Beltway Insider: Obama/Israel; Election/VP Debate; SC Playground Shooting; NJ Train Crash/NY Explosion; Jeffrey Katzenberg

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President Obama, with his eight-year tenure ending in a little more than thirty days, delivered a powerful eulogy at the funeral of former Israeli President and Prime Minister Shimon Peres who passed away this week. He was 94.


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 four percentage points to 45%.

Obama Attends Funeral of Former Israeli President Shimon Peres

Former Prime Minister and President of Israel Shimon Peres passed away this week of complications brought on by an extensive stroke on September 13, 2016, of which initial reports indicated was accompanied by significant inter-cranial bleeding.

It is said the much loved and deeply respected leader recovered slightly, long enough to say his final farewells to those whom he loved and loved him. He died September 28, 2017.

President Obama was one of many world leaders, that included Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, former President William Jefferson Clinton, Britain's Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, President Hollande of France, and former UK Primes Minsters Tony Blair and David Cameron all made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem to speak at Peres funeral.

The reflection of a life well lived also brought the Presidents from Germany, Ukraine, the Ivory Coast, Togo, Mexico, Columbian, Latvian, Slovenian, Serbian, Romania, Belgian and Polish and NATO's secretary general all were in attendance.

As keeping with Peres lifelong ambition, desire and dream, sworn enemies Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, shook hands. The historic gesture was captured and quickly, in a social media second, was appearing around the world.

An Excerpt of President Obama's Speech

 Shimon once said, "The message of the Jewish people to mankind is that faith and moral vision can triumph over all adversity."  For Shimon, that moral vision was rooted in an honest reckoning of the world as it is.  Born in the shtetl, he said he felt, "surrounded by a sea of thick and threatening forests."  


When his family got the chance to go to Palestine, his beloved grandfather's parting words were simple:  "Shimon, stay a Jew."  Propelled with that faith, he found his home.  He found his purpose.  He found his life's work.  But he was still a teenager when his grandfather was burned alive by the Nazis in the town where Shimon was born.  The synagogue in which he prayed became an inferno.  The railroad tracks that had carried him toward the Promised Land also delivered so many of his people to death camps. 

And so from an early age, Shimon bore witness to the cruelty that human beings could inflict on each other, the ways that one group of people could dehumanize another; the particular madness of anti-Semitism, which has run like a stain through history.  That understanding of man's ever-present sinfulness would steel him against hardship and make him vigilant against threats to Jewry around the world. 

But that understanding would never harden his heart.  It would never extinguish his faith.  Instead, it broadened his moral imagination, and gave him the capacity to see all people as deserving of dignity and respect.  It helped him see not just the world as it is, but the world as it should be. 

Election: Clinton and Trump Continued on Campaign Trail

The 2016 Presidential election is closing in on the one-month marker with both parties still admitting each are surprised the polls indicate the leader margin is as close as it is.

Pundits everywhere remark on the closeness, dissecting the reasons, attempting to read the numbers like a soothsayer reads tea leaves.

It seems highly unlikely, and the fact remains Donald Trump could actually win the election. His constituency hasn't departed as the campaign has continued. His alienating opinions haven't changed since the primary season. He is not flashing a new message. His rhetoric as alarming and distasteful as it is consistent.

Hillary has played it safe which is a concern. For some reason, she didn't make the slam dunk Vice-Presidential choice. Not that her choice, Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, is a poor choice. It is a safe choice. Solid, southern, a good safe choice.

A choice that left 17million voters feeling disenfranchised. Granted Senator Sanders, of Vermont, wasn't talked of as a potential Vice-Presidential and during the Democratic National Convention he presented himself as a gracefully and not challenging protocol or procedure.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders would have been the slam dunk Vice-Presidential Candidate. He would have been the rocket booster on Clinton's campaign. She would have enjoyed double digit leads throughout the country. As it is she is fighting and depending on the pundit and poll struggling to secure a single point lead in some states.  

The Third Party, Independent or no name generics, are gaining strength. No one expects them to pull out a surprise victory. The issue reduces to just how much of a percentage of Clinton's base will depart her ever changing positions for the third party no name?

Vice Presidential Debate

With a little more than thirty days until the general election, the candidates have embarked on the debate schedule which highlights the positions, platforms, strengths and weaknesses of the candidates.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016, the Vice-Presidential choices, Senator Tim Kaine, of Virginia and Governor Mike Pence of Indiana, will meet at Longwood University in the democratic senator's home state to debate the issues, present their platforms and endorse the strengths of the ticket the represent.

The Vice Presidential debate, like the previous and upcoming Presidential debates will begin at 9:00pm EST and will be broadcast on all major networks. It is 90 minutes with no commercial interruptions.  The debates worked in a moderated format. Expect a more civilized, polished and political style debate as both VP choices are seasoned politicians and accustomed to the forum.

The debate is expected to draw, at least for the first 30minutes, a similar number of viewers as the Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump debate which broke all previous debate records at 84million viewers.

South Carolina Playground Shooting – Six-Year-Old Dies

Jacob Hall, 6, has died from injuries suffered during a playground shooting this week, in Townville South Carolina, that injured two others, a student and teacher when a 14-year-old drove onto the property and opened fire.

