The turmoil in Libya has created a humanitarian crisis.
** QUICK HITS. Negotiations all over the place. … NATO is getting closer to taking over not just the no-fly zone and naval blockade in the Libyan conflict but also the direct suppression of Gaddafi regime ground forces now being carried out by French, British, and US forces. But Turkey has not quite signed off on the deal yet. … A Canadian general, Lt. Gen Charles Bouchard, former deputy commander of the the North American Air Defense Command, will be the NATO mission commander for Libya. Under the supervision of an American admiral currently running things. (I’ll get into this tomorrow.) … Meanwhile, Canada’s moderate conservative government lost a no-confidence vote, over tax cuts and the purchase of stealth fighters, and will face voters shortly in an election it’s favored to win. … Yemen’s longtime leader is negotiating an exit strategy, with the fate of family and followers key. … Protests in Syria spread across the country today, with the regime killing dozens in a crackdown. … Japan’s nuclear power crisis is no closer to resolution, with new information hard to get. … And in some unadulterated good news, California’s unemployment rate at last started going down, to 12.2%, with nearly 100,000 new jobs added last month. That’s the biggest one-month gain in over 20 years.
** CALIFORNIA’S EVER EXCITING BUDGET CRISIS. So what’s new today? Well, legislative Republicans have come up with a “term sheet,” as Governor Jerry Brown called it the other day. Or “wish list” as some others might describe it.
Will Democratic interest groups buy it, or some version thereof? That’s a little bit unclear, since it’s supposed to be “secret.”
You know, after years of this with Arnold Schwarzenegger, I’m not finding it much more fascinating with Jerry Brown. In fact, as I’ve mentioned to both the current and former governor, I’m basically waiting for resolution.
But the talks continue. On a variety of levels. And at some point, reality will dawn for all involved.
Or will it?
Incidentally, California government is about to enter a holiday weekend, with Cesar Chavez Day coming up on Monday.
So we get at least a few more days to hang in suspense. Though I’m finding the state of the command structure for the Libyan War to hold a bit more intrigue.
** NEW POLL SHOWS HUCKABEE THE REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL FRONTRUNNER, BY A LITTLE. A new Gallup Poll in the slow-starting Republican presidential race gives Mike Huckabee a slight edge over Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin, with Newt Gingrich the only other candidate in double digits.
The Reagan Library in Simi Valley outside Los Angeles will host the first Republican presidential debate on May 2nd.
Huckabee has shown by far the most movement in the crowded GOP field, moving from 12% last September to 19% today.
In the same period, Romney, who most insiders had expected to be the clear frontrunner by this point, has dropped from 19% to 15%.
Palin also has dropped, from 16% to 12%.
Gingrich has stayed about the same, at 10%.
One factor behind Palin’s drop is probably the emergence of Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who sounds more and more like a presidential candidate. She wasn’t measured in September, but now has 5% in the Gallup Poll, just behind Ron Paul’s steady 6%.
Indiana Governor and former Bush budget director Mitch Daniels has 4%, and former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty (who just announced a formal exploratory committee and was finalist to be John McCain’s running mate) has 3%.
Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, a former Reagan White House political director-turned-super lobbyist who headlined last weekend’s California Republican Party convention, has 2%, along with former Utah Governor and Obama Administration Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson.
If Huckabee doesn’t run, Romney and Palin essentially tie for the lead, with Gingrich a close third.
If Palin doesn’t run, Huckabee’s edge over Romney expands, to 23-16.
If Huckabee and Palin both don’t run, Romney has a 22-16 edge over Gingrich.
>>>>>>LIVE VIDEO NETCAST
At 10 AM Pacific, White House press secretary Jay Carney delivers a briefing. The event will be netcast live on New West Notes. You can mute the sound by clicking 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.
A nuclear reactor core breech may have occurred at Japan’s crippled and leaking Fukushima nuclear power plant.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … CALIFORNIA’S PARTY OF NO TAKES CENTER STAGE, OR DOES IT?
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
Obama has received the daily intelligence and economic briefings and met with senior advisors in the Oval Office.
At 10 AM Pacific, Press Secretary Jay Carney delivers a briefing in the James S. Brady Briefing Room.
The event will be netcast live on New West Notes.
You can mute the audio by clicking on the pause button.
