Beltway Insider: Counter Terror Tactics; Bridgegate Indictments; Nepal; Baltimore; Sanders

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The Obama Administration under increasing pressure from the disclosure of a botched counter terror strike that resulted in the death of two citizens has released additional information on blood money ransoms demanded by terror organizations.

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

Counter Terror Strike Disclosure

After the recent revelations over a botched operation in January that resulted in the deaths of two hostages, one American and one Italian, additional information regarding the ransoms demands made by terror organizations to the families have surfaced.

Real situations as recently as the parents of James Foley, the American journalist beheaded by ISIS, were threatened by the U.S government for trying to raise the money for the demanded ransom.

While the White House will not discuss conversations between counter-terror officials and the families, Josh Earnest, White House Press Secretary did add:

 We're talking about a very human situation when you have families who are waiting on pins and needles, worried to death about the safety and well-being of their loved one who is being held hostage overseas.  The President takes this seriously and has demonstrated his own willingness to go to great lengths to try to rescue American hostages. Just as importantly, our law enforcement, military officials and our intelligence officials who are responsible for reacting to these kinds of situations take it seriously as well. I would anticipate that once we have completed this hostage policy review that we'll have an opportunity to consider some of the recommendations of that review.  But I can tell you that even after that review has been completed, one thing that will not change is our no ransom, no concessions policy.

Bridgegate Indictments

As indictments have been announced in Bridgegate, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, (R), may be wondering if the scandal that wouldn't go away will end up snarling his upcoming bid, should he decide to run, for the Republican Party's presidential nomination.

One former senior member of Christie's Staff and two Port Authority Officials have been indicted for their roles in the retaliatory scheme aimed at Fort Lee, New Jersey, Mayor Mark Sokolich, in a vindictive attempt to make the mayor suffer for his outspoken support of the Democratic challenger Barbara Buono in the September 2013 election.

David Wildstein an appointee and former senior official with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and first to accept a plea deal, which terms dictated he would pled guilty to two counts of fraud in Federal court. The deal announced Friday included his testimony in exchange for a more lenient sentence.

Former Christie Chief of Staff Bridget Kelly and former Port Authority Executive Director Bill Broni, have each been charged with nine criminal counts including conspiracy and fraud of which they can face jail time.

Kelly has spoken publically calling her once confident, Wildstein, "a liar." Both has alleged Christie knew of the plan, and by his passivity allowed the aggressive action to continue. Wildstein's attorney states his client will produce documents to prove the allegation of Christie's knowledge.

A fabricated Bridge study caused several lanes to be closed on the first day of school, causing up to four hour delays on the George Washington Bridge, the busiest bridge in the United States.

Paul Fishman, U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, has concluded the investigation and stated the indictments are the extent of the criminal charges that would be levied.

Quid Pro Quo

Bridgegate may not be the last scandal the current governor's administration faces. Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer has alleged New Jersey Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno explained that her Superstorm Sandy relief money was dependent on her support of a redevelopment deal proposed by a developer with ties to the governor.

This wouldn't be the first development deal along the Hudson County waterfront that has been the subject of controversy.

Scandal Scarred New Jersey

Investigations into Bridgegate may be ending, but scandals are far from over in the Garden State.

The never ending dark cloud from the deals made to secure Hudson County, New Jersey's, gold coast waterfront, once underdeveloped and assigned little worth that shot to stratospheric value on September 12, 2001 after the World Trade Center Attacks, still lingers even now.

Wall Street firms and financial houses were moving across the river to ensure continuity of business should a tragedy equal to 9/11 happen again. Investors and developers needed quick turnarounds on permits and approvals as forty story towers with luxury residential communities became in high demand.

Known as the sixth borough, Crime statistics for Hudson County which would seriously undermine the many multi-million dollar developments planned for the riverside and harbor properties and became a casualty.

Jon Corzine, Democratic Senator for New Jersey in 2001, had previously run the financial investment firm Goldman Sachs as Chairman and CEO and earned a record $400million from the IPO in 1999, moved to maneuver all branches of government, including former Governor Jim McGreevey's office, in the name of counter terror, to get New York City up and running again in New Jersey and to guarantee federally approved 9/11 funding made it into his state.

Seven months after the first bombs fell on Baghdad, a tolerable plan, hatched after a positioned citizen had been investigated for child sex crimes, was put in play.

Police, detectives and others refused to move forward on any criminal charges against any persons involved. The wheels of justice are slow, non-existent, when a waterfall is the future

Conspiring to deep six a series of sex assaults and other crime numbers which would negatively impact the price of real estate along the water's edge seemed an acceptable sacrifice for the greater good. Looking back as tax dollars roll into the state can it be denied?

Nepal Deeply Devastated After Earthquake

Humanitarian and world relief agencies that have rushed to assist devastated Nepal are forbidden to land cargo planes, as the international airport damaged in last Saturday's 7.8 monster earthquake which was temporary, open to large airliners has been closed to big jets.

President Obama spoke with Prime Minister Sushil Koirala of Nepal to convey the deep condolences of the American people for the loss of life and massive destruction caused by the April 25 earthquake in Nepal. 

In a released statement of the conversation, the two discussed the ongoing efforts by U.S. civilian and military personnel to assist the Government of Nepal and international organizations in the disaster response efforts, including with rescue and logistics support.  The President also pledged that the United States will do all that it can to help the people of Nepal in their time of need.

The magnitude is still difficult to comprehend as the death toll continues to climb past 7,000 and is expected to surpass at least 8,000 as entire remote villages are flattened. The injured number nearly 15,000. Twenty-five climbers were killed during the initial earthquake and avalanche on Everest Avalanche. 109 are still missing from the Mountain among those total include 12 Russians and nine Americans.The monetary damage has yet to be totaled with estimates in the billions even for a nation as impoverished at Nepal.

