Three helicopter crashes killed 14 Americans in Afghanistan on Monday. It was one of the deadliest days of the war for U.S. troops. Two of the helicopters collided. In the other incident, the helo was engaging opposition troops.
** QUICK HITS. Had a disaster with my new Mad Men review, losing all 3400 words to a technological glitch. I’ll see if it can be recreated. … Senator Harry Reid is going to the floor with a public option in national health care from which states can opt out. … Senator John Kerry is trying to put the brakes on a big Afghanistan build-up. He addressed the Council on Foreign Relations today. … California GOP gubernatorial hopefuls Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner traded dueling endorsements, ex-LA mayor Dick Riordan for Whitman and American Conservative union chairman David Keene for Poizner.
** NATIONAL DOWNDRAFT FOR NEWSPAPERS LED BY SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE. The new numbers for newspaper circulation around the country are out, and they’re bad.
On average, the top 25 papers lost 10.6% in circulation over the past year. The biggest loser? The San Francisco Chronicle, down a whopping 25.8% over the past year, to just over 250,000. When I wrote a monthly column for the paper in the ’90s, its circulation was over twice that, in the fourth largest metropolitan area in the country.
Also down big? The Los Angeles Times, down 11%, to just over 650,000. In the ’90s, Times circulation was up to 1.2 million, and was thought to be scratching the surface of its vast metropolitan area.
The only paper that is barely down at all is the Wall Street Journal, with over 2,000,000. The New York Times is, with a less than 8% drop, still well over 900,000.
MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK.
Another big week in presidential politics, with President Barack Obama pushing on national health care and energy at home and dealing with international crises on Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. And in California politics, perhaps a big week with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and state legislative leaders trying to enact a big package to deal with the state’s chronic water crisis.
National health care appears to be moving, with the so-called public option likely to be in the mix in one form or another. (It may simply be in the package, plain and simple, states may be able to opt ot, or it cold be triggered by insurance industry failure.)
The Senate seems likely also to take up climate change legislation, which had been stalled after passage in the House, later this week.
Obama has his hands full this week with international crises.
The Iranian crisis flared up again at the end of last week. After its negotiators in Vienna agreed to a deal to ship the bulk of its uranium to Russia and France for further enrichment — thus (apparently) removing the amount of uranium needed to produce a workable nuclear weapon, at least for the next year or so — Iran at the end of last week decided to stall. Instead of ratifying the deal on Friday, the agreed upon deadline, Iran said there was no deadline and it wold decide sometime this week.
Yesterday Iran finally let inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency look at its previously secret nuclear facility. They’ll take a few days inspecting the facility. Which is not yet in operation, so the inspection has limited vale.
Afghanistan is scrambling to hold a run-off presidential election in 12 days. The Taliban say they will disrupt it.
Against this backdrop, Obama continues to consider his latest course correction there.
The news is better in Pakistan, where Pakistani forces are engaged in a maor offensive in the Taliban stronghold of South Waziristan.
The news is again not so good in Iraq. There suicide bombers killed over 150 people in two precisely timed Baghdad attacks on Sunday.
Obama will also monitor this week’s meeting of the European Union’s council of ministers in Brussels. The group will discuss the powers of the first president of the European Union, who may be elected in the next few months, by representatives of EU nations.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is the only candidate for president of the EU at present. He is backed by Britain, France, and Germany. He’s currently the special Mideast envoy, but is having little success in that role between Israelis and Palestinians.
In California politics, Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders will again try to move a comprehensive water package. Legislative hearings that had been set for last week are now set for this week.
The low-key gubernatorial race to succeed Schwarzenegger, who is prohibited by term limits from running again, continues this week in its appointed fashion.
The favorite, former Governor-turned-Attorney General Jerry Brown, who last week executed a notable smackdown on CNBC hosts who criticized his going after a big bank he charged with ripping off the state’s pensions funds, will do a variety of things, as will San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who is flailing in his try to run against Brown for the Democratic nomination.
Republican hopefuls Meg Whitman, Steve Poizner, and Tom Campbell will continue talking to local Republican and small business groups.
President Barack Obama addressed Israeli President Shimon Peres’ “Facing Tomorrow” Conference in Jerusalem by video.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington and Florida today.
Obama has received his daily intelligence and economic briefings and met with senior advisors in the Oval Office.
At 8:30 AM Pacific, Obama and Vice President Joe Biden meet with the national security team on Afghanistan and Pakistan in the White House Sitation Room.
At 9:45 AM Pacific, Obama departs the White House on Marine One en route to Andrews Air Force Base.
At 10 AM Pacific, he departs Andrews Air Force Base on Air Force One en route to Jacksonville, Florida.
At 11:45 AM Pacific, Obama arrives in Jacksonville, Florida.
At 12:15 PM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks to Navy and Marine Corps personnel at Naval Air Station Jacksonville.
At 1 PM Pacific, Obama meets with Navy and Marine Corps personnel at Naval Air Station Jacksonville.
At 1:25 PM Pacific, he departs Jacksonville, Florida en route to Miami.
At 2:35 PM Pacific, Obama arrives in Miami.
At 4:25 PM Pacific, he delivers remarks at a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee/Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reception.
At 4:50 PM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks at a DSCC/DCCC dinner.
For his part, following the latest AfPak conference, Biden is off to Ohio for political events and a recovery act event in Cleveland.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is in Los Angels and the Capitol today.
He has no scheduled public events.
He will have private talks, principally on the topic of California’s chronic water crisis.
Schwarzenegger has hopes for legislative action starting this week.
** 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 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.) From my October 23rd essay.
** 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. … From my October 21st column.
** 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. … From my October 9th column.
** ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, JERRY BROWN, BILL CLINTON AND THAT CRAZY CALIFORNIA GOVERNORSHIP. … 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.
** 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 at $80 per barrel.
This is up about $46 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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