Beltway Insider: Russia Grants Snowden Asylum; Syrian Rebel Package; Global Terror Alert; July Job Numbers

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President Obama saw a glimmer of economic hope last week as July Job numbers were released which showed a significant drop in the overall unemployment situation and slight gains in job creation and growth.

According to Gallup, President Obama’s job approval, over the past week, dropped two percentage points to 44% of those polled approve of his effectiveness as President and those who disapprove of his effectiveness as President rose one percentage point to 48%.

Edward Snowden Granted Temporary Asylum in Russia

Edward Snowden, the NSA leaker, has been granted temporary asylum in Russia. The Russian Federal Migration Service has recently approved a one year request, after it became apparent that no other nation would take the 30 year-old former government contractor.

Snowden, who spent more than a month in Russian’s Sheremetyevo Airport, has been accused by the United States government of leaking classified secrets stolen from the National Security Agency during his employment as a Boaz Hamilton service provider.

The specific details of the sensitive information include mass surveillance operations including PRISM, the NSA call database, and information on an operation named “Boundless Informant.” He also revealed details of Tempora, a British black-ops surveillance program run by the NSA’s British partner, Government Communications Headquarters (CGHQ).

After the announcement The White House issued a statement through Press Secretary Jay Carney “We’re very disappointed, extremely disappointed in Russia’s decision to provide temporary asylum to Mr. Snowden.  And we made clear both privately and publicly that there was ample legal justification for his expulsion from Russia and return to the United States.

He added, “That's a discussion we've had with Russia as well as with other countries that might have been considering providing asylum to Mr. Snowden.  And those views were I think clearly stated both publicly and privately, and I don't think there was any confusion about them.”

Snowden Strains Diplomatic Relations; G20 Attendance Uncertain

The recent developments in the Snowden situation has strained U.S.-Russian diplomatic ties and created a dramatic shift in dealing with the Superpower.

President Obama has not stated if he will attend or boycott the upcoming G-20 Summit, as the White House is still evaluating its position. The Summit, scheduled for September in St. Petersburg, Russia, will gather the leaders from the world’s 20 largest nations to address global issues such as economic growth and job creation.

According to Press Secretary Carney, speaking on President Obama attending the G-20, “Obviously this is not a positive development.  And we have a wide range of interests with the Russians, and we are evaluating the utility of a summit.”

Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Lindsey Graham, (R-SC), prior to the announcement of Snowden’s asylum, introduced a resolution to have the summit moved to a neutral nation. This action has not been addressed by the White House nor has any decisions been presented regarding the boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics which was also presented as a retaliatory option.

U.S. Russian Relations; Is Snowden Worth The Risk

In addressing the recent turn of events the White House reminded all of the delicate nature of the relationship with the Federation of Russia. 

The United States describes its ties with Russia, "as a broad and important relationship. It encompasses areas of cooperation and agreement, as well as areas of disagreement and conflict."

With the overall goals of each nation are similar including economic growth, job creation, fighting the global recession as well as Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and combating the spread of terrorism, according to Press secretary Carney, "we had  long stated, as had President Putin, that we did not want this issue of Mr. Snowden o become a problem in our bilateral relationship because of its breadth and importance." So we will obviously assess this and be in consultation with the Russian government moving forward."

Those concerns are echoed across the Hill as the United States seeks to determine the best course of action in dealing realistically with the superpower as the Snowden situation continues to play out in the public eye.

Russia, Syria and the Rebel Weapons Package

The recent escalation of U.S. involvement in the Syrian Civil War has also added to the strained relations with Russia who is the strongest foreign ally of Syrian’s President Bashar al-Assad.

With both superpowers supplying military aid, the United States aligns with democracy and the freedom fighters and Russia fulfilling a 2012 military order for S-300 missiles to the Assad military, the two nations have drawn the proverbial line as to allegiance and commitment.

Many are calling Obama’s Syrian policy a failure and according to the White House, “On the issue of the use of chemical weapons, we have said and continue to say that all parties in Syria should facilitate the U.N. team’s efforts to complete its mission to investigate the use of chemical weapons. “

Russian President Vladimir Putin and other nations are suspect of the United States data released on the recent use of chemical weapons and Yuri Ushakov, the Kremlin's top foreign-policy aide, said Friday, according to Russian news agencies"We had a meeting with American representatives in which Americans tried to present information to us about the regime's use of chemical weapons, but frankly speaking, the evidence Americans set out looks unconvincing."

Vetted Syrian rebels will begin to receive military aid, according to sources, light weapons in very near future. Additionally, the United States is the largest supporter of financial aid packages to the region assisting in relocating the refugees fleeing from the terror of the Assad regime.

Interpol Issues Global Terror Alert

The Interpol General Secretariat headquarters has issued a global terror alert in conjunction with the US State Department who has also issued a global terror alert until August 31, 2013.

The recent Al Qaeda assisted prison escapes, in nine Interpol member nations including Iraq, Libya and Pakistan, freed hundreds of suspected terrorist.

August is the 15th anniversary of US Embassy bombings in Nairobi, Kenya and Dar es Saalm Tanzania, and like the September 11, 2012 terror attack on the embassy in Benghazi, Libya and to Al Qaeda these dates serve as a reminder of the small victories won against the great Satan America.

In recent years, terrorist attacks focusing on diplomatic facilities in Afghanistan, Greece, India, Kenya, Libya, Pakistan, Peru, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tanzania, Turkey and Yemen have also resulted in hundreds of casualties of all nationalities.

The US State Department global travel alert in response to credible intelligence suggests that Al-Qaeda and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks between now and August 31, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa.

In addition to the US authorities announcing the one-day closure of more than 20 diplomatic missions on Sunday August 4, the UK Foreign Office has also confirmed the closure of the British embassy in Yemen on for Sunday and Monday.

July Job Numbers

July Job numbers were released this week and the economy showed small signs of growth even with the paltry 162,000 jobs added. The numbers were less than hoped for and lower than expected and still enough to finally drop the stagnant unemployment to 7.4%.

The July numbers reflect a two-tenths of a percentage drop, from 7.6%, over June unemployment numbers and total numbers of unemployed, dropped .3%, from 11.8million to 11.5million.

These small overall gains are welcome news to an economy on life support. Unfortunately, the long term unemployed, those out of work for 27 weeks or longer, did not see any fluctuation and remained at 4.2million.

Still trending in the employment sectors are temporary service placements, financial services which increased by 15,000 positions and employment in professional and business services.

Discouraged workers, those persons who have stopped looking for employment as they believe there are no positions suitable for them, rose sharply in July to 988,000.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics also released adjusted May and June employment numbers which were revised down by a total of 26,000 jobs.

August Employment numbers are scheduled to be released September 8, 2013.

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

Sources: Gallup, Wikipedia, Whitehouse.gov, Bureau of Labor Statistics

 

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