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February 27 2016

March 4, 2016

    

 

 

 

27 February 2016

Newswire

Blog URL https://newswirefeed.wordpress.com/

 

Military spouse among possible nominees for Scalia’s Supreme Court seat

By Karen Jowers, Military Times 8:28 a.m. EST February 16, 2016

http://www.navytimes.com/story/military/2016/02/15/navy-retirees-wife-among-possible-nominees-supreme-court/80400038/?from=global&sessionKey=&autologin=

 

The wife of a Navy retiree is among those being mentioned as a possible nominee for the Supreme Court in the wake of the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

Patricia Millett has been a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit, since Dec. 10, 2013.

According to a 2013 article in the Military Spouse J.D. Network’s Bars and Stripes newsletter, Millett met her husband, Bob King, in 1995 in Washington, D.C., while he was serving at the Pentagon. They married a year later. After three years, King transitioned to the Navy Reserve, where he served until he retired in 2012. In 2004, he deployed for nine months while Millett was working as an assistant in the Office of the Solicitor General, juggling duties as a single parent of two young children while also handling a heavy Supreme Court caseload, according to the Bars and Stripes article. She argued one case before the Supreme Court and briefed five more.

“In a list of incredibly worthy candidates for nomination to the Supreme Court, Judge Patricia Millett tops them all. Her experience in front of the highest court and as a military spouse gives her a unique and unparalleled perspective that sets her apart,” said attorney Elizabeth Jamison, spokeswoman for the Military Spouse JD Network. “Regardless of the politics surrounding the situation, military spouses are inspired by Judge Millett’s ability to balance a successful career with the demands of the military lifestyle. MSJDN is proud of the many talented military spouse attorneys like Judge Millett who successfully navigate a legal career while serving alongside their service member.”

After the Senate confirmed Millett in 2013 for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, President Obama described her as “a leading appellate lawyer who has made 32 arguments before the Supreme Court, the second-most by a female advocate. She has served in the Department of Justice for both Democratic and Republican presidents.”

Millett graduated summa cum laude from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1985 and magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1988. After two years with a private law firm, she clerked for Judge Thomas Tang of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. She worked for four years on the appellate staff of the civil division in the Justice Department, and 11 years as an assistant in the Office of the Solicitor General.

In September 2007, she became a partner leading the Supreme Court and appellate practices at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP.

She also holds a second-degree black belt in tae kwon do.

 

U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has a plan to convert old warplanes into heavily armed “flying launchpads.”

http://thediplomat.com/2016/02/pentagon-wants-arsenal-planes-to-beat-chinas-air-defenses/

By Franz-Stefan Gady

February 16, 2016

 

The Pentagon is working on reconfiguring old warplanes and turning them into heavily armed “arsenal planes” to be deployed alongside fifth-generation fighter aircraft on combat missions, U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said in speech at the beginning of February, in which he discussed the Department of Defense’s 2017 budget.

Outlining projects that the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO) is working on, Carter said:

And the last project I want to highlight is one that we’re calling the arsenal plane, which takes one of our oldest aircraft platform and turns it into a flying launchpad for all sorts of different conventional payloads. In practice, the arsenal plane will function as a very large airborne magazine, network to fifth generation aircraft that act as forward sensor and targeting nodes, essentially combining different systems already in our inventory to create wholly new capabilities.

In order to remain stealthy, modern fighters such as the F-22 and F-35 have to carry all their weapons in internal bays, significantly reducing the payload they can carry. For example, the F-22 can fit four air-to-air missiles and two 1,000-pound bombs in its internal bay, whereas the F-35, next to two air-to-air missiles, can only carry two 2,000-pound bombs in its stealthiest configuration.

 

Legacy aircraft like the B-1 and B-52, however, can carry up to 75,000 pounds (34,000 kilograms) of weapons and are available in large numbers. The U.S. Airforce still operates 62 B-1B Lancer and 58 B-52 Stratofortress (with 18 in reserve).(Lockheed-Martin has built 195 F-22s, half the number requested by the Airforce, while the U.S. military has so far only received a little over 150 F-35 aircraft out of a total of 2,500 ordered.)

