Saturday, August 15, 2015

A very important historical event. Congrats to both countries. An important first step, for much more needs to be done, especially the end of the economic blockade. Let us also be cognizant that this important event is only possible because we Have President Barack Obama. This would never happen with a present day Republican in the White House or with other Democrats such a candidate Hillary Clinton.  Here is a very interesting first hand account.  

A Personal Reflection on This Moment in Cuba

AUGUST 14, 2015
A child looks out a window from inside the newly opened U.S. Embassy overlooking the staging area, at the end of a flag raising ceremony of the newly opened U.S. Embassy, in Havana, Cuba
Earlier today, as the flag–raising ceremony kicked off outside our newly-reopened Embassy in Havana, I was hunched over my laptop, frantically typing and straining to hear every word the Secretary said in his remarks.  This is not abnormal for me.  Part of my job in the Department’s Office of Digital Engagement is to live-tweet Secretary Kerry, so whenever he is giving an address, I am locked onto my computer like this. Sweaty-palmed and focused.
So it was strange when, as the Marines raised the flag and the national anthem began, I looked up at the livestream playing out before me and started to cry.
Why?  Well, it’s a long story.
Back in 1959, my father moved to Havana with his family because my grandfather took a Foreign Service position at our Embassy there. To this day, my dad describes Havana in a golden light -- much as anyone does who has visited the city. I know that he loved many things about Cuba, but especially the things that any 14 year old boy would love: catching tarantulas, fishing in the turquoise blue waters and, yes, watching the beautiful women. According to my dad, my grandfather had a more professional and age-appropriate appreciation for all that Cuba and its people had to offer, but he loved the place no less than my father did. 
In the summer of 1960, after my father’s sophomore year of high school, the families of U.S. diplomats in Havana were sent back to the States. My father, his sister and mother went back to Washington, and my grandfather remained behind, working at the Embassy until it closed in January of 1961.
In the late 60’s, my father went on to become a Foreign Service officer himself, working for nearly 30 years for the U.S. Information Agency. And today, you guessed it: I am a Foreign Service officer. A third generation diplomat -- all of us public affairs officers. 
So today, as I watched that flag go up in Cuba, I thought: did my grandfather watch this flag come down?  I’ll never know. He died 29 years ago this summer, and his generation -- the greatest generation -- was never one to talk about what they’d seen and felt. But I like to think that if he was at the Embassy the day the flag came down, he would have taken a moment -- stopped shredding papers, perhaps -- and watched those Marines lower the flag. 
Just as today, as I watched that flag go up, I’d like to think that he was with me for a while. And I think I know what he would say.
“It’s about time.”
About the Author: Alison Bauerline is a Public Affairs Officer in the U.S. Department of State's Office of Digital Engagement.
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As Biden weighs a 2016 campaign, does he want to be the anti-Clinton?

