republicans for not renewing the bank (Hill, TRNS)
U.S., Cuba to Announce Embassy Openings (AP, CNN, me)
• The U.S. and Cuba today plan to officially seal the renewal of diplomatic ties begun last year, announcing the reopening of embassies in Washington and Havana for the first time in more than a half-century, a senior admin official said. President Obama and SecState Kerry are expected to speak this morning about the embassy openings (#Obamassecondweek)
• For Obama, ending the U.S. freeze with Cuba is central to his foreign policy legacy as he nears the end of his presidency. Obama has long touted the value of direct engagement with global foes and has argued that the U.S. embargo on the communist island just 90 miles south of Florida was ineffective. Obama met President Raul Castro in April at a regional summit
• Significant issues remain on the table. Among them: talks on human rights; demands for compensation for confiscated American properties in Havana and damages to Cuba from the embargo; and possible cooperation on law enforcement, including the touchy subject of U.S. fugitives sheltering in Havana (major issue – and with GOP 2016ers)
• Obama also wants Congress to lift the economic embargo on Cuba, though he faces resistance from Republicans and some Democrats. Rep Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fl) said in a statement that opening an embassy in Cuba “will do nothing to help the Cuban people and is just another trivial attempt for President Obama to go legacy shopping.”
• The superintendent at the prison where two killers broke out has been placed on leave along with his security chief and 10 other staff members amid a widening internal probe into how the inmates pulled off their escape. David Sweat has told investigators that he made a dry run escape the night before the real thing (AP, me)
Iran Deal Deadline Pushed Back (WaPo, WSJ, AP, TRNS, me)
• The deadline for an agreement in the Iran nuclear talks was officially pushed back by a week Tuesday as negotiators extended a temporary accord that limits Iran’s nuclear program until 7 July. That would give President Obama time to submit a deal to Congress for review by 9 July. Congress would have 30 days to review, during which time Obama couldn’t ease sanctions
• In a WH presser with visiting Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Obama said: “I will walk away from the negotiations if in fact it’s a bad deal. … Given past behavior on the part of Iran, that simply can’t be a declaration by Iran and a few inspectors wandering around every once in a while.”
• Obama also said the U.S. would maintain pressure on Iran over Americans being held in Iranian prisons to ensure they receive basic legal protections. (not freedom?) The talks have bogged down over several key points, including UN inspections of nonnuclear and military sites, the timing of sanctions relief and the scope of Tehran’s research in various phases of a deal
• Iranian FM Javad Zarif rejoined the talks after a one-day visit to Tehran, returning with top officials. “I already had a mandate to negotiate and I am here to get a final deal,” he said after meeting with SecState John Kerry privately. Ayatollah Khameini tweeted: “I recognize our negotiators as trustworthy, committed, brave and faithful.” (no pressure lol)
• The International Atomic Energy Agency will release a report today saying Iran has met its commitment to reduce its stockpile of low-enriched uranium to agreed levels. Concerns arose a month ago that Iran might not meet the target level
• “I feel pretty excited about it,” President Obama said Tuesday at a presser of his remaining time in office. “I might see if we can make next week even better.” But he said, “I will tell you,
[the best week] was marrying Michelle. That was a really good week. Malia and Sasha being born, excellent weeks. There was a game where I scored 27 points.” (Hill)
DoJ Report Faults Police Actions in Ferguson (Reuters, NYT, me)
• A Dept of Justice draft report says that police responding to race-related protests and riots in Ferguson Mo last summer made a series of mishaps, including antagonizing and frightening crowds with dogs and military style tactics
• The report focuses on police from Ferguson, St Louis, St Louis County and the Missouri Highway Patrol. All four agencies tried to quell protests that broke out after white Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed unarmed black teenager Michael Brown on 9 August 2014. A county grand jury declined to indict Wilson and DoJ said no charges would be brought
• The report found that police lacked effective protocols to handle the events in the 17 days after the shooting, weren’t adequately trained, struggled with communication and coordination, and made a series of mistakes that in some cases heightened tensions and spurred mistrust of the police (disaster, in other words)
• Police were inconsistent in using force and making arrests, the report said. Some officers removed their nameplates while working the protests, evading the accountability for their actions that’s “fundamental,” the DoJ said. The use of tear gas on people without warning in areas from which there was no safe retreat was also a problem (deliberate?)
• The report criticized police for positioning snipers atop armored vehicles to monitor the crowd through rifle sights, saying the tactic “only served to exacerbate tensions.” It said that police inhibited protesters’ constitutional rights to free speech during the protests. In all, the reports lists 45 findings along with recommendations for improvements

