A second set of experiments by European scientists has accelerated neutrinos faster than the speed of light, apparently disproving Einstein’s theory. The speed of light has long been held to be the ultimate speed limit in the universe, and is central to his theory of relativity, the basis of our physics. Which is to say that our fundamental understanding of the universe is probably wrong. But you knew that.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … DARWINIAN: OBAMA GOES POST-IRAQ IN OZ, REPUBLICANS RACE TO THE PAST.
** QUICK HITS. The US House of Representatives failed to pass a balanced budget amendment today, with several Republicans — including House Rules Committee chairman David Dreier of California — joining with Democrats to keep the measure well short of the needed two-thirds. … That University of California Board of Regents meeting in San Francisco that was canceled this week due to fear of disruption has been re-scheduled for November 28th. Where is it, you ask? That’s where things get interesting. It will be held by teleconference, with regents participating from five locations: UC San Francisco, UC Davis, UC Merced, UCLA, and, er, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Each site is accessible to the public. But where do the protesters go? … Sierra Club Chairman Carl Pope, who served for nearly two decades as the San Francisco-based organization’s executive director before then Rainforest Action Network director Michael Brune took on the post at the beginning of 2010, is stepping away. He will continue as a senior advisor to the Sierra Club, with which he has worked since the ’70s, but will focus mainly on partnerships to foster green growth, including manufacturing in the US. … Steve Jobs was finally replaced earlier this week as chairman of Apple. The new chairman of Apple’s board, who has served on that board as a Jobs pick since 2000, is Genentech chairman Arthur Levinson, the biotech pioneer’s former CEO. Disney CEO Bob Iger is joining the Apple board, which has been short a member since Jobs’s death last month. Jobs was the single largest shareholder of Disney following its acquisition of Pixar. … Nevada has declared a state of emergency over a wildfire outside Reno that has already forced the evacuation of 10,000 people, and Governor Jerry Brown has dispatched 15 fire engines and their crews to assist.
** JERRY-RIGGING: THE ONGOING DROP IN CALIFORNIA’S UNEMPLOYMENT, AND THAT CONTROVERSIAL STATE UNIVERSITY FEE HIKE. More on the drop in California’s unemployment rate.
The state’s unemployment rate, which had recently edged at last below 12%, dipped again in October to 11.7% from September’s 11.9%, according to the California Employment Development Department. A year ago, the state’s unemployment rate was nearly a point higher, at 12.5%.
In October, the state added 26,000 jobs, one-third that of the nationwide gain of 80,000 jobs.
Job growth is mostly in various services, business, professional, health, and education.
In addition, there was an upward revision in September’s jobs data, meaning that 86,000 jobs have been created in the past three months.
Things would be even better if state and local government weren’t so constricted, by revenue loss and unsustainable commitments. It may be that forced cutback in non-federal governments is the single greatest impediment for the still stumbling economic recovery.
But California still has the nation’s second highest unemployment rate, behind only neighboring Nevada — the Silver State long touted as a successful job stealer from the Golden State — nearly a point higher at 13.4%.
And these numbers are still quite anemic. Some 1.4 million jobs were lost in California between 2008 and 2010, and the population continues to grow.
Meanwhile, the effects of cutbacks, which have led to angry student demonstrations around the state, continue to reverberate in the aftermath of Wednesday’s controversial vote by the California State University Board of Trustees to again raise student fees at its meeting in Long Beach. Faced with a disruptive demonstration, the board repaired behind closed doors, where they voted to impose the fee hike.
The trouble is, members of the general public weren’t around, nor, evidently, was anyone from the press.
This has Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom pushing for another vote on the matter, at the next board meeting on December 5th.
Says Newsom in his letter to the system’s chancellor and board chairman: “While I understand the CSU leadership’s concerns regarding public safety, the spirit of open deliberations has been marred by the events of November 16, 2011. This issue is simply too important to not allow for a full and thorough discussion. Otherwise, we contribute to the perception that this process is anything less than open and transparent.”
Newsom opposes the fee hike. But he’s not saying in his statements what his alternative is.
** NEW SURVEY: U.S. FAVORED OVER CHINA BY WIDE MARGIN IN THE ASIA PACIFIC REGION. With President Barack Obama on the final leg of his marathon trip to the Asia Pacific region, Chinese leaders are coming to understand that his new policies are largely targeted at them.
China has been much more assertive and aggressive with its neighbors lately, claiming nearly all the South China Sea despite the fact that many nations share it, and pushing forward with plans to create its own aircraft carrier battle groups and develop various advanced weapons systems that no other Asian nation, with the possible exception of Japan, could hope to counter.
