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.

TRNS News Notes will be off tomorrow, Friday 3 July. We’ll be back on Monday 6 July. Happy July the Fourth everyone!  

A train carrying toxic chemicals has derailed near Maryville TN and caught fire. 5,000 residents are being evacuated. Developing (AFP)

News Now

  • US makes FIFA extradition request
  • Escaped killers: Sweat spills beans
  • DoJ probes airlines: High airfares?
  • Macy’s dumps Trump dumps Macy’s…
  • GOP 2016ers miffed at Cuba embassy news
  • June jobs report: What to watch
  • Latest Clinton emails: Fallout
  • IAEA chief huddles in Tehran today
  • Greece: In a muddle
  • Obama’s health care victory lap


US Makes FIFA Extradition Request (BBC)
• The U.S. on Wednesday asked Switzerland to extradite seven FIFA officials arrested on corruption charges in May, Swiss authorities say. The seven top FIFA execs arrested in Zurich are among 14 FIFA officials indicted on charges of “rampant, systemic and deep-rooted” corruption.”

• The charges follow a major inquiry by the FBI. The Swiss Federal Office of Justice said Zurich police, acting on its behalf, would give the seven FIFA officials a hearing over the extradition requests. The officials would have 14 days to respond to the requests, which could be extended “if sufficient grounds exist.”

• Jeffrey Webb, vice president in charge of North and Central America, was among seven top officials arrested by Swiss police in a raid on a luxury hotel in the early hours of 27 May. They’re currently being held in prisons around the Zurich region

• The suspects are among 14 defendants the U.S. has charged with racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies. They were accused in a federal court in New York of participating “in a 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through the corruption of international soccer.” Developing…
• Don’t go in the water! What’s up with you people in North Carolina? A 68-year-old man swimming directly in front of a lifeguard (like the shark cares) in the Outer Banks was pulled underwater by a shark and bitten numerous times. He was pulled ashore and stabilized by a doctor who happened to be on the beach – 7th shark attack in NC so far this season… (WaPo, me)
Escaped Killers: Sweat Spills Beans (CNN, NYT, me)
• After convicted murderers David Sweat and Richard Matt pulled off their brazen escape from an upstate New York prison in early June, their relationship quickly began to go south, according to a law enforcement official briefed on Sweat’s interviews with investigators. Sweat says that Matt was out of shape and unable to keep up with him. Matt was fatally shot last week

• Sweat said he was irked that Matt began getting drunk after they broke into a cabin, the official said. The discord prompted the fugitives to split up (told you it was the grape gin did Matt in). From his hospital bed in Albany, recovering from gunshot wounds, Sweat has been revealing details about their escapade (no honour among thieves – or murderers)

• Through it all, Sweat was the mastermind – or at least that’s what he sez. Authorities spoke of the possible use of power tools in the escape, but Sweat has said they actually found a sledgehammer in an underground passageway and supposedly used that to break down a brick wall on their way out of the maximum security prison

• During their time on the lam, the fugitives had several close calls as authorities closed in. While hiding in the hunting cabin, they heard voices of people nearby at one point. And after the pair split up, Sweat saw a law enforcement officer walk right by him as he hid in a tree stand used by hunters, Clinton County DA Andrew Wylie said

• Sweat said the plot actually started in January. After five months of hashing out strategies, Sweat and Matt made a practice run. One night they escaped from their cells, navigated a maze of tunnels and pipes before popping out of a manhole. But Sweat said they saw too many houses and decided to try for a different one the next night

Were Prison Guards Asleep?
• So why didn’t the guards notice? The state IG’s office is looking into whether the guards had fallen asleep. State police spox Beau Duffy had no info on where Sweat will go when he’s released – somewhere secure, obviously

• Three members of the prison’s executive team, along with nine security staff employees, have been placed on paid admin leave as part of a review of the escape. Every cell at Clinton is now being inspected once a week

• The number of cells searched daily and randomly for contraband has tripled, with each cell being searched at least once every two months. All tunnels are being inspected every two months instead of biannually. The so-called honor block, where the escaped killer has been housed, has been eliminated pending further review

• The FBI is investigating possible broader corruption. Agents are looking into whether drug trafficking or other other criminal behavior among employees and inmates took place, officials said. (ya think?) Some employees have told investigators that there was heroin use among prisoners and an alleged drug trade involving employees

