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
  • Obama admin preps China sanctions
  • Obama to Alaska: Urgent climate push
  • Houston officer shooting: Suspect to court
  • Iran deal’s Capitol Hill foes: Plan B
  • Bush: Fundraisers’ loss / Dems agonize
  • Iowa polls: Strengths and dangers
  • Calif death penalty: 8th Amendment challenge
  • VMAs: Nipple! Rant! Breakdown! Throwing shade!

 

Scribbles

  • Fed: Hold the line on interest?
  • Katrina 10 years: Gulf remembers
  • Immigrants as Fedexes? US-Canada wall?
  • #TrumpBible
 
Obama Admin Preps China Sanctions (WaPo, me)
• The Obama admin is developing a package of unprecedented economic sanctions against Chinese companies and individuals who have benefited from their govt’s cybertheft of valuable U.S. trade secrets. No decision yet, but a final call is expected soon – perhaps within two weeks, according to several anonymous admin officials (about time, too – horses, barn doors)
 
• Issuing sanctions would represent a significant expansion in the admin’s public response to the rising wave of cyber-economic espionage by Chinese hackers, who officials say have stolen everything from nuclear power plant designs to search engine source code to confidential negotiating positions of energy companies
 
• It’s a sensitive moment. President Xi Jinping of China is due to arrive next month in DC for his first state visit – complete with a 21-gun salute on the South Lawn of the WH and an elaborate State Dinner (bet they’ve stolen the menu). There’s tension over other issues, including China’s efforts to devalue its currency – recent stock market plunge

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• U.S. officials are frustrated over the persistent cyber plundering. The sanctions would mark the first use of an order signed by President Obama in April establishing the authority to freeze financial and property assets of, and bar commercial transactions with, individuals and entities overseas who engage in destructive attacks or commercial espionage in cyberspace
 
• Just last month, the FBI said that economic espionage cases surged 53% in the past year and that China accounted for most of that. The best strategy to impose costs, officials said, is to use a variety of tools – indictments, sanctions, maybe even covert cyber actions
 
• It’s possible that entities or individuals from other countries besides China could be included in the sanctions package. The sanctions wouldn’t be imposed for China’s hacks of the Office of Personnel Management databases, which compromised personal and financial data of more than 22 million people – considered traditional intelligence purposes, not to benefit industry
 
• Nonetheless, the severity of the OPM incidents helped convince wavering officials that firm action in the economic spying realm was warranted. The U.S. govt is considering covert cyber action. The admin plans to raise the issue of China’s behavior in cyberspace at the Obama-Xi summit – as it’s done at every major bilateral meeting (and got nowhere apparently)
 
• ISIS fighters have severely damaged the nearly 2,000-year-old Temple of Baal in the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria, according to activists. The beautiful and culturally significant temple was a source of pride to Syrians and stood not far from where the Temple of Baalshamin was also destroyed (ISIS are barbaric beasts) (NYT, me)

Obama to Alaska: Urgent Climate Change Push (AP, NYT, NYT, me)

• With melting glaciers and rising seas as his backdrop, President Obama visits Alaska this week to press for urgent global action to combat climate change, even as he carefully calibrates his message in a state heavily dependent on oil. Obama has been investing time on an unfinished global climate treaty that nations hope to finalize in December
 
• Obama will become the first sitting president to visit the Alaska Arctic when he travels to Kotzebue – pop. 3,153 – just north of the Arctic Circle at the end of his 3-day trip. He’ll kick off the visit today with a meeting with Alaska Natives before giving a speech to a State Dept-hosted conference on climate change and the Arctic (he has a hike Tuesday!)
 
