Beltway Insider: Obama Tackles Ed Costs; Putin MIA; Russia/Ukraine; Ferguson Erupts; ISIS/Boko Haram

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President Obama continued to escalate his domestic agenda introducing a Student Aid Bill of Rights that will address four areas every student in America should have as they face the daunting costs of higher education.

 

According to Gallup, President Obama's job approval, over the past week, increased four percentage points to 48% of those polled who approve of his effectiveness as President and those who disapprove of his effectiveness as President decreased four percentage points to 47%. 

Student Aid Bill of Rights

Affirming education is the key to escaping poverty and crafting a personalized future the president has introduced innovative ideas which will allow many of who would never have the opportunity to extend their personal education options and gain workforce skills that will change the course of their lives.

The Student Aid Bill of Rights states every student in America should have access to a high-quality, affordable higher education; be able to easily find the resources they need to pay for college; be able to choose an affordable repayment plan for student loans; receive quality customer service, reliable information and fair treatment when repaying loans.

Russian President Vladimir Putin MIA

Russian President Vladimir Putin is missing in action. Rumors have been widely circulated the former head of the KGB at 62 has died which would, if true, add speculation to the rise of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev the next in line to hold the office and account for the assassination of Boris Netsmov, who would have been a strong candidate to succeed as the leader of the Russian Federation.

Medvedev, 49, a Putin hardliner and forever tied to the old guard has held the office of President of Russia from 2008 to 2012, he was one of the youngest Russian presidents to have ever been elected.

His long connection to Putin, acting first as his campaign manager before an official appointment to his administration, has made him a loyalist to the party brand and old soviet guard.

Article 92 of the Russian Constitution states the Prime Minster would take over should the President become incapacitated or unable to fulfil his duties with limited power, presenting calm and guided succession in the midst turmoil, and a presidential election must be held within three months.

2.The President of the Russian Federation shall cease to exercise his (her) powers before the end of his (her) term in the event of his (her) resignation, persistent inability for health reasons to carry out the powers invested in him (her), or impeachment. Presidential elections shall be held before the expiration of three months from the date of the early termination of presidential office.

 

3. In all cases where the President of the Russian Federation is unable to fulfil his (her) duties, they shall be temporarily delegated to the Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation. The Acting President of the Russian Federation shall not have the right to dissolve the State Duma, call a referendum or to submit proposals for amendments to and the revision of the provisions of the Constitution of the Russian Federation.  - The Constitution of Russia, Article 92, Section 2, 3

Putin was last seen during a press conference with Italian Prime Minster Matteo Renzi on March 5. He is rumored to be in poor health and, the once highly feared man in Russia's Spy and State Security Machine,  has also has been through personal upheavals over the past year ending his thirty year marriage and taking up with the much younger former Olympian gymnast, Alina Kabaeva, of which the Kremlin officially denies.

Additional rumors have the globally beleaguered leader at the side of his long time love interest, Russian rhythmic gymnast and double gold medalist, Kabaeva. The two reportedly became parents for the second time within the past week when Kabaeva gave birth to a baby girl in Switzerland. Putin and his wife of 31 years, Lyudmila divorced in 2014.

Sources in Russia have yet to reply and no other media agency has announced any unusual preparations in Moscow which would precede a state funeral attended by the world's Heads of State and televised around the world.

Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz affirmed, during a press gaggle aboard Air Force One in route to Phoenix, Arizona, the U.S. Government, including President Obama, is operating under the assumption Russian President Vladimir Putin is still alive.

Russia and the Ukraine

Since the tanks rolled into the Crimean Peninsula, February 28, 2014, violating the territorial sovereignty of neighboring Ukraine, the world has watched as Putin's Russia has faced the international firestorm resulting in expulsion, exclusion and incremental increases in sectorial sanctions.

Putin has continued to destabilize the democratic efforts as Ukraine, harassing and fueling the growth of separatists along the eastern border as the initial takeover target, the 10 K Square Mile Bridge connecting Sochi and Ukraine remains largely undisturbed by the political fallout.

One year later Russia, alleging no involvement with the separatists who have carved out a section, a middle ground, taking parcels of land from both Russian and Ukraine, has signed the Minsk agreement which calls for peace.

The United States has announced a financial package for the Ukraine totaling an additional 75M in non-lethal military assistance in addition to the 120M in assistance already provided.

The assistance comes in the form of secure communications, command and control equipment, aerial vehicles, counter mortar radars providing warning and protections against incoming artillery, medical equipment, ambulances, and medical supplies. 

Obama has refused to assist in direct military lethal support, an action that could result in escalation of fighting along the eastern border and subsequently an escalation in blood shed and lives lost. Funding the continued violations of the Minsk peace agreement is not the desire of the Obama administration.

As both sides have agreed to the articles within the agreement, the need becomes a de-escalation, a reeducation, in fighting along the Eastern border where heavy tanks and Russian equipment is still detected through satellite imagery and in front line verification.  

