President Barack Obama commented on the terrorist bombing of the national government center in Oslo, Norway today in which at least seven people were killed and dozens more wounded.
** QUICK HITS. The “Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell” policy on gays and lesbians in the military is down to its final 60 days now with President Barack Obama, as expected, officially certifying this afternoon that the military is prepared for the long controversial policy’s end. As of September 20th, people with different sexual orientations are free to serve openly. … House Speaker John Boehner and Obama both announced separately this afternoon that the ballyhooed “Grand Bargain” on the record federal budget deficit and impending debt ceiling is definitely off. Shocking, positively shocking. … The shocking bombing of Norway’s national government center in Oslo and a major shooting incident at the governing party’s youth camp at a lake have left at least 17 people dead and dozens more wounded. It’s still unclear who is responsible.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … OVER AND OUT, ABOVE AND BEYOND: IS THE SPACE AGE OVER OR JUST BEGINNING?
** JERRY-RIGGING: BACK FROM THE MOUNTAINS. Governor Jerry Brown, returned today from his hiking vacation in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and hit the ground briskly.
Brown appeared at noon today at a California Teachers Association conference held at one of his old stomping grounds where he attended retreats during his first administration, the Asilomar conference center in Pacific Grove near Monterey. The event was closed to the press. CTA is a key ally for Brown, albeit one he doesn’t always agree with. Good communication is central as the 2012 elections unfold. They could be a kaleidoscope of ballot measures and legislative candidacies in new districts created by the Citizens Redistricting Commission.
On Sunday night, Brown will address the 102nd annual national convention of the NAACP at the LA Convention Center. The nation’s oldest civil rights organization is another key component of any Brown-affiliated coalition going forward, especially when Brown has had to institute painful budget cuts.
On Monday morning, as previously reported Brown will kick off his renewable energy conference at UCLA. That conference is focused on getting 12,000 megawatts of renewable power from distributed, non-centralized sources, frequently personal sources.
But the other 8,000 megawatts of renewable power Brown aims to secure by the end of 2020 is to come from centralized sources. And Brown, like former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, has been pushing for years to end bottlenecks and roadblocks to this power generation.
So today he announced yesterday’s filing of a brief in federal court asking the court to deny a lawsuit filed by the Western Watersheds Project, an environmental group which claims that a major solar power project in the Mojave Desert should be stopped because it invades the habitat of the desert tortoise. The Ivanpah solar thermal project, initially championed by Schwarzenegger, will generate enough power for 140,000 homes.
“California has set a bold course for its march toward reliance on renewable energy and the Ivanpah project is a very important step in this effort,” Brown wrote. “California has a strong and demonstrated interest in increasing its renewable energy and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. The Court should take these interests into account, and deny Western Watersheds’ request for a preliminary injunction on the grounds that an injunction is not in the public interest.”
** CHRISTOPHER SCHWARZENEGGER STILL HOSPITALIZED AFTER SURF ACCIDENT. Christopher Schwarzenegger, the 13-year old son of former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and former First Lady Maria Shriver, remains hospitalized in Los Angeles after suffering serious injuries in a surf accident at Malibu over the weekend. He is out of the intensive care unit.
Schwarzenegger and Shriver put out this joint statement:
“A few days ago our son Christopher suffered an accident at the beach. While it has been a very scary week, Christopher is surrounded by his family and friends. He is a brave boy and is expected to make a full recovery.
“On behalf of our entire family, we want to sincerely thank the paramedics and lifeguards who responded so swiftly as well as the doctors, nurses, emergency room and hospital staff who have cared for our son. They have been extraordinary to him and to us. We thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers and ask for respect and privacy for Christopher and our family.”
** NEW POLL: ECONOMIC CONFIDENCE HITS LOWEST LEVEL SINCE MARCH 2009. While the Washington gong show is consumed with endless talk of deficit reduction, and no consensus whatsoever on that, with default a real prospect, Americans’ economic confidence continues to slide in the midst of a sputtering economic recovery.
A new Gallup Poll survey shows that economic confidence levels have retreated to those found in the early days of the Obama Administration, when the great global recession was still on.
Two-thirds say the economy is actually getting worse. Which is not true, but the absence of notable improvement, the lack of new stimulus efforts, and all the talk about record deficits and debt and potential catastrophe all adds up.
Americans’ economic confidence plunged last week to its lowest weekly level since March 2009. Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index fell to -41 in the week ending July 17 — down from -34 the prior week and -31 during the same week a year ago. …
U.S. economic confidence has been running below 2010 levels during most of June and July. But the recent plunge sent this year’s economic confidence down even further — back to the recessionary levels of early 2009. …
Last week’s plunge in economic confidence comes as Americans’ perceptions of the U.S. economy were already near 2011 lows. As a result, confidence is now at the recessionary levels last seen in March 2009.
