Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is on the international scene
again this week, on a three-day trip to Canada where he’ll sign
greenhouse accords with two provinces and promote trade.
** AL QAEDA’S AMERICAN PRISONERS STILL NOT LOCATED. An 18th day of searching by thousands of US troops south of Baghdad for the two remaining American soldiers captured in an ambush by Al Qaeda has ended. The prisoners have still not been located.
** KYRGYZSTAN PRIME MINISTER POISONED IN ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT. The prime minister of this impoverished, mountainous Central Asian state, a former Soviet republic that is now site of America’s only remaining base in Central Asia, was poisoned earlier this month in an assassination attempt. This is another big problem area for the US. The politics are tumultuous. The parliament’s defense committee voted to expel the US from its base at Manas Airport outside the capital city of Bishkek, formerly Frunze in the Soviet era. The prime minister and president disagree. I’ll have a fuller report another time.
** THE SPEECH. The new issue of Chicago Magazine has a behind-the-scenes story on Barack Obama’s famed 2004 Democratic National Convention keynote speech. How he came to be chosen, how the speech came into being, how it was structured (a very interesting discussion of the speechwriter’s art), how it was delivered, and the immediate aftermath, in which it was clear that things had changed very dramatically for the then Illinois state senator running to replace a Republican in the U.S. Senate.
I remember hearing Obama had been selected and wondering, who on earth is that guy? The choice was John Kerry’s. Ultimately. Kerry himself, impressed by Obama during an April 2004 campaign swing, had put his name in the hopper, along with several others. Kerry campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill made the fateful pick, and Kerry agreed.
** VILLARAIGOSA WILL ENDORSE CLINTON. NWN has learned that the “major announcement” tomorrow at UCLA will be the endorsement of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of Senator Hillary Clinton for president. It’s not a big surprise, in that Villaraigosa’s close ally, Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, is national co-chairman for Clinton and his former campaign manager, Ace Smith, is Clinton’s California director. Both were previously revealed here.
** HILLARY TO NEVADA. Senator Hillary Clinton campaigns in Nevada tomorrow, meeting with the culinary workers in Las Vegas before holding a noon town hall meeting in North Las Vegas. Her town hall in Reno a few weeks ago drew a whopping 3500 people. Clinton leads in the polls in Nevada, the second-in-the-nation contest in the Democratic presidential race.
** HILLARY, OBAMA, AND EDWARDS TO CALIFORNIA. The top three Democratic presidential candidates all make it to California this week. Hillary Clinton arrives tomorrow in LA, swinging over from Vegas. She’ll go to UCLA for a “major announcement.” One clue is that the event is at a preschool. On Thursday, she’ll give a speech in Silicon Valley. In between, she’ll do some fundraising.
As will John Edwards, who arrives later in the week. He actually has a $15 per person fundraiser on Thursday in San Jose, a week for the grassroots to get some personal access to him.
Barack Obama will be in California over the weekend for fundraising, and something else TBA.
** IS IMMIGRATION HURTING MCCAIN? Longtime NWN readers know I have a problem with robopolls. That said, it is interesting that the new Rasmussen poll shows Mitt Romney now shading John McCain for second place nationally in the Republican presidential race. A week ago, he was six points behind. What’s happened in the last week? Lots of talk about immigration policy. Rudy Giuliani, also a past advocate of illegal immigratn rights, has adopted a lower profile and somewhat more negative view of the current legislation. But McCain’s name is on that legislation.
** ON THE ROAD AGAIN. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is on the road again this week, this time spending three days in Canada. There he will sign memorandums of understanding with the premiers of two Canadian provinces — British Columbia, which I’ve already reported on, and Ontario — to share information on climate change, begin to monitor greenhouse gas emissions, promote renewable energy, and begin to develop a cap & trade carbon market. (The last point is controversial with some, advocates of hard-and-fast regulation who want hardline regulation to happen first, and apparently think the law California passed last year is less vague than it is.)
Schwarzenegger and his band of 52 business folks along for the trip will also promote California products and services. The trip is being paid for by the California protocol fund, i.e., through a Chamber of Commerce-associated entity using undisclosed private contributions. This is controversial as well, as well it should be.
The practice of private finance of public trips began with Governor Pete Wilson’s administration in the early ’90s. I wrote about it then to expose it, and the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission took up the issue. But Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters defended the practice, and then Controller Gray Davis’s appointee went missing when a vote was taken, and that was that.
Meanwhile, legislative leaders continue to haggle over and hassle with each other over term limits and redistricting reform. As I’ve said before, nothing will be settled on that front absent Schwarzenegger and the top leaders getting together. And that won’t happen for awhile.
** OBAMA OFFERS UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE PLAN. Senator Barack Obama will unveil his universal health care plan today in a speech in Iowa. He says it will end up costing the average consumer $2500 a year less, and will be financed through an employer mandate and repeal of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest taxpayers.
** AL QAEDA’S AMERICAN PRISONERS STILL NOT LOCATED. Thousands of American troops are now in the midst of an 18th day of searching for the remaining two US soldiers captured by Al Qaeda in an ambush south of Baghdad. They have had no luck so far. But the activity may be preventing Al Qaeda from having the time and space to film the captives in a propaganda bonanza.
** Track global and national energy prices in near real time via Bloomberg. Crude oil prices are around $64 per barrel.
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