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.

I will be on vacation next week. TRNS staff will hold down the fort until I return on Monday 31 August
 
 
News Now
  • Life is short. Now you’re busted
  • Letter: Obama tells Congress US will press Iran
  • IAEA inspections squabble
  • Dozens of Clinton emails classified from start?
  • Greece crisis: Syriza rebels split
  • Republicans juggle “anchor babies”
  • Poll: The Biden factor – a player
  • Carter says cancer on his brain
  • Koreas exchange fire
  • Hamas arrests “Israeli spy” dolphin
 
Life Is Short. Now You’re Busted (AP, Hill, Hill, Hill, Engadget, me)
• Who in the govt used Ashley Madison? At least two assistant U.S. attorneys; an IT administrator in the Executive Office of the President; a division chief, an investigator and a trial attorney in the DoJ; a govt hacker at DHS and another DHS employee who indicated he worked on a U.S. counterterrorism response team, AP found (thousands others going “phew”)
 
• Few actually paid for their services with their govt email accounts. But AP tracked people down anyway. They included workers at more than two dozen Obama admin agencies, including the depts of State, Defense, Justice, Energy, Treasury, Transportation and Homeland Security. Others came from House or Senate computer networks. Also NYPD
 
• AP isn’t naming the govt subscribers because they aren’t elected officials or accused of a crime. Many federal customers appeared to use non-govt email addresses with handles such as “sexlessmarriage,” (really?) “soontobesingle” (liar) or “latinlovers.” (pleeze)  A new, massive trove of data was dumped Thursday, including internal Avid Life emails, Ashley Madison’s parent company

 

• Calling himself “the biggest hypocrite ever,” ex-reality star and child molester Josh Duggar has apologized for a “secret addiction” to pornography and for cheating on his wife – no details given (no surprise). His name appeared in the Ashley Madison data dump. Apparently, he claimed to like one night stands and experimenting with sex toys, among other things (me, AP)
 
• Asked about the threat of blackmail, a DoJ investigator told AP that if prompted he would reveal his actions to his family and employer to prevent it. “I’ve worked too hard all my life to be a victim of blackmail.” There are concerns that China would like to add the info to its growing database on federal employees. Other cyber foes are also having a field day. Also journos…
 
• The AP found hundreds of transactions (there are more like thousands) associated with DoD, either at the Pentagon or from armed services connections elsewhere. SecDef Ash Carter said it was an issue “because conduct is very important.” – adultery is a criminal offense – “The services are looking into it as well they should be. Absolutely.”
 
• Federal policies vary by agency as to whether employees would be permitted during work hours to use sites like Ashley Madison, which could be under the category of dating sites. But it raises questions about what sites are OK to visit for govt workers to visit on taxpayer time, especially employees who could face blackmail (can get a bit murky and puritanical and backlashy)

 

• Jason Dore, exec director of the Louisiana GOP, spent $176 on Ashley Madison, but says he used the account strictly for “opposition research” and it “ended up being a waste of money and time” (sure. he’s now sleeping on the greasy sofa in the garage) (me, Politico)    How to search the Ashley Madison leak (WaPo)

 

In Letter, Obama Tells Congress U.S. Will Press Iran (NYT, me)
• President Obama wrote in a 19 August letter to Rep Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), but also aimed at other Democrats concerned about the Iran nuclear deal, that the U.S. would unilaterally maintain economic pressure and deploy military options if needed to deter Iranian aggression – letter obtained by NYT
 
• WH officials say the letter represents the first time the president has made the promises stated in the letter under his name and in writing. It commits explicitly to establishing an office within State to carry out the nuclear accord. Obama has repeatedly said that the deal cannot be changed
 
• Rep Adam Schiff (D-Calif), ranking member of the Intelligence Committee, said that the letter expanded assurances that sanctions lifted under the deal could be reimposed piece by piece, not all at once, to keep Iran in compliance

• Obama’s pledge to use the multinational commission policing the accord to block Iranian procurement of nuclear-related technology is new, as is the president’s explicit pledge “to enhance the already intensive joint efforts” of the U.S. and Israel in the region, said Schiff, a supporter of the deal

 

Missile Funding for Israel
• Obama pledged to increase missile defense funding for Israel, accelerate co-development of missile defense systems, and boost tunnel detection and mapping technologies (Obama’s putting the hammer down, now)
 
• He also vowed to increase cooperation with Israel and Persian Gulf allies to counter Iran’s efforts to destabilize Yemen, its support for Hezbollah in Lebanon, and its efforts to preserve the govt of President Assad in Syria
 
• The letter comes as supporters of the deal close in on the number of lawmakers they need to sustain a presidential veto of GOP-led efforts to block it. The announcements of support by moderate Democrats such as Claire McCaskill (Mo) and Joe Donnelly (Ind) have changed the dynamic of the debate
 
