President-elect Barack Obama yesterday introduced the people who will be running his Office of Management and Budget and discussed the record budget deficit he is inheriting from President Bush along with the epic financial crisis.
** TERRORIST SIEGE IN KEY INDIAN CITY. It’s the middle of the night in Mumbai, India, and teams of terrorists armed with assault rifles and grenades are roaming around the city shooting tourists and locals and taking hostages. Americans and Britons seem to be top targets. Mumbai is a popular tourist destination and India’s commercial capital. Mumbai was formerly known as Bombay.
Over 80 people have been killed, more than 200 wounded in a series of attacks at luxury hotels, a restaurant that is an historic landmark, and a big train station. Hostage situations are underway at two luxury hotels, the Taj Mahal and the Oberoi.
No one has taken credit for the attacks, which are ongoing. Previous terrorist attacks in Mumbai have been carried out by Islamic jihadists. This would be a dramatic change in tactics, as the earlier attacks were undertaken with IEDs, improvised explosive devices, not with teams of gunmen. India, which has economic problems like the rest of the world, is looking to tourism as a bulwark.
** OBAMA, ARNOLD, AND THE RENEWED CLIMATE CHANGE FIGHT. From my new Huffington Post column.
** OBAMA TODAY. President-elect Barack Obama holds a press conference for the third morning in a row to discuss the nation’s deep financial crisis. Obama is appointing former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker to head the new President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board. Obama advisor Austan Goolsbee, the University of Chicago economist who became famous during the campaign after he supposedly told a Canadian consular official not to worry about Obama’s rhetoric on NAFTA, will be the board’s executive director, as well as a member of the Council of Economic Advisors.
This new body is being called the economic emergency board. It’s designed to find crosscut solutions to the multidimensional financial and economic crisis that grips not only Amercia, but the world. Volcker, 81, famed for wringing inflation out of the US economy in the 1980s, has been quietly advising Obama most of this year. The former American central bank chief has unique experience and remarkable connections around the world.
Obama’s Chicago press conference announcing this is at 7:45 AM Pacific. It will be roadblocked on all cable news nets.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has no planned public events today.
To no one’s surprise, the lame-duck Legislature failed to pass a new budget adjustment bill once it finally got around to trying a vote late yesterday. Democrats proposed a mix of tax increases and budget cuts.
Schwarzenegger will declare a fiscal emergency on Monday and begin trying to work with the new Legislature.
With legislators traveling around the world during the special post-election budget session — and with Schwarzenegger seemingly unable to win over conservative Republicans and Democrats clearly unwilling or unable to play legislative hardball — it was hard to take seriously the prospect that anything might happen. And so it did not.
I’ll write another time about the political mess which is holding back progress on California’s chronic budget crisis, now deepening in the midst of an epic national and global financial crisis.
California’s new Legislature will have three more Democrats — in a Northern California district, Alyson Huber has pulled ahead in the near-final count — in the Assembly, but no more in the Senate. This will give the Dems a 51-29 advantage in the Assembly and a 25-15 advantage in the Senate. Three more votes are needed in the former and two more in the latter to get to the two-thirds vote requirement for budget passage. California is one of only three states with that requirement.
A Russian naval squadron has arrived in the Caribbean for maneuvers as President Dmitri Medvedev arrives for a Wednesday summit in Caracas with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
** SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON: MASTERSTROKE, MOUSETRAP, OR BOTH? Potential Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Masterstroke or mousetrap? Or both? And for whom?
The political world has been all aflutter for the better part of a week at the prospect — initially portrayed as a done deal — that Hillary Clinton will be Barack Obama’s secretary of state. On the Republican side of the aisle, Henry Kissinger calls her “highly qualified” and Arnold Schwarzenegger dubs it “a great move.” The Clintons’ opponents in the Democratic Party have been restrained in their response. The media loves it, running with endless references to historian Doris Kearns Goodwin’s very fine book on the Lincoln Cabinet, an Obama favorite, “Team of Rivals.” … From my Wednesday column.
** MIAMI BLUES: PALIN AND NATIONAL REPUBLICANS LOOK LIKE THE SAD CALIFORNIA REPUBLICAN PARTY. … From my November 14th column.
** GLOBAL OBAMA: BIG OPPORTUNITIES, BIGGER CHALLENGES. If he wins, Obama will have the global popularity that no American president has had in a great many years. But what sort of challenges will counter the global opportunity that an Obama presidency might afford America? … From my October 24th Huffington Post column.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM RUSSIA TODAY. Russia has re-emerged 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 quite foolish to expect to see, say, criticism of Vladimir Putin on Russia Today, which I know as a former DemRussia advisor, the channel is very interesting nonetheless. With U.S. cable news chattering away as it does, this sort of respite can be informative. 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.
** SCHWARZENEGGER’S CALIFORNIA. Here is my series of five columns on the governorship of Arnold Schwarzenegger for the Los Angeles Times in debate with Pulitzer Prize-winning former Times reporter/editor Bill Boyarsky, whose columns are also included.
Among them is what I’m sure is the first piece examining Schwarzenegger’s legacy as governor of California. Since he will actually be governor of California until 2011. No technology known to be disruptive to the space/time continuum was used in its preparation.
** TRACK GLOBAL AND NATIONAL ENERGY PRICES IN NEAR REAL TIME VIA BLOOMBERG ENERGY MARKET WATCH. After crashing over $147 for yet another record on July 11th, crude oil is trading in the $51 to $52 per barrel range.
OPEC forecasts a 0.6% decline in global oil consumption in 2009. But sees a 2.5% growth in oil consumption in developing nations.
The drop of $96 per barrel since the record high over the summer comes on acknowledgment that the weak US economy will cut future demand and on the easing of geopolitical tensions in the Middle East. It is clear that that, contrary to much chatter, neither the US nor Israel is about to launch a strike against Iran. And the Russian war with Georgia, confounding much speculation and reporting to the contrary, actually decreased the geopolitical risk premium in the oil market.
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