The arsenal plane/fifth-generation fighter jet interaction would be similar to the artillery observer and artillery battery in ground warfare: The fifth-generation aircraft will first identify and then direct fire from the arsenal plane unto a target. Depending on the battlefield environment, the arsenal plane would carry long-range standoff missiles such as the Joint Air to Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) to in order to stay outside the enemy’s air defense perimeter, or — when engaging a technologically less advanced adversary — move closer and drop precision-guided bombs.

Incidentally, the U.S. Airforce announced in November 2015 that its B-52s will be armed with Lockheed Martin’s JASSM– Extended Range (JASSM-ER). However, Carter left it open what air platforms will be converted. Other options include cargo planes such as the C-130 Hercules and the C-17 Globemaster.

The concept of the arsenal plane is not new. During the 1990s, the U.S. Navy had the idea of building so-called “arsenal ships” — big ships stocked with hundreds of vertical launch cells and missiles — that would rely on other navy vessels to provide them with targeting information. Ultimately, the program was cancelled.

The SCO’s initiative is part of what has been called the third offset strategy, which, as I explained last week (See: “New US Defense Budget: $18 Billion for Third Offset Strategy”), “will not merely rely on new military technologies to guarantee military superiority in a future conflict but also focus on merging new with legacy technology, as well as new with old warfighting methods.”

Furthermore I explained: “There is little doubt that the Pentagon’s third offset strategy primarily aims to offset recent advances in military technologies made by China and Russia. The Pentagon lists both countries as two out of five strategic challenges that the United States will have to remain focused on in the new fiscal year.”

 

Department of Defense standardizes on Windows 10, certifies Surfaces

4 million seats will be upgraded over the next year.

by Peter Bright – Feb 17, 2016 9:00am EST

http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2016/02/department-of-defense-standardizes-on-windows-10-certifies-surfaces/

 

The US Department of Defense announced today that it is to standardize on Windows 10. Over the course of the next year, some 4 million systems will be upgraded to Microsoft’s latest operating system in what must be the largest enterprise deployment of the operating system worldwide.

This is a followup to a November order to upgrade systems in Combatant Commands, Service Agencies, and Field Activities to the operating system. The rationale is the government’s desire to protect better against security breaches and reduce IT costs by streamlining on a single platform. Windows 10 is better protected against security flaws than its predecessors, making it a tougher target for attackers.

In tandem with this, the government has given the Surface 3, Surface Pro 3, Surface Pro 4, and Surface Book all the relevant certifications to allow those systems to be included on the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) Unified Capabilities (UC) Approved Products List (APL). This means that DoD agencies can now buy and use Surface family hardware in its deployments.

While concerns over Windows 10’s privacy policy and network connectivity have been a lingering feature of the operating system’s release, this announcement suggests that at least one large, security-sensitive enterprise operator is satisfied with the controls that Microsoft provides.

 

 

Air Force prolongs the life of the venerable B-52

By Phillip Swarts, Air Force Times 3:17 p.m. EST February 22, 2016

http://www.airforcetimes.com/story/military/2016/02/22/air-force-prolongs-life-venerable-b-52/80570810/

 

First launched in 1954, the B-52 Stratofortress was a cornerstone of American Cold War nuclear deterrence for decades. And as a plane that could carry conventional weapons as well, it saw service in Vietnam, Desert Storm, and the War on Terror in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

But with a replacement bomber still on the drawing board, the B-52 could see service well into the 2040s. At that point, some of the older airframes could be approaching 90 years of age — likely to be the oldest aircraft in the history of the Air Force.

“We’re going to keep the B-52 around. It provides some missions for us that are hard to replicate, primarily the range and payload the airplane provides,” Lt. Gen. James “Mike” Holmes, the deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and requirements, said Feb. 18.

