More good news. A potential hurricane is forming south of the Gulf of Mexico and is expected to move into the area of the BP Gulf oil disaster.
** QUICK HITS. California Attorney General Jerry Brown released the state’s annual crime report for 2009. It shows that crime in California is down for the third consecutive year. Violent crime is down 6.6% from the year earlier, property crime down 10.1%, and larceny and theft down 6.1%. California’s five largest counties all recorded significant declines. … Meanwhile, Brown’s Republican opponent in the governor’s race, billionaire Meg Whitman, is quiet again after her attempts yesterday to explain away her expensive physical altercation with an employee not long before she left her CEO post at eBay. And the owner of the FAIL Blog demanded that she remove footage of it from her TV attack ad against Brown, noting that the use is unauthorized. The ad is shot through with inaccuracies, which I’ll get into later.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE.
** FORMER CALIFORNIA ASSEMBLY SPEAKER’S SON RECEIVES MAXIMUM SENTENCE FOR MANSLAUGHTER. Esteban Nunez, son of former California Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, was sentenced today in San Diego to 16 years in prison for manslaughter in the 2008 killing of a college student in an altercation near San Diego State University.
Nunez, 21, was in a group of four young men who felt disrespected by being kicked out of a fraternity party. They were angry and looking for trouble, and they most certainly found it.
He (co-defendant Ryan Jett) and Nuñez pleaded guilty in May to voluntary manslaughter and assault with a deadly weapon. They also admitted using a knife in the incident and causing great bodily injury.
The men and two co-defendants, Rafael Garcia and Leshanor Thomas, were originally charged with murder and assault.
Garcia pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to destroy evidence and faces a possible prison sentence of up to three years. Thomas faces up to four years and eight months in prison after pleaded guilty in February to assault with a deadly weapon and conspiracy to commit assault with a deadly weapon.
Prosecutors have said the four men became angry in the early morning hours of Oct. 4 after they were kicked out of a fraternity party. They roamed the SDSU campus “looking for trouble” and challenged Santos and his friends to a fight on 55th Street near Peterson Gym.
Santos was killed; three other young men were wounded.
Defense lawyers for Jett, Nuñez, Garcia and Thomas have argued that their clients were not the aggressors in the brawl and instead, acted in self-defense. One attorney has said others involved in the fight were armed with knives and Santos may have had a gun.
Prosecutors have said Santos was not armed.
After the fight, the men drove back to Sacramento. A witness testified at a previous hearing that Jett, Nuñez and Garcia drove to a spot near the Sacramento River where Nuñez placed a plastic bag on the ground containing clothing and what looked like a knife. Jett doused the bag with gasoline and set it on fire.
Nunez, who represented Los Angeles in the Legislature and is now a lobbyist, is best known for first opposing and then allying himself with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. He is the co-author of AB 32, California’s landmark climate change legislation, which is the subject of repeal efforts by an oil industry-funded statewide initiative campaign and billionaire Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman.
** NEW NATIONAL POLL: UPTICK IN CONSERVATIVE IDENTITY, OUTNUMBER LIBERALS TWO TO ONE. A new Gallup Poll shows a slight uptick among those identifying themselves as conservatives over the past year. Conservatives have a two to one edge over self-identified liberals. They also out-number moderates, with whom they were tied in 2008.
Conservatives have maintained their leading position among U.S. ideological groups in the first half of 2010. Gallup finds 42% of Americans describing themselves as either very conservative or conservative. This is up slightly from the 40% seen for all of 2009 and contrasts with the 20% calling themselves liberal or very liberal.
The 2010 results are based on eight Gallup and USA Today/Gallup surveys conducted from January through June, encompassing interviews with more than 8,000 U.S. adults. The 42% identifying as conservative represents a continuation of the slight but statistically significant edge conservatives achieved over moderates in 2009. Should that figure hold for all of 2010, it would represent the highest annual percentage identifying as conservative in Gallup’s history of measuring ideology with this wording, dating to 1992.
The recent rise in conservatism’s fortunes follows a decline seen after 2003; liberalism has experienced the opposite pattern. From 1993 to 2002, the ideological trend had been fairly stable, with roughly 40% identifying as moderate, 38% as conservative, and 19% as liberal. Before that, the presidential bid of independent candidate Ross Perot may have contributed to a heightened proportion of Americans (43%) calling themselves moderate in 1992.