By many accounts, Vice President Biden has spent his vacation week mulling whether to run for president — again. The decision will test head and heart and involve no small amount of emotion.
Tracking the story of is-he-or-isn’t-he-going-to-run is akin to chasing smoke, even to those who are loyal friends. Few people beyond his family are privy to his real thinking. Some Democrats say his advisers are making calls. Everyone looks for evidence of active pursuit of a campaign. Friends say they don’t yet sense a real campaign-in-the-making, and they doubt there ever will be. But they hedge.
Joe Biden has run for president twice without success, but almost three decades after his first campaign, the embers of ambition continue to glow. There was a time a few years ago when he might have willingly set aside those personal ambitions, if only because he could believe that his son Beau, a talented politician in his own right, would one day run for and perhaps be elected president.
Beau Biden’s tragic death a few months ago robbed the vice president of that hope. It is now left to the father to decide whether to do what his son reportedly urged him to do — to run once more. The death of Beau Biden also has prolonged the decision-making process about another campaign. It’s understandable that the vice president has not yet said “no” to a campaign in 2016. He is being tugged in different directions.
Biden can find reasons to think he should run. He is an accomplished public servant. He is a politician with 36 years of experience in the Senate. He served as chairman of both the Foreign Relations and Judiciary committees. He has been one of the most active vice presidents in history.
As he looks at Hillary Rodham Clinton, is there any doubt that he wonders why so many Democrats have tried to smooth her path to the nomination while seeming to ignore him? Does she have longer experience, more authenticity, a firmer connection to the middle class? He has long been an advocate for the struggling middle class, and unlike Clinton, he has not become fabulously wealthy.
Like any politician, he has flaws. His judgments would be examined and scrutinized. His penchant for verbal miscues would come roaring back. Some have been maladroit enough that he has been forced to issue a retraction or apology. Others were less cringe-worthy but still notable. All would be fair game.
But if he has long been a punch line for late-night comedians, he also has developed a reputation for decency and an air of authenticity at a time when that quality is prized, even sought after. Now he also has the sympathy of friends and adversaries alike because of the tragedy of his son’s death.
Biden is well-liked and enjoys great good will. In Iowa, for example, he has many friends and admirers dating back to his first campaign in the 1988 cycle, a campaign that ended in 1987 after a scandal involving plagiarism. That good will was evident there when he ran the last time, in 2008. On the eve of the caucuses that year, his advisers were certain that he was developing real momentum. When the final numbers were allocated, he was at 1 percent. The lesson: Good will does not translate to political support.
It is said that he can wait a bit longer to make a decision because he has been through campaigns before and would be able to assemble a network of political and financial support more quickly than a novice candidate. But look at what he would be going up against.
Biden has not been a prodigious fundraiser. When he ran the last time, he raised about $11 million in all of 2007 and about $13 million in total. In this campaign, Clinton raised $4 million during her first three months as a candidate. She is likely on her way to $100 million by this fall. That’s not money in a super PAC, but hard dollars raised in maximum donations of $2,700. The math for Biden is daunting.
So, too, is the prospect of assembling a campaign. Presidential campaigns are significantly larger and more complex than they were even just eight years ago. Obama’s 2008 campaign helped to pioneer the modern model. Biden’s was anything but that eight years ago.
To put together all the pieces needed in an era of social media and digital communication and prodigious amounts of data and tens of thousands of volunteers is laborious and time-consuming.
What would be Biden’s reason for deciding to run at this point? That’s a more difficult question for him to answer. His policy differences with Clinton are not obvious. He cannot claim to be the idol of the progressive wing of the party, in the way that Bernie Sanders has become. He and Clinton owe allegiances to President Obama and to the policies of the administration. Even more than Clinton, he has been a partner of the president.
“Biden, Gore buzz hound Clinton campaign,” read a line on CNN on Friday afternoon, referring to talk that both the current vice president and former vice president Al Gore were weighing whether to run.
A Gore spokeswoman told Politico that there was “no truth” to the speculation about her boss. But the climate that produces such talk is real: The notion, fair or not, that Clinton is increasingly vulnerable has Democrats increasingly worried.
Biden would want his candidacy to be seen on its own merits. Given the current state of play — Clinton’s declining trust numbers, the investigation into her private e-mail account and expressions of concern among Democrats about her vulnerabilities, along with Sanders’s rise in the polls — that would be impossible.
A Biden campaign would quickly be cast as one that embodies a lack of confidence in Clinton, an anti-Hillary venture from the start. She would take seriously the challenge and deal with it, if Biden developed momentum — vigorously and directly. One or both would be damaged in the process.
No one on the outside knows what Biden will decide. Not many on the outside believe that in the end he will say “yes,” although they do not rule it out. If he doesn’t run, he will leave office in January of 2017, at age 74, with an enviable record of public service capped by eight years as a consequential vice president — but with his dream of being president unfulfilled. That means to say “no” this time comes with a sense of finality that did not exist in the past. No wonder the vice president is still mulling.
Dan Balz is Chief Correspondent at The Washington Post. He has served as the paper’s National Editor, Political Editor, White House correspondent 

