The US will deploy its first seaborne special operations base to the waters of the Middle East as part of its response to the Iran crisis.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … JERRY BROWN, (PARTIALLY) EMERGED FROM STEALTH MODE, MAKES SOME MOVES.
** THINKING THE UNTHINKABLE: IRAN, ISRAEL, AFGHANISTAN. It may well be time to start thinking the unthinkable on Iran, Israel, and Afghanistan.
* Israel may be on an inexorable path to an air war against Iran.
* With conventional weapons said by some to be ineffective against Iran’s increasingly underground and hardened nuclear development sites, Israel may come to use nuclear weapons against them.
* And as this melodrama between two governments dominated by conservative religionists plays out, the US and its NATO allies may be on the verge of being run out of Afghanistan in the wake of the latest debacle there.
Israel may well have painted itself into a corner — a metaphor which doesn’t quite work in a dynamic situation — with regard to Iran.
If the present Israeli government really does regard Iran’s progress toward nuclear weapons as an “existential threat” to their nation, what would they not do to prevent it? And if conventional bunker buster bombs won’t work, or at least not yet — the Senate approved an advanced version earlier this month, but it apparently won’t be ready till late this year — why would they not use nuclear bunker busters to stop the Iranian program.
And the Iranians certainly seem bent on moving forward with their program, which they publicly insist is for civilian purposes only, despite all the moves against them and despite offers of having nuclear fuel enriched for them.
Israel has placed itself firmly on the path of brinksmanship. It is evidently in an intelligence war with Iran already and threatens overt war.
If Iran continues on its course, as it gives constant, indeed, accelerating signs of doing, especially in the past week, Israel will be faced with a classic go/no-go decision. …
From my new essay.
** NEW POLL: ECONOMY STILL TOP ISSUE FOR VOTERS. A new Gallup Poll reveals that, though there have been some economic improvements, the economy is still easily the top issue for US voters.
Social issues such as abortion and gay marriage, so important in Republican primaries, are at the bottom of the list for most voters.
Of course, the economy is always at the top of the list, in good times and bad. But sometimes it is rivaled by other issues.
More than 9 in 10 U.S. registered voters say the economy is extremely (45%) or very important (47%) to their vote in this year’s presidential election. Unemployment, the federal budget deficit, and the 2010 healthcare law also rank near the top of the list of nine issues tested in a Feb. 16-19 USA Today/Gallup poll. …
In years when the economy is strong, although it remains an important issue, Americans have rated other issues just as important or more so. For example, in 1996 and 2000, education ranked as high as the economy, and in 2004, terrorism and the Iraq war did. In down economic years such as 2008 and 2012, the economy has been the clear leader. …
Mitt Romney eked out a narrow win last night in his home state Michigan primary over Rick Santorum. But he is likely to split Michigan’s delegates evenly with the ex-Pennsylvania senator.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
He and Vice President Joe Biden have received the daily intelligence and economic briefings and met with senior advisors in the Oval Office.
Obama and Biden then met for lunch with Congressional Leadership in the Private Dining.
At 5:20 PM Pacific, Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama host a dinner in honor of the Armed Forces who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn and their families in the East Room. Biden and Dr. Jill Biden also attend.
In the Republican president race, Mitt Romney eked out a win by a few points over Rick Santorum last night in his home state Michigan primary. The two are expected to actually split the delegates from the state.
Romney lost in yesterday’s vote; his narrow popular vote win is due to votes received in advance.
Romney did win easily in the Arizona primary.
The race now moves on to the farflung Super Tuesday primary contests next week, after the Washington state caucuses this weekend.
Obama got very good news this morning with the decision of North Korea to suspend its nuclear weapons program and let in the UN inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency.
North Korea is taking this action in exchange for needed international aid.
Not so in the crisis with Iran and Israel, however.
See the piece linked above for an in-depth analysis and discussion.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak will be meeting soon in Washington with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu is coming to town in the next few days, and will meet with Obama in the White House next Monday.
Protests continued today in Afghanistan against the burnings of Qurans at Bagram Air Base nine days ago.
