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

  • Louisiana theater shooting: Gunman kills 2 + self, wounds 9
  • Two IGs urge criminal probe: Clinton email account
  • Iran deal: Not “unicorn arrangement” – Kerry
  • Obama in Africa: Human rights concerns
  • Trump stumps on the border
  • Autopsy: Bland had marijuana in system
  • Highway bill: Showdown
  • House votes to punish sanctuary cities
  • Democrats introduce LGBT civil rights bill
  • House passes GMO bill: Labeling
Louisiana Theater Shooting: Gunman Kills Two, Self (Guardian, AP, TRNS, me)
• A lone gunman sitting in a packed movie theater stood up about 20 minutes into the showing of “Trainwreck” and began firing into the crowd, killing two and injuring some nine others Thursday night before fatally shooting himself, authorities said. He didn’t speak, witnesses said
• The gunman initially tried to escape by blending into the fleeing crowd, but then turned back when he saw police heading inside from the parking lot, authorities said. Officers tailing him back into the theater then heard a single gunshot and found him dead inside, police said
• They described the shooter as a 58-year-old “lone white male” with a “criminal history” but didn’t immediately release his name. Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft said the gunman was by himself and started the rampage by shooting the two people sitting in front of him. Some of the injured have life-threatening wounds
• The gunman used a semi-automatic weapon. Police are currently checking several addresses connected to the gunman in “multiple” Southern states. Police said no manifesto has been found that might explain the shooter’s motive


• Vid: President Obama says in a BBC interview that the area in which he feels he’s “been the most frustrated and the most stymied, it is the fact that the U.S. is the one advanced nation on earth in which we do not have sufficient, common-sense gun safety laws.” (BBC) – interview was conducted before the Louisiana shooting


• Stories of heroism immediately began to emerge with presidential hopeful Gov Bobby Jindal (R), who traveled to the scene, telling reporters that a teacher who was in the theater jumped in front of a second teacher, saving her life. The second teacher than managed to pull a fire alarm to alert other moviegoers, he said
• State police superintendent Col Michael Edmonson said there were about 100 people inside the theater at the time of the shooting. He said police believe the gunman fired shots only at the theater and hadn’t waged an attack anywhere else beforehand. Police says there’s no secondary shooter
• Bomb squad officers detonated a suspicious package in the gunman’s car and a backpack inside the theater. These turned out to be harmless. Jindal called the shooting “an awful night for Louisiana.” “Trainwreck” star Amy Schumer sent a tweet: “My heart is broken and all my thoughts and prayers are with everyone in Louisiana.”
• The shooting occurred three years after James Holmes entered a crowded movie theater in suburban Denver and opened fire during the premier of a Batman film, killing 12 people and injuring 70 others. A jury last week quickly convicted Holmes on 165 counts of murder and other charges
Two IGs Urge Criminal Probe: Clinton’s Email Use (NYT, Politico, me)
• The Justice Dept has been urged by two inspectors general to initiate a criminal investigation into whether sensitive govt info was mishandled in connection with the personal email account Hillary Clinton used as SecState, NYT reports. The dept hasn’t yet taken a stand on whether it will open a probe. The NYT story changed late Thursday from saying “whether Hillary Clinton mishandled”
• Early this morning, Clinton’s office put out a statement: “Contrary to the initial story, which has already been significantly revised, she followed appropriate practices in dealing with classified materials. As has been reported on multiple occasions, any released emails deemed classified by the admin have been done so after the fact, and not at the time they were transmitted.” (bit careful)
• State Dept spox Alex Gerlach said in a statement: “We are working with both the State IG and the intel community’s IG to ensure that our review of former Sec Clinton’s emails is completed in a manner that protects sensitive and potentially classified information.”
• State is looking over more than 55,000 pages of correspondence provided by Clinton after her private email practices were made public. (not by her, note) So far, 3,000 have been released, including some emails with redactions. Some emails that have since been marked as “classified” were not labeled as such during Clinton’s tenure
• Last week, State lawyers were questioned by a federal judge regarding multiple FOIA requests from AP: “I want to find out what’s been going on over there – I should say, what’s not been going on over there,” said Judge Richard Leon,” adding that “for reasons known only to itself, State “has been to say the least, recalcitrant in responding.” (equivalent of a hard slap)
Iran Deal: Not “Unicorn Arrangement” (WaPo, NYT, Bloomberg, TRNS, me)
• In a Senate Iran hearing on Thursday, Republicans gave long and often scathing speeches denouncing what they described as a fatally flawed agreement and accusing the admin of dangerous naivete. They showed little interest in responses from SecState John Kerry, Energy Sec Ernest Moniz and Treasury Sec Jack Lew (it was a real popcorn event)
• Kerry seemed scarcely able to contain his incredulity and impatience with members of the Foreign Relations Committee he once chaired, saying that critics don’t understand the deal or the potential consequences of rejecting it
• “I believe you’ve been fleeced,” chair Bob Corker (R-Tenn) told Kerry. Others called elements of the agreement “ludicrous” and said U.S. negotiators, led by Kerry, had been “bamboozled.” Sen Marco Rubio (R-Fla), a 2016er, said the next president is “under no legal or moral obligation to live up to” the agreement
• Graphic: Iran deal – 12 things they can’t agree on – pro and con (WaPo)