The Obama administration continues to watch these efforts as both side have yet initiated initial compliance to the Minsk agreement, which both sides willingly agreed to and neither side has yet to be implement.

With all the efforts motivated toward de-escalation, the White House remains committed to assisting the Ukrainians in management, first responder assistance and stabilizing the deeply damaged infrastructure and will not be drawn into a war with the Russians. 

Vice President Biden has remained in weekly contact with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko regarding the situation in the east.

In a released statement the Vice President said the two leaders spoke on additional non-lethal U.S. security assistance to Ukraine, and new sanctions on Russian-backed separatists and their supporters as well as the ongoing violations of the ceasefire by Russia-backed separatists near Donetsk and Mariupol and their refusal to allow OSCE monitors unfettered access to the territory they occupy.

"If the capability of the Ukrainian military substantially escalates that that could prompt an escalated response by the Russians and the separatists that they back.  And, again, that bloodshed is something that we're trying to avoid and deescalate.  So the President is very mindful of the potential risk that's associated with providing additional lethal military assistance to the Ukrainians," said White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest.

ISIS, Boko Haram Unite

ISIS/ISIL has taken a partner. Nigerian terror organization Boko Haram responsible for the kidnapping of more than 200 girls from a boarding school, various terror assaults through northern Nigeria proposed partnership and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, agreed.

Boko Haram primarily operates in Northern Nigeria and ISIS has maintained its hold on Iraq and Northern Syria the idea of a larger territorial and unified terrorist organization able to effectively plan and launch terror strikes throughout the world seems unfortunately a distinct possibility. 

Two other known terror groups Al-Qaida, responsible for the September 11, 2001 WTC and Pentagon attacks and al-Shabaab responsible for the terror siege at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi apparently not invited, as of yet, invited to unify with the exploding ISIS.

Although Secretary of State John Kerry has called ISIS "al-Qaeda" essentially linking the Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi lead group back to its roots in Osama bin Laden's organization. Baghdadi was initially detained in 2009 in Guantanamo Bay as a terror suspect. Unfortunately he was released.

 "U.S. officials now estimate that ISIL has been rolled back by up to 25 percent of the territory that they previously maintained; that in at least 25 percent of those areas that were previously occupied by ISIL, ISIL forces no longer have freedom of movement in those areas.  And these aren't just broad swaths of the desert that we're talking about; we're talking about populated areas where ISIL had previously essentially ruled," Earnest said.

While the Obama Administration would like to press forward the belief that ISIS/ISIL is under control, members of his own cabinet, including CIA Director John Brennan have said publically the militant terror group has "snowballed" and at least 20,000 fighters from nearly 90 countries have joined the militia.

Two Cops Shot As Ferguson Erupts Again

Two police officers were shot and expected to recover as protests began again in Ferguson, Missouri the scene of month long protests in October over the failure of the grand jury to indict a white police officer, for the murder of an unarmed African American teenager.

Michael Brown, 18, was gunned down in broad daylight seconds from his home in August 2014, by Ferguson Police officer Darren Wilson after he was recognized as a possible suspect in a shoplifting incident at a convenience store, the two engaged in some type of altercation.

This death sparked protests, which thrust the small suburb of St. Louis into the national spotlight fueling even greater unrest until Missouri Governor Jay Nixon called out the national guard to restore order. A number of arrests were made as the small, once close knit town, was left to clean up and mend after the media retreated.

The murder of Michael Brown fell off the grid as the murder of another black man, Eric Garner, in Staten Island, stunned the nation and the world with the blatant use of force by the NYPD as the murder was caught on video by a witness.

Within a week of each other two separate Grand Jury's failed to indict the police officers in both cases which brought a nation, collectively to her knees rallying with the final words of Garner, "I can't breathe."

The injustice was suffocating; stifling, the heat from a thousand ovens, as protestors in more than 125 American cities took to the streets united as the summer of death and injustice came to a close.

The winter, longer and colder than usual, did little to kill off the seeds of discord.  Spring arrived bringing renewed protests to Ferguson.

The non-violent movement which all leaders, and family members of Michael Brown and Eric Garner have advocated is no longer the rallying cry.  

A federal grand jury cleared the officer of any civil rights violations. The Justice Department, did however, expose corruption with the towns systems of sustainability and the intent to target blacks and other minorities within that scheme that increased the issuing of tickets resulting in fees, penalties and fines.

The fall out in Ferguson continues as the Police Chief and City Manager have both resigned, unable or possibly unwilling to continue to govern or manage under the present circumstances and in the wake of the federal governments continued microscopic examination of the once autonomous leadership.

48 hours after the two Ferguson officers were shot, an arrest has been made.

"Those who protect and serve our communities have an absolute right to go home safely to their families each night.  Peaceful protests can lead to important change; violence is utterly unacceptable," said Eric Schultz, Deputy White House Press Secretary.

For more information on President Barack Obama: www.whitehouse.gov

Sources: Whitehouse.org, Wikipedia.com, 

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