Throughout the week, survivors of the earthquake and subsequent Avalanche that buried hundreds, were hoping to find others. As not all have been accounted for, the death toll on Everest has climbed to 25 making it the deadliest day in climbing history.

Stronger Than Recorded

United States geological survey monitors earthquakes worldwide and indicated the quake registered 7.8 on the Richter Scale; China which is closer to the core also monitors global quakes through the China Earthquake Network Center and has stated the Nepal earthquake had a force of 8.1.

The difference, at .03 points of seismic activity, may seem minor. If the Chinese calculations are correct the measurement of the Nepalese earthquake increases the strength of the quake 2.8 times stronger than originally believed.

The major shallow focused 7.8 earthquake that struck Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, Saturday was followed by three significant aftershocks, registering at least 6.7 on the Richter scale, and 67 additional smaller aftershocks that continue to rattle the Tibetan nation.

With sustained shaking, for nearly 90seconds, first reports indicated widespread destruction. Even with immediate images from credible sources the extensive damage, especially to those cultural religious symbols that sustain the population in hardship, was difficult to fathom.

Ancient temples that stood for thousands of years were reduced to rubble.

Residents Receiving Emergency Kits

After the initial delays Nepalese in Kathmandu and surrounding villages are finally receiving emergency care kits.

First responder needs including tents, tarps and items for babies, are being distributed through CARE and other humanitarian organizations. Tent cities have sprouted in most open areas.

The few bright spots in rescue this week were a 101 year-old man who survived a week when his home crashed in around him and a three month old baby. Others were rescued as well.

By week's end, the crucial seven day period passed and although there are rare instances when survivors have been found beyond that time frame it is rare and Nepalese officials are now deeming the mission a recovery effort.

Rescue, for the nearly 4 million affected by the initial quake and significant aftershocks, are severely hampered by lack of equipment, unstable and potentially dangerous buildings and fear of additional aftershocks.

Immediate Cremation, Death, Decay and Disease

 As Post Traumatic Stress sets in, Nepalese are faced with the double trauma of loss of all replaceable possessions as well as the loss of loved ones.

Immediate and mass creations are orchestrated as government officials become concerned over the outbreak of disease.

Baltimore Erupts With Continued Violence Over Freddie Gray

Two weeks after the death at the hands of Baltimore Police, the city where Freddie Gray lived remains a war zone as residents and supporters have continued to stage protests that dissolve quickly into civil disobedience, looting and violence, as frustration builds.

President Obama used "some tough language to differentiate between the responsible actions of the vast majority from the criminal actions of a very small group of individuals," Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.

The President also went the next step of praising those individuals who actually sought to defuse the violence, which we did see leaders in the community, many of them were members of the clergy, who did try to confront those who were engaged in criminal acts and get them to stop.  And the President certainly believes that their courage in speaking out and trying to prevent that kind of violence and criminal behavior is also worthy of our praise and recognition, "Earnest said.

A small time, petty drug dealer, with a criminal record, Gray was arrested on the morning of April 12, 2015. The arrest was videotaped and contradicted reports made by police officers who have since been indicted on a range of charges including murder.

After almost a year that included three other well known, unprovoked and publicized killings of unarmed black men, Baltimore Police were surprisingly bold and aggressive in the pursuit, capture and arrest.

Six officer have been charged in connection with the death of Freddie Gray. The most severe, Caesar R. Goodson Jr., Second Degree Depraved Heart Murder, or Depraved Indifference which basically means the person charged has no thought or conscience in regards to their actions.

William G. Porter, Brian W. Rice, Edward M. Nero, Garrett Miller, Alicia D. Whitewere charged with second-degree assault, manslaughter by vehicle, misconduct in office and false imprisonment.

The indictments did little to calm the continued violence. Lawlessness swelled and those in positions of authority including African American Mayor, name the name, explained she would restore order to her city.

As in other well publicized cases, the National Guard has been called to restore calm and enforce curfews. Violence continues and arrests have been made. A week long chapter of violence is closing. The curfew has been lifted immediately and residents are free to be on the streets at any hour without fear of arrest or repercussions.

Senator Bernie Sanders Announces Presidential Plans

Senator Bernie Sanders, (D-VT) announced his intent, April 30, 2015, to run for the Democratic Party's nomination for President in 2016.

Sanders, the first challenger to Hillary Clinton's bid, has served the people of the State of Vermont since his election as congressman in 1991. In 2007 after 16 years as Congressman he was elected Senator. He also served as the Mayor of Burlington, Vermont from 1981-1989.

Although registered Democrat his opinions separate himself from the Obama polices. Sanders believes in stricter regulations from Wall Street, he is opposed to Free Trade and the Keystone pipeline, increase tax on the wealthy and corporation and offer tuition free higher education at public universities.

He speaks freely of the deep income disparity and wealth inequality. His message is welcomed an he raised over 1.5million in the first 24 hours more than any republican candidate raised during the same time after announcing presidential bids.

Liberation of Dachau Remembered

American forces liberated this first Nazi Death Camp 70 Years ago.

Dachau is a lesson in the evolution of darkness, how unchecked intolerance and hatred spiral out of control. Dachau held political prisoners and opponents of the Third Reich. For the many who suffered and died in this darkness, we remember them today.

Hate and the spread of evil throughout our modern world must be stopped.

"Drawing from the words of Captain Timothy Brennan, who wrote to his wife and child after liberating the camp, "You cannot imagine that such things exist in a civilized world," we fervently vow that such atrocities will never happen again.  History will not repeat itself," the President said in a released statement.

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

Sources: Whitehouse.org, Wikipedia.com

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