President Barack Obama’s commencement address at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs laid out many of the themes that he will articulate again over Memorial Day Weekend.
** NEW COLUMNS COMING UP … THE NEW SPACE ERA TAKES A BIG STEP FORWARD (TAKE 2) and OBAMA AFTER THE IRAN NEGOTIATIONS AND THE NATO SUMMIT.
** OBAMA ON MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
He has received the daily intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
He has no scheduled public events on Friday.
Over the weekend and on Memorial Day he will participate in various events commemorating the sacrifices undertaken by service members, including events at Arlington National Cemetery.
These events will include the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War Commemoration Ceremony at the Vietnam War Memorial, a speech at the Memorial Amphitheater, and a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington.
The Egyptian presidential candidate who has taken a lead in some exit polls after the two-day round of voting on Wednesday and Thursday, Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi, has a doctorate in engineering from the the University of Southern California.
He went on to teach for several years in the ’80s at Cal State Northridge, also in Los Angeles. The USC alum’s two kids were born in California and are US citizens.
Morsi also did some work for NASA on his engineering specialty, surface materials.
Morsi is apparently in a run-off next month against a former Egyptian Air Force general, Ahmed Shafik, running as representative of the old guard Mubarak forces.
The latest round of negotiations over the Iranian nuclear program in Baghdad between Iran and the permanent five UN Security Council members (US,UK, France, Russia, China) and Germany turned out most inconclusively.
The international powers are pushing for Iran to limit its nuclear enrichment program, especially pulling back from the 20% level from which further enrichment to weapons grade is far easier. Iran claims it needs all that enrichment for a medical reactor.
Iran countered with an entirely new proposal, which among other things demands a pullback from the sanctions which are having a significant impact.
Iran and the six major powers will reconvene for a third round of meetings on June 17th. In Moscow. Russia has helped protect Iran from even tougher sanctions. But Iran is an historic opponent of Russia; that would be historic in the sense of the sweep of history and core national interest, not what happened in the last few years. And I don’t think the Russians want Iran to have nuclear weapons.
Meanwhile, after a quick trip to Afghanistan, new French President Francois Hollande will pull out his country’s combat troops by the end of 2012, an accelerated timetable.
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 ten hours ahead of Pacific time, and Afghanistan is eleven and a half hours ahead of Pacific time.
** JERRY-RIGGING: COMMUNICATING AND MANEUVERING FOR THE LONG TERM. In the aftermath of the “surprise” increase in California’s chronic budget deficit from the January proposal to the May revise — a surprise only to the arithmetically challenged, or those who weren’t paying attention to the dozens of things said by Brown and other state officials — Governor Jerry Brown has been doing some communicating and making some moves this week.
He got a good response, especially for a Democrat, Tuesday morning at the annual Host Breakfast sponsored by the California Chamber of Commerce. One top business leader told me afterward that it was one of the best speeches he’s ever heard there.
Brown’s purpose, of course, was to further tamp down potential opposition to this big November revenue initiative. And to remind that California has great strengths and characteristics for the future, as well as chronic challenges in the present.
Brown rambled a bit, as is his wont, but what reads as rambling on the page (and it’s only on the page after he’s said it) I’ve noticed over many years, often plays as fun and rather exciting in the moment as he delivers it.
The new/renewed governor ran through a number of strengths and accomplishments, as well as problems, then got into a close which bears repeating on this Memorial Day weekend.
“Courage, it’s not only William James who talked about courage. It’s not only the military who showed courage in World War II right down to Iraq and Afghanistan, that courage is something Solzhenitsyn who spoke at Harvard said there’s nothing more important than having the courage and it’s the very virtue that I find lacking in western civilization today. So I think we have to prove him wrong. I think we can prove him wrong right here in California, and I come as someone rooted in the state.
“My great-grandfather August Schuckman, when he was 26, he left Germany came across the plains, came down to Placerville got a job driving a stagecoach. Went up to Colusa, bought some property in 1862, still have it, still the owner.
“Every time I walk up and down those mountains 12 miles west of Williams, I think of what he went through. He didn’t have a Medicare card, he didn’t have a doctor. They had to make it through a lot of opposition, they were pioneers. Now the courage and the pioneering spirit that we need is not the same. It’s not like being at war; it’s not like coming to the state of California right after the Gold Rush.
“But it’s equally as difficult, it’s composed of a lot of ideologies, a lot of stops and starts and people who see this as a path forward, and someone else says this. I just want to say I’ve been thinking about this a long time, and I’m going to give you the best that my mind can bring to the table. I’m going to get it done; we’ll make compromises when we need.