• “I’ve said from Day 1 it’s a heavy lift, and the admin has been effective with Democrats in saying it’s this deal or no deal,” said Sen Bob Corker (R-Tenn), chair of the Foreign Relations Committee. So far, only two Democrats – Chuck Schumer (NY) and Bob Menendez (NJ) have declared opposition

 

IAEA Inspections Squabble (NYT, Reuters, TRNS, me)
• Republicans pounced this week on an AP report that confirmed a deal between the International Atomic Energy Agency and Iran that would let Iran conduct portions of the inspections themselves at the disputed military site of Parchin, where the IAEA suspects some nuclear weapons-related experiments may have been conducted years ago
 
• But that issue involved a longstanding effort by the IAEA to complete a report on past Iranian efforts to develop a nuclear weapon, an important part of the international effort to pressure Iran. It has little to do with verification of the nuclear accord between Iran and six world powers. That verification doesn’t rely on Iran’s self-monitoring
 
• The head of the IAEA, Yukiya Amano,said in a statement Thursday that the reports were “misleading.” “I am disturbed by statements suggesting that the IAEA has given responsibility for nuclear inspections to Iran. Such statements misrepresent the way in which we will undertake this important verification work.” But he gave no details – cited confidentiality
 
• Thursday, AP published a transcript of the original draft agreement – which appears to have gone from its site. (this issue isn’t about possible current nuclear-related experiments by Iran. it’s about old stuff. don’t get confused. this is stuff from 12 years ago. this is a shiny object)
 
• A set of polls conducted for gay rights advocacy group the Human Rights Campaign found incumbents would imperil their re-election chances if they oppose the Equality Act, a bill that bans discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals (Roll Call)
 
Dozens of Clinton Emails Classified From Start? (Reuters, me)
• A Reuters examination of the Clinton emails now stamped “classified” and the relevant regulations has found that some of the emails from her time as SecState are filled with a type of info that the govt and the dept’s own regs automatically deems classified from the get-go – regardless of whether it’s already marked that way or not
 
• In the small fraction made public so far, Reuters has found at least 30 email threads – lots of emails – from 2009 that include what State’s own “classified” stamps now identify as so-called ‘foreign govt info.’ The govt identifies this as any info, written or spoken, provided in confidence to U.S. officials by their foreign counterparts
 
• That kind of info, which the dept says Clinton both sent and received in her emails, is the only kind that must be “presumed” classified, in part to protect national security and the integrity of diplomatic interactions, according to U.S. regs examined by Reuters (so for the first time a report about Clinton sending classified emails)
 
• Although it appears to be true for Clinton to say none of her emails included classification markings, a point she and her staff have emphasized, the govt’s standard nondisclosure agreement warns people authorized to handle classified info that it may not be marked that way and that it may come in oral form. State disputed – but declined to say how
 
• Within the 30 threads, Clinton herself sent at least 17 emails that contained this sort of info on an unsecured network. The info appears to include privately shared comments by a PM, several FMs and a foreign spy chief, unredacted bits of the emails show, including info about Afghanistan that Britain’s FM, David Miliband, said was for her eyes only

 

• At a hearing for a FOIA lawsuit against State Dept regarding Clinton’s emails, the judge said that “we wouldn’t be here today if the employee
[Hillary Clinton] had followed govt policy.” He also opened the door for the FBI to expand its inquiry to pursue emails that she may have deleted (NYT, Politico, me)

 

Greece Crisis: Syriza Rebels Split (BBC, me)
• Rebels from Greece’s main party, left-wing Syriza, are to break away and form a new party, Greek media say today. PM and Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras stood down Thursday, paving the way for new elections. The move came after he lost the support of many of his own MPs in a vote on the country’s new European bailout earlier this month
 
• Greek media reports say 25 rebel MPs will join the new party, called Leiki Anotita, Popular Unity (not very popular, apparently). The party will be led by former energy minister Panagiotis Lafazanis, who was strongly opposed to the bailout deal.He had said he was determined to “smash the eurozone dictatorship.”
 
• In exchange for a new $95 billion from European partners, Tsipras had to agree to painful state sector cuts, including far-reaching pension reforms – and keeping Greece in the eurozone. Close to a third of Syriza’s MPs abstained or voted against the terms of the new deal last week
 
• This morning, the head of conservative New Democracy party, Vangelis Meimarakis, met with Greece’s president and he will now be given three days to form a govt. Observers say he doesn’t have enough support and elections will be called, likely for 20 September
 
• If Meimarakis fails to form a govt, the chance will be given to the new party, analysts say, and then to the far9rhgt Golden Dawn part. They, too, are unlikely to gain enough allies to establish a govt
 
• Trump said Thursday – zero evidence – “You know, a lot of the gangs that you see – this hopefully doesn’t pertain to you guys so much – when you look at Baltimore, when you look at Chicago, and Ferguson a lot of these areas. You know, a lot of these gang members are illegal immigrants.” (really? does he mean protesters in Ferguson – black Americans?) (me, Buzzfeed)
 
Republicans Juggle “Anchor Babies” (WaPo, TPM, TPM, Politico, CNBC, me)
• Sen Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said Thursday he would “absolutely” support ending birthright citizenship “to the children of those who are here illegally.” He described it on the Michael Medved Show as “a view I have long held,” and his “position from the very first day of my running for the Senate.”
 
