Beltway Insider: Obama/Syrian Cease Fire; North Korea; Iran; SCOTUS; Election 2016; Nancy Reagan

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President Obama reiterated his ambitious goals, in a conversation with NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly who spent a year in space, to send Astronauts to Mars by the 2030's, and solidify the United States position as a leader in space exploration.  

According to Gallup, President Obama's job approval, over the past week, remained increased three percentage points to 51% of those polled who approve of his effectiveness as President and those who disapprove of his effectiveness as President also decreased one percentage point to 46%.

Obama Explains Syrian Cease Fire Remains Precarious

President Obama, whose position on Syria has shifted dramatically over the past two years, announced an update on the Syrian Cease Fire which went into effect March 4, 2016.

Throughout the past two years, the President has often, in the strongest language possible, demanded the dictatorial leader be removed and focused all U.S. and allied effort on forcing that end.

Recent developments including the mass refugee migration, overloaded allies, the ability of ISIS to use the chaos to build a stronger base and the inability of sanctions and other mechanism employed by the coalition forces to leverage an extraction of the tyrannical leader who once used chemical weapons against his own people without punishment.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been instrumental in assisting Assad maintain his military and weaponry.

Now, as Putin has declared his allegiance to the "greater good" and in reality not aligned his nation with either side a cease fire and acknowledgment of the complete destruction of ISIS is advancing the end to a very long and baseless civil war.

The ceasefire, which includes any fighting, land engagement as well as an end to the airstrikes, should allow humanitarian aid to reach the hard hit areas of Latakia, Homs, Hama and around Damascus. Tank and artillery assault upon the civilian population is a direct violation of the cease fire agreement.

"Our goal here, remember, is the cessation of hostilities can hopefully allow for a more sustained flow of humanitarian assistance to those communities that are in dire need, and also try to provide an additional boost to the fledgling effort to reach some sort of broader political agreement inside of Syria that results in a political transition inside of Syria.  And so that diplomatic political work continues.  But that's the update that I've received about how the implementation of a cessation of hostilities is going," said Josh Earnest, White House Press Secretary.

North Korea Faces Global Sanctions

The North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, due to recent military escalations have brought strict and robust sanctions from the United Nations Security Council upon his nation for destabilizing the region with nuclear testing.

In retaliation, Jong-Un has told his military to be on stand by and prepared for a pre-emptive strike at a moment's notice.

The United Nation Security Council Resolution 2270 contains the most extensive multilateral sanctions which is in direct response to the international community sending a strong message condemning North Korea's use of weapons of mass destruction and proliferation activity.

"The package that's been put together at the U.N. is a significant one, and it would significantly tighten the screws on the North Korean regime.  It would subject all cargo going in and out of the DPRK to mandatory inspection.  That would be the first time that that kind of -- that those kind of mandatory inspections would apply to all of the cargo moving in and out of the DPRK.  The package includes a prohibition on all small arms and other conventional weapons going to North Korea," Earnest said.

Kim Jong-Un has essentially placed his nation on the path to broad sectoral sanctions including economic and banning exports including iron, gold, titanium and other rare earth elements, that alone will have significant impact on the North Korean economy.

Iranian Elections Boost Rouhani Position

In the same style the elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, ushering in a new season for the sanction strapped nation, recent elections have split the government with run offs apparent.

Rouhani celebrated, even while the White House withheld direct comment on the elections, as he believes the voice of the people have spoken and opened a new possibilities of change.

Globally, Iran is still under much scrutiny over the Nuclear Deal and will remain forever under the watchful eye of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The two nations, one pledging to annihilate the other and the other promising full defense of its homeland, have recently lived in an extended state of calm.

In other Iranian News:

Iranian billionaire Babek Zanjani, 40, with an estimated wealth of $14billion was sentenced to death for corruption. Arrested in December the oil tycoon has been blacklisted by both the United States government and the EU for his role in selling oil in violation of international sanctions.

Zanjani, has 20 days to appeal his sentence and can possibly advance his cause by repaying the $2 billion he is accused of pilfering from the Iranian government.

Also Beltway Insider: Obama/ISIS/Syria/Turkey Update: Election 2016; Brie Larson

SCOTUS – Search for a Supreme Court Justice Nominee

The recent death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia brought the unexpected challenge of finding a replacement for the conservative and well-liked justice to the final months in President Obama's term.

"Our strategy is simply that the President will fulfill his constitutional responsibility and we're going to appeal to members of the United States Senate that they should put their constitutional responsibility ahead of any sort of political calculation that their party leaders may be making," said White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest.

Speculation over the possible replacement began the moment the unfortunate news filtered out that Justice Scalia has died of a heart attack in his sleep.

An appropriate waiting period seems to have come to an end as first formal meetings were held this week in the Oval office with the chair and ranking members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Democratic and republican leaders in Congress.

With each of these groups offering suggestions, at the invitation of the President, the process for a replacement which has to be voted on after confirmation hearings which can be time consuming, investigatory and rigorous could be lengthy.

