The annual Doctor Who Christmas Special, entitled The Next Doctor, aired Christmas night in the UK to big ratings. The show airs next year in the US.
NOTE: NWN is in Christmas week publishing mode, which means that material will be moved every day, but not all that frequently. And we’ll see more holiday/entertainment video here.
** MUMBAI CRISIS HEATS UP. As I mentioned might happen in the Monday Morning Quarterback column, the Mumbai crisis is heating up. Pakistan is moving tens of thousands of troops from its border with Afghanistan, where they ostensibly help in the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban, to its border with India.
This comes after weeks of word of some Pakistani connections to the Thanksgiving attacks, the incursions of Indian jets into Pakistani airspace, and the move of some Indian special ops units to the border.
Pakistan began moving thousands of troops away from the Afghan border toward India on Friday amid tensions following the Mumbai attacks, intelligence officials said. The move represents a sharp escalation in the standoff between the nuclear-armed neighbors and will hurt Pakistan’s U.S.-backed campaign against al-Qaida and Taliban taking place near Afghanistan’s border.
Two intelligence officials said the army’s 14th Division was being redeployed to Kasur and Sialkot, close to the Indian border. They said some 20,000 troops were on the move. Earlier Friday, a security official said that all troop leave had been canceled.
** 12 KEY THINGS ABOUT THE MUMBAI CRISIS. From my December 5th column.
** GALLUP POLL: OBAMA IS MOST ADMIRED. The new Gallup Poll shows that President-elect Barack Obama is the man Americans most admire in the world. In the 60-year history of this question being asked, Obama is only the second president-elect so designated. The first was Dwight Eisenhower in 1952.
** OBAMA TODAY – FRIDAY. President-elect Barack Obama continues his holiday sojourn in Hawaii. No public appearances are expected, nor any announcements from the Obama transition team. Obama receives intelligence/national security briefings every day and is continuing to plan his presidency.
President-elect Barack Obama delivers his weekly video/radio address, focusing on support for the US Armed Forces in this Christmas and holiday season, and hope for struggling Americans in the economic downturn, pointing to the inspiration of Washington’s crossing of the Delaware during the American Revolution.
** OBAMA TODAY – THURSDAY. MELE KALIKIMAKA! President-elect Barack Obama wished “Mele Kalikimaka” (Merry Christmas in Hawaiian) to wellwishers outside Marine Corps Base Hawaii yesterday, where he’s been working out every day of his working vacation in the Aloha State.
Obama and Michelle Obama, with their daughters Malia and Sasha, are celebrating Christmas today in Kailua, where they’re staying in a rented beachfront home. Kailua is a Windward Oahu town, a half-hour drive from the relative bustle of Honolulu. I’ve driven there, down the Pali Highway, then through a tunnel and out again to confront a beautiful panoramic view dominated by ocean and some of the best beachfront in the world. The Obamas are opening presents in the morning and having their traditional Christmas dinner of turkey and ham later in the day.
Obama also has his daily intelligence briefing. In that setting, even more than most of Hawaii, it’s easier to approach even the most distressing news with Zen-like composure.
From Obama’s video/radio address: Many troops are serving their second, third, or even fourth tour of duty. This Christmas and holiday season, their families celebrate with a joy that is muted, knowing that a loved one is absent and sometimes in danger. In towns and cities across America, there is an empty seat at the dinner table. In distant bases and on ships at sea, our servicemen and -women can only wonder at the look on their child’s face as they open a gift back home. …
This season of giving should also be a time to renew a sense of common purpose and shared citizenship. Now, more than ever, we must rededicate ourselves to the notion that we share a common destiny as Americans.
If the American people come together and put their shoulder to the wheel of history, then I know that we can put our people back to work and point our country in a new direction. That is how we will see ourselves through this time of crisis, and reach the promise of a brighter day. …
It was Christmas Day — Dec. 25, 1776 — that Washington and his troops fought through ice and cold to make an improbable crossing of the Delaware River. Many ages have passed since that first American Christmas. We have crossed many rivers as a people. But the lessons that have carried us through are the same lessons that we celebrate every Christmas season — the same lessons that guide us to this very day: That hope endures, and that a new birth of peace is always possible. …
“Please Come Home For Christmas” by, oddly enough, the Eagles. (The programmed Christmas lights version.)
