Beltway Insider: Obama Travels to Cuba; New Ebola Cases; Election 2016; Paris Terrorist Arrested; SCOTUS Nominee

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President Obama became the first president in more than 50 years to travel to Cuba, after reestablishing diplomatic relationships with the island nation, and meet with the President of the communist country to discuss beneficial and advantageous policy changes.  

According to Gallup, President Obama's job approval, over the past week, remained constant 50% of those polled who approve of his effectiveness as President and those who disapprove of his effectiveness as President decreased one percentage point to 45%.

Obama Travels to Cuba

President Obama, since the lifting of diplomatic sanctions that have been in place since the Kennedy Administration, began his first day in communist country debating with Cuba's President Raul Castro, on a variety of humanitarian issues.

Presidents Obama and Castro held a joint press conference in which the topic of political prisoners or those subject to arbitrary detention was posed.

The elderly President Castro issued a strong rebuttal, "Give me the list of political prisoners and I will release them immediately.  Just mention a list.  What political prisoners?  Give me a name or names.  After this meeting is over, you can give me a list of political prisoners.  And if we have those political prisoners, they will be released before tonight ends."

 "This trip as continuing the process that accelerated on December 17th with the announcement that the U.S. and Cuba would begin to normalize relations of taking steps to improve the lives of the Cuban people, to open up additional opportunities for engagement between Americans and Cubans, and to build a bilateral relationship in which we're able to cooperate on a range of issues with the Cuban government, as we are very clear about areas of continued disagreement, including our strong support for human rights," said Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications.

The lifting of sanctions, an olive branch to the closest communist nation, 90 miles off the Florida coast, is meant as a first step to bring together the estrangements of two nations and allow the citizens of the United States access to family, homeland and friends and allow governments to develop economic trade and cultural exchanges.

"We have given the first steps, many for being the first steps.  And we must continue giving these steps.  And I'm sure that we will be able to coexist peacefully in an environment of mutual cooperation as we are doing already in many fields for the benefit of both countries and with the benefit of other countries as we have already done -- in Haiti, with the cholera and in Africa with the Ebola.  That is the future of mankind if we want to save the humans species.  The level of water grows and the island may become smaller," Cuban President Castro said.

Paris Terrorist Arrested

Salah Abdeslam, one of the Paris Terrorist Attack masterminds, was arrested last week in Brussels Belgium after a suspicious pizza order tipped local authorities who believed after lifting his fingerprints from a dirty glass that he was still in the area.

In a released statement President Obama detailed his phone conversation with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel and French President Francois Hollande on the arrest. He commended the work of Belgian security services and noted that this significant arrest was the result of hard work and close cooperation between Belgian and French law enforcement authorities.

French and Belgium Military, state and local police task forces, surrounded what was thought to be an empty flat known as a safe house in the city section of Forest. It has been reported though many international media agencies Abdeslam was calm, eating pizza and surrounded by friends and family when the military burst through the door.

After eluding authorities since the November 13, 2015 Terrorist attacks on Paris which resulted in 130 dead and 386 injured from the actual events. Abdeslam was captured due to a dirty glass and a large pizza order. Police said he had other attacks planned, and the house had a large cache of weapons.

Authorities have pieced together a timeline that has Abdeslam leaving Paris on Saturday, November 14 with friends wh drove him to Brussels, where he has been living a "normal" life with normal daily interactions since.

As President Hollande promised "pitiless revenge" citizens of Paris and those of the free world empathized, engraved the wounds in our minds, stood together with one unified global voice and said "We are not afraid. We will not live in fear."

Obama reiterated, in the statement the United States stands together with Belgium and France in our shared struggle against the scourge of terrorism and once again pledged the full cooperation and support of the United States in these efforts, reaffirming our shared commitment to degrading and destroying the Islamic State regime

Also Beltway Insider: Obama Hosts PM Trudeau; Turkey/Ivory Coast Attacks; Election 2016; Reagan Funeral 

Election 2016 – Clinton Sweep (Finally), Trump Drives On, Kasich Wins Ohio, Rubio Out

March Madness continues with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and their respective challengers powering through the primary states hammering home the message that their leadership will be the ticket to a better America.

Clinton, Sanders Press On; Missouri Photo Finish

Missouri proved to be a tie, split decision, photo finish squeaker for the democratic candidates with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the presumptive party Presidential nominee, coming out ahead by a mere 531 votes.

As none of the Democratic primaries represented winner take all states both candidates received proportional delegates.

While by voter tallies Missouri went to Clinton by .02% electoral votes remained split evenly at 34 each. Essentially, and voters have definitely heard this logic before, the popular vote went to Mrs. Clinton and the electoral vote was equally shared between the two. Missouri was an electoral tie.

Clinton did, however, handily win the other four states, Florida, Illinois, North Carolina and Ohio.

March 22 – By the Numbers Arizona, Utah, Idaho

As the two remained locked in a fierce battle heading into the March 22, Tuesday primary they square off next in Arizona for 75 delegates, Idaho, for 23 and Utah for 33 delegates.

