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.

UN refugee agency: Syrian refugees cross 4 million mark – 1 in 5 Syrians has fled the civil war (AJE)

News Now

  • South Carolina votes: Remove Confederate flag
  • Tears, screams, white flag
  • RNC chair pleads with Trump: Immigration
  • Rough day for tech
  • Iran talks: “Never threaten an Iranian”
  • Greek debt crisis: Latest
  • Baltimore mayor fires police chief
  • Medicare: End-of-life counseling by doctors?

 

South Carolina Votes: Remove Confederate Flag (NYT, WaPo, HuffPo, AP, TRNS, me)
• The South Carolina House early today approved a bill removing the Confederate battle flag from the Capitol grounds, a stunning reversal in the state that was the first to leave the Union in 1860 and raised the flag again at its Statehouse more than 50 years ago to protest the civil rights movement
• The House approved the Senate bill by a two-thirds margin and it now goes to Gov Nikki Haley’s (R) desk. She supports the measure. “It’s a new day in South Carolina, a day we can all be proud of, a day that truly belongs to us all together as we continue to heal, as one people and one state,” Haley said in a statement. She should get the bill today
• Wednesday began with a speech from Rep Wendell Gilliard (D-Charleston), an African-American. He read the names of the nine victims of the 17 June massacre in Charleston, which set in motion the flag backlash. Gilliard said the families of the victims had “shocked the world” when they forgave suspect Dylann Roof who in pictures displayed the flag and espoused white supremacist views
Tears, Screams, White Flag

• Rep Jenny Horne (R) cried, reminding her colleagues she was a descendant of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. She scolded fellow members of her party for stalling the debate. “For the widow of Sen Pinckney and his two young daughters, that would be adding insult to injury and I will not be part of it,” she screamed into a microphone (vid)

• Much of the 13-hour debate was dominated by Rep Michael Pitts (R-Laurens), who had declared his intention to upend the bill. Pitts introduced a number of amendments. He spoke, sometimes for 20 minutes at a stretch, defending each amendment with meandering disquisitions spiked with jokes about his wife and his hearing aid. One amendment would have flown the American flag upside down
• Lawmakers defeated an amendment by Rep Christopher Corley (R), who suggested replacing the Confederate battle flag with a white flag of surrender. The white flag, Corley said, would be symbolic of Republicans’ apparent surrender on the issue. “I don’t have a picture, but it would look like this,” Corley said, waving a small white flag from the House podium (obscene)

• Rep Gilda Cobb-Hunter (D) suggested any delay would let Ku Klux Klan members planning a rally for 18 July have a chance to dance around the Confederate flag. “You don’t have to listen to me. But there are a whole lot of people outside this chamber watching,” she said

• The Washington Redskins lost a big legal and PR battle in the war over its name after a federal judge on Wednesday ordered the cancellation of the NFL team’s federal trademark registrations, which have been opposed for decades by many Native Americans who feel the name disparages their race. The team will appeal (WaPo, TRNS)

