Beltway Insider: Obama Speaks at Navy Yard Memorial; President Visits UN; Syrian Deadline; Pravda Prints McCain Op-Ed

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President Obama again reiterated the need for common sense gun control reforms today as he spoke at the Navy Yard Memorial Service eulogizing those killed during last week’s mass shooting.

According to Gallup, President Obama’s job approval, over the past week, rose three percentage points to 47% of those polled approve of his effectiveness as President and those who disapprove of his effectiveness as President dropped one percentage point to 45%.

President Speaks at Navy Yard Shooting Memorial

President Obama spoke today at a Memorial Service honoring the 12 brave men and women murdered in Monday’s mass shooting at the U.S. Navy Yard.

In attendance, along with family members of the deceased and injured, were Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, Admirals Jonathan Greenert and Vice Admiral William Hilarides and Washington D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and other leaders and the Armed Forces.

The President offered these words of condolence to the family members of those lost, those injured and the military personal in attendance “we cannot begin to comprehend your loss. We know that no words we offer today are equal to the magnitude, to the depths of that loss. But we come together as a grateful nation to honor your loved ones, to grieve with you, and to offer, as best we can, some solace and comfort.”

President Obama, with a week of gun violence grabbing the headlines from Washington, D.C. to Chicago to Nairobi, spoke of the tragedies.

“I have now grieved with five American communities ripped apart by mass violence,” he stated. “Fort Hood. Tucson. Aurora. Sandy Hook.  And now, the Washington Navy Yard. And these mass shootings occur against a backdrop of daily tragedies, as an epidemic of gun violence tears apart communities across America -- from the streets of Chicago to neighborhoods not far from here.”

President Obama praised the rapid action of the “outstanding” first responders who arrived within seven minutes of the first 9-11 call and within seconds coordinated a multi agency task force without full knowledge of the situation.

Monday’s mass shooting marked the 20th mass shooting in the United States since 2009 and took the lives of Arthur Daniels, 51; Mary Francis Knight, 51; Gerald L. Read, 58; Martin Bodrog, 54; and Richard Michael Ridgell, 52; Michael Arnold, 59; Sylvia Frasier, 53; Kathy Gaarde, 62; John Roger Johnson, 73; Frank Kohler, 50; Kenneth Bernard Proctor, 46; and Vishnu Pandit, 61.

All were civilian or military personnel.

Common Sense Gun Reform – Excerpts from the President’s Remarks at the Memorial Service for Victims of the Navy yard Shooting

The reason for this day did not escape the president as he has continued to push for common sense gun control laws since the last mass shooting in December 2012 in Newtown, the last memorial for innocent lives senselessly lost.

Today, he stated “But we Americans are not an inherently more violent people than folks in other countries. We're not inherently more prone to mental health problems. The main difference that sets our nation apart, what makes us so susceptible to so many mass shootings, is that we don’t do enough -- we don’t take the basic, common-sense actions to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and dangerous people.”  

“Well, I cannot accept that. I do not accept that we cannot find a common-sense way to preserve our traditions, including our basic Second Amendment freedoms and the rights of law-abiding gun owners, while at the same time reducing the gun violence that unleashes so much mayhem on a regular basis. And it may not happen tomorrow and it may not happen next week, it may not happen next month -- but it will happen. Because it's the change that we need, and it's a change overwhelmingly supported by the majority of Americans.”

“By now, though, it should be clear that the change we need will not come from Washington, even when tragedy strikes Washington. Change will come the only way it ever has come, and that’s from the American people. So the question now is not whether, as Americans, we care in moments of tragedy. Clearly, we care. Our hearts are broken -- again. And we care so deeply about these families. But the question is, do we care enough?”

“Do we care enough to keep standing up for the country that we know is possible, even if it’s hard, and even if it’s politically uncomfortable? Do we care enough to sustain the passion and the pressure to make our communities safer and our country safer? Do we care enough to do everything we can to spare other families the pain that is felt here today?”

Navy Yard Shooting

Aaron Alexis, a former Navel contract employee from Fort Worth, Texas, who had recently lost his job, entered the Navel Yard on Monday morning with legitimate access, passing through security clearance with Remington Express 870 shotgun in his vehicle.

Dressed in military fatigues, he positioned himself directly above Building 197, which houses the cafeteria and other offices, and opened fire killing 12 and injuring eight before he was gunned down by police.

From all reports he used two weapons, the Remington that he cut down, and a handgun he picked up from a wounded police officer.

Retired Navy commander Kirk Lippold, who led the USS Cole, spoke with two former shipmates who were on the third floor of Building 197 at the time of the shooting.

As reported in USA Today reported Lippold stated “the building is a wide-open space ringed with offices around a central atrium. The building supports are industrial steel beams and his shipmates told him the bullets that hit the beams echoed so loudly it was difficult to determine where they were being fired from.”

Tactical teams and active shooter teams were deployed to the 41 acre complex in the Capital’s south east quadrant included Washington Metro Police, FBI, Navy Yard Police, Secret Service and other agencies tactical teams.