• The unambiguous goal of the president’s trip is to use dramatic and alarming changes to Alaska’s climate to instill fresh urgency into his global warming agenda. Sea ice is melting, critical permafrost is thawing and Alaska’s cherished glaciers are liquefying. “This is all real,” Obama said in his weekly address Saturday
 
• However, a few weeks ago, his admin gave Royal Dutch Shell a final permit to drill into oil-bearing rock off Alaska’s northwest coast for the first time in more than two decades. For many Alaskans, the issue comes down to dollars and cents. Both the state govt and its residents rely deeply on oil revenues to stay afloat (falling oil prices have hurt)
 
• Sunday, the WH announced that Obama was expanding govt support for programs to allow Alaska Natives to be more involved in developing their own natural resources. The programs include a youth exchange council focusing on promoting “an Arctic way of life,” and an initiative to include Alaskans in the management of Chinook salmon fisheries, among other things
 
• President Obama announced on Sunday that Mount McKinley was being renamed Denali, meaning “the high one” or “the great one,” an old Alaska Native name with deep cultural significance. The peak plays a role in a creation story of the Koyukon Athabascans, a group that has lived in Alaska for thousands of years. The mountain is the tallest in North America (NYT)

 

Houston Officer Shooting: Suspect to Court (AP, NYT, Houston Chronicle, NBC News, me)
• The man charged with capital murder in the fatal shooting of Darren Goforth, a uniformed Houston sheriff’s deputy, will be arraigned this week. Shannon Miles, who has an extensive criminal history that includes convictions for resisting arrest and disorderly conduct with a firearm, is due in court today
 
• Goforth, 47, was pumping gas at a Chevron station Friday night in Cypress, a middle-class suburban area of Harris County, northwest of Houston, when the gunman approached from behind and fired multiple shots, continuing to fire after the deputy had fallen to the ground. Goforth was white and Miles is black
 
• Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman said the attack was “clearly unprovoked” and there’s no evidence so far that Goforth knew Miles. So far no info from Miles regarding motive, Hickman said. “Our assumption is that he was a target because he wore a uniform,” the sheriff said. Miles’s mother has told a local NBC TV station that he was with her at the time
 
• “At any point when the rhetoric ramps up to the point where calculated, coldblooded assassinations of police officers happen, this rhetoric has gotten out of control. We’ve heard ‘black lives matter.’ All lives matter. Well, cops’ lives matter, too. So why don’t we just drop the qualifier and just say ‘lives matter,’ and take that to the bank,” Hickman said (evidence yet?)
 
• Deray McKesson, a leader in the Black Lives Matter movement, told the Houston Chronicle “It is unfortunate that Sheriff Hickman has chosen to politicize this tragedy and to attribute the officer’s death to a movement that seeks to end violence.” Black Lives Matter was formed after the shooting death of black teen Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson Mo

 

• Oliver Sacks, a neurologist and the author of best-selling books that explored the links between the brain and human experience, often through cases of unusual conditions, died Sunday of cancer at the age of 82. His books included “Awakenings,” which became the basis for a 1990 movie (WSJ)
 
Iran Deal’s Capitol Hill Foes: Plan B (WSJ, WaPo, me)
• As their chances dim to block the Iranian nuclear deal, Capitol Hill opponents are devising a Plan B to ratchet up pressure on Iran and push a rash of new legislation for the fall to increase sanctions on Tehran for its role in supporting terrorist organizations and militant groups, which could cause Iran to back out of the deal
 
• These politicians also are devising new ways to target the finances of Tehran’s elite military unit, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Sens Mark Kirk (R-Ill) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) want to extend the Iran Sanctions Act for an additional decade
 
• The fresh sanctions push has the potential to put the WH and leading Democrats, such as presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton, in a quandary. Those supporters of the deal could later face a tough decision over whether to back increased sanctions against Iran. Meanwhile, Sen Jeff Merkley (D-Ore) has become the 31st Democratic senator to endorse the deal
 
• There’s growing concern in the WH that any steps viewed as imposing new sanctions could be seized on by the Iranian govt to charge the U.S. with violating the nuclear deal. Already, Iranian officials have argued Congress is seeking simply to reimpose these financial restrictions under the guise of fighting terrorism and human rights abuses
 
