President Barack Obama, declaring today that passage of comprehensive energy legislation is key to America’s future success, said opponents are using “cynical claims” aimed only at stopping change.
** CHINATOWN’S 35TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION AND THE POLANSKI SCANDAL. In one of the great ironies, the 35th anniversary edition of Chinatown came out this month, nearly at the same time that its director, Roman Polanski, was arrested in Switzerland after fleeing Los Angeles over 30 years ago following a downward guilty plea and brief imprisonment for unlawful sex with a minor.
Chinatown, the tale of a smart, tough detective investigating what he thinks, at first, is a simple case of infidelity in late 1930s Los Angeles, is my favorite film. On the surface, it’s a period detective picture, a big Hollywood movie with the trappings of film noir. Beneath, it’s much more. Armed with an alarmingly intelligent screenplay by Robert Towne, brilliantly cast from stars Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway down through the extras, the film creates its own mesmerizing world through evocative music, costuming, and production design.
“You may think you know what you’re dealing with, Mr. Gits. But believe me, you don’t.” (Words to always keep in in mind, which I sometimes have not.)
** IRAN STALLS ON THE DEAL. After its negotiators agreed to the deal on Wednesday in Vienna, Iran now says it wants additional time to study the plan to have most of its nuclear fuel processed in Russia.
The move comes after several confusing hours of mixed signals, mostly negative and unofficial, from the Iranian regime.
All the other parties to the deal have accepted it, leaving only Iran still studying what its negotiators — who were in constant contact with Tehran — have already agreed to.
Iran is still studying a U.N.-drafted plan to ship much of its uranium to Russia for further enrichment and will formally respond to the offer next week, Iran’s envoy to the U.N. nuclear watchdog said Friday.
Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran’s permanent envoy to the U.N. nuclear agency, told Iran’s state Press TV that Iran is “working and elaborating on all the details of this proposal” and that he would inform the International Atomic Energy Agency “next week about our evaluation.”
The draft plan was put forth Wednesday after three days of talks between Iran and world powers in Vienna, Austria. The plan is seen as a way to curb Iran’s ability to build a nuclear weapon. The United States, Russia and France officially endorsed the deal Friday.
Soltanieh’s statement indicated that Iran could still accept the plan. Tehran’s acceptance would ease Western fears about Iran’s potential to make a nuclear weapon.
In Vienna, the IAEA said on Friday that Iran told the agency’s chief, Mohamed ElBaradei, it is “considering the proposal in depth and in a favorable light, but needs until the middle of next week to provide a response.”
However, Soltanieh’s comments came just hours after Iran’s state TV quoted an unnamed source close to the Iranian nuclear negotiating team as saying Iran wants to buy nuclear fuel it needs for a research reactor, rather than accept the U.N. proposed plan. The official said Tehran has its own proposal on purchasing nuclear fuel and would wait for a response from the world powers.
What that other proposal is was not spelled out. Naturally.
This is actually a classic Iranian move. The Islamic republic is known for playing stall ball in these matters.
However, it’s probably not a good idea now. Patience is running low.
We wait today for Iran to agree to sign the draft agreement reached in Vienna on Iran’s nuclear program. Even if it is signed, we won’t know whether or not Iran is still enriching uranium to higher levels absent additional inspections.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington, Boston, New York and Connecticut today.
At 7:05 AM Pacific, Obama departs the White House on Marine One en route to Andrews Air Force Base.
At 7:20 AM Pacific, Obama departs Andrews Air Force Base on Air Force One en route to Boston, Massachusetts.
Obama will receive his daily intelligence and economic briefings on Air Force One.
At 8:30 AM Pacific, Obama arrives in Boston, Massachusetts.
At 9 AM Pacific, Obama tours a research laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
At 9:30 AM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks challenging Americans to lead the global economy in clean energy.
At 11:05 AM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks at a fundraising reception for Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick.
At 12:40 PM Pacific, Obama departs Boston, Massachusetts on Air Force One en route to New York City.
At 1:35 PM Pacific, Obama arrives in New York City.
At 2:15 PM Pacific, Obama and Senator Chris Dodd tour a small business in Stamford, Connecticut.
At 3:45 PM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks at a fundraising dinner for Senator Chris Dodd at the Stamford Hilton.
At 5 PM Pacific, Obama departs New York City on Air Force One en route to Andrews Air Force Base.
At 5:55 PM Pacific, Obama arrives at Andrews Air Force Base, where he boards arine One.
At 6:10 PM Pacific, Obama lands on the South Lawn of the White House.
Today we see if Iran will commit to a draft agreement aimed at reducing global concerns over its nuclear activities. A deal was hammered out a few days ago in Vienna by representatives of Iran, Russia, the US and France. Russia will do the bulk of the nuclear fuel processing for Iran, with France also playing a significant role.
Iranian representatives agreed in negotiations with the US, France, and Russia to send 75% of its nuclear fuel for further enrichment to Russia. Now the deal has to be ratified in the respective capitals, with Tehran the potential obstacle.
The Russians officially adopted the plan earlier today, first nation to do so, and called on Iran to do so as well. (France is also part of the nuclear fuel processing, contrary to earlier Iranian protests.)
The other 25% is deemed insufficient to start a nuclear weapons program. I’m not sure of the status of international inspections in Iran with regard to being sure that it is only 25% of the total, or whether the delayed inspection of the previously secret underground facility will take place this weekend as finally planned. Note that the facility was revealed a month ago and still no inspector has been inside it. Nevertheless, this is a good development.
