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: Iran choice is diplomacy or war
  • Iran’s hardliners’ “common cause” w/ Republicans
  • 5 things to watch at GOP debate
  • Frustration erupts: MH370 wing flap investigation
  • Senate scarpers
  • IRS mismanagement: Senate report
  • Court: Govt can’t obtain cellphone location info
  • Cornyn: NRA-backed background check bill
  • Foiled: Murderous Jade Helm retaliation plot
  • Plan: Pipe bombs, exploding tennis balls
Obama: Iran Choice is Diplomacy Or War (AP, NYT, WSJ, Hill, TRNS, me)
• President Obama assailed critics of his Iran nuclear deal Wednesday as “selling a fantasy” to the American people, warning Congress that blocking the accord would damage the nation’s credibility and increase the likelihood of more war in the Middle East

• Obama cast Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu as an isolated international opponent of the historic accord, saying, “I do not doubt his sincerity, but I believe he is wrong.”

• The agreement would require Iran to dismantle most of its nuclear program for at least a decade in exchange for billions in relief from international sanctions. But Netanyahu and some critics in the U.S. argue that it wouldn’t stop Iran from building a bomb

• Obama’s blunt remarks, in an hour-long address at American University, were part of an intense lobbying campaign by the WH ahead of Congress’ vote next month to either approve or disapprove the deal. “The choice we face is ultimately between diplomacy and some form of war. Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not three months from now, but soon,” Obama said

• Obama linked critics of the deal to those who pushed for the invasion of Iraq in 2003, a conflict now widely considered a mistake. “I have repeatedly challenged anyone opposed to this deal to put forward a better, plausible alternative,” he said. “I have yet to hear one. What I’ve heard instead are the same types of argument that we heard in the run-up to the Iraq war.”

• SecState John Kerry, in Malaysia, said today that the 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing “underscores the importance of the agreement we have reached with Iran to reduce the possibility of more nuclear weapons.” (AP)
Obama: Iran’s Hardliners “Common Cause” w/ Republicans
• Obama spoke at the same university where John F. Kennedy called for Cold War diplomacy and nuclear disarmament, and he referred to President Kennedy and Ronald Reagan a number of times (won’t sway any GOPers)

• Obama argued that if Congress blocks the accord, the EU and the UN will lift their sanctions anyway, collapsing the best leverage the international community has to stop Iran from building a bomb (quite true, but not going to sway any GOPers – though could influence members of his own party)

• Opponents say the deal leaves too much of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure in place and allows Tehran to rebuild its program too quickly. Critics also contend Iran will use an influx of funds now frozen under sanctions to boost terrorist activity around the Middle East

• Obama said he has no illusions about Iran’s support for terrorism and takes seriously its incendiary rhetoric about the U.S. “In fact, it’s those hardliners who are most comfortable with the status quo,” he said. “It’s those hardliners chanting ‘Death to America’ who have been most opposed to the deal. They’re making common cause with the Republican caucus.” (applause at AU)

• If lawmakers vote against the deal next month, Obama needs 146 Democrats in the House or 34 in the Senate to sustain a veto. As of Wednesday afternoon, 16 House Democrats and 11 senators had publicly declared their support for the deal. The WH has said it’s confident it can sustain a veto at least in the House
1945 archive 2-minute video by British Pathe of the dropping of the atomic bomb over Hiroshima 70 years ago today. One correction – 70,000 people died in the initial blast, not 60,000. 70,000 people also died subsequently
5 Things to Watch at GOP Debate (CNN, me)
Will anyone in the middle tier break out? If you’re not named Trump, how do you stand out? Most candidates on stage have struggled to break out of the pack. A stellar debate performance tonight – plus favorable headlines – could be a boost. May not be clear immediately. Sometimes there’s a lag of a couple of days. Watch for practiced lines being churned out – (boring – moderators must push)

Don’t forget the 5 pm debaters: They should go into that debate “with the idea that if they have the right performance, the next time around, they’re going to be in the 9 o’clock debate,” said Newt Gingrich, former House Speaker and Republican presidential candidate. They should be more relaxed

The moderators: Three Fox News anchors (too many) Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace. Good cop/bad cop? Who gets the toughest treatments? Do the moderators strictly enforce the timer? Does their chemistry – or lack of it – get in the way of the debate (and never forget an audience – can play a huuuuge role)

