Amidst a wave of protests across the country following deadly NATO air strikes against its border outposts and in the wake of its shut down of US/NATO supply lines and eviction of the CIA from a drone base, Pakistan is pulling out of next week’s big international conference in Germany on the future of Afghanistan.
** QUICK HITS. One-time Republican presidential frontrunner Herman Cain appears to be teetering in the wake of an Atlanta woman’s charge that he carried on a 13-year affair with her. He denies it, but it doesn’t look good for him. Nor for Mitt Romney, who needs the anti-Romney right vote to have somewhere to go besides Newt Gingrich. … Late in the day, Congressional Republicans, previously stand-offish at best, began throwing their support behind President Barack Obama’s bid to renew the payroll tax cut. That might help blunt the charge next year that their priority is only tax cuts for the wealthy. It may also be a good bolster for a sputtering economy. … Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom announced several meetings in Washington tomorrow to push his California economic development theme. He’s meeting with the Brazilian ambassador and the chief lobbyist for the Hollywood studios. And with Secretary of Commerce John Bryson, “to make the case for California as the right place for innovation, new growth and job creation.” Bryson, of course, is a Californian, who served as head of the California Public Utilities Commission at the appointment of Governor Jerry Brown, during Brown’s first time around as governor. He was more recently the longtime head of Southern California Edison, so I’m fairly positive he is up to speed on the importance of California.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … ALTERNEWT.
** NEW SURVEY: BLACK FRIDAY SPENDING UP AMIDST CONTINUED PESSIMISM. A new Gallup Poll survey shows that so-called “Black Friday” post-Thanksgiving weekend shopping spending is up from a year ago and the highest it’s been since 2008.
But economic confidence remains lower than it was at this time in 2009 and 2010.
Nevertheless, the spending is a needed boost in an economy which is heavily reliant on consumer spending. Now if those with capital get off the sidelines, the sputtering recovery might click into gear.
Assuming that the Eurozone crisis doesn’t deliver a bone-shattering global blow.
Remember the old saying, “All politics is local?”
All politics is global.
Self-reported daily consumer spending in stores, restaurants, gas stations, and online averaged $98 per day for the three-day period ending Nov. 27. This is up from $92 a year ago and exceeds the Black Friday spending of each of the past three years. …
Gallup’s findings are consistent with the 6.6% increase reported by ShopperTrak. Consumer spending was higher in the days leading up to Thanksgiving this year than at any time since 2008. Average spending for the Black Friday week ending Nov. 27, 2011, was $83 and exceeds the weekly comparables for 2009 ($69) and 2010 ($79). …
Even as consumers are spending more during Black Friday week, Americans remain substantially more pessimistic about the future course of the U.S. economy than they were at this time in 2009 and 2010. More than one-third of consumers said the economy was “getting better” during Black Friday week in 2009 and 2010. Now, less than one in four Americans say the economy is improving — not much better than the less than one in five who said this during this same week in 2008. …
** NEW CALIFORNIA POLL: OCCUPY WALL STREET SENTIMENT WIDELY SUPPORTED BUT A SPLIT ON OCCUPY ITSELF. CONGRESS? WHO CARES? A new Field Poll of California voters on the Occupy Wall Street movement finds widespread support for its core critique of an unfair economic system. But it also finds voters split on the movement itself.
And when it comes to which party’s victory in next year’s Congressional races will be best, the winner, by plurality, is none of the above.
It’s pretty obvious, as things have played out the past several weeks, the the Occupy folks have a politically wise fundamental message, and a foolish way of presenting it.
That is, if they hope to gather the support of “the 99%” and not just become a very different sort of “1%.”
In reacting to the Occupy movement that has erupted across California and in other parts of the
country, voters here are about equally divided in their identification with the protest movement. A total of 46% of the voting public say they identify a lot or some with it, while 49% declare not much identification with the movement.
These two groups hold very different views about who is responsible for the nation’s economic
problems and which political party has a better chance of solving them. For example . . .
• By a greater than two to margin (52% to 24%) Occupy movement identifiers blame financial
institutions and Wall Street more than the federal government for the country’s current
economic problems. By contrast, more than three times as many voters who do not identify
with the movement (64% to 20%) think federal government rather than financial institutions
and Wall Street is more to blame for the nation’s current economic woes.
• More than three in four voters who identify with the Occupy movement (77%) believe that
the previous administration of George W. Bush holds more responsibility for today’s poor
economic conditions, while just 12% blame the current Obama administration more. This
contrasts with the views of voters who do not sympathize with the movement who blame the
Obama administration more than the Bush administration 47% to 37%.
While voters are closely divided in their identification with the Occupy movement, a 58% to 32%
majority say they agree with the underlying reason for the protests. …
At 11 AM Pacific, White House press secretary Jay Carney delivers a briefing. The event will be netcast live here on New West Notes. You can mute the audio 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 netcasts 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.
As we await results from the parliamentary elections in Egypt, expected on Wednesday, many wonder if a potential Muslim Brotherhood victory will make Egypt much more favorable to the Palestinians.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
Obama has received the daily intelligence and economic briefing in the Oval Office.
At 11 AM Pacific, White House press secretary Jay Carney delivers a briefing in the James S. Brady Briefing Room.
