President John F. Kennedy tells the nation 45 years ago that the
Soviet Union has secretly placed nuclear missiles in Cuba. This
was the Cuban Missile Crisis, in which the world came to the brink
of nuclear war between America and the late Soviet Union.
** TURKISH CRISIS CONTINUES. Turkish press reports say that more troops are heading to the border with northern Iraq, and that there have been artillery and helicopter gunship strikes across the border against Kurdish separatist guerilla camps.
President Bush is said to have assured Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan that the US is pushing hard for Iraqi forces to control the Kurdish separatists operating in their territory and that a joint US-Turkish operation may be in the offing. But it’s not clear what Iraq forces can do way up in the mountainous Kurdish sector when they can’t control their own capital of Baghdad. And the offer, if real to have US forces operate with Turkish forces may be a political delaying tactic. Winter conditions will begin descending on the region in a matter of weeks, making full-scale operations difficult. Which the Turks know.
** CALIFORNIA REDISTRICTING REFORM INITIATIVE FILED. A coalition of Common Cause, the LA Chamber of Commerce, and the American Association of Retired People filed an initiative this afternoon with Attorney General Jerry Brown’s office targeted for the November 2008 election. It would create an independent citizens commission to redraw districts for the state Legislature and Board of Equalization. Congressional districts would be exempted. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has threatened a big money campaign against any change in congressional redistricting. The proposal is similar to one that seemed close to passage in the Legislature, but never got there.
** ROMNEY MAKES A GAFFE. Speaking today in South Carolina, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said this: “Actually, just look at what Osam — uh — Barack Obama, said just yesterday. Barack Obama calling on radicals, jihadists of all different types, to come together in Iraq. That is the battlefield. That is the central place, he said. Come join us under one banner.”
Actually, Senator Barack Obama, who is, of course, one of the two leading Democratic presidential candidates, has not called for all jihadists to come together in Iraq, the central battlefield. That would be Osama bin Laden, in a new audiotape. Whoops.
Asked to comment, Obama said: “I don’t think much about Mitt Romney.”
** SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA FIRES: WELCOME TO NON-NEW ORLEANS. After the debacle of Hurricane Katrina, the Bush Administration seems to have learned some lessons.
The administration has quickly agreed to all the requests I’m aware of from Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The head of the Federal Emergency Management Administration is on the ground in San Diego. US Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, who couldn’t be nominated to succeed Alberto Gonzales as US attorney general after his slow response to the near destruction of New Orleans, is about to undertake an aerial survey via Blackhawk helicopter of the fires in the San Diego area with Schwarzenegger and Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez. And President Bush himself is set to arrive in California on Thursday.
** QUICK HITS. Turkey has rejected a ceasefire offer by Kurdish separatist guerillas inside northern Iraq as not credible, noting that there’ve been many in the past. Yet it’s agreed to hold off on major military action for a few days while urging the US and Iraqi governments to bring the Kurdish guerillas under control. Which would be a very neat trick to pull off in a few days. … Analysts have differing views on the resignation of Iran’s national security advisor and chief nuclear negotiator over the weekend. Some say it means that Iran is even further committed to a nuclear weapons program while seeming to come under the Russian umbrella. Others that it means Iran thinks it can get a better deal in exchange for its nuclear program. The Russian offer to Iran appears to be one of support in exchange for backing away from nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons are only one aspect of the Iranian agenda. … The US space shuttle Discovery successfully lifted off this morning. With Col. Pamela Melroy in command of the space shuttle and Dr. Peggy Whitson in command of the International Space Station, for the first time in history there are two female commanders in space at the same time. … More maneuvering on the growing US/Russia crisis, with Bush administration officials telling the Russians that an anti-missile shield in Eastern Europe that Russia objects to could be built but not turned on while Bush himself says that the shield program is key to Europe’s defense. Russia doesn’t want it built.
** 11:55 AM UPDATE: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, after leaving the San Diego area, has been on a lengthy tour of the Lake Arrowhead area. His live cable news appearance, promoed by the nets for the past hour, is expected shortly.
** SCHWARZENEGGER LIVE ON CABLE NEWS ON THE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA FIRES FROM LAKE ARROWHEAD, SET FOR SOMETIME SHORTLY AFTER 11 AM PACIFIC TIME.
