President Barack Obama today announced $3.4 billion for the nation’s power transmission system to foster new technologies. He likened the effort to the ambitious development of the national highway system 50 years ago.
** QUICK HITS. Senator Joe Lieberman says he’ll filibuster against national health care if it includes the public option. Or does he? … President Barack Obama meets with the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Friday to discuss Afghanistan. … No action yet on a California water deal after Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger canceled a Long Beach press conference and flew to the Capitol.
** IRAN AGREES TO THE DEAL … KINDA, SORTA, WE’LL SEE. Iran said today that it agrees, in general, to the nuclear deal its negotiators accepted last week in Vienna. Except, of course, where it doesn’t.
The deal was to have been accepted last Friday. Then Iran issued conflicting statements. Then its negotiators said there was no deadline and, besides, they hadn’t briefed top leadership on the deal. With which they’d been in constant contact throughout the three-day negotiation.
Now Iran will have more to say, with unspecified amendments, on Friday. A week after the deadline.
Iran accepts the “general framework” of a United Nations-brokered proposal for the country to send most of its enriched uranium to Russia for processing into reactor fuel, though it will first request “important” changes to the plan, the country’s state-run Al Alam television said.
Iran prefers to send the material abroad in stages, rather than all at once as the measure requires, Alaeddin Borujerdi, head of the parliament’s national security and foreign policy committee, was cited as saying by the state-run Iranian Students News Agency. Another option is to buy readymade reactor-grade fuel, he said, repeating comments made by Iranian officials.
The Persian Gulf country will give its response to the plan from the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency by Oct. 30, state-run Press TV said. The IAEA’s deadline was Oct. 23. Iran’s reply will include a draft of the changes, Arabic-language Al Alam said, citing an unidentified person familiar with the issue. The station didn’t give details of Iran’s amendments.
Any changes by Iran to proposals for the processing of its nuclear fuel wouldn’t send a “very encouraging sign,” French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told reporters after a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Luxembourg today. “Time is working against the Iranians.” A continued standoff could lead to “completely unforeseeable” consequences, he said.
** BIDEN FALLING IN POLLS. The new Gallup Poll shows Vice President Joe Biden down to near parity in favorability vs. unfavorability.
After peaking at 59% last November, Vice President Joe Biden’s favorable rating continues to decline and now stands at 42%. That barely exceeds his 40% unfavorable rating, and is easily his worst evaluation since last year’s Democratic National Convention.
These data are based on the latest USA Today/Gallup poll, conducted Oct. 16-19. Biden’s favorable rating has dropped by five or six points each of the last three times Gallup has updated it — in January, before Barack Obama’s inauguration; in July; and in the most recent poll.
The source of the decline — by party affiliation — has varied over time. During the post-election to pre-inauguration phase, Biden’s favorable rating dropped significantly among Democrats, but it has been fairly steady since, and remains strong at 73%.
Republicans had relatively low opinions of Biden even at the peak of his popularity, with 33% holding a favorable opinion of him. Those views did not change appreciably until after he took office, but Republicans’ views of Biden have declined in both post-inauguration readings, and now stand at 18% favorable.
Independents’ opinions of Biden have declined more steadily since the post-election high mark, and now 32% of independents view the vice president favorably.
Picking partisan fights, which Biden has done, tends to work poorly with independents.
Ex-veep Dick Cheney has certainly been provocative. However, he’s also unpopular. This is what staff and the DNC chair are for. Incidentally, where is the DNC chair?
** UPDATE: Schwarzenegger canceled his Long Beach press conference and flew to the Capitol for private talks with legislative leaders. Principal topic? A potential deal on California’s chronic water crisis.
The relatives of three Berkeley grads held captive in Iran released video they say shows the California hikers believed they were in Iraq.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Florida, Virginia, and Washington today.
Obama has received his daily intelligence and economic briefings.
At 7 AM Pacific, Obama departs Miami, Florida en route to Sarasota, Florida.
At 7:50 AM Pacific, he arrives in Sarasota.
At 9:10 AM Pacific, he tours DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center in Arcadia, Florida.
At 9:25 AM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks at the DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center.
He will make a “smart grid” announcement that will be the largest stimulus investment so far in clean energy.
At 11:05 AM Pacific, he departs Sarasota, Florida on Air Force One en route to Norfolk, Virginia.
At 12:50 PM Pacific, Obama arrives in Norfolk, Virginia.
At 1:55 PM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks at a rally for Creigh Deeds, candidate for governor of Virginia.
Deeds is trailing for next week’s election by 11 points in the new Washington Post poll.
At 3:05 PM Pacific, Obama departs Norfolk, Virginia on Air Force One en route to Andrews Air Force Base.
At 3:50 PM Pacific, Obama arrives at Andrews Air Force Base, where he boards Marine One.
At 4:05 PM Pacific, Obama lands on the South Lawn of the White House.
For his part, Vice President Biden makes a major announcement about the future of the former General Motors Boxwood Plant in his native Delaware.
Biden will announce that California’s Fisker Automotive will build plug-in hybrid electric vehicles there.
Obama is monitoring geopolitical crises in Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is in the Los Angeles area today.
Schwarzenegger will take part in the 2009 California Women’s Conference hosted by First Lady Maria Shriver at the Long Beach Convention Center.
Gov. Schwarzenegger will participate in the Once-in-a-Lifetime Conversation: Tough Leadership Decisions in Tough Times at the 2009 Women’s Conference. That takes place at 8:25 AM.
Schwarzenegger will also tour the conference expo hall.
Then he holds a press conference to highlight the signing of AB 119 by Assemblymember Dave Jones (D-Sacramento).
This bill prohibits discrimination in health insurance in the individual market by preventing health plans from charging a different price in premiums and coverage based on gender.
** MAD MEN REVIEW: “THE GYPSY AND THE HOBO.” …
Roman Polanski’s one-time victim says endless media scrutiny caused by the director’s arrest is causing her health problems and job worries. She is urging a California appeals court to dismiss the criminal case against the director.
** 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 around $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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