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

  • Debris: Flight MH370?
  • A date! Clinton to testify on Benghazi
  • University cop charged: Murder of black man
  • House passes highway funding patch
  • Obama gives Dems hard sell on “odious” Iran
  • Trump’s new feud: Breast pump lawyer
  • Judge threatens IRS chief with contempt
  • Bill to combat seafood fraud introduced
  • Planned Parenthood fights back
  • World mourns Cecil, 5 elephants slaughtered


Debris: Flight MH370? (NYT, Reuters, me)
• American investigators have concluded that a large object that washed up on Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean came from a Boeing 777, making it likely that it was debris from Flight 370, the Malaysia Airlines jetliner that disappeared in March 2014. A suitcase has reportedly been found on Reunion

• The investigators noted that no other Boeing 777 was known to be missing, suggesting that the piece was part of the missing aircraft. A French official with knowledge of the investigation said that the object appeared to be a wing flap or flaperon, about 9 feet long and 3 feet wide and it appeared to have been in the water for a very long time

• MH370 disappeared without a trace, carrying 239 passengers and crew while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Most of the passengers were Chinese. There have been four serious accidents involving Boeing 777s in the 20 years since the jet came into service. Only MH370 is thought to have crashed south of the equator

• Investigators believe somebody deliberately switched off the plane’s transponder before diverting it thousands of miles off course. Search efforts led by Australia have focused on a broad expanse of the southern Indian Ocean off Australia, roughly 2,300 miles from Reunion Island

• Aviation safety consultant and former crash investigator at the NTSB Greg Feith said that if the part was from MH370, the bulk of the plane likely sank, while the flaperon had air pockets that allowed it to float below the water’s surface

• Graphic: Search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (NYT) / Russia has vetoed a UN draft resolution seeking to set up an international criminal tribunal into the MH17 air disaster in Ukraine (hmmm wonder why…) (BBC, me)

It’s a Date: Clinton to Testify on Benghazi (Politico, Politico, Hill, AP, me)
• 22 October: Grab the mega snax, umbrella drinx, deckchairs and get comfy. Hillary Clinton will testify in open session (yaaay) before the House Benghazi Committee and answer questions (or won’t) about her role in the events that led up to the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attack that left four Americans dead and her email arrangement while she was SecState

• SecState John Kerry will be meeting with State’s IG this week about the finding that former SecState Clinton had classified material on her personal email server, WH spox Eric Schultz said Wednesday. “Kerry wants to get to the bottom of this, hear what his concerns are, and then figure out if they need to take any action.”

• Two IGs from State and the intel community said in a statement last week, “These emails were not retroactively classified by the State Dept; rather these emails contained classified info when they were generated and, according to IC classification officials, that info remains classified today.” Clinton denies this

• In a court hearing Wednesday arising from a FOIA lawsuit by AP, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon, a George W. Bush appointee, appeared incredulous about the amount of time it was taking State to satisfy repeated document requests. A request for 68 emails could be processed in “just one day,” he said. “Even the least ambitious bureaucrat could do this.” (oh i dunno…)

• More Clinton emails are expected to be released Friday under a court-ordered process. Clinton’s former spox, Philippe Reines, on Tuesday turned over 20 boxes of work-related emails taken in part from a personal email account (and other Clinton appointees are said to have emails not turned over, too)

• Taliban leader Mullar Omar died two years ago in Pakistan, a spox for Afghanistan’s security services says. (good riddance). The WH says it believes reports of his death are credible. The new Afghan govt has embarked on peace talks with the Taliban. A security official in Pakistan, which is hosting the talks, said the claims of his death were “mere speculation” (TRNS, BBC)
University Cop Charged: Murder of Black Man (AP, WaPo, USA Today, me)
• University of Cincinnati Officer Ray Tensing who shot motorist Samuel DuBose, 43, during a traffic stop over a missing front license plate was indicted Wednesday on a murder charge, with a prosecutor saying Tensing “purposely killed him” and “should never have been a police officer.” Tensing is white. DuBose was black. Unclear if race was a factor

• Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters announced the grand jury indictment at a presser. Authorities have said Tensing spotted a car driven by DuBose and missing the front plate, required by Ohio law. They say Tensing stopped the car (why bother?) and a struggle ensued after DuBose refused to provide a driver’s license and get out of the car

• Tensing, 25, has said he was dragged by the car and forced to shoot at DuBose. He fired once, striking DuBose in the head. But Deters said, “He fell backward after he shot
[DuBose] in the head,” adding that it was a “chicken crap” traffic stop (looks a bit like an execution sort of thing – weird and horrific and inexplicable)