U.S. and Israeli forces are now conducting their largest joint air-defense training exercise ever. The objective of Operation Juniper Cobra is testing defenses against missile attacks from Iran, Syria and Lebanon.
In retaliation for the offensive against the Taliban stronghold, bombings around Pakistan killed at least 24 people Friday. A major air force complex, a recreation hall and a wedding bus were all hit.
In Afghanistan, officials are scrambling to mount a November 7th run-off election for president between President Hamid Karzai and former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah. Half the country’s local elections officials have been fired in the wake of findings of massive fraud in what was claimed at first to be a landslide win for Karzai.
The Pakistani Army’s offensive in the Taliban stronghold of South Waziristan is continuing. Pakistani forces are moving in a deliberate manner; this is not a blitzkrieg. Which would probably miss major pockets of resistance.
Meanwhile, Vice President Joe Biden is on a five-day trip to Poland, Romania, and the Czech Republic.
Prior to yesterday, Biden had been reassuring allies but not rattling the cage of Russia, which is key to defusing the Iranian crisis. Yesterday he rattled the Russian cage with remarks in Romania, where he decried “spheres of influence” as a 19th century notion. Not that he thinks that with regard to our own, naturally.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger holds private discussions today in Los Angeles and an event in the LA area.
The principal topic of his talks? California’s chronic water crisis.
A legislative hearing set for this week was postponed till next week. Yet Schwarzenegger still thinks that action on a big water package can happen.
At 2:15 PM, Schwarzenegger addresses the California state convention of the NAACP in Manhattan Beach.
** OBAMA IN THE THICKET OF “AFGHANIRANISTAN.” Considering that he is the most recent winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, President Barack Obama is in a seemingly curious set of positions. He’s spurred major military offensives in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and has been deeply enmeshed in a tense stand-off with Iran.
There are many complex things to be said about each of these situations, which are all interrelated with not only one another, but also US relations with such challenging countries as Israel and Russia. But let’s start with the basic versions. …
Obama is in the thicket of “Afghaniranistan,” a multi-faceted complex of geopolitical crises. He is actively using military force in two of the countries, and has threatened, at the least, tough sanctions in the third. (The Obama Administration also recently accelerated the development of advanced bunker-buster bombs, suitable for use against, say, underground nuclear facilities.)
Which is a seemingly odd place for the most recent Nobel Peace Prize winner to be. …
** MAD MEN REVIEW: “THE COLOR BLUE.” … From my October 19th review.
** MAD MEN REVIEW: “WEE SMALL HOURS.” … From my October 12th review.
** WHY OBAMA DOESN’T DESERVE THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE, OR THE OLYMPICS RAP. When the Vulcans finally make first contact with the peoples of Spaceship Earth, there’s no doubt who most will choose to represent us. Which is when we may learn that President Barack Obama really is a “Manchurian candidate,” an alien agent, albeit not of the sort featured in even the sweatiest imaginings of the yaposphere.
Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize this morning makes it two surreal Fridays in a row.
Last week, we learned that Chicago would not host the 2016 Olympic Games. Which should have surprised approximately no one, not that you’d know that from the profusions of rage and disappointment — or from the far right, happy rage — that Obama’s trip to Copenhagen came up short. … From my October 9th column.
** ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, JERRY BROWN, BILL CLINTON AND THAT CRAZY CALIFORNIA GOVERNORSHIP. Six years ago last night, Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected governor of California in a 17-point landslide. It was the dramatic California recall election, and I spoke with Schwarzenegger in his suite at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles before he went downstairs to deliver his victory speech in the ballroom below.
The sun was setting, in the rather nice view from the presidential suite, into the Pacific and what proved to be more a more than capacity crowd was gathering downstairs. Schwarzenegger, naturally excited even when he’s not all that excited, told me he intended to do big things for California, and end the gridlock that ground state government to a halt less than a year after the re-election of Gray Davis.
Five years earlier, in 1998, I spoke with Gray Davis in his rather less cinematic election night suite at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. He had just won a 20-point landslide election as governor of California.
Davis, a less excitable fellow than Arnold Schwarzenegger, was nevertheless quite pleased at gaining this goal of a lifetime. He told me that he intended to do big things for California, but wanted to avoid spending commitments that the state’s revenue — then flush from the dot-com boom — couldn’t sustain over time.
Despite all the drama, and landslide election victories for governors of two different political parties — who are nonetheless friends now notwithstanding Schwarzenegger ousting Davis in the recall election six years ago — including another 17-point landslide victory for Schwarzenegger in 2006, the state’s budget is a mess, its political gridlock seemingly intractable.
Now California is heading into another gubernatorial election. And according to the brand new Field Poll, and everything else I know, the likely next governor is someone who’s already won a landslide election as governor, albeit 30 years ago. That’s Jerry Brown, who won his latest landslide in 2006 when he was elected California’s attorney general, the state’s top law enforcement officer. Brown is a former two-term governor, two-term mayor of gritty Oakland, and two-time runner-up for the Democratic presidential nomination. … From my October 8th essay.
** MAD MEN REVIEW: “SOUVENIR.” … From my October 5th review.
** IRANIAN CRISIS: PROGRESS, PROBLEMS. … From my October 2nd column.
** IRANIAN CRISIS: RUN-UP TO NEGOTIATION. … From my September 30th column.
** MAD MEN REVIEW: “SEVEN TWENTY THREE.” … From my September 28th review.
** OBAMA’S SUMMITEERING: HIGH ALTITUDE HEADACHES AND RUMORS OF WAR. … From my September 25th 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 $81 per barrel.
This is up about $47 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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