That’s why the service is focusing on a modernization effort to make sure the B-52s stay flying for years to come. Here’s what you need to know:

1. The plane – The Boeing-built bomber is a dual-use conventional/nuclear aircraft. According to a fact sheet from the Air Force, the B-52 can fly as high as 50,000 feet with an unrefueled range of 8,800 miles. Max speed is 650 miles per hour, just a little below Mach 1. It can carry an estimated payload of 70,000 lbs., including “gravity bombs, cluster bombs, precision guided (cruise) missiles and joint direct attack munitions,” the Air Force said. There are 58 currently in the active component, with another 18 overseen by the Reserves.

2. Electronic warfare – In January, Florida-based defense contractor Harris Corporation received the contract to do an electronic warfare overhaul on the B-52. The work will bolster the aircraft’s electronic countermeasure systems that give the plane protection against air and ground radar weapons systems. The upgrades will also be installed on various C-130s. “With the modern technology we’re able to use today, the number of electrical components in each box is significantly reduced and simplified,” said Jared Belinsky, Harris’ project manager for the electronic upgrades, adding that it helps reduce the weight of the systems onboard the aircraft.

3. Weapon bays – Six B-52s can now fire GPS-guided munitions after Boeing reconfigured their weapons bays to carry a wider array of munitions, the Air Force announced. The improvements use a rotary launcher to allow B-52s to carry GPS satellite-guided missiles and bombs for the first time, and the six launchers can be transferred between aircraft, Boeing said. The improvements give “crew members greater flexibility to adapt to changing conditions on the battlefield,” a statement from the company said.

4. JASSM – Speaking of munitions, the Air Force is starting to install the new Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles – Extended Range (JASSM-ER) on the B-52. These Lockheed Martin-built weapons are designed to start replacing older stand-off cruise missile variants. The bomber can carry 12 JASSMs attached to its wings, but the Air Force said the internal rotary launchers in the weapons bays could hold an additional eight. Those improvements aren’t likely to be finished until 2018.

5. Radar – The Air Force is just starting the process of upgrading the B-52’s radar systems, having only posted a request for information in January, and not yet soliciting bids from contractors. “The radar currently flying on the B-52 is limited,” Holmes said. “It’s an old radar, it doesn’t have the reliability we’d like to have when you’re flying long duration missions.” He added, “We will buy a new radar, we’re working through exactly what the requirements will be for that radar. If I was going to guess I’d say we’d probably take an existing radar somewhere and make it fit on the B-52 instead of developing something new.”

6. LRSB – The Long Range Strike-Bomber is designed to eventually replace the B-52 all together, but the plane isn’t past the planning stages right now. In October, the Air Force awarded Northrop Grumman the contract for the plane. Holmes said the service would be releasing further information about the bomber in March, including which companies and subcontractors will be building major components such as the engines. The Air Force doesn’t expect the plane to reach initial operating capability until the mid-2020’s.

 

DoD opens the door to commercial milCloud


Amber Corrin, C4ISR & Networks 1:16 p.m. EST February 24, 2016

http://www.c4isrnet.com/story/military-tech/disa/2016/02/24/dod-opens-door-commercial-milcloud/80783422/

 

The Defense Information Systems Agency’s in-house, high-security suite of cloud services known as milCloud has, since its inception, remained an internal capability. But following the lead of other government agencies and even its own components, DISA now is opening the door to commercial providers for milCloud.

The next iteration of milCloud aims to compete with the IBMs and Amazon Web Services of the world — sort of. There are stipulations, such as the commercial infrastructure must reside within DoD facilities and remain attached to DoD networks. It will, for all intents and purposes, be a contractor-operated, government-owned capability.

“There are contractors willing and able to capitalize the initial site as well as the initial [certification and accreditation] process, so what does that mean? That actually means you pay for it. The government doesn’t fund it; you build it and then sell it back to make your money and recoup your investment. That’s a key point,” Scott Stewart, chief of IT contracting for DISA’s Defense Information Technology Contracting Organization, said Feb. 22 at DISA’s milCloud industry day.

