Reports from London say that the US and UK are preparing for possible military action against the regime of longtime Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi.
** QUICK HITS. With dictator Moammar Gaddafi summoning Western reporters to a seaside Tripoli restaurant to declare “My people love me” and neither his nor rebel forces making any apparent headway today, the Libyan civil war seems for the moment to be in a stand-off. In Geneva today, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton discussed a possible no-fly zone over the country, which would take his air force off the gameboard. Back in Washington, her spokesman P.J. Crowley said that it could be done under UN or NATO auspices, the latter easier to pull off in timely fashion. … Meanwhile, anti-regime protests continued today in Bahrain, Oman, and Yemen, all key US allies. Yemen’s President Saleh proposed a coalition government and promised to step down in 2013. The proposal was rejected. … The last surviving soldier of World War I, the War To End All Wars, died Sunday in West Virginia. Frank Buckles was 110. He lied about his age and joined the Army at age 16. As a civilian shipping executive for the White Star Line, he was captured by the Japanese and held as a POW for over three years during World War II. The last European veterans of World War II died in 2008 and 2009. Buckles will be buried at Arlington.
** FROM SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON’S REMARKS TODAY IN GENEVA, SWITZERLAND.
Today the world’s eyes are fixed on Libya. We have seen Colonel Qadhafi’s security forces open fire on peaceful protestors again and again. They have used heavy weapons on unarmed civilians. Mercenaries and thugs have been turned loose to attack demonstrators. There are reports of soldiers executed for refusing to turn their guns on their fellow citizens, of indiscriminate killings, arbitrary arrests, and torture.
Colonel Qadhafi and those around him must be held accountable for these acts, which violate international legal obligations and common decency. Through their actions, they have lost the legitimacy to govern. And the people of Libya have made themselves clear: It is time for Qadhafi to go – now, without further violence or delay.
The international community is speaking with one voice and our message is unmistakable. These violations of universal rights are unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
** A WELCOME BLAST FROM THE NEW DOCTOR WHO. Fans of the great British cult scifi series Doctor Who — and if you aren’t, you ought to be — got two big treats in February. First, a “double-album” soundtrack CD and online release of selections from the terrific musical scores for last season. Then the charming Christmas special on DVD and Blu-Ray.
It’s all a wonderful bit of cheer in the midst of a rugged political season from a venerable series (debuting the day after JFK’s assassination in 1963) that sputtered to a halt late in the last century only to be re-booted to spectacular effect by producer Russell T. Davies, then best known for Queer As Folk, in 2005. And it augurs well for the upcoming season of the show this spring. …
>>>>>>LIVE VIDEO FEED
At 12 noon Pacific, White House press secretary Jay Carney, joined by UN Ambassador Susan Rice, delivers a briefing on the geopolitical situation and other matters. You can watch it live here on New West Notes. If you want to mute the audio, click on the pause button.
** LIVE FROM THE WHITE HOUSE.
With massive geopolitical events swirling and the 2012 presidential race unfolding, the White House is increasingly a pivot point for the day’s events.
Live streaming of key presidential events is now available as a matter of course here on New West Notes.
You can mute the audio by clicking on the pause button.
NWN will continue to present other live webcasts in full streaming mode, as it did with the Ronald Reagan Centennial events from the Reagan Library, as they emerge and are technically available and as significance dictates.
More Libyan towns fell over the weekend to the forces opposed to longtime dictator Col. Moammar Gaddafi.
MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACK.
A big week ahead in presidential politics, and in California politics.
President Barack Obama grapples with a multiplicity of geopolitical crises in the Arab world, on top of the perpetual problems of Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Arab revolt, which began only last month, is now seriously affecting global oil markets with the uprising and civil war in Libya, and may impinge even more deeply with events accelerating in the strategically hyper-important Persian Gulf.
Obama also has the ongoing labor drama in Wisconsin, where a new Republican governor — amusingly punked last week by a web site editor pretending to be far right billionaire David Koch — is trying to bust the public employee unions while dealing with a not especially daunting state budget crisis. Obama has been mostly mum about this, but organized labor has mobilized support demonstrations across the country, and more than 100,000 came out yesterday in Wisconsin’s state capital. My take, as readers have mostly gathered, is that my friends in labor have developed a bad habit of over-reaching, but the right to a strong union is paramount, especially in this economy.
He’s also dealing with a threatened federal governmental shutdown by conservative Congressional Republicans, but that will probably be averted, at least in the short term.
This week will also see some of Obama’s prospective Republican opponents further gearing up, with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich reportedly set to announce next week and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour making more national appearances, including a headline shot at next month’s California Republican Party convention.
In California, Governor Jerry Brown is now 10 days away from his own rough deadline for a completed state budget deal. He’s made record progress on his budget, which has an unprecedented mix of very rugged cuts and big tax extensions, but it’s unclear if he has any Republican votes yet. Under California’s unusual set-up, a two-thirds legislative vote is needed on taxes, though not on tax cuts, which is one big reason the state is in chronically dire straits as Democrats pushed unsustainable spending programs and Republicans pushed unsustainable tax cuts during the dot-com boom. Then, after lots of haggling and hassling between Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislators of both parties, came the global recession, and the collapse of state revenues dependent on wealthy taxpayers who suddenly didn’t have as much wealth.
Will Brown get some Republican votes? Most have turned out to be head-in-the-sand Dr. Nos, incapable of any sustained discussion of any intellectual consequence on the topic. That doesn’t mean that Brown, who’s been working this for months since his landslide over billionaire Meg Whitman, won’t get some.