• On footage released from the bodycam Wednesday, Tensing asks DuBose to unbuckle his seat belt. About that time, Tensing pulls on the door handle, and DuBose puts his hand on the door to keep it closed. Then the video becomes shaky, but a gunshot can be heard and DuBose appears to be slumped in the seat before the car rolls away

• Police Officer Ray Tensing’s bodycam video of Samuel DuBose shooting – warning graphic. DuBose’s final words: “I didn’t even do nothing.” Without a word, Tensing fires a single shot

• The University of Cincinnati said it fired Tensing after the indictment. Tensing turned himself in Wednesday afternoon and was processed on charges of murder and voluntary manslaughter. He’s been jailed overnight. Court appearance today. Tensing’s lawyer, Stewart Matthews, didn’t return calls seeking comment after the indictment

• Matthews said earlier Wed that he though an indictment was likely “given the political climate” and comments made by city officials. But Matthews said given the evidence he’s seen, he doesn’t believe there should be an indictment (really? what would it take – exactly?)

• Deters called the shooting “senseless” and “asinine.” “He purposely killed him,” Deters said. “He should never have been a police officer.” “I don’t think a university should be in the policing business.” The university said earlier this week it plans a review of its policing policies

• Mark O’Mara, lawyer for DuBose’s family, called for a “peaceful and nonaggressive” response from the community after Tensing’s indictment. O’Mara said the family wanted a peaceful reaction because “Sam was a peaceful person.” If convicted, Tensing could face up to life in prison (sounds about right)


• Vids: A day after pics of Florida Sgt Erica Hay buying a sharing a meal with a homeless man went viral – a very different video shows Officer Andrew Halpin in the Sarasota Fla jail taunting and throwing peanuts at a homeless man, whose hands are cuffed behind his back. He’s seen crawling and picking up the food with his mouth – given dog commands (horrific) (ThinkProg)

House Passes Highway Funding Patch (Hill, TRNS, me)
• The House voted 385-34 Wednesday to approve an $8 billion bill that would extend federal transportation funding until 29 October, sending it to the Senate with just two days to go before the nation’s road and transit spending expires. Then House members ran for the hills – five-week vayycayyyyy – and thus forced the Senate’s hand – expected to vote this week

• Senators (aka grown-ups) are planning to stay in DC next week, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) has vowed to finish a six-year transportation bill to jumpstart conference negotiations on a final bill. GOP leaders sought to downplay squabbling as they punted the highway debate to the fall

• The fight over road funding has cut across both parties, with Senate and House Republicans at each others’ throats, and Democrats snarling in the Senate (fun times all round). House Republicans earlier this month approved a five-month funding extension, seeking to buy time for negotiations with the WH over a long-term bill funded by tax reform

• But rather than take up the five-month bill, McConnell negotiated a long-term funding measure with Sen Barbara Boxer (D-Calif) and quickly brought it to the floor. That’s still expected to pass the Senate, but it got a chilly reception in the House, with Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif) refusing to even bring it up for a vote

• “Late nights of vigorous legislating and sometimes unpredictable outcomes might make some reach for the aspirin, but these are the hallmarks of a functioning Congress,” McConnell said (gamely). Oh – the Export-Import Bank? In limbo. It’s in the Senate version, but out of the House version, which means it’s out – until the fall

• Terrifying and essential interactive: How many times has your personal information been exposed to hackers? (NYT) (all over for me – horses galloped from barns – frolicking in meadows)

Obama Gives Dems Hard Sell on “Odious” Iran (AP, Politico, Hill, me)
• President Obama gave a personal presentation to House Democrats Wednesday afternoon at a “working reception” at the WH. Iran will remain an “odious” govt, he told lawmakers,  “and we’re still going to fight them at a lot of different levels, but it’s better to do that without having a nuclear bomb.”

• The deal before Congress was the best way to do that, he said. “He said you should vote based on your real conviction – not on politics,” said Rep Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), who is undecided on the issue. The meeting was cut short after 30 minutes by GOP leaders rescheduling votes on Capitol Hill (hmmm – accident, much? or over-suspicious)

• SecDef Ash Carter told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday at a hearing on the Iran deal, “If Iran were to commit aggression, our robust force posture ensures we can rapidly surge an overwhelming array of forces into the region, leveraging our most advanced capabilities, married with sophisticated munitions that put no target out of reach.” (sell it, Ash!)