This isn’t the Defense Department’s first crack at this kind of setup — the Navy Marine Corps Intranet is run in a similar fashion under NGEN, and IBM operates a cloud capability in-house at the Navy’s Allegany Ballistics Laboratory in West Virginia. At press time, IBM was the only company cleared to handle level 5 data, but more companies are in the pipeline.

DISA officials say they continue to toe a line that so far isn’t well-defined.

“There’s a line of demarcation where the contractor builds the bare metal [and] the hypervisor and below, and the government controls from above,” Stewart said. “What we’re exploring here is, where is that line of demarcation? Where’s the line for what’s the contractor’s responsibility and the government’s responsibility? Where each ends and each begins — where is that handshake?”

It’s something that agencies across the government, not just at DoD, are trying to negotiate as they look to cloud’s promises of savings and efficiencies. At the center of the deliberations are the rules for buying commercial goods and services — the various and numerous directives and guidance that govern acquisition.

“Technically, this is not really cosmic. The hard part is the business aspect of it, the contracting aspect,” Stewart said, noting that DoD still is determining its strategy for milCloud, whether that means using a standalone indefinite quantity, indefinite delivery model, an existing governmentwide acquisition contract, a small business set-aside or something else.

“We’re really hoping to get to an environment where we pay by the drink for our customers so that they’re not buying blocks, they’re not over-provisioning — they’re only paying for the use that they want to spend,” Stewart said. “If they want to use it for two weeks, that’s what they pay for…if they want to [use] it in perpetuity, they can do that as well. So these are challenges we’re facing right now: How do we make that work given the constraints that we have in the contracting and acquisition processes?”

Government agencies and the cloud vendor community alike are watching closely to see DISA’s next moves with milCloud, especially how officials handle the storage and use of more highly classified — known as level 5 or level 6 — DoD data. For a long time, the only option for such sensitive information was the highly secured, non-commercial milCloud, but that’s changing, at least the non-commercial part.

“What we’re looking at doing is opening up our floor space and then enabling commercial providers to come in and offer their services from within inside the DoD perimeter,” Rob Vietmeyer, associate director for cloud computing and agile development in the enterprise services and integration directorate at the DoD CIO’s office, said in December. “It may be our floor space or [in some cases] it may just be within our network in their own facilities. But we are looking at dedicated implementation for these cloud services that we can then offer to the DoD community for our high-impact, mission-critical systems, level 5 and even level 6. In the classified environment we’re not going to be connected to the internet or other commercial infrastructures; we’re going to run that from fully private, dedicated Defense Department infrastructures.”

 

 

Wed Feb 24, 2016 4:31pm EST

Spy agencies say Clinton emails closely matched top secret documents: sources

WASHINGTON | By Mark Hosenball

U.S. spy agencies have told Congress that Hillary Clinton’s home computer server contained some emails that should have been treated as “top secret” because their wording matched sections of some of the government’s most highly classified documents, four sources familiar with the agency reports said.

The two reports are the first formal declarations by U.S. spy agencies detailing how they believe Clinton violated government rules when highly classified information in at least 22 email messages passed through her unsecured home server.

The State Department has already acknowledged that the emails contained top secret intelligence, though it says they were not marked that way. It has not previously been clear if the emails contained full classified documents or only some information from them.

The agencies did not find any top secret documents that passed through Clinton’s server in their full version, the sources from Congress and the government’s executive branch said.

However, the agency reports found some emails included passages that closely tracked or mirrored communications marked “top secret,” according to the sources, who all requested anonymity. In some cases, additional classification markings meant access was supposed to be limited to small groups of specially cleared officials.

Under the law and government rules, U.S. officials and contractors may not transmit any classified information – not only documents – outside secure, government-controlled channels. Such information should not be sent even through the government’s .gov email network.

