The US commander in Iraq, General Ray Odierno, who pulled American combat troops out of the cities by the end of June, announced today that 4,000 troops will return permanently from Iraq next month.
** QUICK HITS. The night before negotiations begin in Geneva, Iran appears to be putting together a conciliatory package, including third party enrichment of nuclear fuels, beyond a certain level achieved in Iranian facilities, that is. But how serious is it? And in attempting to broaden the agenda, are they trying to take the focus off last week’s revelation? … Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, in Los Angeles with UN and Obama Administration officials for his second Governors’ Global Climate Summit, is announcing an agreement with Sierra Pacific Industries on carbon sequestration. … Cali GOP gubernatorial hopeful Meg Whitman, reeling for days in the wake of revelations that, contrary to her GOP convention speech in February, she never bothered to register to vote till her late 40s, has announced the backing of the mayor of Fresno and a former state Republican chairmanwho had backed rival Steve Poizner.
** POST-BLAIR LABOUR PARTY SLIPS TO THIRD PLACE. Since the departure from the premiereship of Tony Blair, who appears this week at Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Global Climate Summit in Los Angeles, Britain’s Labour Party has been having a rough time of it. Many activists were happy to see Blair, reviled by many for backing the Iraq War, go in favor of Gordon Brown. But Labour has been slumping, and a brand new poll shows it running, ever so narrowly, behind the Liberal Democrats in a potential election match-up.
The Conservative Party runs first with 36%, with the Liberal Democrats at 25% and Labour at 24%.
Prime Minister Brown fares especially poorly in comparison with Tory leader David Cameron, who became party leader because of his Blair-like qualities. Cameron, incidentally, is also a Schwarzenegger friend, though not on the scale of Blair.
According to Ipsos: Two in five (41%) believe that, of the three leaders, David Cameron would make the most capable Prime Minister, almost twice as many as in June 2007. He is seen to be better than Brown in a crisis and more in touch with ordinary people, while Brown is seen to have a better understanding of world problems. Nick Clegg is seen as the most honest of the three politicians.
One in four (26%) are satisfied with the way the Government is running the country and seven in ten are dissatisfied (69%, compared to 71% last month). Taking the ‘net’ rating (the percentage satisfied minus the percentage dissatisfied) puts the Government on -43, which is the highest reported satisfaction level for the Government since March.
Almost three in ten (29%) are satisfied with the way Gordon Brown is doing his job as Prime Minister and two in three (65%) are dissatisfied, giving a net score of -36, matching last month’s score.
** JERRY BROWN: EXPLORER SCOUT. Steve Glazer, a senior advisor to the former Governor-turned-Attorney General Jerry Brown, sent out a release yesterday afternoon saying that the two-time runner-up for the Democratic presidential nomination is setting up an exploratory committee for a 2010 run for a return to the governorship of California.
As Brown is already the obvious frontrunner for both the Democratic nomination and the governorship, as has ben maintained from the start here on NWN, that’s not much of a surprise.
At the end of June, Brown had eight times as much campaign cash available to spend as did his would-be challenger for the Democratic nomination, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.
Since Brown has contributors who want to give him more money, but can’t, as he has previously been limited by the amount allowed per contribution in a race for state attorney general, which is only one-fourth the rate that Newsom and the Republicans have been allowed to raise, I knew this announcement was coming.
But when it came on my blackberry, I was out and about running errands, listening to the remastered Beatles (being unfamiliar with their early albums, it’s Beatlemania around here, and especially in the car, following the re-release of all the albums on September 9th), and getting a badly needed haircut. My hair is fine, up to the point when it gets out of control, which comes all of a sudden, resembling the “Help!” era.
Anyway, there were other things to mention on NWN and I had a large and complex analytical piece to do, and the Brown announcement frankly slipped my mind.
Brown leads all Republicans by double digits in the Republican-owned Rasmussen poll — while Newsom, who is way behind Brown in San Francisco — trails all Republicans.
Not surprisingly, Newsom, increasingly ignored, now wants to debate Brown. If he is still in the race next year, I suspect there’s a chance that will happen.
President Barack Obama met yesterday in the Oval Office with new NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
** IRANIAN CRISIS: RUN-UP TO NEGOTIATION. On the eve of the first formal negotiations between America and Iran in 30 years, there’s been a flurry of activity on all sides. Especially so since the sides include the other parties to negotiation — Britain, France, China, Germany, and Russia — as well as Israel.
All this comes on the heels of last Friday’s dramatic announcement by President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy of the existence of a secret Iranian nuclear facility. The facility was only disclosed, in vague terms, in an Iranian communication with the UN’s nuclear agency as the Obama Administration was briefing foreign governments about its existence.
What we see in the flurry of activity since then is Iran putting out decidedly mixed messages, and perhaps playing for time. And, apparently, and I do mean apparently, the American intelligence services lagging behind the European intelligence services and, naturally, Mossad, in seeing war-like intent in the Iranian nuclear program. …
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in and around Washington today.
Obama received his daily intelligence briefing early this morning in the Oval Office.
He then went to Bethesday, Maryland where he toured the National Institutes for Health with Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
Obama then delivered remarks announcing that $5 billion from his economic recovery act will be spent on disease research and biomedical jobs.
He then returned to White House.
At 9 AM Pacific, Obama meets with senior advisors in the Oval Office.
At 10: 30 AM Pacific, Obama signs the Arnold Palmer Gold Medal Act in the Oval Office.
At 10:50 AM Pacific, Obama receives his daily economic briefing.
At 12 noon Pacific, Obama meets with his national security team on Afghanistan in the Situation Room.
First Lady Michelle Obama is already in Copenhagen, Denmark, to pitch the International Olympic Committee on Chicago as host of the 2016 Olympic Games. Obama will join her there on Friday.
