Streaming Live by Ustream
The last ever space shuttle flight is set to touch down for the last ever time in the very early morning hours on Thursday, and the event will be netcast live here on New West Notes. Atlantis is scheduled to land at the Kennedy Space Center at 2:56 AM Pacific. In the meantime, you can watch much of the last full day of shuttle coverage, including from Mission Control and Atlantis.
LIVE FROM CAPE CANAVERAL, AND BEYOND. New West Notes is live netcasting the final landing of the 30-year space shuttle program. STS-135, the 135th and final space shuttle mission, scheduled for the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida at 2:26 AM Pacific on Thursday, July 21st.
The originally planned touchdown today on the 20th would have marked the 42nd anniversary of Apollo 11′s touchdown on the Moon. But with no more manned spaceflights on a hard schedule — except for those of the Russian Soyuz, which will exclusively carry astronauts to and from the International Space Station for the foreseeable future — the contrast would have been unfortunate. NASA is refocusing on deep space probes, including future manned missions to an asteroid and Mars. But the asteroid mission is not until 2025.
Atlantis flew to the International Space Station, where it provided badly needed supplies to sustain the ISS through 2012. Between now and then, unmanned commercial cargo craft will take over the supply mission, including rockets from California’s SpaceX.
Navy Captain Christopher Ferguson commands Atlantis on this final space shuttle flight. Marine Lieutenant Colonel Douglas Hurley is the pilot. Dr. Sandra Magnus and Air Force Colonel Joseph Walheim are the mission specialists.
California connections? Colonel Walheim is a San Francisco Bay Area native and UC Berkeley grad. Colonel Hurley received his fighter pilot training at El Toro in Orange County. And Captain Ferguson earned a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey and graduated from the Navy Fighter Weapons School, perhaps better known as TOP GUN, at Miramar outside San Diego.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said today that President Barack Obama is “willing to take the heat” from fellow Democrats in pursuing reductions in the massive federal budget deficit.
NOTE: I’m traveling, so publishing is somewhat delayed.
** QUICK HITS. Libyan rebels continued advancing against Gaddafi regime forces today. While that’s heartening, one wonders why it’s taken so long. Well, actually, one does not. … Meanwhile, with the posturing running very thick in Washington, the Obama White House signaled an unsurprising shift toward a short-term plan to raise the national debt ceiling so long as it’s tied to some sort of prospective agreement for major deficit reduction. This, as I’ve been discussing since early in the month, polls well. … Afghan President Hamid Karzai is banning US advisors from the country’s deeply troubled and corruption-ridden central bank. Speaking of unsurprising. … Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s upcoming film, The Last Stand, from Lionsgate (also the producer of TV’s Mad Men), now has a scheduled release date. It’s January 18th, 2013. Schwarzenegger begins filming in the fall.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have received the daily intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
Obama then met with senior advisors in the Oval Office.
Following that, Obama did regional interviews on the economy and the present impasse on the federal budget deficit and debt ceiling from the Diplomatic Room.
Obama and Biden then met with new Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in the Oval Office. Panetta, as reported here, undertook a major tour of war zones after becoming defense secretary earlier this month.
But of course the major focus is behind the scenes on the federal deficit and debt ceiling impasses, which are now in crisis mode. Some agreement needs to be reached to extend the debt ceiling — which has been a matter of routine for presidents of both parties for many years, until the advent of the far right Tea Party — by August 2nd.
A great deal of posturing is taking place, with far right Republicans passing their preferred “Cut, Cap, and Balance” plan yesterday in the House, though it goes nowhere in the Senate.
For his part, Obama is at least ostensibly enthusiastic about a “grand bargain” involving big tax hikes and loophole closures and even bigger reductions in the deficit. But the plans bandied about on that are highly complex, with few knowing the details, and could hardly be adopted in less than two weeks.
Still, it is very good positioning for moderates and independents, who, as the Gallup Poll I ran here yesterday shows, want big budget cuts. They also want a stimulated economy. And they don’t want their own programs cut.
These contradictory and not terribly informed dynamics are very familiar from California politics, so you’ll understand how I don’t find it breathlessly exciting.
For her part, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in the midst of a major visit to India this week, a major element in the AfPak conundrum.
Yesterday began with the imperative to promote renewable energy and reduce greenhouse gases. Today is more focused on the nitty gritty of regional stability.
Atlantis left the International Space Station yesterday for the last time, and for the last time in the space shuttle program.