• In an interview, Sweat denied any sexual contact with prison employee Joyce Mitchell, the indicted no-show getaway driver, and he said it was Matt who had a sexual relationship with her. Authorities have said Matt had a sexual relationship with Mitchell and that she’d been investigated in the past for one with Sweat

• Army Gen Martin Dempsey, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said Wednesday that the Pentagon is maintaining a “higher alert status” for the Fourth of July due to potential ISIS threats. “The call went for increased attacks during Ramadan, which is why you see us maintaining a higher alert status,” he told reporters (Hill)

DoJ Launches Probe on High Airline Fares (AP, Hill, TRNS, me)

• Traveling this weekend? The Justice Dept is investigating a possible collusion among major airlines to limit available seats, which keeps airfares high, according to a doc obtained by AP. The DoJ probe appears to focus on whether airlines illegally signaled to each other how quickly they would add new flights, routes and extra seats (shocked, shocked, stunned)

• Delta and American said Wednesday they would cooperate with a letter from DoJ demanding all communications the airlines had with each other. Delta and Southwest had no immediate comment. Smaller airlines said they hadn’t been contacted by the govt. Stocks of major U.S. airlines ended the day down

• The airlines publicly discussed “capacity discipline” early last month in Miami at an annual meeting. After hearing about the meeting, Sen Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn) requested a DoJ investigation. He said they were using the phrase “capacity discipline” as code for reducing the amount of available seats on flights to jack up demand – and prices

• The DoJ had tried (a bit feebly) to block the most recent merger, the 21013 joining of American Airlines and US Airways, but ultimately caved after the airlines made minor concessions. Consumer groups have complained that the mergers have reduced the amount of competition (duh) for passengers that’s been credited in the past for lower airfares

• American, Delta, Southwest and United now control 85% of the seats in the domestic travel market. (if you eliminate competition, you get higher prices, and if you only have a few people running things who all know each other, they might be likely to get together to make things – – – comfortable for themselves – a lesson for the cable industry #notrealcapitalism)

Macy’s Dumps Trump Dumps Macy’s (Politico, CNN, Reuters, TRNS, me)
• Macy’s is pulling Donald Trump brand merchandise from its stores after the GOP presidential candidate’s recent controversial remarks in which he referred to immigrants from Mexico and other countries as “killers and rapists.” But wait – Trump says he’s dumping Macy’s. Macy’s said it “stands for diversity.” Meanwhile, New York City is reviewing its contracts with Trump, it says

• In a statement, Macy’s said: “We are disappointed and distressed by recent remarks about immigrants from Mexico. We do not believe the disparaging characterizations portray an accurate picture of the many Mexicans, Mexican Americans and Latinos who have made so many valuable contributions to the success of our nation.”

• Trump said in a separate statement it was his decision to end the relationship “because of the pressure being put on them by outside sources.” (who?) He added he’s “never been happy about the fact that the ties and shirts are made in China, and should I start a new product line in the future, I would insist that they are made in America.” (he could have done that before…)

• A petition calling on Macy’s to cut its relationship with Trump had collected well over 700,000 signatures Wednesday morning. Meanwhile, and separately, Trump’s line of luxury hotels may be the the latest victim of a credit data breach, security news journalist Brian Krebs reported Wednesday

• Macy’s decision comes swiftly on the heels of separate announcements by NBCUniversal and Univision, which said its networks wouldn’t air the telecast of the annual Miss USA pageant, partially owned by Trump. NBC said Trump won’t appear on The Apprentice. (having trouble keeping track of who he’s suing – Univision, for $500 million – could be anyone by now…)

• Trump doubled down on his comments in a CNN interview Wed night. He cited an article from Fusion on rapes of migrant women: “You know who owns Fusion? Univision!” (relevance?) Don Lemon said the article is about victims. Trump: “Well, somebody’s doing the raping, Don! I mean, somebody’s doing it! Who’s doing the raping? Who’s doing the raping?” (Hill)



GOP 2016ers Miffed at Cuba Embassy News (AP, TRNS, me)
• President Obama announced Wednesday that the U.S. and Cuba will reopen embassies in Havana and Washington. Obama reiterated his call for Congress to lift the embargo, but he faces stiff resistance. He will also face opposition in a Republican-led Congress to spending any taxpayer dollars on an embassy in Havana – Congress would have to approve it

• Marco Rubio (R) says he’ll continue to oppose the confirmation of any ambassador to Cuba until its leaders address human rights abuses and meet other conditions. The Florida senator and son of Cuban immigrants accuses the Obama admin of making “unilateral concessions” to an “odious regime.”