• Army Gen Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the committee, “Ultimately, time and Iranian behavior will determine if the Iranian agreement is effective and sustainable,” adding that he will continue to provide President Obama with military options and will advise against reducing U.S. military force presence in the Middle East

• SecState John Kerry said there are no side nor secret agreements between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency – that they’re technical documents that are standard practice and not released publicly. “We don’t get into that. It is not shared with the world, but we do get briefed on it.” (committee members frothed at the mouth at that)
• Albuquerque Fire Dept’s Chief David Downey said Wed, “We hung up on her. I was stunned,” of the audio tape of former AFD driver and dispatcher Matthew Sanchez telling the caller “I’m not going to deal with it,” and hanging up as the caller told him that her friend was barely breathing. The young man had been shot – drive by. First responders were sent. He died in hospital (KOB
Trump’s New Feud: Breast Pump Lawyer (NYT, CNN, me)
• Donald Trump on Wednesday called the lawyer who took out a breast pump in front of him during a 2011 deposition a “vicious, horrible person,” even as he acknowledged his angry response to the incident. “I might have said, ‘That’s disgusting,'” Trump told CNN about the episode, but “I don’t blow up. She made it up.” Reported Tuesday night by NYT (nooo, he never blows up!)
• Legal papers not in dispute describe Trump as telling the lawyer, Elizabeth Beck, “you’re disgusting,” after she requested a break from questioning him to pump breast milk for her 3-month-old daughter. Letters exchanged between the parties make clear that Trump because upset when Beck took out the breast pump (eeek – wimmin’s bodily functions!)

• Beck has said she only took out the pump to illustrate how urgently she needed to stop the deposition and only after Trump objected to her request to take a one-hour break. None of the lawyers involved have suggested that Beck did anything more than take out the pump – (note that – none of them)

• But Trump said on CNN, “She wanted to pump in front of me. She wanted to breast pump in front of me.” In an interview with NYT, Beck called Trump’s assertion “just a lie.” She recalled pumping breast milk throughout the week of depositions in 2011 and said she never once did it in front of either fellow lawyers or the people she was deposing in the case (why would she?)

• “I don’t think his opinion of me is important. I’m not the one running for president,” Beck said. “The question is, how does he behave in a situation that is contentious and uncomfortable? Can he act with grace under fire or does he have a meltdown?” (er can guess) “What other contraptions are out there that would make this man have a fit? I’d like to know.”

• In the CNN interview, Trump said he would round up the estimated 11-plus million illegal immigrants. “Politicians aren’t going to find them because they have no clue. We will find them, we will get them out.” He failed to say how he would find them and “get them out.” (Trump the Bounty Hunter?) The “wonderful people” could come back later, he said (another reality show!) (CNN, me)

Judge Threatens IRS Chief With Contempt (Hill, me)
• U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan, a Bill Clinton appointee, on Wednesday threatened to “haul into court” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, after the agency failed to follow through on an order to produce emails from Lois Lerner every week to Judicial Watch, an uber-conservative group which is suing the tax agency for the roughly 1,800 newly recovered emails to and from Lerner

• The DoJ lawyer representing the IRS, Geoffrey Klimas, told Sullivan that the IRS believed the judge’s order to give weekly reports to Judicial Watch was too time-consuming, and that they preferred a monthly delivery of docs. But the govt never formally asked Sullivan to reconsider, saying it was waiting on the judge to follow up his oral order with a written one

• “I think the govt’s position is clearly indefensible,” Sullivan retorted. “It’s ridiculous. It’s absurd.” “You’re in a very difficult position, but you’re walking out of court with your colleagues. That might not always be the case, OK?” Monday, a group of 21 Republicans called on President Obama to fire Koskinen, accusing him of misleading Congress about Lerner’s missing emails (#badweek)

• Judicial Watch has sued the IRS for all docs relating to the IRS’s scrutiny of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status – a case in which Lerner is the central figure. The IRS said last year it couldn’t find an untold number of Lerner’s emails because her hard drive crashed in 2011. A Treasury IG investigation recently uncovered hundreds of emails

• Former Gov James Gilmore (R-Va) jumped into the race for president Wednesday, becoming the 17th GOPer in the mix. He’s stressed his national security credentials. Sen Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) held a video simulcast Wednesday night for what his campaign said was 105,000 backers, calling on supporters to spark a “political revolution” for his candidacy (NYT) (AP)



Bill to Combat Seafood Fraud Introduced

• Wednesday, Reps Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) and Stephen Lynch (D-MA) introduced the Protecting Honest Fishermen Act HR.3282, which will insure that out of country seafood suppliers have to produce the same info to accompany the seafood as U.S. suppliers – cut down on seafood fraud and illegal fishing

• “Every day American fishermen are out on the water complying with an abundance of federal regulations,” said Farenthold in a statement. “While international fishermen simply pull into American ports and offload their catches without following the same rules.”