The Navy Yard is the home to the Chief of Naval Operations, Naval Sea Systems command, Navel Historical Center, the Department of Navel History, the U.S. Judge Advocate General’s Corps, Navel Reactors, Marine Corps Institute and the United State Navy Band and other more classified government agencies and departments are also headquartered on the compound.

President Obama Plans United Nations Visit

President Obama will be addressing the United Nations General Assembly this week, in New York City, where he will participate in a series of bi-lateral meetings and attend the Clinton Global Initiative.

Over the course of several days the President will meet with heads of state from Middle Eastern countries and the Arab Peninsula including Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria, President Suleiman of Lebanon, and President Abbas of the Palestine Authority. President Obama will also meet with President of the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon.

Additionally President Obama will address the General Assembly which will allow him to reach out globally to every member nation of the United Nations in attendance and reiterate the United States position on Syria and the eradication of Chemical Weapons.

The President also plans to affirm the United States support for those nations closest to the Syria border who are experiencing the strain of the Civil War with refugees flooding nearby countries for safety.

President Obama has maintained he is committed to the cause of democracy in the Middle East to the extent that the United States will support their allies and neighboring nations through Humanitarian Aid and through, a vetted procedure, assisting rebels groups by providing weapons.

According to White House Ben Rhodes, Deputy strategic Communications Advisor to the President, who stated, “This [speech] will allow him to touch on the situation in Syria. He will reinforce the need for the international community to stand strongly against the use of chemical weapons, and continue to argue for a clear diplomatic process to put Assad's chemical weapons under international control and ultimately destroy them, including our support for a U.N. Security Council resolution that enforces consequences on the Assad regime should they fail to cooperate with the international community in that effort.”

“He'll also note that the chemical weapons issue is one part of a broader challenge in Syria, and that there needs to be a political resolution to the civil war that removes Assad from power and puts in place a new, inclusive government for all the Syrian people.”

Syrian Deadline

After a tense global standoff Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad accepted a deal crafted by Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergi Lavrov.

Within that framework Assad was held to a timeline that called for immediate compliance, within one week, of key points including revealing the locations of the chemical weapons arsenal.

The definition of action points necessary for Syria to maintain their commitment to the deal require Assad to give a full accounting of all chemical weapons. That key point deadline has passed.

According to Jay Carney, White House Press Secretary stated “The framework makes a distinction -- and this is what's important, and this goes to the question -- between the initial information provided by Syria that would fall under a one-week timeframe and the formal CWC Declaration -- the Chemical Weapons Convention Declaration -- which is on a 30-day timeframe.”

The White House is holding Syria to the points in the deal. Should Assad refuse, back off, or in any way fail to comply the Unites States government is set to move forward through diplomatic, political and global channels to carry through on the initial military strategic plans as prepared by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

Press Secretary Carney also stated, “We will evaluate Syria's compliance as we see information from Syria. There's an initial provision of information, and that is the one-week deadline.  And we'll evaluate compliance when we see what the Syrians have provided.  And then there’s the 30-day deadline in accordance with the convention.

He also stated, “We're working with the Russians on a framework that Secretary Kerry and Foreign Minister Lavrov worked out with their teams to implement a program that would identify, verify and remove from Assad's control the chemical weapon stockpiles in that country.” 

Russian Newspaper Agrees to Print John McCain Op-Ed

In a rare show of objectivity, Russian state run newspaper, Prvada.ur allowed Senator John McCain, (R. AZ) the freedom to respond Russian President Vladimir Putin’s New York Times Op-Ed with his own.

The Arizona republican used the Opinion piece to speak to the Russian people reminding them of truths associated with life in Russia. Russian media is state run; the freedoms enjoyed in the United States are absent in Russia. Corruption is present; elections are rigged; Life is harsh for those independent thinkers who hope to bring about change.

McCain, a Vietnam Veteran and former POW held in the Hanoi Hilton, which became known as the harshest Prisoner of War in history, reminded the people of the punk rock band Pussy Riot jailed for what was deemed vulgarity and defacing religious property.

He also explained there are pockets of Russians who believe in the freedoms perpetrated by the Russian government. Those people, including Sergei Magnistky, have faced harsh penalty for what is considered “whistle blowing.” They have been sentenced to prison and subsequently killed. Journalists, hoping to expose Kremlin secrets have been assassinated.

The Senator, while trying to explain to a people who knew all too well what life under the Kremlin is like, was blunt and forward without presenting an antagonistic opinion.

The Russian people understand the limitations of their freedoms. They understand the harshness of the winters; the harshness of life.

Answering Russian President Vladimir Putin and staying on the point of Syria may have been a better tactic.

Senator McCain’s Op-ed can be read here:  Senator John McCain: Russian Deserves Better Than Putin

 

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

Sources: Gallup, Wikipedia, Whitehouse.gov, Pravda.ru

 

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