• But in 2010 Cruz called it a “mistake” on the Duke Machado Show and also said, “As much as someone may dislike the policy of birthright citizenship, it’s in the U.S. Constitution. And I don’t like it when federal judges set aside the Constitution because the policy preferences are different.”
 
• Like lemmings, GOP 2016ers waddle after whatever topic Donald Trump brings up. Tuesday, Trump told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly: “They move over here for a couple of days, they have the baby. It’s not going to hold up in court, it’s going to have to be tested. … We have to start a process where we take our country back. Our country is going to hell.” (no it’s not – it might…)
 
• Asked Thursday by a reporter whether the term “anchor baby” was “bombastic,” former Gov Jeb Bush (R-Fla), who had used the words Wednesday on a radio show, said, “No, it isn’t. Give me another word.” He said that he didn’t use it as his own language and demanded a better term. Hillary Clinton’s campaign tweeted: “How about ‘babies,’ ‘children,’ or American citizens.'”
 
• Sen Marco Rubio (R-Fla) declined to use the term “anchor babies in a CNBC interview Thursday. “Anchor babies – people are talking about anchor babies,” reporter John Harwood said. “Well, these are 13 million -those are human beings. And ultimately, they are people. They are not just statistics,” Rubio replied

 

• Trump #fail: Two Boston brothers allegedly beat up a homeless man with a metal pole. Trump: “It would be a shame, but I haven’t heard about that. I will say that people who are following me are very passionate. They love this country and they want this country to be great again. They are passionate.” (actually praises “passion” of his cult groupies) (me, Boston Globe)

 

Poll: The Biden Factor – a Player (Bloomberg Politics, me)
• The new Qunnipiac University swing state poll of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania still has Hillary Clinton the top choice by far for Democratic voters. But her unfavorability ratings were between 54 and 55% – below 50% for the first time – in all three states. Unfavorables for VP Joe Bicen were between 42 and 43% – he hasn’t said whether he’ll run yet
 
• In a contest against Republican front-runner Donald Trump, Clinton narrowly wins Ohio and Pennsylvania by 5 percentage points each and is behind by 2 percentage points in Florida. Biden bests Trump by 3 percentage points in Florida, 10 in Ohio and 8 in Pennsylvania
 
• Against Jeb Bush -biggest war chest – Clinton trails by 11 percentage points in Florida and 3 in Pennsylvania; she leads Trump by 2 percentage points in Ohio. Biden trails Bush by 13 percentage points in Florida and 1 in Pennsylvania; Biden leads Bush by 3 in Ohio. Marco Rubio performed stronger that Bush and Trump against Clinton in all three states (I’ve said…)
 
• If Bush were the Republican nominee and Trump ran as a third-party candidate, Clinton would have a significant lead in Ohio and Pennsylvania and might beat Bush in his home state. The survey didn’t ask the same question with Biden in the mix
 
• More than half of voters in all three states said Biden and Bush are trustworthy, while 40% or fewer said the same about Trump. Clinton fared even worse, with 60% of voters or more in each of the three states saying she isn’t honest or trustworthy (Hillary Clinton will not win a general election – there. i’ve said it. thought it for months)

 

• Vid: <3 mmmm Carly Fiorina had her some looove for Hillary Clinton back in 2008, when she talked about her “great admiration” for Hillary Clinton, and said she was a “great candidate.” “She has helped millions of women all over this country.” Hmmm, Hillary must have really worked as screwing up since then, then. So sad when girls break up (me, Buzzfeed)
 
Carter Says Cancer on His Brain (NYT, AP, Hill, TRNS, me)
• Former President Jimmy Carter said Thursday that he had four melanoma spots on his brain and that another cancerous mass has been removed from his liver during a procedure on 3 August. He said he would begin radiation treatments later in the day
 
• Carter, 90, had announced last week that he had cancer, but Thursday’s appearance was the first time that he publicly detailed his condition. “I’m perfectly at ease with whatever comes,” Carter said. “I do have a deep religious faith, which I’m very grateful for.”
 