Story Highlights

  • Support for path to citizenship consistent over time
  • 77% of Hispanics favor a path to citizenship
  • Half of Republicans back path to citizenship
PRINCETON, N.J. -- Two in three U.S. adults favor a plan to allow immigrants who are living illegally in the U.S. to remain in the country and become citizens if they meet certain requirements over time. Far fewer support allowing those immigrants to remain in the U.S. to work for a limited period of time (14%), or to deport all of these immigrants back to their home countries (19%). U.S. adults' views have been largely stable over the past decade.
The latest update comes from Gallup's 2015 Minority Rights and Relations poll, conducted June 15-July 10. The poll included larger samples of blacks and Hispanics. Immigration is of special significance to Hispanics, about half of whom are immigrants themselves, according to the poll.
Hispanics (77%) are more likely than non-Hispanic whites (62%) or non-Hispanic blacks (70%) to favor a path to citizenship for immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally. One in five whites, compared with 14% of blacks and 8% of Hispanics, prefer deporting undocumented immigrants back to their home countries.
Hispanics are slightly less likely now than in 2006 (86%) to favor a path to citizenship for immigrants. The 2006 survey was the last time Gallup asked the question in a poll that included an expanded sample of Hispanics. Whites' and blacks' views are largely unchanged since then.
150812Imm2_2 (1)
Path to Citizenship Less Appealing to Republicans
U.S. adults' views on the best approach to take with illegal immigrants living in the U.S. differ based on their party identification. At 80%, Democrats overwhelmingly favor allowing illegal immigrants to stay in the U.S. and to have an opportunity to become citizens. Republicans are far less likely to support a path to citizenship, at 50%, but that is still the most common view among this group. Thirty-one percent of Republicans want to see all illegal immigrants deported, while 18% favor allowing them to stay for a limited time to work.
Neither party's views have changed dramatically over the past decade, but Democrats are now a bit more likely to endorse citizenship while Republicans are less likely to do so. The 31% of Republicans who favor deporting all illegal immigrants is up from 20% in 2006, while the percentage of Republicans favoring a path to citizenship is down from 58% to 50%. In 2006, President George W. Bush favored legislation that included a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
There has been a 10-point increase since 2006 in the percentage of Democrats who favor a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
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U.S. adults do not express a clear preference on whether immigration levels should be increased, decreased or kept the same, but they mostly agree that immigrants living in the U.S. illegally should be allowed to stay and be given the opportunity to become citizens.
Even so, the federal government has been unable to agree on comprehensive immigration reform over the past 10 years. In 2006, the House and Senate passed differing reform bills but could not agree on a reconciled bill. The Senate passed a bipartisan bill in 2013, but the House took no action on immigration. This is the case even though U.S. adults widely back many of the specific provisions that would go into a reform bill, including increased border security, which has been congressional Republicans' primary concern.
Nearly a decade after a record 19% of U.S. adults named immigration the most important problem facing the country, the issue remains unsettled. President Barack Obama sought to use executive actions to grant legal status to illegal immigrants residing in the U.S., but those moves are on hold pending legal challenges. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recently said immigration legislation will not be taken up this year or next, ensuring it will remain an issue in the 2016 presidential election.
The issue presents a greater challenge for Republican presidential candidates than Democratic candidates, given widespread Democratic support for a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. Republicans, on the other hand, are divided, with half supporting a path to citizenship and the other half preferring a measure that stops short of citizenship, including a substantial 31% who want all illegal immigrants deported.
As a result, the party and its presidential candidates face a dilemma in trying to please the many conservative GOP voters who oppose citizenship and represent a core constituency in the primary electorate, along with Republicans who embrace some type of immigration reform. Some party leaders believe advocating immigration reform could shore up Hispanic support for the GOP in the 2016 general election.
Survey Methods
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted June 15-July 10, 2015, with a random sample of 2,296 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. All respondents had previously been interviewed in the Gallup Daily tracking survey and agreed to be re-contacted by Gallup. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.
For results based on the total sample of 857 non-Hispanic whites, the margin of sampling error is ±5 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.
For results based on the total sample of 802 non-Hispanic blacks, the margin of sampling error is ±5 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.
For results based on the total sample of 508 Hispanics, the margin of sampling error is ±7 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.
All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.
Learn more about how Gallup Poll Social Series works.