Invisible candidate: Hillary Clinton: Expect to hear plenty of Clinton bashing. The ultimate prize is not only to clinch the GOP nomination, but to one day face off against Clinton in a general election – and beat her. They each have to show that they’re the best option for beating Clinton – and not get sidelines by shiny objects – ie Trumpisms

“Oops”: Every candidate on stage will try to avoid Rick Perry’s 2012 oops moment, where he couldn’t remember the name of the third govt agency he would shutter as president. Jeb Bush has had a rough few days so he needs to watch out for another oops moment and give a strong showing tonight

• Want to watch the debate in DC? Lou’s City Bar is serving up Trump Bingo cards, with “Vote for Me or There’ll Be Hell Toupee” shots for winners. Union Pub and 201 Bar have two-for-one drinks and are promoting Cloture Club’s Republican Debate Drinking Game: “Drink 1 and yell ‘They took our jobs!’ when a candidate says ‘illegal immigrants.'” (WaPo)
Frustration Erupts: MH 370 Wing Flap Investigation (NYT, TRNS, me)
• The confusion and frustration that have punctuated the investigation into the disappearance of MH370 erupted anew today, after officials offered conflicting levels of confidence on whether a piece of wing found washed up on Reunion island in the Indian Ocean last week came from the vanished plane. Malaysia’s transport minister insisted today the piece was from MH370

• Malaysian PM Najib Razak’s announcement in the pre-dawn hours of today that the part, known as a flaperon, did indeed come from the doomed plane was at odds with the message from authorities in France, the U.S. and Australia, who have stopped short of full confirmation

• An anonymous Australian govt official said Malaysia wasn’t supposed to make the announcement, and had gone out on its own making a conclusive statement before getting the evidence to back it up. “Why the hell do you have one confirm and one not?” said Sara Weeks, the sister of New Zealander Paul Weeks, who was on board (read on…)

• A U.S. official familiar with the investigation said the flaperon clearly is from a Boeing 777. However a team of experts in France examining the part hadn’t been able yet to find anything linking it specifically to the missing plan. With no other 777s or flaperons known to be missing, it makes sense to be the missing plane, but team members are trying “to be precise.”

• Ross Tapsell, a Malaysia expert at Australian National University, said he suspected Najib had snatched an opportunity to distract Malaysians from a corruption scandal that threatens his power. Monday, Malaysia’s anti-corruption agency said $700 million in PM Razak’s personal bank accounts came from donations, not from a debt-ridden state investment fund (hey ho)
• Breaking: Malaysia’s transport minister says a Malaysian team on Reunion Island has collected other plane debris including a window, seat cushions and aluminum foil. He says he cannot confirm they below to MH370 and they’re being sent to French authorities for verification (AP)
Senate Scarpers (AP, Hill, Hill, Roll Call, me)
• The Senate bolted for the exits (practically falling over each other’s carry-ons trying to get through the doors) Wednesday as the chamber abandoned work on cybersecurity legislation (had been sooo important) and headed home for an almost five-week vacation, leaving the bulk of this year’s business for a tumultuous session this fall

• Senate leaders reached a deal to expedite a debate next month on legislation to disapprove President Obama’s nuclear weapons deal with Iran. With that, the cybersecurity measure was shelved, for now, leaving a failed attempt to bring up a measure to defund Planned Parenthood as the only roll call vote of the week

• Besides cybersecurity, other matters are likely to dominate the fall. They include keeping the govt running past a 1 October deadline, welcoming Pope Francis for an address before a joint meeting of Congress and the Cabinet and finding a way to free must-do spending bills and pass legislation increasing the govt’s debt limit (is that all? debt and deadlines – drama, darlings)

• The Senate left on the eve of the first debate for the GOP presidential nomination and the looming campaign promises to hang over the fall session. Republican leaders promise to avoid stumbles like a govt shutdown or a default on U.S. obligations, but the resulting compromises with Obama are likely to roil core GOP voters (after the blood’s mopped up, that is)

• The campaign to stop President Obama’s sweeping emissions limits on power plants began taking shape Wednesday as 16 states led by West Virginia asked the govt to put the rules on hold, while the GOP-led Senate Environment and Public Works Committee moved to block them. No Democrats were present, having walked out of an earlier meeting over a different issue (Hill, Hill, me)