• Kerry scoffed at the notion that there was a better deal to be had, calling it a “fantasy, plain and simple … some sort of unicorn arrangement involving Iran’s complete capitulation.” “If the U.S., after laboriously negotiating this multilateral agreement with five other partners, were to walk away from those partners, we’re on our own.”


• “If you think the ayatollah is going to come back and negotiate again with an American, that’s fantasy,” Kerry said. “You’re never going to see that because we will have proven we’re not trustworthy. You have 535 secretaries of state, you can’t deal with anybody.”
• The admin got a boost Thursday when Saudi FM Adel al-Jubeir told reporters that the deal appears to have the provisions necessary to curtail Iran’s ability to obtain a nuclear weapon. Republicans and some Democrats complained about a “side agreement” between Iran and the IAEA to resolve questions about past Iranian nuclear weapons. The terms aren’t available
Obama in Africa: Human Rights Concerns (Politico, AP, TRNS, me)
• President Obama will become the first sitting U.S. president to visit Kenya, his ancestral homeland, when he arrives later today to attend a business summit and meetings with President Uhuru Kenyatta. Obama will become the first U.S. president to travel to Ethiopia when he lands there Sunday to address the African Union• When the BBC on Thursday asked about Kenyan Deputy President William Rutu, a critic of gay rights in the U.S., Obama said, “Yeah, well, I disagree with him on that, don’t I? Everybody deserves fair treatment – equal treatment – in the eyes of the law and the state, and that includes gays, lesbians, transgender persons.” Obama plans to make it part of his agenda for this trip


• “While both countries face real security threats, we are concerned by the way in which each govt has responded, often with abusive security measures and increased efforts to stifle civil society and the media,” Human Rights Watch and other advocacy organizations and analysts said in a letter to Obama
• Obama said one of the themes he’ll stress during the trip is that the economic growth that Africans seek depends on good governance, including free and fair elections; strong, democratic institutions; freedom of speech and the press; vibrant civic participation and respect for human rights
• “Some African nations have made impressive progress on these fronts,” he said in an op-ed Thursday in The Root, a website with a largely African-American audience. “Others have not. My trip will be an opportunity to address these issues candidly, both publicly and privately in my meetings with leaders.”


• After months of negotiations, Turkey has agreed to let the U.S. military carry out airstrikes against iSIS fighters from a U.S. air base near the Syrian border, defense officials said Thursday (WSJ)
Trump Stumps on the Border (Politico, WaPo, me)
• During a whirlwind visit to the border at Laredo, Texas – less than three hours – Donald Trump blazed around in a presidential-style motorcade that included seven SUVs and even more police cars. Local officers blocked off roads, including I-35, for Trump’s entourage (bet that went down well)
• The GOP candidate, leading the Republican field but increasingly under not so friendly fire, said repeatedly that he’d been told he would be in “great danger” if he visited Laredo, which has a significantly lower murder rate than Trump’s home town of New York City. He wouldn’t say who had told him he was at risk. “But I have to do it,” he said (oh so bravely)
• The lovers and haters stood side by side. One young man flipped all the cars in the caravan the bird as the person next to him waved a little American flag. They got artistic, too. One car facing the road had a sign in the windshield reading, “Mr Trump, fu*k U.” Trump’s hat trumped him: “Make America Great Again” (a bit anti-American, that? I thought we were great)
• Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Laredo City Manager Jesus Olivares, said of the border fence Trump’s been calling for: “We don’t think that’s necessary at this time. Mayor Pete Seanz said: “NAFTA has been very good to us.” Trump has criticized NAFTA and other trade pacts as poorly negotiated and better for other countries
• Trump cut off a question from a Telemundo reporter about young Hispanics offended by his comments about undocumented immigrants – to the cheers of the people gathered to hear him speak, and departed for the airport. At the airport, a British reporter asked if he had a response to people saying he was an “embarrassment” to the U.S. He ignored the question…