The suspected killer of an American colonel and major in the highly secured Afghan Interior Ministry in Kabul on Saturday has not been apprehended. He is reportedly a 25-year old Afghan intelligence officer.
Despite ongoing international condemnation, Assad regime ground forces are readying a major move against Syrian protest leaders in Homs.
Military Crisis Zone Times: The Arabian Gulf 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.
House Rules Committee chairman David Dreier this morning, as expected, announced that he will retire. He was thrown into a disadvantageous district in the new Citizens Redistricting Commission maps.
The redistricting reform which has cost Dreier his seat passed thanks to the backing of then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Ironically, I recall talking with Dreier and Congresswoman Mary Bono on the Schwarzenegger campaign bus in 2003 about the prospects for a new and more moderate and modern Republican Party.
But it did not happen, despite Schwarzenegger’s efforts, and now the former governor’s efforts have led to the end of Dreier’s congressional career.
Proponents of the ban on same sex marriage opposed by Scwharzenegger and Brown got some terrible news in the new Field Poll, which shows a huge lead for the advocates of same sex marriage.
It’s now 59% to 34%, which means that not only are the oldest voters opposed to gay marriage being replaced by younger voters who are more liberal on the issue, but that actual opinions are changing.
And Brown, paradoxically, has good news in the form of some bad news. Yes, it has been an unusually dry winter in California. The Sierra Nevada snow pack is only 30% of normal for this date. Get a feeling of drought going and Californians may at last be ready to deal with water policy down the line.
On his way back home from a big trip to Washington, Brown stopped over yesterday in LA to meet with American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten.
It should be noted that the AFT is the national parent of the California Federation of Teachers, the number two teachers union in California, which is pushing a tax the rich initiative for November rivaling Brown’s revenue initiative. Which is itself backed by the state’s largest teachers union, the California Teachers Association, which has fare more in political resources than the AFT’s state affiliate.
Today the head of the powerful Service Employees International Union in California, David Kieffer, spoke up again on behalf of Brown’s initiative, urging those who back potentially rival measures to cease and desist.
** DEBATING IN DISARRAY: SEARCHING FOR SOME CLARITY IN THE REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL MESS. If Wednesday night was the last Republican presidential debate, it sure was another missed opportunity. And a great example of the deep disarray afflicting the Republican field at this stage of the race.
What do we know, in this period after the last debate and before Tuesday’s must-win primaries for Mitt Romney? … From my February 24th essay.
** OBAMA’S CALIFORNIA GOLD RUSH: ECLIPSING THE EMPIRE STATE. In the latest dramatic sign that California has supplanted New York at the premiere locale for Barack Obama’s fundraising, the Democratic president raised, according to sources, close to $8.5 million here last week on his two-day swing through the state. Even before this, it was clear that California was well ahead of New York in Obama’s fundraising operation. … From my February 21st essay.
** DRIFTING TO WAR WITH IRAN: BEWARE THE HYSTERIA. … From my February 16th essay.
** RICKROLLED: ROMNEY WILL BE “INEVITABLE” AGAIN WHEN … … From my February 9th essay.
** NEWTONIAN MOTION, THE BIG NEVADA BUST, THE ROAD AHEAD (AND THE RISE OF RICK?). … From my February 7th essay.
** ALL THAT GLITTERS IS NOT SILVER: HOW NEVADA AND THE WEST GOT SHORT-CHANGED. … From my February 3rd column.
** WHAT LIGHT FROM THE SUNSHINE STATE? What light has been shed by the Florida Republican presidential primary? It’s not easy to see how Newt Gingrich wins. And it’s not hard to see how Mitt Romney falls. … From my February 2nd column.
** REPUBLICANS LOSE BIG ON REDISTRICTING GAMBLE, BROWN MOVES FORWARD. … From my January 30th 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.
A new trailer for a small film called The Avengers. It’s not the ’60s British spy show.
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM AL JAZEERA. With the US entangled in several major military operations 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 $110 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $76 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 about $4 from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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