So how do folks in the region feel about their would-be ally, the United States?
According to a new Gallup Poll survey, pretty well.
Across the vast region, 44% approve of the US as a globally leading nation, while only 30% accord China the same sort of regard.
US standing has actually gone up since 2010, from 41%.
Only in Vietnam, where of course the US fought a long, bloody, and disastrous war, and Malaysia are the US and China viewed with equal approval. China is not a favorite in any nation.
There is one big caveat, and that is a very big one, and it’s India. The US is favored over China there, too, but by on 16% to 10%.
The US has to do a lot more to gain approval in India.
Which may be why Obama’s first state dinner as president honored Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Say, you don’t think that Obama had a strategy from the beginning, do you?
With U.S. President Barack Obama Wednesday announcing that the U.S. will expand its military presence in Asia by deploying 2,500 Marines to Australia, Gallup surveys showcase the wide range of opinions of U.S. leadership in the region. A median of 44% approve of U.S. leadership in nine countries that are members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) or the East Asia Summit (EAS) group. As many as 68% approve in Cambodia, but as few as 16% approve in India, with sizable minorities in all countries not offering an opinion either way. …
The U.S. continues to have a relatively strong influence in these countries despite the global economic slowdown and the rise of China’s power. The 2011 median of 44% is comparable with the 41% measured in 2010.
Obama takes part in the EAS on Saturday, capping off more than a week of meetings with key partners in Asia, where the president has emphasized that “no region will do more to shape our economic future than the Asian-Pacific nations.” The expansion of military ties and the increase in the number of U.S. troops stationed in Australia further strengthen the strong bond between the U.S. and Australia, but spark a negative reaction from China.
Australia, the Philippines, and South Korea all have historical ties to the U.S. government and the military and are all among the countries where a majority or more approve of U.S. leadership. It should be noted that the two countries with the lowest approval ratings of U.S. leadership, India and Vietnam, also have the highest percentage of those saying they do not have an opinion of U.S. leadership. …
China has voiced its concerns over a US military deployment in Australia, the first long-term expansion of the American military presence in the Pacific since the end of the Vietnam War, as seen in this report from China Central Television, the major state broadcaster of mainland China.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … DARWINIAN: OBAMA GOES POST-IRAQ IN OZ, REPUBLICANS RACE TO THE PAST.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Indonesia.
The time in Bali, Indonesia, where Obama is the first president to take part in the East Asia Summit, is 16 hours ahead of Pacific time.
Obama held a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia at the Grand Hyatt in Bali, Indonesia.
He then took part in a US-ASEAN meeting at the Nusa Dua Convention Center in Bali.
ASEAN is the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which includes our one-time foe (and ally, as the country is no unified under Communist Party rule) Vietnam.
Obama then held a bilateral meeting with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of host country Indonesia at the Nusa Dua Convention Center in Bali.
Following that, Obama joined leaders at the East Asia Summit gala dinner at the Nusa Dua Convention Center in Bali.
In what may be another signal to China, the US Army on Thursday conducted its first flight test of a new weapon capable of traveling five times the speed of sound.
The Advanced Hypersonic Weapon was launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai in Hawaii early yesterday morning. It reached Kwajalein Atoll, over 2300 miles away, in less than half an hour.
After some problems earlier, this test was evidently a success. This is part of a Pentagon program to develop “global strike” weapons which can reach targets across the globe in a fraction of the time currently needed without use of a ballistic missile. This craft has a very different profile allowing it to “glide” after reaching very high velocity and making it easier to maneuver and harder to detect than a traditional missile.
Speaking of weapons, the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) or UN atomic watchdog, meeting today in Vienna, voted 32 to 2 (with Cuba and Ecuador supporting Iran) to censure Iran for taking steps that are preparatory for a nuclear weapons program. But, reflecting China and Russia’s misgivings, and their strong economic ties with Iran, it took no concrete action against Iran.
In Egypt, large protests are ramping up again over the proposed new constitution, which critics say would further enshrine military power over the government. The military is essentially running the country now with an interim ruling council.
Egyptian parliamentary elections are set for 10 days from now.
Italy today saw a full parliamentary vote of confidence in the new government of Prime Minister Mario Monti, the former European Commissioner technocrat who replaced long-running Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, the billionaire media magnate.
The Congressional “super-committee” on the budget is nowhere near an agreement with its deadline looming next Wednesday. As readers know, I have always had extremely low expectations about anything happening with this group.
