Beltway Insider: Obama/Eco Pledge; Syria/Aleppo; Election; Italy; Victoria Martens; National Parks

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President Obama, in recognition of the Centennial celebration of the National Parks, signed two designations to create Maine's North Woods a National Monument and adding to Hawaii's Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument increasing protected lands to 265Million acres.

 

According to Gallup, President Obama's job approval, over the past week, decreased by two percentage points to 52% of those polled who approve of his effectiveness as President and those who disapprove of his effectiveness as President increased one percentage point to 44%. 

President Obama Maintains Commitment to Ecological Protection

As the Obama Presidency nears its conclusion, he is moving ahead fulfilling promises that will continue his legacy into the next generations by the historic steps in creating the largest protected area just off the coast of Hawaii.

"The designation will more than quadruple the size of the existing marine monument, permanently protecting pristine coral reefs, deep-sea marine habitats, and other important ecological features and resources in the waters of the northwest Hawaiian Islands.  Altogether, President Obama has protected more public lands and waters than any other President, and has protected important marine coastal environments, spectacular natural areas renowned for their outdoor recreation opportunities they offer," said White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest.

Also Beltway Insider: Obama/Vacation/Louisiana; Syrian Civil War; Turkey; ISIS; Election; Berlin Wall; Olympics

Aleppo Civilians Targeted Again

The Syrian city of Aleppo, a stronghold for the resistance and home to many Syrian civilians who have refused to leave their homeland, was the target of two barrel bombs dropped by helicopter targeting a funeral.

The sixteen women and children that died as a result were just the latest in the effort of Bashar Al Assad's effort to squash the resistance army, supported by the United States and other allies, by crippling those who support them.

The six-year civil war that is essentially a standoff between two superpowers, as the United States supports the freedom fighters and a new democratically elected government and the Russians, under the leadership of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iraq, support the dictatorial and tyrannical government of Syrian President Bashar al Assad.

Citizens, without loyalty to either side, face the fallout as the two superpowers square off on Syrian soil. Images of bloodied children rescued from bombed out buildings, or washed ashore drowned or laboring while crossing a desert to be reunited with his parents have yet to create the motivation to work through a cease fire agreement.

After a night of bombing raids families mourn the loss of innocent lives again. Surviving the day and one more bombing raid does not guarantee life tomorrow in war torn Syria.

Election 2016: Candidates Fall Short on Important Foreign Policy Issues

With the historic 2016 election just over two months away, Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican Presidential Candidate Donald J. Trump, are hammering away at the political and position foundation of the other candidate.

Hot button issues and defining positions are narrowing and as horrific and graphic images emerge from Syria the failed foreign policy of the current administration and by extension the inability of former Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton to broker or stave off the residual effects of Arab Spring which was the dynamite behind the six year Syrian civil war.

The Obama Administration's current policy in Syria has failed. The objectives set forth over the past four years have yet to be realized. The only through line remains the continued suffering of the citizens of Syria who have no allegiance expect to peace.

While former Secretary of State Clinton has yet to announce any deviation from the current failed Syrian policy one would expect her to present a more impressive resolution to the current unrest instead of embracing the Obama administration's weak foreign policy and simply becoming the Obama third term many expect.

On the Republican side, GOP Presidential Candidate Trump is not expected to have the expertise and while not forgiven for his lack of knowledge a comprehensive plan for dealing with the six-year civil war is not expected.

Before the failed Peace talks of 2015 the United States had demanded a transitional government that did not include Assad. Secretary of State Kerry has not made the same demands now that Russia is backing the Syrian leader.

The Obama Administration had maintained as part of the Syrian Foreign Policy the end of the Assad government. The staunch, in the strongest possible language directives presented weekly during the White House Press Corps have become watered down to while it remains the possible directive of the United Government to have Assad removed from office – which represents failed foreign policy.

Much more is expected of the next president. A failed Syrian Policy cannot continue into the next administration

The children of war, the Tide of death washing ashore hundreds of Syrian children as the hopes of escape are lost at sea; bombing raids that miss their intended target and murder innocent children and families, refugees left wandering he desert, migrating to countries where they are free, safe and desperately lost from Posttraumatic Stress.

The misguided bombings by any of the sixty-six nation coalition is more than "my bad" and murdered and maimed citizens are more than casualties of war.

While it apparently is not the policy of this administration to actively engage in an aggressive end to Assad's regime, each time an airstrike Assad one more day to kill.

With the Presidential debates beginning in September one will expect the policy which provides protection to Syrian citizens and demands action to stop Assad from continuing to rain down his evil on the people of Aleppo and through the war torn nation.

President and Vice President Debate Schedule

Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary R. Clinton and Republican Presidential candidate Donald J. Trump square off with the First Presidential debate on Monday, September 26, 2016. The Second presidential debate is scheduled for Sunday October 9, 2016. Third Presidential Debate is scheduled for Wednesday October 19, 2016. The Vice Presidential debate is scheduled for Tuesday October 4, 2016.  

Italian Earthquake Buries Town

President Obama spoke with Italian President Sergio Mattarella this week, following the devastating 6.2 earthquake, that destroyed several towns burying their inhabitants, offering condolences on behalf of the American people and a pledge to provide assistance as needed.

The shallow quake struck the central Italian countryside August 23, 2016 at 3:36AM. The affected area covers a wide swath of the Italian interior with death bands from the 6.2 tremor reaching as far away as 25km northeast.

