Beltway Insider: Obama Returns to WH; ISIS Hit; Global Violence Erupts; Macedonia; Hurricane Katrina

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President Obama returned from his annual vacation renewed and ready to lobby for the passage of the historic Iranian nuclear deal that has been subject to intense scrutiny and debate from Senate members, candidates, lobbyists and pundits.

 

According to Gallup, President Obama's job approval, over the past week, decreased three percentage points to 42% of those polled who approve of his effectiveness as President and those who disapprove of his effectiveness as President increased three percentage points to 53%.

Obama Ends Vacation; Returns to White House

President Obama, the First Lady and family returned to the White House today departing from Martha's Vineyard aboard Marine One destined for the Coast Guard Station at Cape Cod. The First Family traveled aboard Air Force One for the remainder of the journey back to Washington D.C.

The final week of the Obama family vacation merged into a working vacation as several key issues were presented demanded the President's review.

Obama Speaks With French President

Returning to full duties President Obama immediately called President Francois Hollande of France and both Presidents "reiterated their commitment to continue and to reinforce the strong cooperation that exists between our two countries and among our other partners to combat the scourge of terrorism."

With new details on the thwarted attack emerging it is generally accepted the heroic actions of the three Americans stopped a massacre aboard the high speed train bound for France.

Both Presidents agreed "the three along with a French and British passenger, had demonstrated remarkable bravery and acted without regards for their own safety in order to subdue a heavily armed individual who appeared intent on causing mass causalities."

Washington Emergency Declaration

Obama was also pressed into action and declared a "state of emergency exists" in Washington state. Wild fires have continued to rage, essentially uncontrolled, since they began August 13, 2015, with weather conditions as much as factor as the drought.

Twelve counties and four Indian Reservations are covered in the emergency measure which provides funding to lessen or avert the threat of catastrophe.

Three members of an elite fire squad were killed near Twisp Washington when the vehicle they were driving crashed and was overcome with flames. Three others were injured, one man severely burned.

The fires have been particularly brutal over the North West with 355sq miles burned and 10% contained.

EPA Toxic Spill

The President has not yet addressed the Toxic Waste Spill the Environmental Protection Agency admitted to causing while attempting to clean an inactive mine pipeline.

The Animas River, outside of Silverton, Colorado, has turned mustard yellow. The sludge filled river has now polluted three states with more than three millions of gallons of acid mine waste. The spill is considerable greater and more damaging than what was originally thought.   

The EPA has deemed the spill not hazardous and lifted all recreational restrictions. Federal, state and country officials have deemed the water "safe" for recreational activities. Recreational contact, under normal conditions, would be limited and falls into the safe zone of exposure.

Durango and La Plata County have declared a state of emergency. Counties along the river that runs from Silverton Colorado to the border of New Mexico, have stopped pulling water from the river for personal use.

ISIS/ISIL No. 2 Killed

United States Military dealt a major blow to the organizational structure of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIS/ISIL, killing Deputy Leader Fadhil Ahmed al-Hayali during an air strike on the road to Mosul, Iraq.

"Al-Hayali was an ISIL Shura Council member and, as the senior deputy to ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was a primary coordinator for moving large amounts of weapons, explosives, vehicles, and people between Iraq and Syria.  He supported ISIL operations in both countries and was in charge of ISIL operations in Iraq, where he was instrumental in planning operations over the past two years, including the ISIL offensive in Mosul in June 2014," said National Security Council Spokesperson, Ned Price.

ISIS/ISIL Retaliates

ISIS/ISIL has launched a major offensive in the ancient city of Palmyra, Syria in retaliation against the major strike that killed a senior member of the ISIS military structure.

Palmyra, a Syrian city, has been under ISIS/ISIL control for the past four months. Without regard for history or ancestral artifacts, ISIS/ISIL teams have systemically destroyed, in actions similar to Adolf Hitler's Third Reich, 2000 year old priceless art pieces and began a new offensive, Monday, August 24 when the terrorist organization blew up the Baalshamin Temple.

The Baalshamin Temple, a historic and culturally significant shrine that has withstood the harshness of elements, nature, weather and time was destroyed by the hatred and brutality of man.

New Wave of Violence Erupts; Twin Bangkok Bombings; France Attack; Greece-Macedonia

A new wave of mass casualty intended unrelated violence has erupted across the globe with twin bombings in Bangkok that killed more than 20, the thwarted Parisian Train attack that would have left dozens dead, a Kabul car bomb and the second Malaysian mass graves unearthed.

Bangkok officials have released a photo of the individual they believe is responsible for the first bombing that occurred outside a popular temple killing 19 and injuring more than 120. Although authorities have narrowed the search they have stated they are not confident that the person, identified as a male, wearing a yellow shirt, will be captured.

The second blast immediately followed. Government officials believe the twin explosions were intended to scare away tourists and damage the economy.

Paris Train Attack

News reports blasted to the world from the scene of the latest ISIS/ISIL attack is different. A joint American/ France Press conference was held with three unassuming American men, two currently enlisted, explaining to a grateful audience their actions that stopped an attack intended to be a mass casualty kill.

Jane D. Hartley, U.S. Ambassador to France, introduced U.S. Airman Spencer Stone, 23, National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos, 22, from Roseburg, Ore., and their friend, Anthony Sadler, 23, recounted the story of their actions which saved countless lives and the first real turning point in mass casualty

Usually going unimpeded, the single gunman Ayoub el-Khazzani, 26, a known ISIS/ISIL lone wolf, was overheard loading weapons by the trio who instinctively, as a group, jumped on the attacker and wrestled him to the ground.

The three, friends since childhood, were traveling on the Amsterdam-to-Paris bullet train.