The front-runner for the Democratic nomination for president and former secretary of state has insisted she broke no rules. Clinton’s lawyer, David Kendall, did not respond to a request for comment. Clinton campaign spokespeople did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Two sources said some of the top secret material was related to the CIA’s campaign of drone strikes against Islamist militants in the Middle East and South Asia.

That campaign has been widely reported by Reuters and other media outlets, but it officially is classified as a “Top Secret/Special Access Program” (SAP), meaning only a limited number of people whose names are on a special list are allowed to learn details about it.

One source said the reports identified some information in messages on Clinton’s server that came from human sources, such as confidential CIA informants, and some from technical systems, such as spy satellites or electronic eavesdropping.

The Clinton campaign criticized the State Department’s decision last month to withhold the 22 emails containing top secret information from the public, blaming it on “bureaucratic infighting” and “over-classification run amok.”

“As we have previously made clear, we are not going to speak to the content of the emails,” a State Department official said on Wednesday when asked about the intelligence agency reports.

Clinton’s use of a private server in her New York home for her government work is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the State Department’s and spy community’s internal watchdogs and several Republican-controlled congressional committees.

Two of the sources told Reuters that one of the reports on the emails came from the CIA. Three sources said the other report came from the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA), which analyzes U.S. spy satellite intelligence.

A spokesman for NGA did not immediately respond to requests for comment. CIA spokespeople declined to comment.

The two spy agencies’ reports were sent to Congress in the past few weeks by the intelligence community inspector general, an official government watchdog for multiple spy agencies.

The inspector general’s office has confirmed that it requested the reports from two intelligence agencies, but didn’t identify them.

It was unclear what the congressional committees that received the classified reports, the House and Senate intelligence and foreign relations panels, will do with them. The contents cannot be discussed publicly. The committees requested intelligence reports in connection with their efforts to ensure that government secrets are appropriately protected.

 

 

Behind the Air Force’s Fast-Growing Cyber Research Budget

February 24, 2016 By Aliya Sternstein Nextgov

The service wants to quadruple its money for defending networked aircraft, launch systems, satellites and a whole lot more.

 

It’s an annual puzzle for the Defense Department, congressional appropriators, defense contractors and hackers: Calculating how much money the armed forces should spend on protecting weapons systems and warfighting documents, along with attacking adversary networks, can be like taking a shot in the dark.

Consider, for example, the Air Force fiscal 2017 cyber budget for research, development, testing, and evaluation released earlier this month.

 

The branch wants to nearly quadruple the current $7.7 million purse for defending networked aircraft, launch systems, satellites and data—requesting $29.4 million next year. In the request, the Air Force has proposed doubling down on funding to disrupt foreign systems, asking for $25 million in 2017 for cyber offensives versus $12.9 million this year.

 

Air Force officials provided a vague rationale for the figures.

“The additional funding supports the DOD and Air Force cyberspace strategic objectives of increasing cyberspace capabilities,” Air Force spokeswoman Karen Roganov told Nextgov in an email.

Keep in mind these research and development expenditures show just one portion of overall Air Force cyberspace funding, she said. The top-level line item for cyber—$4 billion—reflects measured “increases across the entire spectrum of cyberspace capabilities,” Roganov said.

The inability to publicly say how these billions of cyber dollars will strengthen America’s military breeds cynicism and waste, according to some former Defense Department personnel and experts.

“At some point, the questions will start coming about what it actually means to fly, fight and win in cyberspace,” Robert M. Lee, an active-duty Air Force Cyber Warfare Operations Officer who has led multiple cyberspace intelligence programs, and Thomas Rid, a war studies professor at King’s College, say in their 2014 RUSI Journal article “OMG Cyber!”

The Air Force also has plans to triple spending on cyber espionage. The 2017 cyber intelligence budget requests $18.52 million, up from the 2016 level of $6.57 million. This money would benefit cyber-snooping initiatives across the Pentagon, where the proposed collective cyber budget is $7 billion, Air Force officials said.