• Sen Ted Cruz (R-Texas) calls it a “slap in the face of a close ally” that the U.S. would place an embassy in Havana before putting one in Jerusalem. The U.S. Embassy for Israel is in Tel Aviv because of sensitivities in the Middle East about moving it to Jerusalem. Cruz is the son of a Cuban immigrant father

• Former Gov Jeb Bush (R-Fl) says the plan is “legitimizing the brutal Castro regime.” Gov Scott Walker (R-Wis) says Obama is “foolishly” rewarding Cuban leaders. Gov Chris Christie (R-NJ): “The president is dead wrong.” But Sen Rand Paul (R-Ky) has so far been silent on the embassy plan. He’s supported the normalization of relations with Cuba

81 things that Mike Huckabee has denounced – includes Beyonce, Cuba trade embargo, biscuits and gravy, President Obama for bowing too low to the emperor of Japan, restaurants that don’t serve biscuits and gravy, overbearing airport security, halter tops, Common Core, dogs wearing clothes, liberals, Mitt Romney, etc etc etc………… (WaPo)

June Jobs: What to Watch (WSJ, Reuters, me)
Forecast: The June jobs report’s due out today at 8:30 am EDT. Is the U.S. economy strengthening, despite rising global turmoil? Economists forecast a gain of 233,000 jobs in June, down from 280,000 in May. Still, that would keep growth above 200,000 for the 15th time in the past 16 months. Expect the jobless rate to dip to 5.4% from 5.5%

Wage Pickup: Wages grew faster in May from a year earlier than they have in almost two years, a sign that worker pay may finally be starting to pick up. Average hourly earnings for private sector workers were up 2.3% in May, a little better than the 2% average during the current expansion

Better Prospects: Unemployment ticked up last month , but for good reason – more people were looking for jobs. Suggests Americans are more optimistic about their job prospects. One weak spot is known in economic circles as U-6, people who aren’t working or looking for work, and people who want full-time but can only find part-time – that figure was unchanged at 10.8%

After Hours: Americans’ average workweek has held fairly steady at around 34.5 hours over the past year. That suggests employers are opting to add new workers rather than ask current staff to work longer hours. June figure will serve as a sort of baseline of hours ahead of the admin rollout of changes to overtime regs

• Episcopalians voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to allow religious weddings for same-sex couples, solidifying the church’s embrace of gay rights that began more than a decade ago with the pioneering election of the first openly gay bishop (AP)
Latest Clinton Emails: Fallout (AP, CNN, me)
• Senior Obama admin officials, including WH chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and top strategist David Axelrod, knew as early as 2009 that Hillary Clinton was using a private email address for her govt correspondence, according to some 3,000 pages of correspondence released by State late Tuesday night

• But it’s unclear whether the officials realized Clinton, now the leading Democratic presidential candidate was running her email from a server located in her home in Chappaqua NY – a potential security risk and violation of admin policy. The emails were posted online as part of a court mandate

• In one email, Clinton tells aide Huma Abedin, “I heard on the radio that there is a Cabinet meeting this am. Can I go? If not, who are we sending?” Clinton was later informed it wasn’t a full Cabinet meeting (not really in the loop?)

• The WH counsel’s office also wasn’t aware at the time Clinton was SecState that she relied solely on personal email and only found out as part of the congressional investigation into the Benghazi attacks, according to a person familiar with the matter (are they livid much?)