With so much of Amatrice buried, it remains difficult to gather an exact number of deaths. To date, 290 deaths have been attributed to the quake. The majority or 230 in Amatrice, 11 in Accumoli and 49 in Arquata del Tronto.  Hundreds remains unaccounted for and with time running out hope of finding any more alive is waning.

Italian officials also indicated 238 people had been pulled from the rubble alive, surviving one of the worst imaginable situation.  At this time 2100 people are homeless and are sheltered in emergency camps.

First responders rushed to the scene of a pile of rubble, nothing that would distinguish it from the identical mounds of concrete, wood, and twisted steel throughout Amatrice, the small town in central Italy that was dislodged from its foundations during a massive 6.2 earthquake that struck over the past week.

The difference for rescue workers is the faint sounds muffled by rocks, dirt and debris, clear noises indicating someone was still alive. The men frantically removed the shifting wreckage until the hand of a child, reached through into the sunlight.

Italian rescue workers haven't found any alive since that moment, more than 72 hours ago. Original reports a child, 10, had been pulled from the rubble. Unfortunately, Giulia Rinaldi, 10, whom they thought they had was actually her sister, Giorgia, 8, whom Giulia shielded during the quake. She died. Her parents survived.

With townspeople picking up the pieces, guided by International Aid workers and those not tragically connected by location, the people of Amatrice are going about the business of burying the dead.

The Italian government has staged three mass funerals in each of the three towns deeply affected. Catholicism is the guiding religion and mourners are leaning on the words of the religious leaders to help them as they process the days since the incapacitating quake.

The towns people are suffering with shock, an inability to breathe, the feel of drowning, of being swallowed by the loss, anguish, despair and sadness as they go through the motions and cling to each other, a community bound together by grief.

Victoria Martens

Victoria Martens, the ten-year-old New Mexico girl, brutally murdered on her birthday was remembered this week in a vigil attended by nearly one hundred people, and even more who placed stuffed animals, balloons, hand drawn cards and candles at a makeshift memorial near her home.

Martens, in a case that has detectives in tears and find difficult to address in specifics, had just started fourth grade at a local grade school, turned ten on Tuesday and was due to celebrate her birthday the following Wednesday at her local church where she was well known and involved.

She never made it to the celebration. Sometime between 10:00pm Tuesday, August 23, and Wednesday, August 25 at 4:30am, when local Albuquerque Police arrived at the home after a reported domestic disturbance, Victoria, a beautiful, happy, healthy child, was the victim of unspeakable and horrific crimes.

Showing depraved indifference, the three adults in the home, Michelle Martens, 35, her boyfriend, Fabian Gonzales, 31 and his cousin, Jessica Kelly, 31, intentionally preyed upon Victoria, drugging her with methamphetamine, raping her, strangling her to death and stabbing her repeatedly in the stomach.

Martens and Gonzales bored after they murdered the child, left the lifeless body and by their own admission went to bed. When they awoke some hours later, smoke was filling the apartment.

Police arrived and have indicated the three adults were in the smoke filled home, Jessica Kelly, who had been released from prison on August 15, jumped from the second story balcony in an attempt to escape.

As they searched the apartment for the child, they went into the bathroom where a blanket was smoldering. The Police officers, after putting the fire out, made the grisly discovery. A partially mutilated torso, with severed limbs, was wrapped in the blanket. By sight the child was determined to be Victoria and she was pronounced dead at the scene.

Gonzales and Kelly have extensive criminal backgrounds. Martens, who had no prior criminal record and only a single traffic violation in her entire adult life, had recently met Gonzales online. The two had been dating for approximately one month. She had agreed to allow Kelly, who had been recently released from prison for her participation in the rape of an inmate, to stay in her home.

The three are begin held in lieu of 1Million cash bonds. Gonzales has been the most vocal when reporters tossed questions out to him, as he was led away, he indicated Jessica is responsible. Statements at the time of arrest indicate Michelle Martens watched Gonzales drug the child for the purpose of sexual assault.

The three have been arraigned and are represented by Public Defenders.

National Parks Celebrate 100th Birthday 

America's National Parks turned 100 this week. The celebration was met with an expanded protection of lands, oceans, rivers, stream, eco-systems totaling 265Million acres of protected lands in this expansive and beautiful nation.

Trips to the national parks are often lampooned as left over summer vacations spent with overbearing siblings and parents hoping to expose their children to the beauty of the road trip and nature. America's National parks have grown, since their inception 100 years ago, to include some of the most pristine and breathtaking lands throughout the Nation.

The Centennial celebration includes a one-hour special presented by the Smithsonian Channel celebrating the 100th Anniversary.

"America's National Parks at 100" takes an unexpected view of the first century of our National Park System. The poster-child parks like Yosemite, Yellowstone, and Grand Canyon all have rich scenery and surprising histories. and the Bat Caves at Carlsbad Caverns to the Channel Islands that daily brings wonders to those charged with managing and exploring the National Parks have something for everyone.

With more than 400 National parks, managed by the Park Service, many are preserved not just for their scenery, but for their importance to the American story, scientific inquiry and preservation of our national treasures.

"Americas National Parks at 100" can be seen August 28, 2017 at 8:00PM. Encore performances have not yet been schedule.

For more information of The National Parks www.smithsonianchannel.com

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

Sources: Whitehouse.gov, Wikipedia.com

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