The event will be netcast live here on New West Notes.
At 11:30 AM Pacific, Obama has a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands in the Oval Office.
At 2 PM Pacific, Obama meets with senior advisors in the Oval Office.
In what may be a boost for Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain is reportedly “reassesing his candidacy” in the wake of yesterday’s claim by another woman not his wife of a 13-year affair. If Cain drops out, it’s not easy to see most of his support going to Mitt Romney.
While two investigations are underway, one by US Central Command and one by the International Security Assistance Force for Afghanistan, there is an emerging US storyline around the air strikes on two Pakistani border outposts which killed some 25 Pakistani troops early Saturday. It’s all a case of mistaken identity by US forces, who thought the Pakistani Army outposts were Taliban emplacements. Pakistani officials preempted this explanation over the weekend, saying their outposts on the border with Afghanistan clearly display their national flag. Meanwhile, China is seizing the opportunity to side with Pakistan, as you might suppose.
And another shoe of consequence dropped today. Pakistan pulled out of next week’s big international summit on Afghanistan set for Bonn, Germany.
It’s hard to see what strategy there is for the Afghan War, as currently imagined, without Pakistan.
Russia, angry about a missile shield project ostensibly aimed at Iran but which continues to exclude it, is also making noises about moving to shut down US supply lines across the post-Soviet space, supply lines established with Russia’s blessing.
Vice President Joe Biden is on a surprise visit today to Iraq, meeting with Iraqi leaders in Baghdad to discuss relations going forward and with US troops in the midst of the big withdrawal.
All significant US forces will be out of Iraq by the end of December.
In Iran, echoing the 1979 takeover of the US embassy there, student mobs repeatedly assaulted the British Embassy in Tehran today, successfully entering it and taking art works and documents from the premises. The UK has formally protested to Iran that it is in violation of the Vienna convention on guaranteeing safety of diplomatic territory and personnel.
The protesters have been removed and British personnel are safe.
But legislation was approved on Monday to expel the British ambassador from Iran over the UK’s increased sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program.
The attack on the British embassy came less than a day after another large explosion at an Iranian missile base, this one in Isfahan, also of mysterious origins.
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.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Northern California.
He has no scheduled public events as of this morning.
Brown has ordered the state’s commission on law enforcement standards to review use of force protocols in protest situations to ensure that there can be no repeat of the now infamous pepper spray incident at UC Davis.
LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s strategy of benign attrition in dealing with the Occupy LA camp outside LA City Hall seems to be kicking in. With his midnight deadline well in the rear view mirror, the campers are fading away. But some will remain to be arrested, whenever that determination is made.
At last, a California Republican is running against U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein next year. Someone named Elizabeth Emken, an autism activist who made an unsuccessful run for a GOP congressional nomination last year. I’ve never heard of her, either.
The University of California Board of Regents’ bid to dilute protests by holding a teleconferenced meeting from four locations appears to have been largely successful. Let it not be said that California is no longer a leader in innovation.
Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger delivered the keynote speech on November 21st at the Zero emissions conference in Oslo, Norway. The conference is one of the world’s biggest climate solution conferences, and is hosted by the Zero Emissions Resource Organization (ZERO).
** FROM THE ARNOLD FILES. Jerry Brown’s predecessor, former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, free from the woes of California’s chronic budget crisis, delivered the keynote address at last week’s big climate change conference in Oslo, Norway, as seen above.
Schwarzenegger was joined there by several other leaders, including European Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegard.
On December 5th, he’ll receive the Renewable Energy Leader of the Decade award from the American Council on Renewable Energy at their 10th anniversary celebration at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington.
Colorado Senator Mark Udall will also receive an award for his role in providing Congressional leadership on renewables. Besides being Colorado’s senior senator, Udall is the son of the legendary Mo Udall, the longtime congressman and former Democratic presidential candidate, and nephew of Stewart Udall, who was secretary of the interior throughout the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations.
** A SUBLIME AND RIDICULOUS DAY: MARS MISSION AND AFPAK DEBACLE. This Thanksgiving weekend saw the greatness of America and the failings of America both on dramatic display. On Saturday we simultaneously reached for the heavens and got further stuck in the mud.
First, very early in the day in the nebulous Afghan-Pakistan border region, NATO air strikes hit two Pakistani Army outposts, creating a severe crisis in the ill-fated Afghan War. Later on, halfway round the world on a bright Florida morning, the most ambitious mission yet to explore another planet lifted off on a nine-month flight to Mars. …
Two major events, both quite possibly historic, on the same day. Which direction will be the more powerful? … From my November 28th essay.
** SOUND AND FURY: THE UTTERLY UNSURPRISING “SUPER-COMMITTEE” FLOP.
“Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
Macbeth – Act V, Scene V
** DARWINIAN: OBAMA GOES POST-IRAQ IN OZ, REPUBLICANS RACE TO THE PAST. … From my November 21st essay.
** ALI, FRAZIER, JACKSON, STALLONE: OF IMAGE, RACE, POLITICS, AND MYTH. … From my November 16th essay.
** VETERANS DAY IN A FRACTURED AMERICA. … 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.
** 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 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 $100 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $66 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 $14 from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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