IRS Mismanagement: Senate Report (NYT, Hill, Forbes, me)
• The IRS severely mismanaged the applications of Tea Party groups seeking tax-exempt status, a long-awaited and bipartisan Senate report said Wednesday. The report found that Lois Lerner, the central figure in the controversy, “failed to adequately manage” her staff that were processing the tax-exempt applications

• Senate Finance Committee chair Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said “the committee found evidence that the admin’s political agenda guided the IRS’s actions with respect to their treatment of conservative groups.” But senior committee Democrat Ron Wyden (Ore) said the inquiry found “pure bureaucratic mismanagement without any evidence of political interference.”

• “Our investigation found that from 2010 to 2013, IRS management was delinquent in its responsibility to provide effective control, guidance and direction over the processing of applications for tax-exempt status filed by Tea Party and other political advocacy organizations,” the committee concluded (back at square one, though, as they totally disagree on why)

• The IRS said in a statement that it would review the report. “We have already taken many steps to make improvements in our processes and procedures,” it said. The committee called for objective criteria to guide the IRS in deciding whether an applicant for tax-exempt status should get additional scrutiny

• The report said that appreciably more conservative-leaning groups than left-leaning ones experienced multiyear delays. Democrats attributed that to the fact that more conservative groups were seeking tax-exempt status. The terms that were red flags to monitors also included “progressive” and “Acorn.”

• The Securities and Exchange Commission voted 3-2 Wednesday to adopt rules implementing a contentious provision of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law requiring companies to detail for the public and shareholders the pay gap between top executives and average employees (Hill, WSJ, me)
Court: Govt Can’t Obtain Cellphone Location Info (Hill, NYT, me)
• A split decision from the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday concluded that the govt cannot obtain info about a cellphone’s location without a warrant, meaning warrantless searches of cellphone data are unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment, a victory for privacy advocates (leave us alone)

• “Examination of a person’s historical
[cell site location information] can enable the govt to trace the movements of the cellphone and its user across public and private spaces and thereby discover the private activities and personal habits of the user,” Judge Andre Davis wrote. “Cellphone users have an objectively reasonable expectation of privacy in this info.”

• Cellphone providers such as AT&T and Verizon keep records wherever cellphones exchange radio waves with a local tower. Phones typically are in touch with their nearest cell tower, so a person’s movement can effectively be tracked by looking at which towers a phone communicates with (they know everything)

• Law enforcement officials relied in part on those types of records when they charged two men, Eric Jordan and Aaron Graham, in connection with a series of armed robberies in Baltimore five years ago. Police obtained court orders but not warrants to obtain location data about their phones covering a total of 221 days

• In doing so, they violated the Constitution, Davis said. But because the govt relied “in good faith” on those court orders, the court declined to toss out the convictions. The decision breaks from a decision earlier this year by the full 11th Circuit – no constitutional privacy protections. The ACLU has sought to take that case to the Supreme Court (whole thing will end up there – guess)
• NASA has released a stunning short video animation of the Moon photobombing – transiting – the Earth, filmed from a million miles away. It was taken by the camera on the DSCOVR satellite launched in February. BTW, that’s the rarely seen dark side of the Moon, for Pink Floyd fans (Verge, me)
Cornyn Proposes NRA-Backed Background Check Bill (TRNS, Hill, AP, me)
• No. 2 Senate Republican John Cornyn (Texas) proposed a NRA-backed bill Wednesday that he said would make the federal background check system for gun buyers more effective and bolster programs for treating people with mental illness. It comes in the wake of last month’s mass shooting in a Louisiana movie theater

• The measure drew criticism from groups advocating stricter controls over firearms, who said it would make it easier for some unstable people to obtain deadly weapons. But it was backed by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, groups representing police organizations, correctional workers and social workers (nothing NRA backs will stiffen gun laws – guarantee)

• The bill’s background check provisions are far weaker than Senate legislation that Republicans and the NRA killed two years ago; that would have required checks for firearms bought at gun shows and online. Currently, backgrounds checks are required only for sales by federally licensed gun dealers