The shooter, who has not been identified to the media has been charged with three counts of attempted murder and is the single suspect in the murder of his father, Jeffrey Osbourne, 47, who was found dead in the family home of gunshots.

Hall, according to medical reports was struck by a bullet in his leg which ripped through the femoral artery.

"Jacob was shot in the leg. The bullet hit his femoral artery, causing massive blood loss, which led to cardiopulmonary arrest," Dr. Keith Webb of the Greenville Health System Children's Hospital said. "He has undergone surgery and a number of procedures to try to stabilize his condition," as reported in CNN.

New Jersey Commuter Train Slams Into Terminal; Kills 1; Injures 114

A New Jersey Transit Commuter train, on one of the busiest transportation lines in the United States, crashed this week into the Hoboken terminal station, slamming into the concrete barrier at the end of the tracks.

The Thursday morning crash occurred at the height of what is typically the morning rush hour. The commuter train, the Pascack Valley Line, was nearly full after picking up passengers throughout Hudson and Bergen counties. The majority of passengers in the morning are one the first leg of a multi-transportation commute.

According to reports those passengers who were preparing to disembark where thrown backwards and those seated were, as in standard crash test motion depictions, thrown forward following the trajectory of the train.

More than 114 passengers were injured and treated. A passenger waiting on the platform, Fabiola Bittar de Kroon, was killed from falling debris. 

The Train Engineer, Thomas Gallagher, 48, has indicated he believes the trains was going 10mph. He also swore in affidavit his cell phone was store and off and he felt well rested and that he has no idea why the train crashed.

The National Transportation and Safety Board, which investigates all transportation accidents, has indicated the data recorder used to record the motion, and movements of the train was not working. With the train conductor disputing the reports from passengers that indicated the speed at station entry was not slowing down as one expects but was increasing, the NTSB has taken additional measures to find recordings even as far as gathering data from drones in the area.

New Jersey Transportation is not without its troubles. The NTSB had been investigating the New Jersey Transit Agency for some time and has paid close to $330,000.00 in fines over the course of a decade. With the majority of the violations occurring on the commuter rail system.

The crash was not an act of terrorism and the NTSB investigation is in the beginning stages.

New York Grow House Explodes Killing FDNY Battalion Chief

More than 10,000 firefighters from as far away as California honored slain Battalion Chief Michael Fahy, a 17-year veteran who was laid to rest after a part of the roof from a grow house explosion pinned him under the debris.

Fahy was struck by a large section of the roof which was blow off the house. He was rushed to the hospital in an NYPD vehicle, after police and firefighters removed the roof, where he died a short time later. The explosion in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx injured fifteen other New York Police officer and Firemen, along with two ConEdison workers who were on site due to the suspected gas leak.

The single family home, was used for an illegal drug laboratory and police and fire crew indicated they heard a high pitch hissing sound which is common with gas leaks.

Garivaldi Castillo, 32 and Julio Salcedo, 34, have been arrested in connection with the death of Fahy charged with operating a illegal marijuana grow house. The pair face additional charges.

New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio eulogized Fahy saying"His chosen work – his life's work was to protect others, to risk his life, and that was true day-in and day-out," de Blasio said. "It did not matter what the day brought, his commitment was the same – true of all who choose to put on the uniform, and serve, to be there for the rest of us," as reported in

Fahy is survived by his wife Fiona, and three children. Fahy's didn't always fight fires, he went to law school, passed the bar and worked corporate law before he explained to his father, a lifelong veteran of the FDNY, his passion was the fire department.

It takes an extraordinary person to make the choice to rush into a burning building. It is beyond comprehension and came only be explained by those who have made the choice.

Bravery, courage, hero words that we use to exemplify the actions of those who shrug and say "It's what we do," said FDNY Firefighter Marc Dore.

A donation page has been set for the Fahy family. If you'd like to donate,  and select the "Chief Michael J. Fahy Children's Educational Fund."

Jeffrey Katzenberg

Jeffrey Katzenberg, DreamWorks Animation CEO, was immortalized this past week for his lifetime of entertainment achievements in the Forecourt of Stars at TCL Chinese theaters with the traditional hand and feet imprint ceremony.

Introduced by Eddie Murphy, the voice of Donkey, in DreamWorks Shrek Trilogy, Katzenberg said, "Hollywood does have a courtyard of dreams, and we are standing in it right now. And it's almost 90 years ago that Sid Grauman built it, and people definitely have come. That's what all these handprints and footprints are really all about, the dreams that we in Hollywood have delivered."

With that he sank his hands into the wet cement, a pinnacle move that marked a lifetime of achievements.

Katzenberg inherited the Walt Disney Animation Department, something he nor then President Mike Eisner knew much about. True to form, Katzenberg soon became the expert and is known for creating some of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed animated feature films of all time.

Besides the Shrek Trilogy, Katzenberg is responsible for Kung-Fu Panda series at DreamWorks and The Little Mermaid, Beauty and The Beast and The Lion King during his tenure at the Walt Disney Company.

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