Michelle Obama has visited the US Embassy and is meeting with IOC members at the Marriott Hotel in Copenhagen.
Later, she attends Chicago Mayor Richard Daley’s welcome reception at the Admiral Hotel in Copenhagen, one of my favorite cities.
For his part, Vice President Joe Biden is participating in welcome home ceremonies honoring the Delaware Army National Guard’s 261st Signal Brigade in Dover, Delaware. Among its members is Biden’s son, Beau, Delaware’s attorney general and a candidate for his father’s old seat in the U.S. Senate. The brigade has just returned home from Iraq.
Obama is monitoring several situations.
There is, of course, the big session today on Afghanistan.
The recount of Afghanistan’s hotly disputed August 20th presidential election is scheduled to be completed on October 7th.
Congress continues to haggle over the public option on national health care reform following its defeat yesterday in the Senate Finance Committee.
And the US, Britain, France, China, Germany, and Russia are preparing for negotiations with Iran on Thursday in Geneva, Switzerland.
Celebrating Earth Day 2007 in Iowa, then underdog presidential contender Barack Obama talked up California’s program as his model on climate change.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is in Los Angeles today for his second Governors’ Global Climate Summit, which begins today.
Yesterday, Schwarzenegger and the United Nations formally announced it as a preparatory event for the forthcoming Copenhagen round of global negotiation on climate change.
Schwarzenegger is being joined by a number of American governors, and governors of provinces from various parts of the world, along with top officials of the Obama Administration, the United Nations, and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
** MAD MEN REVIEW: “SEVEN TWENTY THREE.” … From my September 28th review.
** OBAMA’S SUMMITEERING: HIGH ALTITUDE HEADACHES AND RUMORS OF WAR. As any hiker knows, high altitudes often lead to headaches, and President Barack Obama has had a few at his New York summits. They center around AfPak, the perennial question of Israel and Palestine, and Iran. And today the latter went front and center, with war a real possibility in the wake of this morning’s revelation of a secret Iranian nuclear facility.
Even as he unleashed another masterful speech on the global stage, Obama struggled with a few emerging realities.
First, that his latest apparent strategy of nation-building in Afghanistan is bound to fail without about 200,000 troops, which the nation simply wouldn’t allow, to back it up.
Next, the eternal quandary of Israel and Palestine, with the new right-wing Israeli government refusing, in various forms of gobbledygook, to stop settlements by religious fundamentalists on the disputed West Bank and various Arab actors refusing to fully recognize Israel.
And finally, the apparent intransigence of Iran, which says it doesn’t want nuclear weapons even as it apparently insists on its right to them, notwithstanding its signature on the Nonproliferation Treaty. … From my September 25th column.
** MAD MEN‘S EMMY TRIUMPH COMES AS “GUY WALKS INTO AN ADVERTISING AGENCY.” Last night’s repeat win at the Emmy Awards further enshrined Mad Men as television’s best series on a night when it aired a consequential new episode.
Before getting to the review of “Guy Walks Into An Advertising Agency” — a very ironic title, as it happens — replete with the usual spoilers, a few thoughts about Mad Men as the new Sopranos.
While it will never have the populist appeal of a well-written show about angst-ridden mobsters, Mad Men is something I find even more interesting. It’s a highly cinematic time tunnel from a fascinating period, the early 1960s, to the present. It’s a show about the American Dream, about aspiration and identity and value, revolving around some very intriguing characters in perhaps the most quintessential of American businesses. Advertising defines the American Dream and reflects it, all in an endless loop of desire and dissatisfaction, ever adjusting to change and co-opting it. For one purpose: To convince you that you need what it’s selling. … From my September 21st review.
** OBAMA AND AL QAEDA: NEW MOVES SHOW SUCCESS MAY NOT DEPEND ON AFGHANISTAN. While things are going quite ruggedly for America in Afghanistan, they may be going worse for Al Qaeda everywhere. Osama bin Laden’s taunting 9/11 anniversary message was days late and very lame. And President Barack Obama’s lethal approach to dealing with the organization that attacked America on 9/11 took a startling, and still more lethal, turn this week in Somalia.
Which raises a central question: Are we not in fact much closer to achieving our central goal in Afghanistan than most imagine? … From my September 17th column.
** MAD MEN REVIEW: THE FOG.” … From my September 14th review.
** 9/11 + 8: WHERE WE’VE BEEN, WHERE WE’RE GOING. … From my September 11th column.
** MAD MEN REVIEW: “THE ARRANGEMENTS.” … From my September 7th review.
** WHY THE KENNEDY EULOGIES STRUCK THE RIGHT TONE. … From my September 2nd column.
** OBAMA: RIDING WITH HISTORY. (NOTE: As Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States, this column was the featured column on the top of the front page of the Huffington Post.) … From my January 19th 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 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, 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.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM AL JAZEERA. With the US entangled in two wars in the region, it’s valuable to keep up with news and perspectives from the leading Middle Eastern-based TV news network. Based in the Gulf Arab state of Qatar, Al Jazeera is very influential and more than a bit controversial. Click here for a live TV news feed on your computer. The NWN live link to AJ 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 last fall, prior to the global economic meltdown, 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. You can listen to my recent video webchat with Schwarzenegger here.
** TRACK GLOBAL AND NATIONAL ENERGY PRICES IN NEAR REAL TIME VIA BLOOMBERG ENERGY MARKET WATCH. Having crashed over $147 for yet another record on July 11th, 2008, crude oil is trading around $68 per barrel.
This is up about $34 from the low of $34 per barrel prior to enactment of the Obama economic recovery program, reflecting a low point in global economic activity.
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