Beltway Insider: UK Hosts G8 Summit; Obama Heads to Germany; NSA Whistleblower On The Run; Student Loan Vote Stalled

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President Barack Obama headed to Northern Ireland this week to participate in the G8 Summit and meet with leaders from the world’s largest national economies to discuss the most pressing global concerns.

According to Gallup, President Obama’s job approval, over the past week, dropped two percentage points to 46% of those polled approve of his effectiveness as President and those who disapprove of his effectiveness as President gained two percentage point to 46%.

UK Hosts G8 Summit

The recent G8 Summit, held this week in Loch Erne Northern Ireland and hosted by Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom, produced few solutions to the global problems that plague the nations.

Along with President Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron, world leaders including Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada, President Francois Hollande of France, Chancellor Enrico Letta of Italy, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, Russian President Vladimir Putin, European Union was represented by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy.

Syrian’s Civil War became the primary topic throughout the two day meeting as President Obama and Russian President Putin spoke candidly on the recent Syrian developments.

President Obama has been under intense pressure to arm vetted Syrian rebels and President Putin was clear the West stood think very carefully before making a decision that delivers weapons into the hands of those who may be responsible for further action outside the Syrian borders.

While some world leaders are convinced the Assad regime will be toppled soon and have effectively hammered out a plan to have a working government in place so to diminish any chaos that will ensue once the leader is deposed, not all believe it will end soon.

President Obama has increased the humanitarian aid package by $300million bringing the total U.S. Syrian refugee aid package to $500million pledged this year alone. The total aid package pledged by the United States since the civil war begin two years ago is $815million.

The additional $300million in humanitarian aid packages are designed to offset the spending of those countries closest to the war zone and are spread across six different nations including over $100million earmarked for Syria.  

Five additional nations including Jordan, Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon and Egypt are all receiving part of the Syrian Humanitarian Aid funding package with Lebanon on the high end with over $72million and Egypt the lowest with six million.

The funding within the borders of Syria is intended to assist in life saving first responder needs including food, blankets, hygiene needs, and shelters.

The meeting also included a working dinner between Russian’s Putin and President Obama that ended with a released statement and with Syria dominating, the two superpowers indicated that while the objectives are different they both agree that reducing the violence and casualty are paramount.

While many other problems that plague the world including food security and the global scarcity of food, nutrition and sexual violence in conflict the global leaders found this was not the forum to present detailed plans to counter these measures.

The two day meeting including over 95 global issues and point of interest to be discussed including Climate Change, Terrorism and Counter Terror Measures as well as Tax and Development, Corporate Tax Evasion and transparency of Companies and Legal Arrangements with all G8 members united on ending any type of tax avoidance.

Although discussions on Foreign Policy and Nuclear Armament were also planned as well as talks on Partnership with Arab Countries in Transition, Syria and its Civil War clearly dominated.

Obama Speaks at Brandenburg Gate
President Obama completed his European trip with a visit to Brandenburg Gate where he was greeted with rousing and continuous applause throughout his thirty minute speech.

Brandenburg Gate stands as a symbol of freedom where for decades the two countries East and West Germany were divided by the Berlin Wall which during the wave of democracy, much like the Arab Spring, that swept through Eastern European countries in the late 1980’s resulted in the fall of the Berlin Wall and a reunified Germany in 1990.

President Obama is not the first U.S. President to stand in address Berliners, President John F. Kennedy greeted the people with ‘Ich bin ein Berliner” (I am a Berliner) and endeared himself to a new generation.

Obama remembered that day in his speech and called for a new era of freedom where East and West no longer separated. He mentioned Chancellor Merkel, a child of the East, born in a divided Germany now Mayor of the West to a free Germany.

He also spoke of the American ideals “all men are created equal” with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” which Germany has declared a similar creed within their basic law and spoke of the rise of nations adhering to the united Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights which “recognizes the inherent dignity and rights of all members of our human family.”

The speech was designed to increase the pressure on Syria and any opposition to the removal of the Assad regime and to build the swell of human rights awareness across Europe.

NSA Whistleblower On The Run; Flees U.S. Jurisdiction

Edward Snowden, the 29 year old NSA whistle blower, has left Hong Kong and arrived in Ecuador, accompanied by a Wikileaks representative, with the full intent of seeking political asylum.

President Obama has requested every Latin American Government to deny his petition and refuse his entry.  Snowden has been indicted by the United States Government for espionage.

Early reports of Snowden’s attempt to seek asylum in Russia in an effort to elude arrest and capture were erroneous.

Snowden, a contracted employer, was responsible for leaking to the Guardian, documents proving the National Security Agency had participated in mass surveillance of private citizens and had requested and secured millions of Verizon telephone numbers.  He also disclosed additional materials on Top Secret classified information.

This is not the first revelation of mass surveillance by the NSA involving a joint U.S.-UK mission. Although it is the first to provide the documents that prove the existence of these types of privacy violations and the first that wasn't released through the Pentagon Public Relations department.

The Associated Press provided a peek into the newest mass surveillance techniques as far back as June 2003 when the article "Pentagon's Diary Gets Personal" briefly detailed the beginnings of a new military training tool that would include the use of molar "chip" implants.  While privacy advocates challenged the Pentagon's decision the mainstream media allowed the revelation to pass with barely a whisper.

The Life-logging program originally designed to provide Counter-terror support through ground reconnaissance was allegedly shelved after it had been put out for contract bid.

Media, worldwide, has generally responded positively over the Snowden leaks. Government officials have largely and vocally denounced Snowden’s action and have called for his arrest and extradition.

Student Loan Vote Stalled

A critical vote is looming as Congress considers a bill that would freeze interest on student loans for the next two years.

Currently, interest on student loans is set to increase by double, from 3.4% to 6.8%, by July 1 unless emergency action is taken that would essentially stop the interest gouging efforts of Sallie Mae.

For those who wish to invest in bettering their future through higher education student loan can be the only possibility for achieving the dream. The unfortunate and downside of higher education are the rising cost of education as well as the student loans.

Now as Congress debates the future of millions of student loans holders that will, should the interest double, be forced to make additional cost cutting decisions at home that will reduce family spending and increase the monthly student loan payment in order to lower the principal balance to decrease the interest.

 

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

 

Sources; Gallup, Wikipedia, Whitehouse.gov,

 

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