Haunting, powerful interactive: Animation maps the journeys of 15,790 slave ships to America in 2 minutes. If you pause it, you can click on an individual ship and learn about it. You may be shaken up by the time the graphic finishes (Slate, me)

Seventh Black Church Burns: Arson? (Reuters, WaPo, Post and Courier, me)
• An African-American church that was burned down by the Ku Klux Klan 20 years ago was the scene of another blaze on Tuesday, officials said, though the cause wasn’t immediately clear. The fire at Mount Zion African Episcopal Church in Greeleyville, South Carolina, comes amid a rash of fires at black churches in the U.S. south
• Three of the fires have been declared as deliberate. The fire at Mount Zion comes about two weeks after a white gunman opened fire inside the historic Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, 65 miles away, killing nine people. All the victims were black. The BATF said in a statement it was on the scene at the Greeleyville fire
• No immediate reports of injuries. Mark Keel, chief of the State Law Enforcement Division, said that while lightning from a recent storm system in the area may have sparked the blaze, he was troubled by the recent spate of church fires, and the cause of the blaze couldn’t be determined until all the flames were out
• Federal investigators have said they’ve so far found no link between the fires at predominantly black churches across the southern U.S. since the shooting, and none have been labeled hate crimes. Tuesday’s would be the seventh blaze since the shooting
• On Twitter, #WhoIsBurningBlackChurches has been trending.The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate crimes, called some of the fires “suspicious and possible hate crimes.”
• The FBI is investigating at least 11 physical attacks on high-capacity internet cables in California’s San Francisco Bay Area dating back a year, including one early Tuesday morning. “We definitely need the public’s assistance,” said FBI Special Agent Greg Wuthrich (this is really serious – keep eye on it) (USA Today)

Court: NSA Can Restart Bulk Data Collection (NYT, me)

• The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ruled late Monday that the NSA may temporarily resume its once-secret program that systematically collects records of Americans’ domestic phone calls in bulk (us)

• But the ACLU said Tuesday it would ask the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which had ruled that the surveillance program was illegal, to issue an injunction to halt the program, setting up a potential conflict between the two courts – could go to SCOTUS

• The program lapsed 1 June, when Section 215 of the Patriot Act expired. Congress revived that provision on 2 June with the USA Freedom Act, which said that the provision couldn’t be used for bulk collection after six months (with me so far?)

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• But, complicating matters, in May, the Second Circuit Court in New York ruled in a lawsuit brought by the ACLU that Section 215 couldn’t legitimately be interpreted as permitting bulk collection at all. Congress didn’t include language in the USA Freedom Act contradicting the Second Circuit or authorizing bulk collection even for the six-month transition. (murky…)

• After President Obama signed the Freedom Act on 2 June, his admin applied within hours to restart the program. (fascinating) But conservative/libertarian advocacy group Freedom Works filed a motion in the surveillance court saying the admin had no legal authority to permit the program to resume, even for the interim period

• Judge Michael Mosman of the surveillance court said in his opinion, “Second Circuit rulings are not binding” on the surveillance court, “and this court respectfully disagrees with that court’s analysis, especially in view of the intervening enactment of the USA Freedom Act.” The Obama admin agrees with Judge Mosman, a DoJ spox said in a statement (course it does)

• When the Second Circuit issued its ruling that the program was illegal, it didn’t issue any injunction ordering the program halted, saying it would be prudent to see what Congress did. Jameel Jaffer, an ACLU lawyer, said Tuesday the group would now ask for one “and to order the NSA to purge the records it’s already collected.” (bottom line: NSA’s tracking you)