** OBAMA’S CHRISTMAS HONEYMOON. A brand-new CNN poll, released on Christmas Eve as President-elect Barack Obama vacations in longtime honeymoon spot Hawaii, shows increased, sky-high support for Obama’s presidential transition.
The widely-publicized kerfuffles around Rod Blagojevich and Rick Warren haven’t hurt a bit, as anticipated.
Eighty-two percent of those questioned in a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released Wednesday morning approve of the way the Obama is handling his presidential transition. That’s up 3 points from when we asked this question at the beginning of December. Fifteen percent of those surveyed disapprove of the way Obama’s handling his transition, down 3 points from our last poll.
The 82 percent approval is higher than then President-elect George W. Bush 8 years ago, who had a 65 percent transition approval rating, and Bill Clinton, at 67 percent in 1992.
“Barack Obama is having a better honeymoon with the American public than any incoming president in the past three decades. He’s putting up better numbers, usually by double digits, than Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, or either George Bush on every item traditionally measured in transition polls,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
** OBAMA FLOATS THROUGH TEAPOT TEMPESTS. With the fastest Cabinet appointments in 40 years completed, Barack Obama is off to a working vacation in his native Hawaii. It increasingly looks like he’s rolled through two teapot tempests. One in which the far right flipped out, and another in which some on the left, frustrated at an avoidable defeat on same-sex marriage, forgot about the center part of center/left.
The far right flipping out about Obama is nothing new. Nor, I suppose, is a lot of the media going along for the ride. The media loves controversy, deep or otherwise. It’s easier than contemplating pressing issues. … From my Monday column.
** OBAMA TODAY – WEDNESDAY. President-elect Barack Obama is in Hawaii with his family for the holidays. He has no public events today. While he is continuing to work on transition matters, and is receiving a daily national security briefing, no Obama transition announcements are expected on Christmas Eve.
Yesterday in Honolulu, Obama held a private memorial service for his maternal grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, who largely raised him and who died just before his election as President of the United States.
According to the Honolulu Advertiser: President-elect Barack Obama spent much of yesterday honoring the memory of the grandmother who raised him, and then scattering her ashes at Lana’i Lookout, the same spot where Obama scattered the ashes of his mother after her death in 1995.
The White House press corps traveling with Obama on his third O’ahu visit of the year was not allowed into First Unitarian Church for a one-hour service in memory of Madelyn Dunham, who died of cancer at age 86 just two days before Obama’s presidential victory. And media were not allowed to accompany Obama, his sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, her husband, and Obama’s immediate family of wife Michelle and daughters Sasha and Malia as they picked their way down to Lana’i Lookout and its wave-swept, rocky shoreline yesterday afternoon.
Obama scattered the ashes of his mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, at the same location after she died of cancer at the age of 53. During a family vacation in August, Obama returned to Lana’i Lookout to toss a lei into the ocean in memory of his mother.
While local and national media were kept at a distance yesterday, Lauray Gouveia of Kaimuki managed to snap several photos of the Obama entourage of about 12 people that visited the lookout for 20 minutes. Gouveia suffered her own health scare in May when she came down with pneumonia, and yesterday she sympathized with Obama’s emotions. “To lose someone that close, I felt his pain,” she said.
Gouveia wanted to be close to Obama and capture his image but would not allow herself to photograph him scattering his grandmother’s ashes.
“It’s too personal,” she said. “It’s pono. You’ve got to do the right thing.” …
Dunham and her husband, Stanley Dunham, raised Obama in their two-bedroom, 10th-floor apartment on Beretania Street while his mother traveled and pursued her graduate studies in Indonesia with his sister. Obama called his grandmother “Toot,” after the Hawaiian name for grandparent, tutu. Her husband was “Gramps.” The ashes of Stanley Dunham — a sergeant in Gen. George Patton’s 7th Army in Europe — are inurned in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl.