The cyber surveillance account “includes activities in cyberspace conducted to gather intelligence that may be required to support future operations, including offensive cyber operations or defensive cyber operations,” Roganov said. These efforts focus “on tactical and operational intelligence and on mapping adversary cyberspace to support military planning.”

A problem of overpromising on cybersecurity permeates the military, the “OMG Cyber!” authors say.

“Key to the effective functioning of military services is OT&E—organization, training and equipment; but the primary output has been ‘HC&C’—hype, confusion and contracts,” Lee and Rid say. “The DOD’s investment strategy leaves a bitter aftertaste for its own operators: money seems to be available in abundance for contracts, but money is tight when it comes to career and skill development.”

To its credit, the Air Force is leading the way among the services in how it produces cyber personnel, the “OMG Cyber!” writers say. The branch’s 2017 funding proposal seems to back their opinion. The billion-dollar Air Force cyber budget would rise by $200 million in 2017, in part, to train offensive and defensive cyber teams. The extra money would also fund “next-generation platforms and strike packages” for the code warriors, Roganov said.

Despite some lack of clarity around potential 2017 cybersecurity dollars, the Pentagon has come a long way over the past five years.

Back in 2011, the White House proposed spending a total of $2.3 billion on cybersecurity for the entire DOD in its 2012 budget request. However, at the time, Air Force officials announced their cybersecurity request would be $4.6 billion.

DOD officials later clarified that the Air Force’s $4.6 billion cyber figure differed from their own $440 million Air Force cyber calculation because the branch’s estimation included “things” not typically considered cybersecurity.

 

 

 

The Pentagon’s ‘Force of the Future’ plan just got trashed in Congress

By Leo Shane III, Military Times 12:37 p.m. EST February 25, 2016

http://www.militarytimes.com/story/military/2016/02/25/senators-blast-personnel-reforms-nominee/80924888/

 

Defense officials’ hopes for sweeping personnel reforms were crushed by Senate Republicans on Thursday who attacked the ideas as “an outrageous waste of time” and the Pentagon’s pick to implement them as unfit to serve.

Brad Carson, the nominee to serve as undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness for nearly 11 months, received blistering criticism from members of the Senate Armed Services Committee for his work over the past year on the Force of the Future plan, work aimed at updating the military’s personnel system to better compete with civilian business benefits.

The 49-year-old former congressman and Iraq War veteran worked as the personnel office’s acting head for most of 2015, becoming the public face for the reform plans. But senators accused him of presuming confirmation and failing to inform them about the proposed historic changes, many of which would require dramatic legislative changes.

“I find it deeply disturbing that you are proposing to add expensive fringe benefits allegedly aimed at retention during a time when we are asking 3,000 excellent Army captains to leave the service who would have otherwise chosen to remain on active duty,” said Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz.

“This initiative has been an outrageous waste of official time and resources during a period of severe fiscal constraints. It illustrates the worst aspects of a bloated and inefficient defense organization.”

The Force of the Future plans initially included major changes to military pay, benefits and promotion schedules, with suggestions of midcareer sabbaticals and elimination of the up-or-out rank advancement rules.

But the ideas — championed by Defense Secretary Ash Carter over the last year — have been met with resistance among defense officials and lawmakers.

Carter last fall offered a watered-down version of the plan as a starting point, starting new personnel management systems to better match troops with desired job assignments and the creating of a new office to oversee efforts to attract top talent to the ranks.

He has promised to build on that work, and was across Capitol Hill on Thursday defending the Pentagon’s fiscal 2017 budget request as senators tore apart his longer-term defense proposals.

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, questioned whether civilian corporation tactics can work in an environment where national security issues are paramount. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, criticized efforts to make the military more “progressive” as off-base and unproductive.

For his part, Carson defended the proposals as an ongoing effort to prepare the military for the future, and to keep top talent from fleeing the services for higher-paying, more comfortable civilian posts.

But advancing that work will require his official confirmation into the personnel post, an assignment that appeared very much in doubt by the end of Thursday’s hearing.