The Hillary machine may run out of steam this week as Team Clinton powers into a state plagued by immigration issues. Her close ties to the Obama administration bring an uncertainty to her handling of the obvious, overflowing, and illegal issues surrounding immigration.

Border Kids, an issues that has been played down recently in the election process had at one time headlined every national news services as a defining issue for the Obama White House. With the baton soon to be passed, the issue of Border Kids has yet to be resolved.

Arizona's Immigration problems remains one of the dominating issues in this state, and across America that need addressing.

Even with a Sanders sweep on Tuesday the Clinton campaign will pick up additional delegates and her current total of 1,630, including both state pledged and super delegate pledged, will only increase.

Hillary, by all accounts, should be the nominee when the Democratic National Convention meets in July and all delegates are officially awarded and entered by roll call. Today, however, if the super delegates totals are removed, Mrs. Clinton trails team Sanders by 122 pledged state awarded delegates.

Team Sanders should make a solid showing Tuesday with expected wins in Utah, Idaho and an unexpected win in Arizona.

Megalomaniac Trump Continues

Donald J. Trump who has maintained his strong lead throughout the campaign wasn't able to sweep on Tuesday as Ohioans secured the win for current Ohio Governor John Kasich ending the winning streak of Team Trump.

Trump did however win Florida, a winner take-all state, and effectively shut down Marco Rubio's campaign. Rubio, after the announcement of Mr. Trump's win, announced he was suspending his campaign. Unable to carry his home state, Rubio placed second coming trailing Mr. Trump by 440,568 votes. He won Miami-Dade County, one of the largest and was unable to carry a single other county.

Cruz and Kasich still very much contenders, both placed third and fourth.

Trump handily won Illinois winning 53 delegates, winning North Carolina he received 29 delegates, Florida he won all 99 delegates. He received nothing for Ohio as all 66 went to Governor Kasich and won 25 delegates after winning Missouri.

Citizens React to Inciting Rhetoric

Trump rallies have been plagued with violence. His incendiary remarks are creating an anarchist trickle down mentality where the common man, the everyday citizens feels he is entitled to commit crime.

Mr. Trump's often cited justification on violence, including his now infamous "riots in the streets" remarks are being played out by his staff, attendees at his rallies, and those who consider his words permission for bad and violent behavior.

With his obvious cantankerous relationship with GOP party leaders his remarks that incite violence could land him in legal trouble.

With all that said, Trump is expected to sweep on Tuesday winning Arizona and Utah.  With 1,237 delegates needed for the nomination Trump has secured 680 state pledged delegates, Cruz 424 and Kasich, 143.

State pledged delegates from candidates who have suspended their campaigns are unavailable until the GOP convention in Cleveland in July. At that time state party leaders may chose the recipient.

New Ebola Cases

The World Health Organization has deployed specialist to New Guinea, West Africa after two new Ebola cases were reported. This in addition to the more than 100 people who were quarantined, in January 2015, after exposure to the deadly virus.

Ebola has been a death sentence for much of West Africa and had, through concerted effort and medical care, been brought under control and the plague declared over. That was two months ago. Now, flare ups and isolated cases are once again causing concern for local medical personnel and World Health officials.

It is unclear if the outbreak is widespread or central to particular nations or villages.

Chief Judge Merrick Garland named SCOTUS Nominee

President Obama, after a brief search, has named Chief Judge Merrick Garland as the nominee for the Supreme Court of the United States to fill the vacancy after the untimely death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

In a Rose Garden announcement, the president said, "Merrick Garland, the Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, has more federal judicial experience than any other Supreme Court nominee in history. No one is better suited to immediately serve on the Supreme Court. Throughout his career, Chief Judge Garland has shown a rare ability to bring people together and has earned the respect of everyone he has worked with."

Garland, appointed by former President Bill Clinton, serves as the Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeal for the District of Columbia, and is an expert in Terrorism.

A Harvard and Harvard Law alum, Garland worked as a federal prosecutor in the Department of Justice and acted as lead attorney on the Oklahoma City Bombing case. Volunteering to lead the trial team, he was called back to Washington, and remotely managed the team of federal prosecutors. He remained instrumental in all aspects and decisions of the case including the call to seek the death penalty.

Obama, as all thought, did not chose a candidate that could easily sail through confirmation hearings. In 1995, Garland appointment was delayed by senate confirmation hearings for two years. He took the bench in 1997. Shortlisted for SCOTUS openings, Garland has previously been considered by the Obama Administration.

Chief Judge Merrick Garland over the years has been noted as one of fairness.

His qualifications although substantial and impeccable have not swayed Senate republicans to change their previously stated positions. Non-ranking members of the GOP have agreed, if specifically asked, they would meet, with the nominee.

GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the senate's highest ranking Republican, has moved slightly and has agreed to have a telephone meeting with the nominee.

Garland, if his past record is indicative of a strategy, will wait out the political squabbling and election process if necessary and won't be the one who withdraws his name from consideration.

For more information on President Barack Obama:



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