The Taliban stronghold of Marjah in southern Afghanistan has been declared captured by U.S., British, Canadian, and Afghan troops. Now begins the process of a successful civilian administration of the city, where some 2000 American and 1000 Afghan troops will be stationed for the next few months. The next target will be the other longtime Taliban stronghold of Kandahar.
** OBAMA TODAY – SUNDAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington and Maryland today.
Obama received his daily intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
He then visited military personnel wounded in action in Afghanistan and Iraq at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
Obama also underwent a physical examination. Doctors pronounced him to be in excellent health.
He is contemplating the path forward on national health care reform in the wake of Thursday’s summit at Blair House, and will have an announcement to make in the coming week.
Obama is also managing geopolitical crises in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and Iran.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE – SUNDAY. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is out of state.
He has no scheduled public events today.
Schwarzenegger announced the California is ready to help Chile in the aftermath of its massive earthquake, just as it helped with rescue efforts in Haiti. California under Schwarzenegger has a sister state relationship with Chile, and Chilean President Michele Bachelet has visited Schwarzenegger in California.
Schwarzenegger also decried recent racist and anti-semitic incidents on University of California campuses in Davis, Irvine, and San Diego.
In his weekend video/radio address, President Barack Obama discusses the Olympic spirit, the great success of the American team in these Winter Olympics, and hopes for bipartisan action and health care reform.
** OBAMA TODAY – SATURDAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington and Maryland today.
He has received the daily intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
Obama has no scheduled public events today.
But he and First Lady Michelle Obama will attend their daughter Sasha’s basketball game in Chevy Chase, Maryland.
Obama is figuring out his path forward on national health care reform in the wake of Thursday’s big bipartisan summit at Blair House.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who would have to come up with some now missing votes, is sounding confident that something major can be done. She will go on a couple of Sunday chat shows, where she will undoubtedly have to expound further on this.
Thursday was the big national health care reform summit with leading members of Congress from both parties at Blair House.
As the national health care maneuvering continues, Obama is also managing geopolitical crises in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and Iran.
The Afghan Taliban reacted to a string of setbacks yesterday by launching another strike in the heart of Kabul. This is a classic pattern, a reminder that the group is very much alive and able to dispense death.
As most of the dead were Indian workers, this is raising some tensions between Pakistan and India. something which is not hard to do. Pakistan has justified its support for the rise of the Taliban movement in Afghanistan, several years after the Soviets were beaten there, in part as a counter to Indian involvement in the failed state.
Today in Marjah, U.S. Marines and allied forces linked up in the remaining pockets of resistance. This means that the city is now actually cleared of Taliban fighters, or that the remainder have faded into the civilian population.
This is a very positive development. But it’s best not to pop the champagne corks just yet.
In Iraq, hundreds of Sunni candidates remain barred from running in next month’s national parliamentary elections. Officially, this is due to supposed ties to the late Saddam Hussein. In reality, those doing the banning, led by former U.S. neocon fave rave Ahmed Chalabi, are very close to Iran and seek to heighten the power of Shiite politicians courted by Tehran.
Today another move was made, this one in the opposite direction. 20,000 former military officers, Sunnis who were ousted by short-sighted American officials in the wake of the 2003 invasion of Iraq for their membership in Saddam’s ruling Baath party, have been reinstated.
In Iran, where the opposition has been, as expected here, brutally put down, last year’s leading opposition presidential candidate Mir Hussein Moussavi said today that the ruling clique is a dictatorial cult subverting the founding principles of the Islamic republic. The opposition’s planned rallies on February 11th, Revolution Day, were much smaller than promised.
The Pacific Basin is bracing for tsunamis caused by last night’s massive earthquake in Chile, measuring 8.8 on the Richter scale. Last month’s earthquake in Haiti was 7.0 in magnitude. So far, the reported loss of life in Chile is “only” in the hundreds.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE – SATURDAY. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is out of state.
He has no scheduled public events today.
** SO WHO IS THE REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL FRONTRUNNER ANYWAY? PALIN, ROMNEY, PAUL (!) … Okay, so exactly who is the Republican presidential frontrunner now? Sarah Palin, the Tea Party darling/best-selling “author?” Mitt Romney, the moneybags ex-Massachusetts governor knocked out in the 2008 California and Florida primaries by John McCain? Mike Huckabee, the creationist talk show host who was the distant runner-up of 2008? Ron Paul, the cranky libertarian who embarrassingly actually won this past weekend’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) over previous winner Romney? … From my February 23rd column.
** MAD MEN: THE STREAK CONTINUES. … From my February 22nd column.
** THE BIGGEST SPENDING RACE IN AMERICA IS UNDERWAY! (WELL, SORT OF.) The biggest spending race in America is fully underway! Or not.
That would be the California governor’s race. With billionaire Meg Whitman, the ex-eBay CEO and national co-chair of the McCain/Palin campaign, spending like a Russian oligarch, it’s inevitable that this will be the most expensive race in the country. But aside from Whitman blanketing the state for months with her robotic ads, it’s not there yet. … From my February 19th column.
** TONY BLAIR’S GHOST (WRITER). … From my February 16th column.
** THE MACHINATIONS OF MEG WHITMAN: BEHIND HER ATTEMPTS TO ELIMINATE COMPETITION AND HER WHOPPER ABOUT HOW LONG SHE’S LIVED IN CALIFORNIA. … From my February 10th column.
** LOST IN LOST. … From my February 4th essay.
** SELLING MEG WHITMAN: GLITCHES EMERGE IN THE BILLIONAIRE’S PLAN TO ACQUIRE THE CALIFORNIA GOVERNORSHIP. What would Don Draper do? … From my February 2nd column.
** WHAT A DIFFERENCE TWO MONTHS MAKES AS THE FATE OF OBAMA’S PRESIDENCY PLAYS OUT FAR FROM WASHINGTON. … From my January 29th column.
** MAD MEN SWEEPS THE LATEST AWARDS AND LOSES A KEY CHARACTER. … From my January 27th column.
** SCOTT BROWN NEED NOT APPLY: CALIFORNIA REPUBLICANS IN THE POST-ARNOLD ERA. … From my January 26th column.
** WHAT SCOTT BROWN KNEW IN 2010 AND BARACK OBAMA KNEW IN 2008. … From my January 22nd column.
** HOW JERRY BROWN CLEARED THE DEMOCRATIC FIELD FOR GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA. … From my December 9th 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, 2009 Huffington Post column.
** HELP FOR HAITI.
** 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.
** 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 closed on Friday at $79.66 per barrel. Energy markets are closed on the weekend.
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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