• Super cool moving pics in charts in this interactive – the first GOP debate – who’s in, who’s out – and the Role of Chance (NYT) – and it definitely plays a role

Autopsy: Bland Had Marijuana in System (Reuters, AP, NYT, me)
• Evidence from an autopsy on Sandra Bland, the black woman found hanging in a Texas jail days after a traffic stop, supports the ME’s initial ruling of suicide, Waller County ADA Warren Diepraam said Thursday. Preliminary results also found high levels of marijuana in Bland’s system (they were real keen to point this out – deflect blame from themselves, much?)
• Bland was pulled over on 10 July northwest of Houston for failing to signal a lane change. After the incident escalated into an altercation between her and the white trooper, Bland was taken into custody and charged with assaulting an officer. She was found hanging in her jail cell on 13 July with a plastic trash bag around her neck
• While officials have said they’re handling the investigation like a murder, they announced Thursday there was no evidence in the autopsy to support a finding of murder. But the plastic bag was being tested further. Diepraam said it was unclear whether Bland ingested marijuana before or after she was jailed
• Bland had lacerations and abrasions on her wrists that could have been received when she was handcuffed during her arrest, Diepraam said. She also had about 30 healing cuts on her left arm that occurred two to four weeks before. A lawyer for the Bland family, Cannon Lambert, called the autopsy “defective.”
• According to a jail intake questionnaire, Bland marked that she had tried to commit suicide last year by taking pills after the loss of a baby. She also said she had epilepsy. Another form said the suicide attempt was this year. There were other discrepancies in forms that she filled out
• The jail where Bland died was cited three days after her death by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards for failing to the minimum requirement of complete visual face-to-face observations of inmates every 60 minutes. Inspectors cited the jail for the same violation in 2012, after another inmate hanged himself in his cell with a bed sheet
• Bland made three phone calls from the jail the day after her arrest. In a call to a friend, she sounds calm in a voice message
• A NYT/CBS News poll conducted last week reveals that nearly six in 10 Americans, including heavy majorities of both whites and blacks, think race relations are generally bad, and that nearly four in 10 think the situation is getting worse (NYT)
Highway Bill: Showdown (Hill, me)
• Ah yes, the showdown. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) wants to pass a six-year highway deal before next Thursday to give the House time to take it up before the August recess. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif) doesn’t. He wants a five-month patch. So does Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). The House adjourns end of next week
• McConnell is betting (don’t put money on it) the House will relent once they have the bill in their laps, with the Highway Trust Fund due to expire on 1 August. He tried this once before – remember – when he tried to jam the House with the NSA’s clean extension. That blew up in his face. He was mulling his options Thursday. There may be action today. Or not
• Lawmakers and aides said a vote may be postponed until Monday, but that could push a final vote on the highway package until Thursday unless all 100 senators agree to yield back procedural time (LOL – Cruz, Paul et al). Boehner said he’ll wait to see what McConnell can push through the upper chamber
• McCarthy on Wednesday dismissed the Senate bill as unlikely to get a House vote, and suggested merging the Senate and House measures in a conference negotiation. That would require both chambers to pass a short-term patch to avoid a highway shutdown in August. That would leave the Export-Import Bank twisting in the wind; it expired at the end of June and needs a vote
• The compressed Senate schedule leaves little time to vote on amendments, such as a proposal from Sen Rand Paul (R-Ky) to block federal funding for Planned Parenthood. The highway bill passed a procedural hurdle Thursday to begin floor debate. But it could still fall off the rails as lawmakers comb through its over 1,000 pages of provisions…

House Votes to Punish Sanctuary Cities (Hill, AP, TRNS, me)

• House Republicans passed, 241-179, the Enforce the Law for Sanctuary Cities Act, HR-3009, on Thursday, which would withhold certain federal law enforcement grants to cities that have policies designed to shelter illegal immigrants from deportation. Democrats derided the bill as the “Donald Trump Act.”