Greece-Macedonia Refugees Overwhelm Border Guards

Macedonia, nearly 16 years after the terror reign of Slobodan Milosevic, are faced with another international crisis as refugees are attempting to cross into the Balkan nation to find safe haven after departing Syria and other Middle Eastern nations.

The Syrian Civil War, which is now nearing five years, coupled with the ISIS/ISIL is driving refugees to seek out untraditional migrant pathways.

Initially the five countries bordering Syria absorbed the majority of those fleeing Basher al-Assad. With the instability of the region, the expanding dominion and war zone of ISIS and Iraq, the U.S. Airstrikes and coalition assistance, and the uncertainly of time involved with reclaiming home, country and peace time economies, refugees in ever growing numbers are making the longer and more dangerous move to northern Europe.

Crossing from the Middle East into Greece and further into Macedonia is as treacherous as illegals making the trip from South America into the United States. The difference, here of course, is those fleeing have legitimate concern for home and safety.

Greece is unable and unequipped to handle the refugee situation without the similar financial promises from the United States afforded the five nations surrounding Syria. Greece has no other option than to allow passage through the country or turn the needing away.

With an unemployment rate of 27.6, nearly half the population is out of work and collecting some sort of assistance from the government, in addition to those collecting pensions and others who receive government supplement for any number of reasons, Greece while no longer in the headlines is still faced with deepening fiscal realities.

Refugees, of which more than 142,000  have arrived by sea since June 1 with numbers growing daily, have been silently making their way through the fiscally stricken nation to any border that allow them access to Macedonia.

This wave of refugees is not the first for the Balkan nation. During the Kosovo War in the late 1990's Macedonia erected tent cities to allow refugees from neighboring Kosovo to stay close to home knowing, as in the five countries neighboring Syria, the majority would return to their homeland.

Recognizing this new wave of refugees are determined to make a better life and escape, with a sense of permanency the cyclical battlefield of the Middle East, they present an entirely new scenario.

Macedonia has responded with friendship of a nation and people who understand as war torn is not so far removed from their vocabulary and memory that they cannot place themselves in the same situation.

Officials are offering those Middle Eastern refugees entering the country illegally three days to register and exit or register and apply for asylum.

The Greece-Macedonia situation is extremely fluid as the refugees, exhausted, blinded by desperation, have resorted to aggressive action which borders on violence which is met with violence.  

Hurricane Katrina Remembered

Hurricane Katrina slammed into New Orleans ten years ago this week. The sheer force and magnitude of the Super Storm, a marvel of nature, perfectly formed, discernable eye, Hurricane Katrina for those who were not in her direct path she was mesmerizing.

August 23, 2005, a tropical depression formed over the Bahamas. As Katrina, for those whose expertise is to call it, to determine the pathway, intensity of the weather phenomenon, became one for the record books.

Meteorologists begin to watch the development, the perfection of the upgraded and named storm, with concern, this one would hit.

Tropical Storm Katrina, moved quickly to Hurricane status, the pathway becoming the only variable, meteorologists began to see the cone model shifting taking Katrina into the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico a basically dead end stop as she would weaken or slam with nature's fury into the Gulf Coast states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas or Alabama.

The sheer size of Katrina, who had a perfectly formed eye, discernable bands, spanning 400 miles wide and filled television screens with its intensely red/orange shades. She was dangerous.

At peak a Category 5 Hurricane, packing winds of 175 mph, Katrina weakened into a Category 3 storm before slamming into New Orleans.

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin issued a mandatory evacuation for all New Orleans residents. The warnings had been increasing throughout the week, residents were ordered to seek shelter, find higher ground, as New Orleans is built in a bowl formation, actually the only city in the United States that is below sea level.

Surrounded by a levee, the question became would the levee hold. After a week of strengthening, inspecting, calculating, prayers became the only hope.

Before the strength of the Hurricane would make land, she sent her calling card dumping nearly nine hours of rain stretching further and further inland as Katrina approached.

Hurricane Katrina slammed into the city, August 29, 2005 a Category 3 storm with sustain winds of 115 mph. Katrina's storm surge caused 53 different levee breaches and submerged 80% of the city. The brute force of the storm caused breeches in all levees surrounding the city, including the Mississippi River levee which caused flooding from the east, the southern levees were breeched during landfall.

The Ninth Ward and St. Bernard Parish, one of a dozen parishes, hit hard by the storm surge with drove nearly 15 feet of water into these low-lying areas. In Mississippi, the storm surge drove water six to 12 miles inland along with boats and gambling barges.

Katrina by the Numbers

Katrina left 900,000 Louisiana residents without power, bridges connecting the city to the mainland were destroyed, St. Bernard Parish lost 80% of it housing units, St. Tammany, 70% and Placquemines Parish, 80%.

With the extensive damage caused in New Orleans, it is difficult to imagine the most powerful storm surge of Hurricane Katrina was measured at 27foot which pushed inland six miles in Mississippi.

After the storm ended, Katrina would be recorded as the costliest storm in history causing more than 108billion dollars in damage, almost double Super storm Sandy that bruised Manhattan and the New Jersey Shore. The official death toll stands at 1,833. At least 90,000 square miles of the United States were effected, three million people had no electricity, and nearly 80% of all housing units were damaged or destroyed.  Katrina displaced more than 1million people, some of whom were relocated, given one way tickets to cities of choice as far north as Chicago. FEMA made staying around difficult.

In the end, Katrina made two landfalls, and while she dissipated she spawned tornadoes, and cut a swath through the mid-Atlantic and eastern seaboard states and an indelible mark in the memory of those who lived through it.

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

To Listen to President Obama's Spotify Playlists: https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2015/08/14/white-house-just-joined-spotify-listen-presidents-summer-playlist

Sources: Whitehouse.org, Wikipedia.com

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