RNC Chair Pleads With Trump: Immigration (WaPo, WaPo, me)
• Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus, responding to demands from increasingly worried party leaders, spent 45 minutes Wednesday on the phone with Donald Trump, urging the presidential candidate to “tone it down” on immigration. The call underscores the extent to which Trump has become a cause for serious alarm among top Republicans
• Rather than backing down, Trump ramped up his comments about illegal immigrants – whom he’s described as rapists and killers and bringing in tremendous infectious disease – and predicted that, if he wins the GOP nomination, “I’ll win the Latino vote.”
• Priebus’s decision to reach out to Trump came after days of talks with Republican donors and officials about how best to manage Trump’s outsize presence on the airwaves. Many financiers at the RNC have been fuming at Trump’s ascent. Priebus has developed a friendship with Trump over recent years and reached out to him
• DC-based celebrity chef Jose Andres, originally from Spain, on Wednesday said he was backing out of a deal to open a flagship restaurant at Trump’s $200 million hotel because of Trump’s comments on immigration. Trump’s son threatens lawsuit…
Karl Rove Warns Against Trump
• “Trump “could become the 2016 version of Missouri Rep Todd Akin, who tarnished the GOP brand in 2012 with an offensive statement about rape,” strategist Karl Rove wrote in a column for today’s WSJ (yes, he could, and Democrats are jumping up and down)
• Trump is slated to campaign Saturday in Arizona and Nevada, states with heavily Latino populations, and plans to discuss immigration. Tuesday night, Spanish language Univision led its newscast with a version of a WaPo story on the large number of immigrants building the new Trump Hotel in downtown DC. The same topic was Telemundo’s second story
• They also covered a retweet on Trump’s Twitter feed that former Gov Jeb Bush (R-Fla) “has to like the Mexican illegals because of his wife,” Columba, who was born in Mexico. Trump subsequently deleted the tweet, but Wednesday said: “Do I regret it? No, I don’t regret it. If he loves his wife and she’s from Mexico, I think it probably has an influence on him.” (just odd)
• Campaigning in NH on Wednesday night, Bush laughed it off: “You can love the Mexican culture, you can love your Mexican American wife and also believe that you need to control the border.”
• The House Wednesday narrowly voted to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind law, resurrecting a bill that GOP leaders were forced to pull from the floor earlier this year due to conservative opposition. The vote was 218-213, with 27 Republicans joining all Democrats in opposition (Hill)
Rough Day For Tech (AP, AP, Time, Bloomberg, TRNS, me)
• It was a rough day for tech: The nation’s biggest airline, its oldest stock exchange, and its most prominent business newspaper all suffered technology problems that upended service for parts of the day. And to make things creepy, hacker group Anonymous tweeted late Tuesday: “Wonder if tomorrow is going to be bad for Wall Street…We can only hope.”
• First, a “router issue” at United suspended all of the company’s flights for nearly two hours, leading to 800 flights delays and 60 cancellations. Then at 11.32 a “configuration issue” at the NY Stock Exchange halted trading. In the midst of that, WSJ’s website, wsj.com, had “technical difficulties’ that sent readers to a temporary site while the paper worked to fix it
• For United, it was the second major technical issue in two months. On 2 June, the airline had to halt all takeoffs in the U.S. because of what it described as computer automation issues. It took the NYSE until 3.10 pm – just over three and a half hours – to resume trading
• WH spox Josh Earnest said President Obama was briefed by WH counterterrorism and homeland security adviser Lisa Monaco and chief of staff Denis McDonough. “There is no indication at this point that there is malicious activity involved,” Earnest said
• FBI director James Comey, testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the agency had been in touch with all three organizations. “We do not see any indication of a cyber breach or a cyber attack,” Comey said. Bloomberg reports today that the NYSE shutdown was likely caused by a software update (we’re too vulnerable)
• Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) said Wednesday that his chamber could begin work on an extension of the Highway Trust Fun as early as next week, but he gave no indication of how long the extension would last or how it would be funded. Mystified Democrats scratched their heads. The trust fund expires 31 July (WaPo)
Iran Talks: “Never Threaten an Iranian” (Reuters, Daily Star, me)

• Iran has offered “constructive solutions” to resolve disputes in nuclear talks with six world powers, Iranian media reported Wednesday, but “I haven’t seen anything new from Iran,” a Western diplomat close to the talks said. Another Western official echoed the remarks. A source from the six powers said Tuesday they had to wrap up the talks in the next 48 hours

• There was a stormy exchange Monday evening as foreign ministers from the six world powers and Iran met, when Iranian FM Javad Zarif warned EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini: “Never threaten an Iranian.” They were discussing the arms embargo, when ministers expressed concern about Iran being a destabilizing influence in the Middle East, Iranian media reported

• This prompted Zarif to threaten to drag the others before an international court for supporting former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, an arch enemy of Iran. Diplomats have stopped short of confirming the comments, but one senior Western envoy said the meeting saw a “very heated exchange of views.” #NeverThreatenanIranian has since trended on Twitter