• Separately, Democratic National Committee chair Rep Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla) prevented consideration of a resolution at the party’s summer meeting in Minneapolis that praised President Obama and offered backing for the deal, according to knowledgeable sources. Wasserman Schultz, who represents a heavily Jewish district, hasn’t taken a position on the deal…
 
• A letter out today from 75 former members of Congress, including four Republicans – former Sen Richard Lugar (R-Ind) among them – warns that the risks of scuttling the Iran agreement “include the increased likelihood of a military confrontation.” “We agree that no deal is better than a bad deal. But we also agree that a good deal is better than no deal.” (Politico)
 
Bush: Fundraisers’ Loss / Democrats Agonize  (Politico, WaPo, me)
• Three top Jeb Bush fundraisers abruptly left his presidential campaign on Friday, amid internal personality conflicts and questions about the strength of his candidacy. The Florida-based consultants – Kris Money, Trey McCarley and Debbie Alexander – said they voluntarily quit and were still working with Bush’s super PAC. Others said the three were let go – no longer needed
 
• One source attributed the departures to personality conflicts in the campaign. Another campaign source said the three were let go because they weren’t raising enough money now. Another source source disputed that, “If anyone says they didn’t quit, it’s not true. They’re still working for the super PAC as well.” (get stories straight, much?)
 
• The departures came at a time of uncertainty for Bush. The campaign has taken steps to rein in some of its spending and had gone so far as to cut some employee salaries. Some donors said last week they’re less concerned with the campaign than with Jeb’s candidacy which has so far failed to ignite Republicans (ie he’s got the snooze button pushed)

 

• “I think that that is dead wrong
[to limit the number of debates] and I have let the leadership of the Democrats know that,” said Sen Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) on CNN Sunday. Friday, former Gov Martin O’Malley (D-Md) accused the DNC of creating a “rigged process” to limit the number of debates to just four before the first round of voting (Hill)

 

• As the Democratic National Committee wrapped up its summer meeting Saturday in Minneapolis, members were left with questions. What can Hillary Clinton do to regain the trust of voters, generate genuine enthusiasm among grass-roots activists and reassure nervous Democrats that she will be a strong presidential nominee?
 
• Will Joe Biden get in the race? Or is it already too late? DNC members who were on a conference call with the vice president last week came away with significant doubts that he was emotionally ready to run as he and his family still grieve the death of his son, Beau
 
• Questions hovering over Bernie Sanders include whether he can convince enough Democrats that he’s electable and, if he falls short, whether the movement behind him would shift its allegiance willingly to Clinton or the eventual nominee. Inside the Clinton team, there’s an acknowledgement that the email issue has been badly handled – more emails out from State today
 
• Sen Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), will publicly endorse Hillary Clinton for president next Saturday at “New Hampshire Women for Hillary” in Portsmouth, NH, the beginning of a push to connect to female voters and highlight Clinton’s activism on women’s issues (NYT)

 

Iowa Polls: Strengths and Dangers (NYT, Politico, Politico, me)
• Republican billionaire Donald Trump leads the pack at 23% of the vote in the new Iowa poll by respected Ann Selzer for Des Moines Register/Bloomberg. Dr Ben Carson has 18%. Gov Scott Walker (Wis) and Sen Ted Cruz (Texas) both have 8%. Former Gov Jeb Bush has just 6%, tied with Sen Marco Rubio (Fla)
 
• Trump was viewed favorably by 61% of likely GOP caucus-goers, a startling rise of 34 percentage points since May. In another eye-opening finding, business oriented Republicans preferred Trump to Jeb Bush 30% to 16%. Carson had a strong 79% approval rating
 
• Among Democrats, Sen Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) is rapidly closing the gap with Hillary Clinton. She’s drawing 37% of the vote in the new Ann Selzer Iowa Des Moines Register/Bloomberg poll. Sanders earns 30%. VP Joe Biden, still wavering, earns 14%. This is the first time Clinton has fallen short of a majority in the Iowa poll
 
• Clinton’s support among likely Democratic caucus-goers dropped 20 percentage points since May; Sanders’s support grew 25 points since January. Democrats are largely untroubled by Clinton’s email controversy – suggesting her vulnerabilities are deeper. The other Democrats in the race are at 3% or less

