Beltway Insider: Russia Engages U.S. Warship; Maintains Ukraine Initiative; Boston Marathon Anniversary; Pot Pardon

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Escalating tensions between the United States and Russia came to a boil this week as a Russian fighter jet engaged in provocative taunting action against the USS Donald Cook, a missile destroyer, sailing in Black Sea international waters.

 

According to Gallup, President Obama’s job approval, over the past week rose two percentage points to 45% of those polled who approve of his effectiveness as President and those who disapprove of his effectiveness as President dropped two percentage points to 49%. 

Russia Engages U.S. Warship; Maintains Ukraine Initiative

President Barack Obama, on the request of Russian President Vladimir Putin participated in a phone conference with the globally embattled leader stressing his continued belief of a peaceful solution to the continued escalation in the Ukraine and Eastern Europe.

Obama explained “the importance of Russia withdrawing its troops from Ukraine’s border in order to defuse tensions, and despite rhetoric from Russian officials, the government of Ukraine has acted with remarkable restraint.” He also “praised the Ukrainian government’s efforts to unify the country by holding free and fair presidential elections.”

There was no mention in the notes of the “irresponsible and unprofessional” behavior of the Russian fighter pilot who engaged in the provocative taunting action against the USS Donald Cook,  that, over the course of 90minutes, flew 12 close range passes.

The SU-24 Fighter jet, according to the Pentagon made at least one pass within 1000 feet of the Navy Ship at an altitude of 500 feet.

The President noted that while he continues to believe that a diplomatic solution is still possible, it cannot succeed in an environment of Russian military intimidation on Ukraine’s borders, armed provocation within Ukraine, and escalatory rhetoric by Kremlin officials.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has not advanced any further into the territorial sovereignty of the Ukraine and has not retreated either. Accused of planting protestors along the eastern Ukraine border he has yet to further carve out additional Ukraine territory.

 “We will continue to make the case to Russia that it is important to pursue a path of de-escalation rather than support for these separatist groups, both direct and indirect, because it is simply the case that the future of Ukraine must be decided by the Ukrainian people and cannot be negotiated or decided over the heads of the members of the Ukrainian government,” Carney said.

U.S. Eludes to Crippling Sanctions

When asked directly what actions the White House had taken to ensure American companies understood the need to adhere to the sanctions issued no concrete information was available.

“You might want to ask the Department of Treasury when it comes to those kinds of discussions,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.

While the U.S. Government has adamantly spoken of debilitating sanctions imposed against the Russian government they have been less rigorous in enforcing them.

U.S. companies, apparently, still have the options of doing business with Russia without fear of fine or additional penalty.

The need for strong action whether presented in the strongest language possible or not followed by an equally strong penalty for those American companies who violate the orders.

Ukraine, Russian War

No official declaration of War has been issued by either the Ukraine or Russian governments, although the Ukraine has engaged in defense actions, minor skirmishes, geared toward pushing back and disbanding pro-Russian separatists.

“We appreciate the government’s statements that any actions it undertakes will be gradual and responsible, and we agree that the use of force is not a preferred option.  That said, the Ukrainian government has a responsibility to provide law and order, and these provocations in eastern Ukraine are creating a situation in which the government has to respond.  The best way to deescalate the situation is for the armed militants to leave the buildings they have seized,” Carney said.

The White House has continued to issue statements of conciliatory options between the two governments through de-escalation of Russian troops enforcing the possibility of a diplomatic solution.

The reiteration, week after week, of a peaceful solution, seems doubtful as the facts are Russia will not give up Crimea or the Ukraine initiative.

Having annexed the Crimean Peninsula it now belongs to the USSR, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic.

As the EU expands gathering the micro nations across Eastern Europe they gain strength and global power. Russia, through simple non-violent military advancement, or other options, will annex as many nations as possible.

The White House continues to issue harsh rebukes, in the strongest language possible, the G7 sanctions, the continued peace negotiations are useless.

Simply, the United States, global partners and allies have a single responsibility that is to stop Putin’s advancement or allow it.

A total and complete blockade in global participation, economic sanction and diplomatic expulsion must be imposed with ample warning to the Russian President the world will go on if he decides the small parcel of land is worth a decade of total isolation from all nations except Syria.