There are no significant changes so far in 2010 compared with 2009 in how Republicans, Democrats, and independents characterize their respective political views. Consistent with the patterns seen last year, nearly 4 in 10 Democrats call themselves liberal and a similar proportion of Democrats say they are moderate.
Longer term, Democrats have grown increasingly liberal in their political orientation.
Seven in 10 Republicans continue to call themselves conservative, similar to 2009, while most of the remaining Republicans identify as moderate. Since 2002, however, the percentage conservative has increased by 10 points.
Independents today are slightly more likely to say they are moderate than conservative, with fewer than 20% identifying as liberal. While this is similar to 2009, it represents an increase in conservatism among this group since 2008. …
The ideological orientation of Americans seen thus far in 2010 would represent a record-high level of conservatism (since at least 1992) if it is maintained for the full year. This follows an increase in the percentage of conservatives in 2009 that was fueled by heightened conservatism among independents, a pattern that continues today.
Among independent voters, an increasingly critical group, moderates slightly outnumber conservatives, 41% to 36%. Only 19% are self-identified liberals.
This moderate edge among independents is down sharply since 2008, when mods led cons, 46-30, with libs where they are now.
So much for the myth that many Democrats believe that independents are really just Democrats in disguise.
It is a far more competitive situation than that, and significantly more so than it was in 2008.
Meanwhile, Democrats, as you can see from the graph when you click through, have gotten more liberal.
Before leaving the White House for the G-20 summit in Canada this morning, President Barack Obama hailed the impending passage of Wall Street reform legislation, which he says “represents 90%” of what he wanted.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington and Canada today.
At 5:40 AM Pacific, Obama made a statement to the press on the South Driveway of the White House regarding impending passage of the financial reform bill.
Obama, who received the daily intelligence and economic briefings on Air Force One, flew early this morning from Andrews Air Force Base to Toronto, Canada.
From there he traveled to Muskoka, Canada, a resort area north of Toronto.
He has arrived in Muskoka at the Deerhurst Resort where the G8 portion of the G20 summit will take place.
The G8 is the Group of 8 advanced industrial nations, the longstanding traditional cockpit of world economic decision-making. Or, one should say, attempts at economic decision-making. The G8 consists of the U.S., Britain, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, and Russia. These events are frequently more show than substance, and notable mostly for what occurs in bilateral talks on the sidelines of the larger event.
The G8 has been superseded by the larger G20, but still exists as a core of the larger whole.
The G8 will meet prior to the overall G20 summit meeting this weekend in Toronto.
At 9:15 AM Pacific, Obama attends the G8 working lunch at the Deerhurst Resort.
Note: All G8 summit events take place at the Deerhurst Resort.
G8 summits used to take place in the cores of major cities, but proved to be magnets for large and sometimes violent protests.
At 11 AM Pacific, Obama and G8 leaders take a G8 “family photo.”
At 11:45 AM Pacific, Obama participates in the G8 Session with African Outreach Leaders.
At 1:45 PM Pacific, Obama participates in a G8 working session with African Outreach Leaders and Expanded Outreach Leaders
At 2:45 PM Pacific, Obama, G8 leaders, African outreach leaders, and extended outreach leaders take a G8 family photo.
At 4:30 PM Pacific, Obama and G8 leaders meet with My Summit 2010 Youth.
At 4:45 PM Pacific, Obama attends the G8 working dinner.
At 6:15 PM, Obama attends the G8 working dinner after-dinner gathering.
I’ll have a full read-out on Obama’s summiteering yesterday with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev in the forthcoming column, “From Russia With Love.”
Presidents Obama and Medvedev led yesterday’s U.S.-Russia Business Summit in Washington. The focal point of Medvedev’s visit to California, where he toured high tech hot spots with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Washington, was economic modernization.
For his part, Vice President Joe Biden travels to Milwaukee, Wisconsin today for an event and a fundraiser in support of Senator Russ Feingold, who faces a spirited re-election challenge.
Obama is also monitoring geopolitical crises in Korea, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, and Iraq.
The governance situation in Iraq is still unresolved more than three months after March 7th parliamentary elections.
The U.S. is formally suggesting that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Shiite party govern jointly with the more secular Sunni party of former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, which finished a surprise first in the national elections.
Maliki and his allies are, naturally, resistant to this.
FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is in Los Angeles today.
At 10 AM, Schwarzenegger will launch the nation’s first state Disaster Corps in an event at the Los Angeles City Fire Training Facility near Dodgers Stadium.
