President Barack Obama will seek to solidify America’s leadership role in the Asia Pacific region for many years to come when he hosts all 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) at the historic Rancho Mirage retreat in Sunnylands, California.
The agenda on Monday and Tuesday will be less formal than other summits at this picturesque and more relaxed location, but the leaders will tackle a range of critical and thorny issues central to the strategic U.S. rebalance to the Asia Pacific.
The White House views America’s engagement in the region as critical to the nation’s future prosperity and security. The dynamic and diverse region is experiencing explosive growth and rising tensions, each having the potential to impact the global economy and security.
Administration officials say by hosting the ASEAN summit, Obama hopes to develop a work plan for his final year in office to further the rebalance effort and send a message to future administrations that the same high-level of engagement is needed for the US to secure and maintain its leadership role. VOA
In an online poll released Sunday by CBS News and YouGov, Donald Trump holds a 22-point lead over Ted Cruz in South Carolina, the next Republican primary state. Trump notched 42 percent of the support among likely primary voters to Cruz’s 20. Marco Rubio followed with 15 percent. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton leads Bernie Sanders, 59 percent to 40 percent. The poll’s margin of error is 5.7 percentage points for the Republican contest and 8.7 percentage points for the Democratic one. CBS News
Saturday’s death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia led to calls from the Republicans for Democratic President Barack Obama to not nominate a replacement and let the next president elected in November to pick a new justice upon taking office next January.
But the fact checkers quarreled with Florida Senator Marco Rubio‘s contention that it has “been over 80 years since a lame-duck president has appointed a Supreme Court justice.” They noted that a Republican favorite, President Ronald Reagan, named Justice Anthony Kennedy to the country’s highest court in late 1987 and his appointment was confirmed in early 1988, Reagan’s last full year in office.
Politifact said that while Reagan’s remaining time in office was a bit longer than Obama’s at the time of a court appointment, “it’s hard for us to see how Obama can be considered a lame duck but not Reagan. Both were second-term presidents who knew they would not serve again but did not yet know who their successor would be.” VOA
In his first full day in Mexico, Pope Francis spoke directly to the issues facing the nation Saturday. “I beg that you not underestimate the moral and antisocial challenge which the drug trade represents for Mexican society as a whole, as well as for the church,” he told church leaders at a Mexico City cathedral.
The pope also delivered a speech to politicians alongside President Enrique Peña Nieto. Francis stressed the need to care about everyone in society, as opposed to just the privileged few. Los Angeles Times
Four rockets hit the makeshift hospital, run by Doctors Without Borders, Monday in the northern Syrian town of Azaz on the Turkish border. At least 10 people were reportedly killed, including three children, and dozens wounded, according to opposition activists.
The attack comes just days after major international powers agreed to limit cessation of hospitals in Syria. Activist Bahaa al-Halaby who is based in the northern city of Aleppo says it was a ballistic missile. The Observatory says the dead include three children and a pregnant woman.
Syrian troops have been on the offensive in northern Syria under the cover of Russian airstrikes since Feb. 1. It has not been confirmed who carried out the latest attacks. However, Mego Terzian, president of MSF France, said the Maarat al-Numan strikes were carried out by forces “loyal to President Bashar al-Assad”. Associated press , BBC
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