In some very good news for the Obama Administration, Turkey has agreed to allow NATO to take over command and control of the no-fly zone over Libya, as well as the naval blockade. But operations to suppress Gaddafi’s ground forces continue to be in the hands of France, Britain, and the US.
** QUICK HITS. After days of debate, NATO is taking over the no-fly zone over Libya, along with the naval blockade, which it had already done. France, Britain, and the US will continue to hit Gaddafi ground forces potentially threatening Libyan civilians, as allowed by the UN Security Council. NATO may take over that role in the future. … Reps from the Gaddafi regime and Libyan rebels will meet with African Union leaders and UN officials tomorrow in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa to discuss a potential ceasefire.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … CALIFORNIA’S PARTY OF NO TAKES CENTER STAGE, OR DOES IT?
** CALIFORNIA 2011: JERRY BROWN SIGNS BIG BUDGET CUTS, KEEPS PUSHING FOR “THE OTHER HALF OF THE SOLUTION.” Governor Jerry Brown today signed big budget cuts and fund transfers to take care of half of the state’s $26.6 billion deficit. But he acknowledged he still doesn’t have a deal with enough Republican legislators to satisfy California’s unusual two-thirds vote requirement on tax measures to place the other half of his solution — extending temporary tax hikes from 2009 — on a June special election ballot.
He also did not rule out placing the tax extensions on the ballot through a majority vote procedure which many lawyers say will technically work, but won’t provide a bipartisan patina to the package. Nor did he rule out a November ballot measure drive. In fact, he didn’t rule out any number of scenarios.
Meanwhile, this morning Brown won the backing of the California State Association of Counties for his plan to “realign” public services, placing more responsibility back at the local level. The CSAC endorsement is tied to the revenue extensions going on the ballot.
State Republicans continue to balk at okaying a special election, even though some recent polls indicate that the tax extensions are a tough sell.
Why don’t they go ahead and let the voters reject taxes? From the ones I’ve talked to, for a very simple reason. They are still afraid they would lose the election. Because the campaign would expose the even more draconian cuts that would be the alternative.
This is why Republicans continue to absolutely refuse to present any alternative budget, a practice they first rolled out a few years ago, to then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s grave displeasure.
Brown was joined at his budget cuts bill signing by state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and the chairmen of the Senate and Assembly budget committees, Mark Leno and Bob Blumenfield. His operation continues to have a notably low-budget look; there still is no new gubernatorial seal.
The new/renewed governor said that there are some legislative Republicans who seem to want to get the budget plan on the ballot, and are insisting not only on solving the present budget crisis but also other problems relating to over-promises on public pensions, limiting state spending, and making some regulations easier to deal with.
Brown noted that it’s hard to solve all problems at once. But he’s also signaling his labor allies that some reforms look politically necessary.
In answer to a question, he gave some short shrift to the idea that the budget plan needs some associated reforms to make it more palatable to voters. If that’s what he thinks, he’s probably wrong about that.
When will this deal get done?
The answer to that, in Brown’s phrasing, lies in the hands of the Lord.
But a June 7th special election has now gone by the boards.
** NEW SURVEY: U.S. STILL PREFERRED OVER OTHER GLOBAL POWERS, IN CONTRAST TO BUSH/CHENEY YEARS. A new Gallup Poll survey, released as the US looks to hand off leadership of the UN intervention in Libya, finds that the US is still widely preferred over other nations when it comes to global leadership.
This stands in stark contrast to the situation during the Bush/Cheney Administration.
But America’s standing dipped last year as its intervention in Afghanistan expanded and intensified.
Yet America continues to be by far the biggest magnet for migration in the world.