• Sanctuary cities have come under heavy scrutiny in the wake of Kathryn Steinle’s death on 1 July in San Francisco. Authorities charge that the killing was carried out by Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, an undocumented immigrant with a history of felony convictions who had been deported five times


• “Just a few weeks into his campaign and Donald Trump has a bill on the floor of the House. That is better than some of the senators he’s running against,” Rep Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill) said mockingly (actually, it sort of is – some them them are rarely even in the Senate)


• “This is a valid concern that we’re voting on today,” said Rep Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), who has a history of breaking with his party on immigration and said he finds Trump’s comments offensive. “I’m not going to let Donald Trump dictate my vote.”


• The WH on Thursday threatened to veto the bill, saying it “undermines current admin efforts to remove the most dangerous convicted criminals.” A coalition of 21 big-city mayors, meanwhile, criticized the bill and warned that cutting off federal law enforcement grants would weaken public safety efforts



Democrats Introduce LGBT Civil Rights Bill (Hill, TRNS, me)

• The Equality Act of 2015, unveiled by Rep David Cicilline (D-RI) in the House and in the Senate by Sen Jeff Merkley (D-Ore) on Thursday, would outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in the areas of employment, housing public accommodations and financial services

• “Discrimination, bigotry and intolerance should have no place in America in 2015,” Cicilline told reporters Thursday. The bill has 40 co-sponsors in the Senate and 155 co-sponsors in the House, all Democrats

• Rep Sean Patrick Maloney (D), the first openly gay congressman to be elected from NY, had a message for his Republican colleagues: “Join us.” “To those that still oppose us, we ask you to look into your hearts and to look into the future because history will judge very harshly your decision in the next few weeks about your position on this bill.”

• Though 17 states and DC already have broad laws in place that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and another four states offer partial protections, it’s still legal in 28 states to discriminate against LGBTs

• The Supreme Court issued a historic ruling in June that made gay marriage legal across the country, but advocates for LGBT rights say a person can get married on Saturday and still be fired from their job, denied a mortgage or kicked out of a restaurant the following Monday

House Passes GMO bill: Labeling (Hill, AP)
• The House on Thursday passed the hotly contested Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015, HR-1599 (certainly not accurate), 275-150, which would keep states from issuing mandatory laws for foods that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The law would instead create a federal standard for voluntary labeling of foods with GMO ingredients
• The bill’s author, Rep Mike Pompeo (R-Kan) said, “Precisely zero pieces of credible evidence have been presented that foods produced with biotechnology pose any risk to our health and safety. We should not raise prices on consumers based on the wishes of a handful of activists.” The House bill is backed by the food industry (just want to know what I’m eating)
• Not exactly a handful of activists. A December AP/Gaff poll found that two-thirds of Americans support labeling of genetically modified ingredients on food packages. Many of those who support the labels say they have no problem buying food containing GMOs, but think there should be more accountability in the food industry
• “What’s the problem with letting consumers know what they are buying?” asked Rep Peter Welch (D-Vt). “The FDA already requires clear labeling of over 3,000 ingredients, additives and food processes. GMOs should be no different,” Rep Rose DeLauro (D-Conn) told reporters
• Democrats in the centrist Blue Dog coalition threw their support behind the legislation just before the bill went to the floor for a vote. The House rejected two Democratic amendments, including one by DeLauro which would have banned the use of the term “natural” on food that contained a genetically engineered plant (ohh really?)
• Rocking into the weekend with “King” – Years and Years – this is a fantastic dance number and should be No. 1


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____________________Victoria Jones – Editor

TRNS’ William McDonald, Anna Merod and Loree Lewis contributed to this report


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