Donald Trump’s “newest campaign ad” – it’s the greatest campaign ad of all time (Jimmy Kimmel)

 
California Death Penalty: 8th Amendment Challenge Today (AP, LAT, me)
• More than 900 killers have been sentenced to death in California since 1978, but only 13 have been executed. The question the 9th U.S. Circuit Appeals Court will consider today is whether years of unpredictable delays from conviction to execution resulted in an arbitrary and unfair system that violates the Constitution’s Eighth Amendment barring cruel and unusual punishment
 
• U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney, a President George W. Bush appointee, ruled in the case of an LA rapist and murderer that the state’s death penalty was dysfunctional and offered an empty promise seldom leading to executions while jamming up death row. AG Kamala Harris appealed
 
• Paroled rapist Ernest DeWayne Jones raped and murdered his girlfriend’s mother in 1992. The body of Julia Miller was bound, gagged and had been stabbed 14 times. Two kitchen knives were sticking out of her neck. Jones, 51, led police on a chase and then shot himself, though he survived. DNA connected him and he admitted the crime. He’s been in prison 20 years
 
• Jones said in his appeal that the state didn’t provide a fair and timely review of his case, the delay exceeded that in other states and death row’s conditions constituted torture. Also, the uncertainty of his execution inflicts suffering, and if it goes forward, will serve no legitimate purpose for retribution or deterring criminals (um retribution – think so – may disagree)
 
• No executions in Calif since 2006 after a federal judge ordered an overhaul of the state’s procedures for lethal injection. The Dept of Corrections is drafting new lethal injection regs after Gov Jerry Brown (D) said the state would switch from a three drug mixture to a single drug lethal injection

 

• Wes Craven, the prolific writer-director who startled audiences (including me) with iconic suburban slashers like “Nightmare on Elm Street” and “Scream” has died in Los Angeles after battling brain cancer. He was 76 (AP)
 
MTV VMAs: Nipple! Rant! Breakdown! Throwing Shade! (AP, Hollywood Life, USA Today, (WaPo)
• After Taylor Swift won best video of the year for “Bad Blood,” host Miley Cyrus was backstage speaking and hiding behind a curtain, but one of her breasts appeared onscreen before the camera cut away. MTV said the clip (ie the offending nipple) will be removed from all future broadcasts
 
• Cyrus closed the show at the Microsoft Theater in LA with a performance, which started with the line: “Yeah, I smoke pot.” (that was obvious). Kanye West, (who didn’t need to tell us he got high before going onstage) gave a rambling 11-minute speech, apologized to Taylor Swift for taking her mic in 2009, ended up telling us he’s running for president in 2020. (run now, kanyu, Kanye?)

• Now, this relates to the Nicki Minaj/Taylor Swift feud. Nicki Minaj threw some shade back to host Miley Cyrus, after accepting her award for best hip hop video for Anaconda. She thanked her fans, her pastor: “And now back to this bitch that had a lot to say about me the other day in the press. Miley, what’s good?” They cut Minaj’s mic… (Vine)


 
• Cyrus said “we all know how they manipulate” words during interviews – reffing a pre-VMAs interview in NYT. Cyrus then stumbled over her words as she tried to read from cue cards about voting for the artist to watch award. “I lost this award in 2008 and I was fine with it. Whatever! Because it’s no big deal. It’s just an award and I persevered,” she yelled – looking at Minaj
 
• Justin Bieber returned to the VMA stage with slick dance moves to his hit “Where Are U Now?” and a high-flying performance of his new single, “What Do You Mean?” After the performance, Bieber was overcome by emotion and fan reaction and cried onstage.Yup, this show had. it. all.

