In his weekend video/radio address, President Barack Obama calls on Congress to act before student loan interest rates double for more than 7.4 million students, which would add an average of $1000 to their debt. Much of Obama’s schedule for the next week seems to turn on the issue.
** NEW COLUMNS COMING UP … HILLARY FOR PRESIDENT? and MAD MEN: “FAR AWAY PLACES.”
** OBAMA THIS WEEKEND AND THE COMING WEEK. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
Obama has received the daily intelligence and economic briefings and met with senior advisors in the Oval Office.
He has no scheduled public events on the weekend.
Obama spends much of the week ahead focusing on swing states and on messaging to attract young voters.
When he’s not working behind the scenes on the various geopolitical crises he’s managing, that is.
Speaking of which, the problem of insuring oil shipments under the new sanctions regimen is emerging as a very serious one for Iran. Marine insurance is part of the crackdown, with the European-based insurers Iran has relied on unable to participate going forward.
That leaves self-insurance or sovereign insurance as the options, which may be highly problematic.
The marine insurance issue, coupled with Iran being banned last month from SWIFT, the global financial messaging and payments network — which means that Iran is held over a barrel on price and the nature of payments by its remaining clients, since they are now limited in currency terms and increasingly having to accept barter they don’t really need — ratchets up the pressure greatly on Tehran.
Will that make them more amenable to reining in their nuclear program?
Or will that make it more likely that they will move on the Strait of Hormuz, as frequently threatened. And a move that may be more deftly achieved with Iran already picking a spat with the UAE over some small islands right in the vicinity.
On Monday, in commemoration of the Holocaust Days of Remembrance, Obama will deliver remarks at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. Obama will also tour the museum with and be introduced by Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel.
Wiesel, not incidentally, takes great issue with Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu’s remarks in the past few days likening the Iranian regime with Hitler’s Germany. He says that Netanyahu is distorting the meaning of the Holocaust and cheapening it to score political points.
Also on Monday, Obama will present the Commander-in-Chief Trophy to the Air Force Academy football team at the White House. He does this every year to celebrate the team which does the best in competition between the three principal U.S. Armed Forces academies — the Naval Academy at Annapolis, the Military Academy at West Point, and the Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs. This past season, the Falcons unseated the winners of the past several seasons, the Navy Midshipmen.
On Tuesday morning, Obama will honor the 2012 National Teacher of the Year and finalists at the White House.
On Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday, Obama will travel to North Carolina, Colorado, and Iowa in a drive to get Congress to prevent interest rates on student loans from doubling in July. Obama will visit the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Also on Tuesday, he will also host an media conference call with college and university student journalists. Obama spends the night in Denver.
On Wednesday, Obama will visit the University of Iowa in Ames, before returning to Washington that evening.
On Thursday, Obama will attend meetings at the White House.
On Friday, Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will meet with current troops, veterans, and military families at Fort Stewart in Hinesville, Georgia.
Syria’s so-called ceasefire continues to teeter. Assad regime soldiers used gunfire and teargas to disperse tens of thousands of protesters, who on Friday spilled out from mosques onto the streets in cities and towns across Syria, calling for the downfall of President Bashar al-Assad.
Obama is monitoring several geopolitical crises involving the Arab Awakening, Iran and Israel, Iraq, AfPak, and North Korea.
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 this weekend.
On Monday, the Little Hoover Commission on state governmental efficiency begins three days of hearings on Brown’s fairly sweeping plans to reorganize state government. The commission has until the end of the month to evaluate the plan.
The legislature will then have 60 days to vote it down, if it so chooses.
I’m not of significant opposition as of yet, aside from concern about Brown’s plan to eliminate the Commission on the Status of Women.
Brown issued the following proclamation declaring April 21st to be John Muir Day in California:
“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” – John Muir
John Muir (1838-1914) was a giant of a man. His vision of the pristine landscape as a source of spiritual renewal has become central to our understanding of the relationship between humanity and nature. In addition to his scientific discoveries, engineering innovations and writings that still inspire us today, Muir’s advocacy was instrumental in the creation of the National Park System, one of the world’s great ecological treasures.
It is a tribute to the beauty of our state that this consummate lover of nature chose California as his home. In return, California has honored him many times over. In 1976 the California Historical Society named John Muir “The Greatest Californian,” and our state quarter, issued in 2004 by the United States Mint, bears his image. Numerous parks, trails, roads, schools and other places around the state are named after him. John Muir Day was established in 1988, the 150th anniversary of his birth, by a unanimous vote of the Legislature. Today, as a way to honor Muir’s teachings and help keep his legacy alive, I suggest a visit to one of California’s public open spaces—national park, state park or any other unspoiled wilderness—which he strived so zealously to preserve.
Incidentally, it was Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger who selected John Muir to appear on the quarter. California’s commemorative quarter displays Muir, Yosemite National Park, and the California condor.
April 22nd, of course, is Earth Day.
** THE PERSISTENCE OF TUNNEL VISION: ANOTHER PROBLEM FOR JERRY BROWN. Jerry Brown has a number of problems to deal with in his new/renewed governorship. One of the biggest of all is a persistent tunnel vision in California’s frequently dysfunctional political culture.
Unfortunately, it’s a problem that afflicts both political parties and most interests, as well as their adherents, acknowledged and otherwise, in the media. …
This is a struggle that has taken place, on and off, for decades, as the rest of the advanced industrial world moved ahead with rail. The same sorts of folks hitting Brown now on high-speed rail hit him during his first governorship for being a “Moonbeam” by pushing renewable energy. …
But it’s not just people pushing perspectives which benefit the entrenched interests of oil, car, and airline companies who suffer from tunnel vision. … From my April 19th essay.
** MAD MEN: ROUNDING SOME HAIRPIN PLOT CURVES. This week’s Mad Men offered up a much more insular episode, though the sense of decay and decline in New York which I wrote about earlier in the season is evident. The American studies social themes, aside from the trademark dissatisfaction with success and a sense of impending change, are absent. … From my April 17th essay.
** FIRST WEEK: A RAGGED START, OBAMA’S BIGGER PROBLEMS. … From my April 14th essay.
** MAD MEN‘s MASTER CLASS IN AMERICAN STUDIES ROLLS ON TO SOME MYSTERY DATES. … From my April 10th essay.
** JERRY BROWN HITS 74. … From my April 7th essay.
** IS ROMNEY “INEVITABLE,” AGAIN? … From my April 5th column.
** MAD MEN: WHOSE SIDE IS TIME ON, ANYWAY? … From my April 3rd essay.
** CALIFORNIA REPUBLICANS IN CRISIS: ANOTHER BIG SHOE DROPS. … From my March 29th essay.
** MAD MEN (FINALLY) RETURNS: WORTH THE WAIT? … From my March 27th essay.
** THE REAL GAME CHANGE: PALINISM’S RISE AND MODERATE REPUBLICANISM’S ECLIPSE. … From my March 23rd essay.
** CALIFORNIA REPUBLICANS HAVE ONLY THEMSELVES TO BLAME. … From my March 22nd 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 little movie called The Avengers opens the weekend after next. (It’s not the one with Emma Peel.)
** 24/7 LIVE TV NEWS FEED FROM AL JAZEERA. With the US entangled in 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. 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.
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** 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 closed on Friday at $103.88 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $70 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 $10 per barrel from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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