• Clinton had a battle with a fax machine. Abedin: Can you hang up the fax line, they will call again and try fax. Clinton: I thought it was supposed to be off hook to work? Abedin: Yes but hang up one more time. So they can reestablish the line. Clinton: I did. Abedin: Just pick up phone and hang it up. And leave it hung up. Clinton: I’ve done it twice now. Clinton: Still nothing
• Sir Nicholas Winton – the British man who saved more than 650 children from certain death in Holocaust concentration camps by smuggling them out of Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia and into Britain, only to keep his heroism secret for 50 years – died Wednesday at age 106. Absolute must-see, powerful, brief video where he’s reunited years later in a surprise (Buzzfeed)
IAEA Chief Huddles in Tehran Today (NYT, me)
• Yukiya Amano, chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, meets today in Tehran with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Iran’s top security officials for a hastily scheduled meeting to resolve whether to force Iran to reveal any evidence about suspected design work on nuclear weapons and how to assure inspectors can get inside the most secret nuclear sites

• American officials insist that for a deal to work, any time the IAEA has reasonable suspicion that nuclear-related work is underway at a military site, it can get inspectors there quickly. Iranian officials are hinting there are solutions, despite a speech last week by Ayatollah Khameini that seemed to suggest otherwise

• For Iran, the issue is about sovereignty and pride, as well as control. But American officials say that papering over differences is an invitation to creating a crisis later – exactly what the agreement under negotiation is supposed to avoid. The inspections are about the future

• For years Iran has dismissed as “fabrications” the evidence that it worked on weapons designs and technologies, refusing to answer questions from the IAEA. But, “We don’t need a confession,” one of SecState Kerry’s negotiating colleagues said, “But we also can’t set precedent that you can ignore nuclear inspectors for years and get away with it.”
Greece: In a Muddle (BBC, me)
• Eurozone finance ministers have ruled out any further talks on a fresh bailout for Greece until the country holds its referendum on Sunday. Greeks will be asked to accept or reject proposals made by creditors last week, with PM Tsipras urging a “no vote.” Finance minister Varoufakis accused the creditors of blackmail (oh that’s helpful)

• But he pledged a deal would be reached soon after the vote and that current limits on bank withdrawals would ease. Greek banks didn’t open this week after the European Central Bank froze their liquidity lifeline. Withdrawals from cash machines are capped at just $66 a day

• Some banks reopened Wednesday to allow senior citizens – many of whom don’t use bank cards – to withdraw a one-off weekly withdrawal of up to $132. Many had waited in long lines from before dawn only to be told to return today or Friday

• Athens missed the deadline for a $1.7 billion repayment to the IMF on Tuesday and with the previous bailout expired, Greece no longer has access to billions of euros in funds. EU leaders have warned that a “no” vote in the referendum may see Greece leave the eurozone – though Tsipras says he doesn’t want this to happen

• Wednesday, Tsipras put new proposals to eurozone partners, accapting most of what was on the table before talks collapsed last week but with a request for a third bailout lasting two years. However, later he made a defiant speech on national TV confirming Sunday’s vote would go ahead and urging a “no” vote to strengthen Greece’s hand in negotiations (it won’t)
Obama’s Health Care Victory Lap (Hill, AP, Reuters, me)
• Fresh off a Supreme Court victory, President Obama said Wednesday, “I’m feeling pretty good about how health care is going,” before he removed his suit jacket and answered questions about health care from Tennesseans seated at tables in an elementary school cafeteria

• Obama’s choice to visit Tennessee was deliberate. The state’s Republican governor, Bill Haslam, tried to expand Medicaid under the health care law to cover more than 200,000 state residents – only to be stymied by state legislators of his own party

• Obama argued to his audience – and during a Twitter Q&A immediately after – that health care coverage rates could be vastly improved if more governors and lawmakers would accept the federal govt’s offer of billions of dollars of federal money to pay to expand Medicaid to cover millions more low-income Americans in their states

• About 20 states, most of them led by Republican governors and including some heavily populated places like Texas and Florida, have refused to expand Medicaid. “I think because of politics not all states have taken advantage of the options that are out there. Our hope is that more of them do,” Obama said

• “People tend to forget that the Affordable Care Act model … was originally a model that was embraced by Republicans before I embraced it,” Obama said, adding that “conservative organizations like the Heritage Foundation thought
[it] was a good idea.” “I didn’t mind stealing the idea from Mitt Romney. The bottom line is what works.”

• Rocking into the weekend with “Lonely Boy” – the Black Keys – homage to President Obama’s tweet Wednesday during a Twitter Q&A on healthcare in Nashville, when he was asked what was his favorite song at the moment: “was listening to outkast/liberation and the black keys/lonely boy this morning.” good taste, on both counts

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Victoria Jones – Editor

TRNS’ William McDonald, Patrice Harris and Cortney Smalley contributed to this report


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