• The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear a challenge to the way public-sector unions finance their operations. In the case, teachers in California who chose not to join a union said being compelled to pay union fees they didn’t agree with violated their First Amendment rights (NYT)
Hillary Clinton Email Dump: Carpets (Guardian, Hill, AP, me)
• State Dept released some 3,000 pages of Clinton correspondence at 9 pm Tuesday. Senior WH officials knew of SecState Clinton’s unorthodox system of using a private email server for govt business, including chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and strategist David Axelrod. Officials, including Axelrod, had previously denied knowing of the email system (questions…)
• Clinton sent or received at least 12 messages in 2009 on her private server that were later classified “confidential” by the U.S. govt, because officials said they contained activities relating to the intel community (she’s indicated she didn’t) At least two dozen emails were marked “sensitive but unclassified” at the time they were written
• Controversial adviser Sidney Blumenthal is a persistent voice in the emails, reporting to Clinton on international affairs, and offers his take on policy issues in Europe, particularly Britain. In one email, Blumenthal tells Clinton that the “special relationship” is “shattered.”
• The emails are full of administrative banalities, from birthday cake to fetching iced tea, with many missives sent at all hours of the day and night. In one email, subject line: “Don’t Laugh!” Clinton describes her admiration for Chinese carpets. “I loved their designs and the way they appeared carved. Any way we can get this?”
• Clinton writes in brisk, chipper sentences and had an inspirational line from Proverbs 31:8-9 printed out in big font: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
• U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced Tuesday that undocumented transgender immigrants will now be placed in detention centers according to their gender identity. Additionally, ICE said the agency will provide new training and tools to ensure early on in an individual’s detention that his or her gender identity is acknowledged (TRNS)
Jeb Bush Tax Returns Dump (NYT, me)
• After he left office as governor of Florida, Jeb Bush’s net worth grew to at least $19 million from $1.3 million, a significant leap in wealth that reflects the power of his connections and the breadth of his entrepreneurial pursuits
• Bush and his wife Columba reported $28.5 million in adjusted gross income from 2007, the year he left office, through 2013, according to tax returns he released Tuesday. Nearly $10 million came from speaking engagements. The Bushes’ income topped out at $7.3 million in 2013, the last of 33 years he made public. He paid an effective tax rate of 40%
• Bush’s disclosure of financial records comes early in a presidential campaign that’s elevated the issue of candidates’ wealth, and it way it may distance them from ordinary Americans in an era of economic uncertainty. After he left politics eight years ago, Bush made clear that he wanted to make money. The mystery was just how much he had made
• The release of the returns, 16 months before the general election, is intended to position Bush as particularly open to scrutiny compared with other candidates. Deep in the 2013 filing, he reported $5.8 million for “consulting and speaking” income. The campaign listed paid speeches, but it didn’t release details of the income from his consulting engagements

• President Obama, sporting a pair of jeans, made a surprise appearance on the South Lawn Tuesday night as 50 Girl Scouts sat with Michelle Obama for the first ever overnight campout. He joined in campfire songs. A Girl Scout leader told Obama he’s “very in touch with your feminine side. That’s what makes you so wonderful.” “Clearly,” Obama quipped back (Hill)

Chris Christie: “I Mean What I Say” (Politico, me)
• Gov Chris Christie (R-NJ) formally launched his long-shot presidential campaign in Livingston NJ on Tuesday. Speaking before around 1,000 supporters at the small high school gymnasium of his alma mater, Christie promised a brash campaign, one in which he would speak his mind and offer a decisive, clear vision of leadership
• “When I stand up on a stage like this in front of all of you there is one thing you will know for sure: I mean what I say and I say what I mean. And unlike some people who offer themselves for the presidency in 2016, you’re not going to have to wonder whether I can do it or not,” Christie said, without a teleprompter
• Christie didn’t make explicit mention of the George Washington Bridge scandal, which has overshadowed much of his second term and hurt him in polls. But, “I don’t do something great every day. I’m human,” he said. At another point, he said that as a candidate he might say things that could make “you cringe every once in a while.”
• Christie’s focus will be on Northeastern states, where he has the most appeal. He’s currently in New Hampshire for five days, with nearly a dozen events. The state’s politics should work in Christie’s favor: It’s a Northeastern locale with a long history of favoring more moderate Republicans like Christie – it also has an open primary system
• Second-ranked U.S. women beat No. 1 Germany 2-0 Tuesday night in the Women’s World Cup soccer (football), finally coming into their own, after a slow start to the tournament. They face either Japan in the final (more likely – reigning champions) or England (likely to choke) who play in the other semifinal tonight in Edmonton

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____________________

Victoria Jones – Editor

TRNS’ Sydnee Fried and Anna Merod contributed to this report

 

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