The United States continues to achieve higher global approval ratings than China, Russia, Japan, France, the United Kingdom, and Germany. Gallup’s worldwide surveys document a noticeable change in the U.S. global leadership position from 2007 and 2008, when the U.S. trailed other major powers. The increases the U.S. saw in 2009 did not necessarily carry over into 2010, and approval suffered double-digit declines in 14 countries, including Egypt, Japan, and the United Kingdom. …
Gallup asks respondents in more than 100 countries each year whether they approve or disapprove of the job performance of the leadership of the United States and the same question about the leadership of six other major countries. In many cases, high percentages of respondents say they don’t know enough to rate the leadership of the country, meaning that low approval does not necessarily signal high disapproval. …
China’s 31% median leadership approval rating in 2010 is easily lower than the United States’ 47% rating. In contrast, approval of China’s leadership was similar to that for the U.S. in 2007 and 2008. Worldwide, opinion of China’s leadership in 2010 is mixed, and a median of 33% don’t have an opinion. Like most countries, China’s highest approval ratings come from Africa, but some of its lowest approval ratings come from Europe and India.
World citizens tend to give Russia the lowest approval ratings of the seven countries that Gallup measures. A median of 27% approve, while 31% disapprove and 33% don’t have an opinion. Russia’s approval ratings have been relatively flat over the past several years. Russia is viewed favorably by its neighbors, with high approval ratings in Mongolia, Ukraine, and most Commonwealth of Independent States countries.
The image of the leadership of France, Germany, and the United Kingdom has not changed much in the past several years. France, Germany, and the U.K. have similar global ratings ranging from the mid-30s to the low 40s. Approval of Japan’s leadership in 2007 was among the highest; however, its approval ratings have slightly declined, placing it on par with ratings for France, Germany, and the U.K. in 2010. Despite Japan’s changing leadership over that period, the percentage worldwide who do not have an opinion hovered around 37% each year.
Alliance air strikes in Libya last night smashed a major military base of the Gaddafi regime.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
Obama has received the daily intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
At 9:45 AM Pacific, Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have a working lunch in the Private Dining Room.
At 11:15 AM Pacific, Obama meets with Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner in the Oval Office.
For his part, Biden meets with Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman at the Naval Observatory.
Obama is back from his Latin American trip, cutting it short by several hours. He probably hoped that the hand-off of command for the Libya mission would have been accomplished before he returned to the White House.
But no such luck.
Turkey is proving to be a stumbling block for NATO playing a lead role in the effort, even under the adhocracy of having it in tactical command under the strategic supervision of an international “contact” group of European, North American, Arab, and African leaders. There is a meeting in London next Tuesday to try to set up that body.
Turkey wants far less aggressive action against Gaddafi’s military forces, even though the UN Security Council resolution was deliberately broad, allowing “all necessary means” to protect civilians. Turkey’s foot-dragging does not affect the NATO naval blockade, now underway under the leadership of an Italian admiral.
NATO’s military commander, U.S. Navy Admiral James Stavridis, is in Turkey now meeting with the country’s leadership.
Why does NATO need to be involved, and why can’t the political adhocracy emerging around this intervention extend to the military realm as well?
Establishing and properly coordinating such a complex mission requires a sophisticated command and control system. The US has that. NATO does, too. It’s not clear that anyone else does, outside of Russia, which is not participating.
It’s much more involved than setting up a political campaign headquarters.
Both the French and the British may well think they are capable of it, but they probably are not.
As for civilian casualties, they are very numerous. In cities still under siege by Gaddafi forces.
The Libyan regime has claimed dozens of civilians killed by alliance air strikes — and it stands to reason that there must be at least a few victims of the Orwellian “collateral damage” — but the Gaddafi regime has yet to provide any evidence to the international media.
Meanwhile, the seismic crisis in Japan keeps rolling, with the Fukushima nuclear power plant still unsecured, growing numbers of nations banning growing numbers of food imports from Japan, and frantic residents of Tokyo — one of the world’s most modern cities — buying up basic supplies and, especially, bottled water in the face of the radiation threat.
In Yemen, embattled Presdent Ali Abdullah Saleh is barely clinging to power after still more defections from his regime. But the parliament has approved a temporary state of emergency, giving a shred of legitimacy to his efforts to remain in power.