“We’re going to build for the future, we’re not going to steal from it, and we’re going to know California once again is the example, is the leader and maybe we’ll set the example for those folks in Washington to clean up their act as we have cleaned up ours.”
Brown continued in this vein as the long holiday weekend began, on Friday morning on the San Francisco side of the Golden Gate Bridge, where he took part in the 75th anniversary commemoration of the iconic span.
The bridge opened on May 27th, 1937, completed during the Great Depression. It’s an ongoing example of the innovation, daring, and ability to unify that has long marked America.
Brown made a point of noting — as he does in the gubernatorial proclamation you see below — that the great feat was accomplished at a time which was much tougher than today.
“When we ‘couldn’t afford it,’ we built a great monument,” he said, “we invested in the future.”
“So don’t tell me about how much it’s going to cost this year, think about how much will it give us over the next 100 years,” he declared.
“We’ve got to get off this, ‘If it isn’t built tomorrow or it isn’t built now, I’m not going to do it.’ We are the result of those who came before us and we’re connected to those who come after us.”
He’s countering, of course, those who do the bidding, wittingly or not, of the old energy economy in opposing investing in high-speed rail, even though the funds to finance a great start to the system are already at hand.
And, in a larger sense, he’s countering those who don’t grasp that you can plan and build for a smarter and more sustainable future — which will save money down the line as well — while exercising discipline on present spending programs. It’s a conundrum for those with simpler minds and no sense of history.
And especially no sense of the history of California.
The Dragon spacecraft from California’s SpaceX Corp. made an historic arrival at the International Space Station on Friday morning, captured by astronauts wielding a giant robotic arm. Silicon Valley entrepreneur Elon Musk, SpaceX founder and CEO, as well as co-founder of PayPal and Tesla Motors and chairman of Solar City, says this is just the beginning. The craft returns to Earth on May 31st.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Northern California.
He spoke Friday morning at the 75th anniversary celebration of the Golden Gate Bridge, at Bridge Plaza on the San Francisco side of the span linking the city with Marin County.
Brown has no scheduled public events over the weekend.
Brown issued this proclamation declaring Sunday, May 27th to be Golden Gate Bridge Day in California.
As you will see, he has penned a rather pointed little document, using the building of the iconic bridge to harken to issues of California’s present and future.
Whereas, since it first opened to traffic 75 years ago, the Golden Gate Bridge has demonstrated the ingenuity and boldness that California represents to the world; and
Whereas, the Golden Gate Bridge, designed by engineer Joseph Strauss, is one of the architectural marvels of the twentieth century and one of the world’s most recognizable structures; and
Whereas, the bridge was built over the objections of critics who pusillanimously claimed the project was neither economically viable nor physically possible; and
Whereas, in spite of these objections, the project helped restore both the economy and the pride of our state as we recovered from the Great Depression; and
Whereas, the Golden Gate Bridge symbolizes our strong ties to the entire Pacific Rim region; and
Whereas, the Golden Gate Bridge stands today only because of the daring and dedicated work of those who actually brought it to completion and those others who have maintained it during the ensuing 75 years since;
NOW THEREFORE I, EDMUND G. BROWN JR., Governor of the State of California, do hereby proclaim May 27, 2012, as “Golden Gate Bridge Day.”
A “Jerry-Rigging” piece is upcoming later on Friday.
** MAD MEN: A GREAT LEAPER FORWARD? JOAN, JAG, DON’S RETURN TO ADVERTISING (AND OTHER, ER, TREKS). … From my May 23rd review.
** A BUCKET OF WOE: JERRY BROWN’S UNSURPRISINGLY UNHAPPY BUDGET. … From my May 16th essay.
** MAD MEN: DANGER! SLIPPERY WHEN SOAPY (ESPECIALLY IN DARK SHADOWS). … From my May 15th review.
** NUCLEAR’S ONCE BRIGHT AND SHINY FUTURE BLINKS OUT. …From my May 12th essay.
** MAD MEN: REJECTING ADVERTISING, OR, DON DRAPER MEETS ACID ROCK, POP BUDDHISM, AND AN INDEPENDENT WIFE. … From my May 8th essay.
** THE CURIOUS CHEN CRISIS SPOTLIGHTS OUR BIG CHINA CONUNDRUM. … From my May 4th essay.
** MAD MEN: TO THE MOON! (AND CRASHING BACK AGAIN). … From my May 1st essay.
** SEALED UP, BUT NOT SEALED OVER: THE OSAMA BIN LADEN RAID AT 1. … From my May 1st 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 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.
** 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 from the Russia Today channel. The NWN live link to RT does not constitute an endorsement of the state-run 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 closed on Friday at $90.67 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Energy markets are closed over the holiday weekend.
This is up about $57 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 $23 per barrel from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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