Atlantis is all set to return to the Kennedy Space Center early on Thursday morning, in an event which will be netcast live here on New West Notes.
The spacecraft is scheduled to make its final landing Thursday morning at 2:56 AM Pacific.
Following discussions on Libya over the weekend in Tunisia between US and Gaddafi regime officials, talk today has turned to where the longtime dictator might go if he gives up power. The French are saying that he could remain in Libya.
And Libya’s foreign minister met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, with details not yet forthcoming.
The explosive phone hacking scandal brought British Prime Minister David Cameron back from foreign tour to Parliament today, to admit mistakes and spread the blame in equal measure.
Obama is also monitoring a variety of other geopolitical crises, mostly related to the Arab awakening, AfPak, and Iraq.
War Zone Times: Libya is nine hours ahead of Pacific time, Iraq and Yemen are ten hours ahead of Pacific time, and Afghanistan is eleven and a half hours ahead of Pacific time.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Northern California.
He has no scheduled public events as of this morning.
Brown and First Lady/Special Counsel Anne Gust Brown are on a hiking trip in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Brown, as I wrote last week, has long loved the Sierra, having had many memorable trips to Yosemite National Park as a boy.
Though away, Brown announced yesterday that he will host a major renewable energy conference next week at UCLA. You can read the article in yesterday’s edition.
And I reported yesterday morning that Brown will speak at the National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas on August 30th.
Unless he speaks elsewhere first, this will be his first speech as California’s new/renewed governor outside California.
The event, founded by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, takes place at Aria on the Vegas Strip.
** OBAMA KABUKI: THE BUDGET AND THE POLITICS OF POSITIONING. What’s President Barack Obama up to in the big federal budget deficit/debt ceiling debate? After months of letting Vice President Joe Biden carry the ball, Obama has placed himself center stage in the midst of controversy, even as agreement seems to get farther away.
What is he really after? To solve the multi-faceted problem? Well, sure, that would be nice. But what he is really after is what all first-term presidents are after. A second term.
Obama, in my opinion, is engaged in what former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger called political “kabuki.” A stylized dramatic dance that draws attention while obscuring true purpose.
And what is his true purpose? To appeal to moderates by occupying the center and pushing the Republicans to the starboard side fringe.
Meanwhile, Obama is flipping out a lot of liberals and other folks on the left.
But why worry? … From my July 13th column.
** WHY DID JERRY BROWN VETO THE FARM WORKER BILL? It seemed very counter-intuitive. But was it?
Late on the evening of June 28th, in a move with major national labor implications, Brown vetoed card check legislation sought by his old allies, the United Farm Workers, authored by state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg.
This would have allowed certification of the union as the bargaining agent for workers at a given location or set of locations once a majority of workers there signed cards authorizing the union to represent them. The UFW says this is necessary because growers have too many opportunities to intimidate farm workers into voting against unionization.
Many were surprised by Brown’s veto, given his long history with the farm worker movement. Which is more extensive than has been widely reported.
The UFW has been a staple of every one of Brown’s campaigns, an immediate endorser which has frequently provided instant ground troops. When Cesar Chavez died in 1993, I remember talking with Brown as he helped carry Chavez’s casket in the long funeral procession. Brown spoke later, and old girlfriend Linda Ronstadt appeared.
In any real biography of Jerry Brown, the farm workers are not only a big chapter, they are shot through the entire story. Yet, he vetoed the bill. … From my July 8th feature.
** A SHIFTING REPUBLICAN PARTY MAKES MISCHIEF FOR OBAMA ON LIBYA. … From my July 2nd essay.
** JERRY BROWN FINDS A CALIFORNIA BUDGET THAT FLIES, FOR NOW. … From my June 29th feature.
** OBAMA’S BIG REPUBLICAN PROBLEM (IT’S NOT WHAT YOU THINK). …From my June 23rd column.
** JERRY BROWN’S BIG BUDGET VETO, AND WHERE IT GOES FROM HERE. … From my June 17th column.
** 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.
NASA managers delivered the final mission status briefing of the space shuttle program this morning from the legendary yet soon to be de-emphasized Mission Control in Houston.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM AL JAZEERA. With the US entangled in three wars in the region, and the Arab awakening underway, 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.
** 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.
** 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 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
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.
Your posts are welcome in the Forum. You can send me a private tip by clicking on the “Contact” button in the upper right.