• Vincente David Montano, 29, who had “significant” psychological issues and was armed with a hatchet and pellet gun, unleashed a volley of pepper spray at audience members inside a Nashville movie theater Wednesday before being fired at by a police officer and shot dead by a SWAT team as he tried to escape out a back door, police said (TRNS, AP)
• People who have been legally ruled “mentally defective” or been committed to mental institutions are already barred from buying firearms. But states are not required to send those records to the FBI-run federal database, leaving it uneven

• Under Cornyn’s bill, states sending at least 90% of their records on people with serious mental problems to the federal background check database would get law enforcement grant increases of up to 5%. States providing less than that could see grants cut by similar amounts (so 10% will be missed – it’s called a loophole – it’s a mistake)

• Gun control advocates said the measure should have expanded background checks to online and gun show sales. They also complained that the bill would let some people discharged from involuntary psychiatric treatment, who currently need court approval to buy firearms, immediately purchase guns (clever NRA – so NRA has weakened the law, in fact)

Foiled: Murderous Jade Helm Retaliation Plot (WaPo, me)
• Wow. Three North Carolina men had a deadly plot to lure govt forces into a trap, federal officials say, and were amassing a stockpile fit for war. There were Kevlar helmets and body armor, bombs and homemade grenades, large amounts of gunpowder and dozens of rounds of ammunition for a military-grade sniper rifle

• Feds say Walter Eugene Litteral, 50; Christopher James Barker, 41; and Christopher Todd Campbell, 30, spent months compiling their cache, much of it purchased through a military surplus store owner who became so concerned about the plot that the person became the FBI’s informant (that gives you a clue, right there)

• The men were arrested Saturday and charged with conspiracy and amassing weaponry allegedly to combat what they believe is the govt’s plan to impose martial law through – among other things – the multistate military exercise known as Jade Helm (you say this coming, didn’t you?)

• In Jan, the informant relocated the military surplus story to NC, a few doors down from where Campbell operated a tattoo parlor. Almost immediately, Campbell told the informant of his “anti-govt” views. Then Campbell introduced the informant to Litteral and they told the informant that Jade Helm exercises in five states were a cover for govt to impose martial law

• Litteral made it clear they needed military-grade items no later than 15 July as they intended to resist with violent force. Operation Jade Helm 15, a training exercise for Army Special Ops Forces, has spawned consternation and anti-govt conspiracy theories. The exercises are taking place in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado – according to Army

Plan: Pipe Bombs, Explosive Tennis Balls
• By April, the purchases began – paid in cash, according to court docs. There were plans to make pipe bombs, explosive tennis balls covered in nails and coffee cans filled with ball bearings that would be detonated with a shot from a sniper rifle. By mid-June, those plans were beginning to crystallize (how many more of these plots not caught, got to wonder?)

• According to docs, Litteral was heavily armed. If govt agents came looking for him at his home, he allegedly told the informant in a phone call, he would be ready: “Lemme tell you something. I gonna have my fu*king house rigged up; these mother fu*kers come try to come to my house, it’s gonna go off,” he said, according to docs

• The ambush against U.S. forces would take place on Litteral and Campbell’s 99-acre camp in Clover SC. “According to [Campbell], he and Litteral intended to booby-trap the camp and draw the govt’s forces into the camp and kill them,” the warrant states

• On 30 June, according to docs, Campbell told the informant that he feared the govt would soon declare martial law: “Shit is gonna go down soon.” In mid-July, Litteral tried to buy a rifle for Barker. Barker had been convicted of a felony, and wouldn’t have been permitted to purchase a weapon. But the buy was held up, first by a three-day background check

• Unbeknownst to Litteral, it was then held up even longer at the FBI’s request. Litteral told Campbell that the delay infuriated him, according to docs. “things are coming around. This denial of my rifle got me really upset.” Three days later, federal agents made a move, raiding two homes along with Campbell’s tattoo parlor and ultimately arresting all three of the men

• Very Important Video! WorldNet Daily asks the question: Is this a Demon racing in front of President Obama as he exits Air Force One on his recent trip to Kenya? (a sign of Obama’s Demonic possession, long suspected but never before proven). The “Demon,” a grey blur, is at 7:50… Watch if you dare (could be a mic boom – nah…Demon)

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Victoria Jones – Editor

TRNS’ William McDonald and William Hadden contributed to this report

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