At 1:35 PM Pacific, Obama hosts a reception for Greek Independence Day in the East Room.
Things have reportedly taken a turn for the worse in Japan, already shaken to its core by the massive earthquake and tsunami which struck two weeks ago today, then by its nuclear power crisis.
Japanese officials, who have dribbled out information on the nuclear situation, much of it contradictory, now say that they suspect a reactor core breech has occurred at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Two workers wading in a pool of radioactive water were hospitalized with severe burns.
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan described the situation as “grave and serious.” He went on to say, in understated but ominous fashion: “We are not in a position where we can be optimistic.”
Many nations are now banning the importation of a variety of Japanese foods.
In the Libyan War, air strikes continue, and NATO will take over management of the no-fly zone tomorrow. It may also take over the strikes against dictator Moammar Gaddafi’s forces, now being carried out by French, British, and US forces. But that has not been worked out yet.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton goes to London on Tuesday for meetings with European, North American, Arab, and African leaders on the formation of an international “contact group” to oversee the intervention in Libya.
She and Secretary of Defense Bob Gates, now in Israel where yet another crisis brews in the wake of several terrorist murders of Israelis, will appear on the Sunday chat shows to discuss the Libyan War.
Gaddafi received another setback today when African Union Commission Chairman Jean Ping called for free elections in Libya. Gaddafi seized power in a military coup 42 years ago and has ruled ever since.
African Union leaders are meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with Libyan representatives to try to broker a ceasefire.
The African Union has been mostly silent about the Libyan uprising and has opposed the current military intervention. Rebuffed as too much of a weirdo and wild card by Arab League powers, Gaddafi was a prime mover in the African Union’s formation, served as its chairman, and has spread a lot of oil money around the organization and its members. So this move against him is a significant sign of slippage for him.
Protests continued today in Yemen and Syria, and started up again in Bahrain.
In Yemen, embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh clung to power as his supporters organized a large rally lauding his rule. Saleh, a key ally in the US struggle against Al Qaeda, offered up yet another of his inventive rationales, this time saying that he would like to step down but there is no one who can replace him.
In Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, a planned “Day of Rage” was squelched when security forces immediately cracked down on the relatively small crowds who turned out.
Ever since Saudi forces rolled across the King Fahd Causeway and regime forces destroyed the iconic sculpture in Pearl Square, center of the protest, the truly massive protests in Bahrain have been effectively shut down. For now, at least.
Obama is also monitoring a host of other geopolitical crises, almost all of them related to the Arab revolt or AfPak and Iraq.
While his successor struggled on Wednesday with the same dysfunctional Sacramento factors he had, former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger landed on the Xingu River in Brazil. With his old friend, director James Cameron, he visited indigenous people threatened by a massive dam project that Cameron is crusading against.
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILE. Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is in Brazil and Nigeria.
Accompanied by his old friend, filmmaker James Cameron, Schwarzenegger toured the Amazon region on Wednesday by seaplane. There they met with indigenous people threatened by a massive dam project — slated to be the third largest in the world — which Cameron has been crusading against.
On Thursday, Schwarzenegger and Cameron spoke at the 2nd International Forum on Sustainability in Manaus, Brazil, confluence of two great rivers and capital of the nation’s Amazonas province.
They presided over a session on “Public Policies That Favor Sustainability” which included 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, also now a Schwarzenegger friend, appears later at the forum.
Did Schwarzenegger miss not being at last weekend’s California Republican Party convention in Sacramento? Schwarzenegger gave a prescient speech to the Republicans at their fall 2007 convention outside Palm Springs warning them of impending marginalization in statewide elections if they continued their drift ever rightward. In the last few years of his administration, Schwarzenegger usually didn’t bother to come up with excuses for not attending.
Did he miss the now highly predictable budget moves by Sacramento’s entrenched lobbies and ideologues with which successor Jerry Brown is now painfully contending?
Let me see if I can recall if any of that came up when we talked.
Incidentally, I believe the music heard at the tail end of the video is from the Basil Poledouris score to Lonesome Dove. Poledouris, as you may know, composed the score to Conan the Barbarian.
Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation authorizing billions in budget cuts yesterday at the California state Capitol.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Sacramento today.
As of this morning, he has no scheduled public events.
Negotiations on the chronic California budget crisis have again intensified.
** 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 $105 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $71 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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