• “The fishing industry shapes the economic and cultural history of Massachusetts coastal communities,” said Lynch in a statement. ” Seafood fraud puts the health of consumers and the livelihood of fishermen at risk.” The U.S. currently imports more than 90% of its seafood

•  International ocean advocacy group Oceana supports the bill. It said that the legislation would ensure that guidelines created by the Presidential Task Force on Combating Illegal Unreported and Unregulated Fishing and Seafood Fraud expand to all seafood species and include full-chain traceability and consumer labeling

• Between 2010 and 2015, Oceana conducted seafood fraud investigations of fish, shrimp and crab cakes in retail markets and restaurants in the U.S. On average, one third of the seafood examined in these studies was mislabeled – the product listed on the label was different than what the buyer thought they purchased, often less desirable or lower-priced species

• Rep Chaka Fattah (D-Pa) was charged Wednesday, with four others, in a 29-count indictment with racketeering, conspiracy, money laundering, falsification of records, bribery and wire fraud etc etc surrounding his unsuccessful run for Philadelphia mayor in 2007, the DoJ announced – possible 100 years in prison. He stepped down from a top committee  role Wed (TRNS, Hill)

Planned Parenthood Fights Back (Politico, AP, AP, me)
• The Planned Parenthood clinic featured in an undercover sting video released Tuesday says it has proof that it repeatedly told a fake tissue procurement company that it wouldn’t profit from processing fetal tissue and organs – contrary to what the heavily edited video portrays

• Lawyers for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains insisted that the fake firm, Biomax, change its sample contract to stipulate that the clinic wouldn’t profit from the donation of fetal tissue, according to internal docs. Planned Parenthood Wed asked the govt’s top health scientists to convene a panel of independent experts to study issues surrounding fetal tissue for research

• After corresponding with Biomax in Jan, the clinic amended a few parts of the contract – which was shared with Politico, with track changes that Planned Parenthood said it made, most notably to the section that Biomax called “compensation.” The clinic’s CEO said Wed that its lawyers made the changes – couldn’t be independently verified

• The lawyers wrote that Biomax would cover only the cost of “transportation, processing, preservation and storage” of the samples. It spelled out in legal terms that nothing in the contract amounted to “generat[ing] a profit.” They also cited the federal laws that prohibit the sale of fetal tissue

• The Senate is expected to vote on Monday on whether to strip Planned Parenthood of federal funding. The LA Superior Court Tuesday issued a temporary restraining order preventing the Center for Medical Progress from releasing any video of three high ranking officials of a California company that provides fetal tissue to researchers until a hearing on 19 August

• Rep Mark Meadows’ (R-NC) measure to depose Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was a Very Bad Idea – consensus of GOPers Wednesday: “Dumbest idea I’ve seen here,” “Terrible,” “Makes no sense,” “Fool’s errand.” Boehner: “No big deal.” Sen Lindsey Graham (R-SC): Biggest beneficiary – “Hillary Clinton and the ayatollah” (ouch ouch lol) (Hill, Hill, TRNS, me)
World Mourns Cecil; 5 Elephants Slaughtered (WaPo, me)
• While the world mourned Cecil, the 13-year-old lion wounded with a crossbow and shot 40 hours later by an American “hunter” in Zimbabwe, a devastating poaching incident was carried out in Kenya as poachers killed five elephants in Tsavo West National Park Monday night – what appeared to be an adult female and her four offspring, their tusks hacked off

• The death of the five elephants has received almost no coverage, even though elephants are under a far greater threat from poachers than lions. Their tusks can be sold in Asia for more than $1,000 per pound – (medicine that doesn’t work). “It’s just devastating,” said Paul Gathitu, a spox for Kenya Wildlife Service. “It took us completely by surprise.”

• Rangers heard gunshots ring out Monday evening. They searched all night through the vast park and discovered the carnage the next morning. There was blood and loose skin where the tusks were cut off. Kenyan authorities say the poachers escaped on motorcycles, carrying their loot. Two suspects have been arrested

• Between 2010 and 2012, poachers killed more than 100,000 African elephants – a level of destruction that put the species on the road to extinction. Unlike many other animals, elephants mourn the death of their brethren, wrapping their trunks around the bones or carcasses of the deceased

• Meanwhile, in Zimbabwe, a hunting guide and farm owner appeared in court Wednesday on allegations they helped Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer kill Cecil the lion. Cecil was baited with food, which is considered unethical – (didn’t seem to bother Palmer much, who in 2006 shot a bear in Wisconsin outside an authorized zone then lied about it, according to court docs)

• Vid: UFOs over Osaka, Japan? 10 mysterious, round, white objects moving quickly in the sky, while following a dance-like pattern – hmmm

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Victoria Jones – Editor

TRNS’ William McDonald, Anna Merod and Sydnee Fried contributed to this report


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