The President has indicated he does believe the court is operating at a handicap and believes a deadline, a personal deadline, of 30 days is sufficient to set forth a replacement name. The court has also taken on an Abortion case which if argued and decided under the current court make-up could alter Abortion law.

Other SCOTUS Search News:

Brian Dees has been put in charge of the process by President Obama. Dees, has worked in a variety of capabilities across several agendas of the President and the will be organizing a broader process as the SCOTUS search moves to full on mode.

Election 2016 – Clinton Solidifies Her Lead; Trump, Cruz Battle For Nomination

Super Saturday, the first of the primary elections following Super Tuesday, resulted in some of the highest Republican voter turnouts across the four states, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana and Maine where GOP held primaries.

Democratic primaries in Kansas, Louisiana and Nebraska were also held on Saturday and Maine on Sunday.

Donald Trump expecting a sweep stalled briefly on Saturday and split the day with Texas Senator Ted Cruz.

The two are separated by 84 delegates in the overall totals. Trump remains at 384 delegates; Cruz at 300, Marco Rubio who did not win any states on Saturday holds 151 delegates.

Ohio Governor John Kasich, who has just picked up an endorsement from former California Republican Governor Arnold "The Terminator" Schwarzenegger, has 37.  Kasich is becoming the reluctant candidate and quite possible should a brokered convention become a reality the victor of spoils he didn't earn.

Former pediatric Neurosurgeon Ben Carson made the announcement this past week that he was suspending his pursuit of the presidency.

Former GOP President Mitt Romney has jumped into the Donald Trump fray as a host of well-known names has also decided to explain to the American people, who quiet honestly are capable of making up their own minds, why they should not use their right to vote on him. People generally do exactly the opposite of what they are told to do.

Saturday and Sunday were not strong showings for presumptive democratic presidential candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Of the Four total states available on the two-day swing for the democrats, her chief and only challenger, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders won three of four states.

Clinton took Louisiana in a trouncing 71% victory.

Sanders is clearly connecting with the disenfranchised voter and even with his victories in Kansas, Nebraska, and Sunday's win in Maine, it seems nearly impossible the Senator could upset the momentum Clinton continues to gain.

She remains the candidate of choice across a wide berth of the American public. It is impossible to claim one group or demographic will put her in the White House her base may be disenfranchised voters or depressed communities and she also pulls in long time high profile, high net worth, democratic donors.

The dysfunction among the republican candidates does more to help the cause of the Democrats.

Sanders has proven he brings a base core to the White House just as Clinton did when she challenged Barack Obama and garnered 17million voters. She could have and possibly should have made the ticket and didn't.

Sanders is facing the same equation. Yes, he has made his presence known and quite possibly should be considered for a Vice President spot. Will he? It remains to be seen. He'll definitely be speaking in primetime at the Democratic Convention.  

Nancy Reagan Dies

Former First Lady Nancy Reagan, the wife of Republican President Ronald Reagan, died today of natural causes at her home in Bel-Air California. She was 94.

Reagan, who after her husband Alzheimer diagnosis she became a passionate supporter of research and cure for the disease that deteriorates the memory and intellect the mind. She guarded with grace and dignity, his memory and contributions as 40th President of the United States.

Mrs. Reagan was perceived as the pillar of strength when her husband and former White House Press Secretary James Brady were shot in an assassination attempt. She became a champion of the Brady Bill, which officially became known as the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act. The Brady Bill also became the first real common sense gun control legislation.

Nancy Davis Regan was born in Flushing New York, in 1921. Moving to Los Angeles, she became a successful screen actress in the 1940's and 1950's. She married fellow actor, Ronald Reagan in 1952. They had two children, Patti and Ron. She became First lady of California when her husband was elected Governor in 1967. She worked on several high profile causes, Alzheimer's and Stem Cell Research, until her death.

Reagan is survived by her children.

Joey Feek Dies

Country music star Joey Feek, one half of the duo Joey and Rory, died this week after a very public and courageous battle with Cervical Cancer. She was 40.

Rory Feek created a blog, This Life I Live, and chronicled his wife's valiant effort to fight. In postings so generous and emotionally moving the two shared the final days of her life.

Memories of life, love, God and traditions held the ailing Feek as husband Rory said "Sometimes there just aren't enough surgeries, or doctors, or chemotherapies or prayers." Which is when the couple said enough.

In one of the final postings, Feek is described as making a conscious decision to stop fighting and said, "The flower would soon be blooming back in Tennessee. It's time to go home."

Feek is survived by her daughter Indiana, 2, who just celebrated her birthday, her husband, Rory and two step-daughters.

Pat Conroy

Pat Conroy, writer, novelists and author of The Prince of Tides, which was made into a movie starring Barbara Streisand and Nick Nolte, has died in his hometown of Beaumont South Carolina of Pancreatic Cancer. He was 70.

Conroy was known as a great American southern writer based many of his characters on his own life incorporating the abusive environments he survived to become the driving force of his character.

Two of his novels, The Great Santini and The Prince of Tides, were nominated for academy awards.

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

Sources: Whitehouse.gov, Wikipedia.com,

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