** SCHWARZENEGGER AND BLAIR. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, in San Diego earlier this morning, appeared briefly via satellite at today’s annual California Women’s Conference in Long Beach. He had been slated for a dual appearance with his friend, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, to discuss climate change and leadership. But Schwarzenegger is busy with the massive Southern California fire crisis, and in the end, appeared for only a few minutes discussing that situation.
It is, said the former action movie superstar, “the perfect storm fire,” citing the confluence of drought conditions, unusual temperatures, and unusually high winds driving a series of fires around the region.
The extreme heat and wind conditions, which are thwarting firefighting efforts, are expected to continue through Wednesday evening.
After Schwarzenegger, wearing a jacket standing in front of a fire truck with firefighters preparing to go into action, signed off, the moderator of the would-have-been discussion between the two leaders, New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, noted that at the start of his career as a foreign correspondent he began every day “watching the BBC World Service, I suspect I’ll end it beginning every day watching the weather channel.”
Blair, who was clearly a favorite of the 14,000 people attending the conference, noted the connection, making the point that Britain has cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 20% so far while growing the economy by 25%.
** BIG CROWD FOR CLINTON IN FRESNO. On a Western swing, Hillary Clinton, a fixture on the coast, brought her frontrunning presidential campaign to central California for the first time yesterday with a big rally in Fresno, the biggest any of the candidates have had in the Central Valley. Her campaign said she drew 7500 people. The Fresno police said she drew a little less than half that, 2500 to 3500. Later she met with the United Farm Workers.
A San Diego TV correspondent reports from in front of his still
burning home, destroyed in one of the Southern California wildfires.
** SCHWARZENEGGER DIRECTS STATE FIREFIGHTING EFFORTS, LIMITS APPEARANCE WITH BLAIR TO BRIEF WEBCAST. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has dropped his in-person high-profile discussion this morning with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair on, ironically, climate change, in favor of directing state efforts against the burgeoning fires of Southern California. He will, however, make a brief appearance with Blair at 8:30 AM via satellite hookup from San Diego. That will be webcast live.
Today is the annual state Women’s Conference, drawing 14,000 people to the Long Beach convention center, organized by First Lady Maria Shriver. Schwarzenegger’s discussion with Blair, moderated by New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, was to be a centerpiece of the conference.
But that event has obviously been overtaken by events.
Schwarzenegger spent much of last night at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, a key quartering area for fire evacuees.
At Schwarzenegger’s request, President Bush has declared a state of emergency in California. This frees up aid from the Federal Emergency Management Administration and the Department of Defense. Schwarzenegger yesterday secured six special firefighting planes from the Pentagon through a direct appeal to Defense Secretary Bob Gates. He also called up 1500 members of the California National Guard.
Schwarzenegger is directing Cal Fire (Dept. of Forestry and Fire Protection), Office of Emergency Services (OES), and National Guard resources in the effort. In addition to the 1500 National Guard personnel, there are some 1800 firefighting personnel from Cal Fire and OES. He’s also directed the state Dept. of Corrections to deploy inmate firefighters and supervisory staff. More than 2300 state prisoners and nearly 200 custody staff have joined the firefighting ranks.
Over a thousand emergency vehicles and more than a dozen state aircraft are also engaged, along with health and social service assistance personnel.
** SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA FIRE UPDATES. Click here for the locations of and updates on the burgeoning fires of Southern California.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM RUSSIA TODAY. Russia is fast re-emerging as one of the world’s great powers. Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer, bringing you English-language, jargon-free, fast-paced coverage of global and Russian news from the new Russia Today channel.
You probably already know about CNN International, BBC World, and Al Jazeera. Russia Today, which also features culture, entertainment, and sports, is based in Moscow and is owned and operated by the TV Novosti division of Russia’s state news agency, RIA Novosti.
While it’s foolish to expect to see, say, criticism of Vladimir Putin on Russia Today, the channel is quite interesting nonetheless. The NWN live link to RT does not constitute an endorsement of the channel’s views. It’s presented as an otherwise unavailable new media window. Moscow time is 11 hours ahead of Pacific time.
** TRACK GLOBAL AND U.S. ENERGY PRICES IN NEAR REAL TIME VIA BLOOMBERG ENERGY MARKET WATCH. Crude oil prices have moved up again to the $86 to $88 per barrel range on concern over situations in Iraq and Iran.
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