Madelyn Dunham was suffering from osteoporosis and cancer when she fell in her apartment and broke her hip in early October. Within days, Obama’s presidential campaign announced his sudden decision to cancel appearances so he could make the long flight home to visit Dunham. Family friends at the time said Obama did not want to relive his experience in 1995, when he arrived too late to say goodbye to his mother.
He had been raised by both of his maternal grandparents: Stanley — the gregarious and fun-loving pal, who struggled to sell furniture and then insurance on O’ahu; and Madelyn, the stern, no-nonsense banking executive who draped young Barack in equal parts Kansas values and grandmotherly love.
During his campaign for the presidency, Obama’s grandmother represented the last surviving close adult figure from his childhood, having already lost his mother, father and grandfather. In his first public comments after Dunham’s death, Obama told a crowd in Charlotte, N.C., that she was a “quiet hero.”
“Some of you heard that my grandmother who helped raise me passed away early this morning,” Obama said to supporters after her death. “She has gone home. She died peacefully in her sleep, with my sister at her side, and so there’s great joy as well as tears. I’m not going to talk about it too long because it’s hard to talk about. I want everybody to know, though, about her. Her name is Madelyn Dunham. She was born in Kansas in a small town in 1922, which means she lived through the Great Depression, she lived through two world wars.” …
Many of Obama’s political opponents on the far right claimed that his October trip to Hawaii to see his ailing grandmother was actually an attempt by the candidate to cover up the “fact” that he is not an American citizen.
America is on the brink of a “surge” … in deeply troubled Afghanistan.
** OBAMA TODAY – TUESDAY. President-elect Barack Obama left Chicago over the weekend for a 10-day holiday trip to Hawaii. He will spend the holidays with family and friends and, with the Cabinet appointed, continue to do transition work during his stay in the Aloha State. Vice President-elect Biden will be in Delaware.
At 1:30 PM Pacific, Team Obama will release its internal report on its dealings with embattled Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, who is accused of trying to sell appointment to Obama’s Senate seat. Nothing dramatic is expected, and Obama won’t be commenting from Hawaii on the situation.
Obama is receiving national security briefings every day. He’s doing transition work, meeting with longtime senior advisor Valerie Jarrett, who flew out to Hawaii with the Obamas and talking with other advisors and Cabinet members around the country on his emerging economic stimulus plan and filling out his administration. He’ll also hold a private memorial service for his grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, who died just before his election as president.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will hold another event around California’s chronic budget crisis Tuesday afternoon, at Shorebird Park in Sacramento. He talked at length on Monday with Assembly Speaker Karen Bass and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg in search of a solution and will meet with them this morning.
Last week, the Pooled Money Investment Board voted to stop $3.8 billion in infrastructure financing over the next six months. Schwarzenegger declared a fiscal emergency for the State of California, calling the Legislature into a second Prop 58 special session to address this emergency. He also issued an executive order to prepare state government and its employees for the worsening state budget crisis with possible work furloughs and layoffs.
** CALIFORNIA CRACKING. From my December 10th column.
** OBAMA’S NEW POWER TROIKA FACES CRISES OLD AND NEW. From my December 3rd column.
** HAPPY THANKSGIVING, MR. PRESIDENT-ELECT! While Barack Obama promised “a new and brighter day yet to come” in his Thanksgiving address, an old and darker day yet to leave reminds that events — and perhaps political fate itself — can turn on a dime in presidential politics. …
For a political operation that prefers to focus on its preferences, it’s a sharp reminder to Team Obama that the presidency can be every bit as reactive as it is proactive. … From my November 28th Huffington Post column.
A “natural gas OPEC” is being discussed now at a summit of major gas producers in Moscow.
** 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 closed on Christmas Eve at $35.35 per barrel. Energy markets are closed on Christmas Day.
The drop of $112 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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