In Syria, the longtime anti-American regime is again rocked by large demonstrations, with a major crackdown underway against protesters.
In Israel, the cycle of violence is again ramping up. The recent murder of a sleeping Israeli settler family, including three children, all knifed to death, was matched yesterday by a suicide bombing of a bus in Jerusalem. One Israeli was killed, one Briton was killed, and 30 more people were wounded. That led to retaliatory strikes by Israeli forces.
Obama is also monitoring a host of other geopolitical crises, almost all of them related to the Arab revolt or AfPak and Iraq.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Sacramento today.
At 1 PM today, Brown signs major budget-cutting legislation at the Capitol.
This legislation solves $14 billion of the state’s deficit crisis.
He will also speak with members of the California State Association of Counties at their Sacramento headquarters in the morning.
Brown still does not have a deal in place with Republican legislators to put the other part of his budget plan, the revenue extensions, on the June ballot.
And a new Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) poll shows sliding support for it.
While a Field Poll taken at the same time as the PPIC poll — the first two weeks of March — but released last week shows 58% for the combination of budget cuts and tax hike extensions, the PPIC poll shows only 46%.
This is only a little bit lower than private polling I’ve seen on the question.
On a very related question, however, PPIC shows that those who favor budget cuts/tax extensions, when combined with the small number who favor only tax hikes, amounts to 52%, with only 40% favoring an all-cuts budget.
And that’s before people know what an all-cuts budget means.
Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is in Brazil for the Second International Forum on Sustainability. Schwarzenegger has visited Brazil in the past, finding a rather different form of sustainability.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is in Brazil.
All kidding aside …
Accompanied by his old friend, filmmaker James Cameron, Schwarzenegger toured the Amazon region yesterday by seaplane.
Today he and Cameron speak at the 2nd International Forum on Sustainability in Manaus, Brazil, confluence of two great rivers and capital of the nation’s Amazonas province.
They will preside over a session on “Public Policies That Favor Sustainability” which includes Brazil’s Minister of the Environment Izabella Teixeira, Amazonas Governor Omar Aziz, Senator Eduardo Braga; Manaus Mayor Amazonino Mendes and Joao Doria Jr.
Former President Bill Clinton appears tomorrow at the forum.
** OBAMA’S DIFFIDENT WAY OF WAR. Barack Obama has suddenly sidled his way into a third war in the Muslim world, his first on his own. How has he gone about it? Why Libya and not somewhere else? And how does it end?
How has Obama gone about it? In a remarkably diffident manner. Never before has an American president embarked on a war with such reserve. And I can’t recall one who went to war while on tour in an entirely different part of the world. …
The Arab revolt is in the post-romance phase, and had been heading into the bummer phase. That is to say, after the early phase in which we believe that revolutions are effected simply by virtue of people rising up through the magic of social media. … From my March 21st feature.
** IS LIBYA A TURNING POINT ON HUMANITARIAN INTERVENTIONISM? Longtime Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s bloodcurdling speech yesterday promising an imminent massacre of his opponents in rebel-held Benghazi may prove to be one of the classic political backfires. After he made it, the UN Security Council narrowly approved an unprecedented multilateral military intervention in Libya, what may turn out to be a landmark decision. … From my March 18th essay.
** ONE WORD: OBAMA’S NIGHTMARE SCENARIO, AND WHY IT HASN’T HAPPENED (YET). … From my March 15th essay.
** WILL JERRY BROWN PULL IT OFF? … From my March 7th essay.
** A WELCOME BLAST FROM THE NEW DOCTOR WHO. … From my February 28th essay..
** IF OBAMA LOSES, IT WON’T BE BECAUSE “IT’S THE ECONOMY, STUPID.” From my February 24th feature.
** FROM GOVERNATOR TO MOONBEAM. … From my January 3rd, 2011 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.
** 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 $106 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $72 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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