Here’s a list of winners from the MTV VMAs (Vox) Pics! Here’s every crazy item of clothing worn by Miley Cyrus at the VMAs (Slate)

 

Fed: Hold the Line on Interest Rates? (WSJ, me)
• Interest rates up before the end of the year. During the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s annual economic symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyo, many policy makers signaled that stock market volatility and China’s woes haven’t seriously dented their view that the U.S. job market is improving, and that domestic economic output is expanding nicely
 
• The Fed has said it will raise rates when it’s reasonably confident the inflation rate will rise against to 2%. Fed officials want to see how markets perform in the next couple of weeks and what emerges from new economic data. Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen, who didn’t attend, also needs to confer with officials to assess what kind of consensus she can build
 
• A risk for the Fed is that it waits too long and builds bubbles in the economy. But if the Fed raises rates while other major economies proceed with efforts to reduce rates or add other financial stimulus to their economies, the U.S. dollar would likely continue rising. That would hurt exports and put downward pressure on inflation. Stay tuned. Action maybe about two weeks
 
 
Katrina 10 Years: Gulf Coast Remembers (AP, Reuters, Telegraph, me)
• The Gulf Coast and New Orleans observed the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, one of the deadliest storms in America’s history. Church bells rang and brass bands played. Some people said that we shouldn’t come back,” said New Orleans Mayor Mitch Andrieu on Saturday. “Yet 10 years later here we are. Still standing.”
 
• The storm killed more than 1,800 people and caused $151 billion in damage, in one of the country’s deadliest and most costly natural disasters. Many of the dead came in New Orleans, when levees protecting the city burst, submerging 80% of the Crescent City in water
 
• During a prayer service at a seaside park in Gulfport, former Mississippi Gov Haley Barbour praised volunteers who worked on the Katrina recovery. He said more than 954,000 volunteers came from around the country to Mississippi in the first five years after the storm, and many were motivated by faith
 
• Singer Chrissie Hynde, 63, of The Pretenders, is under fire for accepting “full responsibility” for a sexual assault when she was 21. “You know, if you don’t want to entice a rapist, don’t wear high heels so you can’t run from him,” she said. “If I’m walking around in my underwear and I’m drunk, who else’s fault can it be?” “I don’t think I’m saying anything controversial, am I?” (yes) (BBC, Sunday Times)

 

Immigrants as Fedexes? US-Canada Wall? (Bloomberg, Bloomberg, CBS News, me)
• Saturday, Gov Chris Christie (R-NJ) said of immigrants entering the country, “We should bring in the folks from FedEx to use the technology,” “At any moment, FedEx can tell you where that package is.” Sunday, he said, “I didn’t mean people are packages, so let’s not be ridiculous.” (he still hasn’t explained how you track people if you don’t put a bar code on their foreheads)
 
• Another Republican presidential candidate, Gov Scott Walker (Wis) said Sunday on NBC in answer to a question from Chuck Todd: “Do we want to build a wall north of the border?” (too much Game of Thrones, Chuck): “That is a legitimate issue for us to look at.” (really?)
 
• And Gov Bobby Jindal (R-La) said on CBS on Sunday, “We need to insist on assimilation. You know, in Europe they’re not doing that. They’ve got huge problems. Immigration without assimilation is invasion. That can weaken our country.” (invasion? by aliens?)

• This is great: People of all ages offer words of wisdom to their younger counterparts in this adorable, insightful video. I like the 12-year-old girl (me, CBC Radio)

 

#TrumpBible – It’s a Winner (Bloomberg, WaPo, me)

• Donald Trump has claimed the Bible is his favorite book, but won’t name his favorite verse – says the book’s “incredible” – claims to like the old and new testaments equally (I find the whole thing a bit – – convenient). The church in NYC he says he attends states Trump’s “not an active member.”  #TrumpBible has, naturally, gone viral on Twitter. A couple of goodies:
 

• “Don’t get me wrong: Jesus? Great guy, classy. But a terrible executive. I would never tolerate a traitor within my organization. #TrumpBible” – (@EsotericCD)
 

• “Paul? he’s a hero bc he wrote some letters from prison? Personally I like people who weren’t captured. #TrumpBible” – (@MattChilders87)

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