McCain accused Carson of lying on several occasions in the hearing, and suggested his actions over the last year disqualified him for the post. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., asked for a command climate assessment report of his office before any Senate action is taken, due to leadership complaints forwarded to his office.

No timeline has been offered for a full committee vote on Carson’s confirmation.

 

Rasmussen Reports

What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls – Week Ending February 27, 2016

Bottom of Form

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Here comes Super Tuesday, this year’s political Groundhog Day when we’ll find out whether the Republican presidential slugfest is over or bound to continue a while longer. Nearly 600 GOP delegates are at stake in primaries and caucuses throughout the country.

Rasmussen Reports’ latest weekly Trump Change survey finds that Donald Trump’s decisive victories in South Carolina and Nevada have Republican voters more certain than ever that he will be their party’s nominee. But the survey was conducted the two nights prior to Thursday’s contentious GOP debate in Houston. We’ll find out next week if the full-throttled attacks on Trump by Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz have dented voter expectations.

Off-setting that will be New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s endorsement of Trump. Christie who ended his race for the GOP nomination earlier this month after his disappointing finish in the New Hampshire primary is the first prominent Republican to swing behind Trump.

With Jeb Bush out of the race, Trump has widened his lead on Rasmussen Reports’ most recent Republican primary ballot survey.

The Republican establishment, terrified of a Trump victory, still hopes to coalesce the anti-Trump vote around one candidate, so look for increasing pressure on Ohio Governor John Kasich in particular to drop out of the race in hopes that his voters will go to Rubio.

One of Trump’s most prominent proposals is to build a wall along the Mexican border. Support for this proposal is down slightly among voters, but voters strongly disagree with Pope Francis’s comment that those who support building the wall are not Christians.

When it comes to immigration reform, most voters continue to favor stricter border control over granting legal status to those already here illegally.

Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton has called for free lawyers for children who have entered this country illegally, and a law proposed in the state of Maryland would expand that to include women who are here illegally as well. But 63% of voters oppose the federal government providing taxpayer-funded lawyers to women and children who entered the country illegally to help them fight deportation. 

Democrats have their own South Carolina primary tomorrow, and Clinton is looking for a big win. Rasmussen Reports’ latest monthly Hillary Meter taken just before her win in the Nevada caucus last Saturday shows that 81% of Likely Democratic Voters think Clinton is likely to be their party’s nominee. 

  Look for our latest numbers from the contest for the Democratic presidential nomination on Monday morning.

Clinton is counting on strong minority support to make Super Tuesday a big day for her, too, but she is coming under increasing fire from black activists. A high of 50% of all Americans now think race relations in this country are getting worse even after seven years of the nation’s first black president.

President Obama’s daily job approval ratings remain in the negative mid-teens.  

Voters are increasingly critical of Obama’s handling of national security issues and think he should focus on terrorism for the remainder of his time in the White House.

The president has renewed his effort to close the prison camp for suspected terrorists at the U.S. Guantanamo Naval Base in Cuba. Most voters still oppose that idea, don’t want those prisoners being jailed here and think the ones that have been released already are again a threat to the United States.

Americans remain more concerned about terror here at home than they are about the terrorist threat abroad, and right now they don’t like what they see.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has refused to help the FBI decrypt the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino, California terrorist killers, citing potential privacy violations that could extend to all of Apple’s customers. But is personal privacy more important to Americans than protecting themselves from a terrorist attack?

As they have for years, voters continue to give Congress very low marks for its job performance. The majority also still believe most representatives – including their own – are selling their votes.

In other surveys last week:

— For the second week in a row, 30% of voters say the country is headed in the right direction. 

— Americans are more confident they’ll file their taxes on time this year, but they’re less sure about receiving a refund.

— They’re also less worried this year about being audited by the IRS.

This Sunday’s 88th Academy Awards are marred by controversy over a lack of diversity among the nominees, but viewers don’t seem to mind.

 


 

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