And what happens if nothing happens?
That’s right. As I pointed out at the time, in a piece about Obama and budget kabuku, the automatic cuts don’t kick in till 2013. Which means the real deadline for action is sometime not long before then. As in a year from now.
Because the Bush tax cuts end at the end of next year, unless they are extended. Which, not incidentally, solves a huge chunk of several problems.
I think Obama knows this, and while he may gnash his teeth and get some laughs out of the endless sturm und drang about what he is supposedly doing or not doing, recognizes that it is mostly just the sound and fury that passes for political debate these days.
Meanwhile, a new poll in New Hampshire, where Mitt Romney has long held a massive lead, finds Newt Gingrich moving into a dead heat with the former Massachusetts Governor.
But Gingrich is now coming under heavy scrutiny for the many millions of dollars that big interests have doled out to his think tanks and for his highly lucrative Washington consulting arrangements.
Obama is monitoring a variety of other geopolitical crises, mostly related to the Arab awakening, AfPak, and Iraq.
War Zone Times: Iraq is eleven hours ahead of Pacific time, and Afghanistan is twelve and a half hours ahead of Pacific time.
A Los Angeles County sheriff’s detective will speak to reporters Friday about the decision to take another look at Oscar-nominated actress Natalie Wood’s nighttime demise in the chilly waters off Southern California on November 29, 1981. It’s not widely known in the current political scene but Wood was a former girlfriend of Governor Jerry Brown.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Northern California.
He has no scheduled public events as of this morning.
Brown got some good news today.
California’s unemployment rate has dipped to 11.7%, down from 11.9% the previous month.
A year ago unemployment was nearly a point higher, at 12.5%.
As I expected, Brown did attend last night’s screening of California State of Mind: The Legacy of Pat Brown at the San Francisco Film Society. It’s a documentary about his late father, former Governor Pat Brown, and Jerry did several interviews for it with his nieces, film director Sascha Rice and executive producer Hilary Armstrong.
He liked the documentary.
In other action, Brown’s predecessor, former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, suffered an on-set mishap yesterday while performing a stunt in New Mexico for his new movie, The Last Stand.
But he is back in action today.
** ALI, FRAZIER, JACKSON, STALLONE: OF IMAGE, RACE, POLITICS, AND MYTH. Monday’s Philadelphia funeral for former heavyweight boxing champ Joe Frazier brought some old but still very salient issues back to the fore. Frazier’s sudden death from liver cancer has reminded many of some uncomfortable truths.
One of the great figures of the “Golden Age” of boxing in the ’60s and ’70s, Frazier ended up very much slighted and neglected, unfairly so, chewed up and spit out by a celebrity culture that opts for popular myths. And he was whipsawed by ruthless racial politics, from right and left. … From my November 16th essay.
** VETERANS DAY IN A FRACTURED AMERICA. Credit Barack Obama with some brilliant Veterans Day moves. In addition to the customary Arlington solemnities, he presided over the opening of the college basketball season on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier which conducted the funeral of Osama bin Laden.
Obama ESPN hoopster, check. Obama bagging Osama, check. Obama buds with the troops, check.
It’s all a very nice kick-off to Obama’s nine days of Asia Pacific summitry, a neat contrast to the reality show clownfest that is the Republican presidential race.
But the stagecraft obscures basic realities that plague the country, which this Veterans Day found ever more fractured. … From my November 12th essay.
** RECALLING JOE FRAZIER: AN APPRECIATION, AND A NOTE OF HORROR. … From my November 10th essay.
** OCUPADO. … From my November 4th essay.
** HIGH-SPEED RAIL: JERRY BROWN’S BIG MOVE TO THE FUTURE. … From my November 2nd essay.
** “OUT OF CONTEXT”: HILLARY’S P.R. OFFENSIVE. … From my October 29th column.
** STEVE JOBS: HARDLY A PERFECT PERSON, PERHAPS A PERFECT ICON. … From my October 26th essay.
** SIGNS: JERRY BROWN AFTER A DISAPPOINTING LEGISLATIVE YEAR. … From my October 20th essay.
** AFGHAN WAR AT 10, 9/11 AT 10+: DID OSAMA BIN LADEN WIN AFTER ALL? … From my October 7th essay.
** 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.
Chinese officials on Friday said that the nation’s just concluded docking mission with the Shenzhou 8 capsule is a major step toward its own independent space station.
** 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, and down $16 from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
Your posts are welcome in the Forum. You can send me a private tip by clicking on the “Contact” button in the upper right.