His unprecedented appearance last week before the Legislature’s budget conference committee gave him the opportunity to skillfully engage the arguments he’s been hearing in private in public. Brown came off by several orders of magnitude the winner in the encounter, yet he did it in such a way that granted a modicum of respect to opinions that are frankly laughable.
Does he need Republican votes? An interesting question, given an inventive strategy. Let’s put it this way. He wants them. And if they’re at all serious figures, he’ll get them. Over the decades, I’ve learned that Brown, while he can be wildly wrong, is usually right.
Meanwhile, Brown’s predecessor, former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, surfaces again this week to deliver the keynote on Tuesday at the U.S. Department of Energy’s energy innovation summit outside Washington in National Harbor, Maryland.
As usual, Brown’s week ahead is in stealth mode. Not so Obama.
On Monday, Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will host a meeting with a bipartisan group of governors at the White House. Later on Monday, the President will meet with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon at the White House and will discuss the humanitarian, diplomatic, legal and other actions needed to put a stop to violence against civilians and to ensure that UN agencies and UN members mobilize to provide humanitarian assistance to Libya’s people.
On Tuesday, Obama will attend meetings at the White House.
On Wednesday, Obama will award the 2010 National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal in a ceremony at the White House.
On Thursday, Obama will meet with his national security team for his monthly meeting on Afghanistan and Pakistan. Later he will welcome President Calderón of Mexico to the White House to discuss the important bilateral relationship and key global issues.
On Friday, Obama will travel to Miami, Florida to discuss his plan for developing the innovation economy. While in Miami, he will also attend a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee fundraiser.
As you see, there’s plenty of flexibility built into Obama’s schedule for public doings on the geopolitical crisis fronts.
The fighting continues in Libya, whose oil is now essentially off the market. The regime of Col. Moammar Gaddafi is holding on, though it’s lost control of much of the country as the uprising has turned into civil war.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is presiding over a meeting of foreign ministers in Switzerland today to seek solutions to the crisis.
With most foreigners finally out of Libya, many in hair-raising circumstances, Obama and the international community have more freedom to take aggressive steps against the Gaddafi regime. But the threat remains that he could destroy much of Libya’s oil.
Libya has already impacted global oil markets, but major protests are also spreading into the Persian Gulf, including Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, guarantor of the oil flow, and Oman, on the other side of the chokepoint Strait of Hormuz from decidedly unfriendly Iran.
The massive unrest continues elsewhere as well, including in Yemen, now allied with the US in the fight against Al Qaeda, which has chosen the most poverty-stricken nation in the Arab world as a new base, and in places where many think revolutions have already succeeded, i.e. Egypt and Tunisia.
The reality is that those revolutions are still in early stages, with the ouster of the longtime dictator one of the easiest, if most dramatic, of tasks.
Then there is Iraq, where unrest is growing after protests that left 14 dead. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced early provincial elections today.
President Barack Obama welcomed most of the nation’s governors to the White House last night.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have received the daily intelligence and economic briefing in the Oval Office.
Obama and Biden then met with a group of governors from both parties in the State Dining Room.
At 11:10 AM Pacific, Obama meets with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in the Oval Office.
At 12 noon Pacific, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney delivers a briefing in the James S. Brady Briefing Room.
That will be netcast live here on New West Notes.
If you wish to mute the sound, click on the pause button.
In addition, Obama is monitoring a variety of geopolitical crises, most dealing with Arab revolt and with the struggle against jihadists.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Sacramento today.
He has no scheduled public events as of this morning.
Brown is working on the state’s chronic budget crisis and his nascent administration.
** IF OBAMA LOSES, IT WON’T BE BECAUSE “IT’S THE ECONOMY, STUPID.” President Barack Obama’s failure to ever get around to pivoting to the economy last year was one of the major reasons why Democrats didn’t do well in the mid-term elections. But if he loses next year, and I expect him to win, it probably won’t be because of the domestic economy. It will be because of what he’s spent so much of time on that is not the domestic economy, namely geopolitics. … From my February 24th feature.
** IS THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION STILL WAY BEHIND THE CURVE ON EGYPT? President Barack Obama’s comeback since the November elections has been very impressive professionally, if not always politically. What has not been at all impressive is how far behind the curve his administration has been on Egypt, a distressing development over the past few weeks that reached a nadir of sorts on Thursday with an epic level of confusion.
There are clear limits to American power. The failure of neoconservative adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan make that obvious. But there should not be many limits to American knowledge. Especially given the limits to American power. …
The real power games have only just begun. And, this administration — stunningly, given Obama’s choice of Cairo for his great address to the Muslim world in 2009 — has been behind the curve repeatedly throughout the crisis thus far. … From my February 11th essay.
** JERRY BROWN 2.0: HOW’S IT GOING? … From my January 31st feature.
** OBAMA AND THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE JFK INAUGURAL 50 YEARS ON. … From my January 22nd essay.
** FROM GOVERNATOR TO MOONBEAM. … From my January 3rd feature.
** 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.
The King’s Speech bested the much less pleasant The Social Network for Best Picture at last night’s Academy Awards at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood, though West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin won the Best Adapted Screenplay prize for the latter. Natalie Portman bested my old friend Annette Bening for Best Actress.
** 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 $98 per barrel.
This is up about $64 from the low of $34 per barrel prior to enactment of the Obama economic recovery program, reflecting a low point in global economic activity.
It’s also up one-sixth in a week as a result of the chaos in Libya.
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