Vice President Attends Boston Marathon Bombing Anniversary

Vice President Joseph Biden joined Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, former mayor Thomas M. Menino and honored guests to remember those murdered one year ago when twin bombs denoted at the Boston Marathon finish line.

“A year ago, tragedy struck at the 117th Boston Marathon.  Four innocent people were killed that week, and hundreds more were wounded.  Today, we remember Krystle Campbell, Lingzi Lu, Martin Richard, and Sean Collier.  And we send our thoughts and prayers to those still struggling to recover,” the President said.

The hour long ceremony was followed by an earlier tribute in which a wreath was laid accompanied by a moment of silence

“We also know that the most vivid images from that day were not of smoke and chaos, but of compassion, kindness and strength. We recognize the incredible courage and leadership of so many Bostonians in the wake of unspeakable tragedy.  And we offer our deepest gratitude to the courageous firefighters, police officers, medical professionals, runners and spectators who, in an instant, displayed the spirit Boston was built on – perseverance, freedom and love,” the President said.

Boston Marathon Bombing Timeline

The running of the 117th Boston Marathon began Monday with the usual fanfare and ended approximately 102 hours later after one of the largest manhunts in recent U.S. history that left one of the two suspects dead and the other gravely wounded and in federal custody.

The twin, ground level, explosions, detonated near the finish line at 04:09:43, sent pellet, nail and shrapnel projectiles into the crowds that had gathered to cheer the runners. The situation escalated quickly, Thursday, as images of the two suspects were identified, circulated and Bostonians, and the social media ecosystem, rallied blanketing the images across every medium. Waking from surgery that amputated both his lower legs, Jeff Bauman, Jr., 27, identified one of the suspects. 

After the release of photos, federal law enforcement indicated the two suspects, both from the Chechnya Republic, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, a naturalized U.S. citizen and his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, a legal permanent U.S. resident were the primary focus of the manhunt.

Thursday night brought a fast moving series of events as the brothers attempted to elude capture. In their effort to escape the pair crossed paths with MIT Campus security, Sean Collier, and assassinated him in his vehicle. According to Boston law enforcement they then, separated and one hijacked a vehicle at gunpoint. The driver was held hostage and freed at a local gas station unharmed. He also identified one of the two suspects. With police closing in the brothers reunited and tossed seven undetonated bombs from the vehicle and exchanged heavy gunfire.   Suspect Number 1, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was killed during the exchange. Graphic images of his body have circulated the web indicating multiple injuries from bullet and gunshot wounds.

Original reports indicated the two suspects robbed a local convenience store, Boston Police have since determined the two Marathon bombing suspects did not participate in that crime.

On Friday, residents of the greater Boston area, home to over 4.6million people, were ordered to shelter in place, indoors,  as the manhunt complete with wartime police, SWAT and federal officers rolled through the streets of Watertown, MA and the MIT community, in armored vehicles performing house- to-house search.

By 6:30pm Friday, the shelter in place order had been lifted without capture of Suspect Number2, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Within 45minutes of the order being lifted a local man checking his yard notice blood on his boat, notified the police, within minutes after another flurry of gunfire, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was captured and transported to Beth Israel Hospital in Boston.

Those killed in the Boston Marathon Bombing are 8 year-old Martin Richard, attending the Marathon to cheer his dad, Bill Richard. Boston University student Lingzi Lu of China, Krystal Campbell, 29, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology Campus Security officer Sean Collier murdered as the two attempted to escape into the MIT area. Martin Richard’s mother, Denise, and sister, Jane, were also gravely wounded during the blast.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is in serious but stable condition in a prison hospital. The remains of his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, killed in an attempted escape, were released from the medical examiner to his family.

Tsarnaev is represented by famous public defender Judy Clarke, who has defended the most notorious cases including Unabomber ted Kaczynski, child murder Susan Smith and Jarad Lougher who shot and killed six people and wounded Rep. Gabby Giffords.

His trial is set for November 2014.

President Obama Issues First Marijuana Offense Commutation

President Barack Obama granted the first marijuana offense related commutation of sentence this week to Cesar Huerta Cantu, original sentenced to 180 months was granted fifty months off the sentence length commuting total time for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and money laundering to 138 months.

Sources: Whitehouse.org, Wikipedia.com,

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

 

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