• Carter acknowledged, however, immediate feelings that he “had just a few weeks left” when he first learned of the cancer on his brain. He was at turns clinical, humorous and homespun, hewing closely to his public identity: an accessible statesman with both a deep command of details and an untroubled grace
 
• He said he had so far faced minimal discomfort and that his cancer hadn’t spread to his pancreas, a point of particular concern because Carter’s father and three siblings all died of pancreatic malignancies. Carter said he’d received calls from President Obama, VP Biden, the Clintons and President George H.W. Bush. Also SecState Kerry – first time in a long time – audience laughed
 
• Carter announced that he would curtail his schedule and work at the Carter Center, but he said he still hopes to travel to Nepal in November to work with Habitat for Humanity. He added that he still intended to teach Sunday school this weekend at Maranatha Baptist Church, the congregation in Plains Ga where he’s long appeared

 

• Democratic 2016 candidate Martin O’Malley will announce today his goal to increase the number of Americans with adequate retirement savings by 50% within two terms in the WH. He’ll call for expanding Social Security benefits for “current and future” retirees and reject calls to raise the retirement age. Currently polling at blip%, but the policy is intriguing (me, Politico)
 
Koreas Exchange Fire (Buzzfeed, BBC, AFP, TRNS, me)
• North Korea’s 32-year-old leader Kim Jong-un has ordered his troops to “enter a wartime state” and have full combat readiness as tensions with rival South Korea escalated one day after shell fire was exchanged across the world’s most heavily fortified border. Military equipment was also reportedly moving toward the border with South Korea
 
• Tensions started escalating after the North fired a rocket into a western border town Thursday afternoon, possibly taking aim at a loudspeaker blasting anti-North Korea propaganda. The attack prompted South Korean troops to counter with artillery fire of their own, the South’s defense ministry said
 
• After more than a decade of silence on the loudspeakers, South Korea started airing the messages on 1 August after a mine blast left two South Korea soldiers severely injured in a landmine explosion in a DMZ that was blamed on the North. Some reports say the quality of the loudspeakers is so bad it’s difficult to understand what they’re saying
 
• After the shelling on Thursday, North Korea issued a threat to take military action against South Korea if the country doesn’t stop airing its propaganda messages on loudspeakers that cross the border, saying it would carry out “indiscriminate strikes” on South Korea. South Korea dismissed the threat and said they would continue airing the messages
 
• The U.S. and UN have said they’re monitoring the situation on the Korean peninsula closely. Today, the U.S. and South Korea raised the warning level on their joint alert watch system, called WATCHCON
 
• Vid: Into U.S. news and talk? Watch. This. Show. Patrick Stewart in Blunt Talk on Starz, premiering Saturday 22 August at 9 pm ET (warning: very rude stuff in trailer)

 

Hamas Arrests “Israeli Spy” Dolphin (Daily Beast, BBC, me)
• As alleged Israeli spy for Mossad was arrested diving through the waves off the coast of the Gaza Strip a few days ago, Al-Quds newspaper says. A dolphin. Naval commandos reportedly found the animal outfitted with a camera and an underwater monitoring device capable of firing small arrows (?) (how did Agent Flipper fire them? At whom? Palestinian seagull agents?)
 
• The fiendish Israelis have apparently been at it for years. In 2007, Iranian authorities arrested 14 rogue squirrels near the border which were allegedly outfitted with eavesdropping gear by Israel. The next year, two undercover pigeons were detained near an Iranian nuclear enrichment facility
 
• In 2010, an Egyptian marine biologist rumored that Mossad had sent over GPS-enabled sharks to carry out a series of shark attacks that killed one tourist and injured others. “Why would these sharks travel 4,000 km and not have any accidents until they entered Sinai waters?” he asked on Egyptian TV. A few days later, Egypt jailed a stork for spying (on babies?)
 
• In 2012, officials in Sudan found a vulture outfitted with a GPS and satellite broadcast equipment. Its leg tag IDd it as being part of the Hebrew University Program. Jerusalem’s parks authority said it was among 100 vultures being studied and it wasn’t spying. “What would be the benefit of watching a vulture eat the insides of a dead camel?” asked an Israeli ecologist (you do it for a living, don’t you)
 
• A year earlier, a vulture with a similar research project had been arrested for being part of a so-called Zionist plot in Saudi Arabia. The Tel-Aviv University tagged beast was handed over to security forces for its reckoning, and its fate remains unclear… (oh I think we know – “harsh interrogation” by notorious Saudi-trained hawks with sharpened beaks and wicked wings…)
 
• Rocking into the weekend with “Dancing Days” – Led Zeppelin – recorded at Mick Jagger’s mansion Stargroves. A classic summer song. When they were done recording, they were so psyched, they went out on the lawn and danced to it

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___________________
Victoria Jones – Editor
TRNS’ Nicholas Salazar, Sydnee Fried and Washington Desk contributed to this report
 

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