In part, this low level of economic confidence is likely a result of the economic soft patch of recent months and the lack of job creation associated with it. The political battle over the U.S. debt limit, talk of potential default by the U.S., and the actual default problems in Europe have probably made things worse.
It is possible that the current recession-level economic confidence is largely temporary. If Wall Street can continue to surge and lawmakers in Washington can reach a compromise deal on the debt limit, there could be a strongly positive turnaround in consumer confidence — similar to the one that followed the budget resolution of late 2010. …
House Speaker John Boehner insisted this morning that the much rumored federal deficit/debt ceiling deal with President Barack Obama isn’t real.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington and Maryland.
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have received the daily intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
Obama then took part in a Town Hall on the on-going efforts to find a balanced approach to deficit reduction, at College Park—Ritchie Coliseum at the University of Maryland.
At 10:35 AM Pacific, Obama meets with Prime Minister John Key of New Zealand in the Oval Office.
At 11:20 AM Pacific, Obama and Prime Minister Key deliver statements to the press in the Oval Office.
At 11:45 AM Pacific, Obama meets with Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Joint Chief of Staff chairman Admiral Mike Mullen in the Oval Office.
At 12:30 PM Pacific, Obama meets with outgoing Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry and Mrs. Eikenberry in the Oval Office.
The impasse over the federal budget deficit and debt ceiling continues, with many rumors rampant.
There doesn’t seem to be decisive support for any option in the present impasse on the federal budget deficit and debt ceiling.
A big bomb blast rocked the central governmental complex a few hours ago in Oslo, Norway, ripping the prime minister’s office and killing at least two people, with dozens wounded.
No group has yet claimed responsibility, though speculation turns to jihadists. Norway is a small but active part of the alliance in Afghanistan and Libya, and Norwegian fighter jets have performed disproportionately in the latter complex.
Still, the attack is mysterious.
Oslo, of course, is famed as the site of the annual Nobel Peace Prize ceremonies.
Speaking of the Libyan War, Russia’s deputy foreign minister said today following Thursday’s meetings with the new Libyan foreign minister that longtime dictator Moammar Gaddafi will have to go and have no impact on future decision-making in the country.
Russia, which has criticized the US an NATO for their roles in Libya and has not joined dozens of other nations in recognizing the Libyan rebel council, is working on brokering Gaddafi’s exit from power.
A huge bomb rocked the central government complex in Oslo, Norway earlier today.
The Pentagon is expected to announce today that the Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell policy on gays in the military will be end in the next few months.
Specifically, the ban on gays in the military would end in 60 days, by late September.
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.
** UPDATE: At 12 noon, Governor Jerry Brown will visit the California Teachers Association Presidents Conference at Asilomar in Pacific Grove.
This, as you may gather, is not in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Northern California.
He has no scheduled public events as of this morning.
The new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll has some very interesting information.
Brown’s job approval has improved slightly. His job approval rating with California voters is now 48%, with disapproval at 30%.
83% approve of state Controller John Chiang’s decision to suspend state legislators’ pay after Brown’s historic state budget veto.
Given a federal court mandate to dramatically reduce state prison overcrowding, most California voters want shorter sentences for some offenders rather than raising taxes or cutting services such as education or health care to pay for new prison construction or prisoner relocation.
By a 2 to 1 margin, voters favor reducing “third strike” sentences for non-violent offenders. Intriguingly, Latino voters were much less supportive of the changes than white voters.
In another area, voters are split on the so-called “Amazon tax,” which would impose the state’s sales tax on online purchases made through Amazon.com and other online retailers.
46% favor the tax.
But 49% oppose it.
State Attorney General Kamala Harris recently approved the circulation of petitions for a referendum to overturn the tax, which will raise a few hundred million in revenue.
Not surprisingly, people who do a lot of online shopping are strongly against the tax, while those who don’t favor it. A whopping 82% say they seldom if ever shop online.
** 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. … From my July 13th column.
** WHY DID JERRY BROWN VETO THE FARM WORKER BILL? It seemed very counter-intuitive. But was it? …
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. … 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.
Captain America: The First Avenger opens today. The last piece of the Marvel cinematic universe clicks into place in advance of next year’s The Avengers (featuring Iron Man/Tony Stark, the Hulk, Thor, and this guy) with what might be the best superhero movie of the year, awash in ’40s retro-futurism. Its problem? A certain boy wizard.
** 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.
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