Schwarzenegger will join Secretary of Service and Volunteerism Karen Baker and California Emergency Management Agency Secretary Matthew Bettenhausen to tour volunteer field demonstrations.
With regard to the state’s chronic budget crisis, the Legislature’s conference committee has made very little progress.
Assembly Speaker John Perez, who proposed a very complicated scheme linking an oil severance tax to massive borrowing to maintain spending levels — a plan which Attorney General Jerry Brown thinks is probably illegal and which has met with massive pushback from many quarters — has advised Assembly members that he wants no negotiations until Schwarzenegger backs away from some of his budget-cutting proposals.
For his part, Schwarzenegger signaled through his office that he will put state employees on minimum wage if the situation drags on.
The fun never sets.
… THE CALIFORNIA AS FIRST “FAILED STATE” DEBATE: SCHWARZENEGGER, DAVIS, WHITMAN, AND JERRY BROWN. … From my March 2nd column.
Here is my series of five columns on the governorship of Arnold Schwarzenegger for the Los Angeles Times in debate in fall 2008, prior to the global economic meltdown, with Pulitzer Prize-winning former Times reporter/editor Bill Boyarsky, whose columns are also included. You can listen to my video webchat last spring with Schwarzenegger here.
** MCCHRYSTAL: RIGHT MAN, WRONG MISSION. When President Barack Obama picked Stanley McChrystal to be his general in Afghanistan, I thought he might have picked the right man for the right mission. After all, McChrystal was a highly successful head of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), with a strong record of going after jihadist leaders and cadre. And since the one underlying thing we must do in Afghanistan is deny its reprise as a base of operations for Al Qaeda, as it was in the run-up to 9/11, the career-long special operations officer was very well cast.
McChrystal had exactly the right skill set and experiences for that fundamentally counter-terrorist mission.
Instead, Obama had something much more conventional, not to mention massive, in mind. Nation-building, like we tried in Vietnam, cast in the guise of counter-insurgency. McChrystal embraced it. Who knows what he really thought? …
** WHAT WE KNOW NOW ABOUT THE BIG CALIFORNIA RACES. Nearly two weeks into the general election, here are seven things we know now about the races for California governor and senator. Both races are fully engaged and trends are emerging. …
* Billionaire Meg Whitman, running against Jerry Brown to try to succeed Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and ex-Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, running to try to replace Senator Barbara Boxer, are running mates. Whether, to coin a phrase, they like it or not. …
* Fiorina is going to be an energetic and entertaining candidate, but will have a very tough time beating Senator Barbara Boxer. Like Whitman, her politics are too conservative and corporate for California. Unlike Whitman, she doesn’t have the vast amounts of money needed to try to obscure that reality. And she’s a little more conservative than Whitman. … From my June 19th feature.
** THE ARNOLD FACTOR. He was once arguably the most popular governor of California in history. Now, not so much.
First elected in the dramatic California recall election of 2003, Arnold Schwarzenegger has less than seven months left in the governorship. He’s won two landslide elections to the office, but, while he retains personal popularity, his job approval rating is now in the twenties. Post-mortems are already underway.
He’s strictly a lame duck, right? Well, no. Schwarzenegger played a big role in last week’s California primary election. And he may have an even bigger role to play in the general election, when Californians vote on an initiative to do away with the state’s landmark climate change program. With climate change and renewable energy initiatives slowed in Congress, this is a vote that will have both national and international import. … From my June 16th column.
** WHITMAN AND FIORINA’S BIG PRIMARY WINS CARRY SEEDS OF DESTRUCTION (SELF-DESTRUCTION) … From my June 11th feature.
** OBAMA’S WHITE HOUSE FESTIVITIES: GOOD, BAD, OR OBVIOUS? … From my June 8th column.
** ONE DISTRACTION OBAMA DOESN’T NEED: DARRELL ISSA’S HYPOCRISY. … From my June 3rd column.
** CALIFORNIA SENATE: HOW CARLY FIORINA PULLED OFF HER BIG “UPSET” IN THE GOP PRIMARY. … From my June 2nd column.
** MEG WHITMAN’S WHOPPERS. … From my May 29th column.
** TIME SLIPS AWAY FOR 24 AND LOST IN VERY DIFFERENT FINALES. … From my May 27th essay.
** JERRY BROWN’S LONG AND WINDING ROAD. … From my April 15th column.
** HOW JERRY BROWN CLEARED THE DEMOCRATIC FIELD FOR GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA. … From my December 9th, 2009 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.
** 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 is trading around $77 per barrel.
This is up about $43 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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