• The biggest sticking points in the talks include issues such as a UN arms embargo, UN missile sanctions, the speed of sanctions relief and research and development on advanced nuclear centrifuges. Meanwhile, air-conditioning in the luxury hotel is struggling to cope with outside temps of 104 degrees, and some negotiators are struggling to keep their cool, officials say
• During a meeting between SecState John Kerry and Zarif Monday night, hotel residents heard shouting and raised voices, prompting a Kerry aide to poke his head round the door and advise the two to pipe down, a diplomatic source said. Separately, Sen Dick Durbin (D-Ill) said Wednesday that President Obama said Tuesday the odds of a deal are “less than 50/50”
• President Obama and his national security team held a video conference with the American negotiating team in Vienna on Wednesday, the WH said. “The president reviewed the progress of negotiations to date, and provided guidance related to our ongoing efforts to achieve a good deal…that meets our requirements”
Greek Debt Crisis: Latest (BBC, me)
• The Greek govt has extended bank closures and a $66 daily limit on ATM withdrawals until Monday. The European Central Bank has decided not to increase support for Greek banks until the debt crisis is resolved. There are fears that Greek banks may be running out of cash (race against time now)
• Greek PM Alexis Tsipras says he will submit “credible” reform plans today – ahead of a Sunday deadline by the EU to find a solution. An emergency summit will involve all 28 members – not just the 19 eurozone countries. Tsipras said the next hours “will be crucial.”
• European Council President Donald Tusk warned that this was now the “most critical moment in the history of the eurozone.” Greece is desperate for a third bailout to avoid bankruptcy and possibly crashing out of the euro currency. Greece’s last bailout program expired on 30 June and it missed an IMF payment
• Tsipras, speaking during a fractious debate on the Greek debt crisis in the European Parliament Wednesday, criticized attempts to “terrorize” Greeks into voting for “never-ending austerity” and criticized previous bailouts for turning Greece into an “austerity laboratory.” (bet that went down well)
• Greece creditors – the European Commission, European Central Bank and the IMF – have already provided more than 200 billion euros in two bailouts since a rescue plan began five years ago. Sources say Athens is requesting a fresh three-year loan in exchange for reforms
• The Obama admin issued contentious new housing regulations Wednesday that are intended to diversify America’s wealthier neighborhoods and gentrify poorer neighborhoods. HUD’s long-awaited rule aims to end decades of deep-rooted segregation across the country (TRNS)
Baltimore Mayor Fires Police Chief (Reuters, NYT, Guardian)
• Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts was fired on Wednesday following criticism of his handling of rioting over the death of a black man from an injury in police custody. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake also cited a recent “crime surge” within the city as a main reason
• “As we have seen in recent weeks, many continue to die. Families are tired of feeling the pain, and so am I,” she told a City Hall presser. Batts’ firing came after three people were shot Tuesday night and another was killed Wednesday, violence cited by the mayor at her news conference. Batts will be replaced on an interim basis by Deputy Commissioner Kevin Davis
• Freddie Gray died after suffering an injury while being transported in a police van, heightening a national debate on police treatment of minorities. Six officers have been charged in his death. Batts and other police commanders told officers to “hold the line” with rioters rather than confront people causing damage or threatening police
• Officials have said his orders were aimed at protecting officers and bystanders. About 160 officers were hurt in the rioting, almost 400 buildings were destroyed or damaged and the National Guard was sent in. Batts came in for heavy criticism for not being better prepared for the rioting, even though his response was seen as an improvement over Ferguson police
• A report by Baltimore’s police union released Wednesday criticized the police response. The union said its members reported they “lacked basic riot equipment, training and, as events unfolded, direction from leadership.” “The passive response to the civil unrest had allowed the disorder to grow into full-scale-rioting.”
• Promoting Awareness Victim Empowerment, a national sexual assault prevention group, is calling on President Obama to revoke bill Cosby’s Presidential Medal of Freedom, following the release of court docs in which the actor admitted obtaining quaaludes to give to women he intended to have sex with. It may not be so easy (HuffPo)

 

Medicare: End-Of-Life Counseling by Doctors? (NYT, AP, me)
• Medicare said Wednesday it plans to pay doctors to counsel patients about end-of-life care, an idea that Sarah Palin claimed would lead to “death panels” cutting off care to the sick – and fanned craziness about President Obama’s health care law six years ago (it’s about time)
• The policy change will be effective 1 Jan. It suggests that what many doctors regard as a common-sense option (because it is) is no longer seen by the Obama admin as politically toxic. Counseling would be entirely voluntary for patients. Some doctors already have such conversations with patients without billing extra (called being a good doctor)
• Medicare is using a relatively new term for end-of-life counseling: advance care planning. That’s meant to reflect expert advice that people should make their wishes known about end-of-life care at different stages of their lives, as early as when they get a driver’s license

• Nothing in the discussions approved by Medicare will be focused on cost, but many experts believe if patients truly understood their alternatives, and doctors listened to them, bills would inherently go down

• It’s been found! The long-missing portion of the greatest cream pie-throwing fight ever recorded. “The Battle of the Century,” a 1927 Laurel and Hardy short film that dispensed with 3,000 pies, thrown with slow-burn precision, heightening the comedic effect. It’s been missing for several decades. Nothing but pies pies pies pies pies pies pies  (NYT)

Get it first, fast. Sign up here for TRNS News Notes

___________________

Victoria Jones – Editor

TRNS’ William McDonald, Patrice Harris and Anna Merod contributed to this report

The Talk Radio News Service is the only information, news booking and host service dedicated to serving the talk radio community. TRNS maintains a Washington office that includes White House, Capitol Hill and Pentagon staffed bureaus, and a New York office with a United Nations staffed bureau. Talk Radio News Service has permanent access to every breaking newsevent in the Washington, D.C. area and beyond.

Copyright © 2015 The Talk Radio News Service, All rights reserved.