The NASA rover Curiosity made its first test drive today on the ancient soil of Mars. The rover moved forward about 15 feet, rotated to a right angle and reversed a short distance. Governor Jerry Brown, who today visited the Jet Propulsion Lab in LA, which runs the Mars exploration mission, declared Wednesday to be Space Day in California.
** QUICK HITS. “Ad astra per aspera,” argued Governor Jerry Brown, citing the Roman poet Virgil, author of the Aeneid, today at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. Brown was on hand for the Mars rover Curiosity’s first test drive on Mars and to speak to the assembled staffers at America’s deep space exploration mission headquarters. He pointed out that it makes little sense to stop thinking long and building for the future just because there are some budget difficulties, which, as he noted, are much worse at the federal level than they are at the state level. … Brown was especially bullish about the prospects for the California Republic as compared to the Roman Republic. Which took 700 years to collapse. … A new poll, conducted online for USC and Policy Analysis for California Education has mostly good news for Brown and his November revenue initiative. It shows Prop 30 leading by 19 points, 55-36. … And rival/zombie initiative Prop 38, funded with mega-millions by heiress Molly Munger, is losing, 40-49, despite already spending millions on ads. … When a web video favoring Prop 30 is played opposite a radio ad opposing it, Prop 30 drops from a 19-point lead to, well, an 18-point lead. Which some reporters opined today shows it to be “very shaky.” Well, there’s something that’s shaky.
** NEW SURVEY: BIGGEST CONCERN FOR WORKFORCE? BENEFITS CUTS. A new Gallup Poll survey indicates that fear of having benefits cut trounces concern about being laid off or having one’s income reduced.
While job security is lessened, there is not a pervasive sense of job insecurity.
Worry about any of the possible bad outcomes is down by a few points in the past year.
Forty percent of American workers are worried that their benefits will be reduced in the near future, more than say they are worried about being laid off, having their wages reduced, or having their hours cut back. …
Americans’ worry about all items other than having their job moved overseas spiked in 2009, after the financial crisis, and has remained elevated since. The relative rank-order of job worries has been fairly consistent over this time, with possible benefit cuts always generating the most worry. …
U.S. workers continue to worry more about being laid off or having their compensation cut than they did before the financial crisis of late 2008 and early 2009. However, still less than a majority is worried about any such loss.
That means most American workers feel secure about their employment situation, even during one of the slower economic times in U.S. history — perhaps helping to maintain consumer spending enough to prevent a second recession.
U.S. workers feel their benefits are most at risk, which may be the first place employers seek to cut back during difficult economic times. And workers may be willing to accept such cuts over more severe measures like pay cuts or layoffs. …
Talking about education and funding for teachers at an appearance early this morning in Las Vegas, President Barack Obama told the crowd not to boo when he mentioned Republicans. Instead, he told them to vote. Obama focused especially on Congressman Paul Ryan for his leadership for public education cuts. The Romney/Ryan plan, Obama noted, will cut US investment in public education by 20%.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … AN INSULAR ROMNEY, STRUCK OUT ON THE GLOBAL STAGE, STRUGGLES WITH HIS SURPRISINGLY HEARTFELT VEEP PICK.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Nevada, New York, and Washington, DC.
Obama participated in a roundtable discussion with teachers early this morning at Canyon Springs High School in Las Vegas.
At 10:50 AM Pacific, Obama departs Las Vegas on Air Force One en route New York City.
At 3:05 PM Pacific, Obama arrives in New York City.
At 4:35 PM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks at a campaign event at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center in New York.
At 6:45 PM Pacific, Obama attends a campaign event at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York.
At 8:35 PM Pacific, Obama departs New York on Air Force One en route Joint Base Andrews.
At 9:30 PM Pacific, Obama lands at Joint Base Andrews, where he boards Marine One.
At 9:45 PM Pacific, Obama lands on the South Lawn of the White House.
Obama has a weather eye peeled on several bubbling crises while he campaigns against the very conservative ticket of Romney and Ryan.
There’s the Gulf crisis, in which Israel’s prime minister and defense minister continue talking up an attack on Iran even as much/most of the rest of the country’s national security establishment shies away, in some cases very vehemently.
And in which Iran is stirring the pot further, debuting what it says is an improved medium range ballistic missile and talking about the destruction of Israel.
There’s the South China Sea crisis, at the other end of the geopolitical pivot, joined now by an East China Sea crisis with Japan and China increasingly going at it over disputed islands.
And there is the evergreen Afghan War crisis.
In the latest development, President Hamid Karzai blames “foreign intelligence agencies” for the spate of “green on blue” attacks, i.e., Afghan soldiers and police attacking US and NATO colleagues.
Campaigning this morning in Roanoke, Virginia, Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan said the economy has not improved and criticized President Barack Obama’s “imaginary recovery.”
Obama is monitoring several geopolitical crises involving the Arab Awakening, Iran and Israel, Syria, Iraq, AfPak, and the South China Sea.
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. The time in Manila, on the South China Sea, is fifteen hours ahead of Pacific time.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Southern California and Northern California.
In the morning, he campaigns in San Francisco for the Proposition 30 revenue initiative.
At 1:15 PM, he delivers remarks at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.
Brown will be briefed in on the Mars rover mission, meet with the mission controllers, and to make remarks about JPL’s lead role in deep space exploration and, I assume, his own longstanding call for the exploration of Mars.
The Mars rover Curiosity, with computer software successfully upgraded and rebooted, is getting ready for its first test drive today. Brown, a longtime advocate of Mars exploration, will be on hand for this at JPL, which is mission control for this and all other deep space exploration missions.
With rampant talk of impending last minute legislative alterations in the California Environmental Quality Act, sometimes used simply to stall projects rather than protect the environment, a few dozen Democratic legislators have signed a letter opposed to any changes. I’d say they’re covered.
The issue is complicated somewhat by Steve Glazer, Brown’s day-to-day campaign manager in 2010, signing on as a consultant to the change CEQA coalition of businesses and some labor interests and appearing at its press conference earlier this week.
I don’t know Glazer, so can’t assess the situation fully.
Should CEQA be repealed? Of course not. Should it be adjusted? Probably, in my view, though it’s not something I’ve focused on.
It is, however, clearly being used by NIMBY interests and by political opponents of projects to stall, delay, obfuscate, what have you. This is, ironically, especially true with regard to projects which will improve the overall environment; namely, those promoting the new energy economy of renewable energy and new transit.
With clear signs of ongoing improvement in the California economy, save for development projects which drive construction employment, some CEQA adjustments do seem timely.
Brown declared today to be Space Day in California. I’ll have a lot more on this in an upcoming piece.
WHEREAS, the challenge and the promise of outer space unites all of humanity in a shared sense of curiosity, hope and wonderment; and
WHEREAS, our quest to explore space has yielded innumerable advances in technology, engineering and every scientific field; and
WHEREAS, California’s universities, research institutions and aerospace businesses have made the Golden State a world leader in space science and exploration; and
WHEREAS, space satellites have brought us all closer together by enabling telecommunications and gathering remote-sensing imagery to map the entire surface of the earth; and
WHEREAS, the recent mission of the Mars Science Laboratory, which has successfully landed the rover Curiosity on Mars, represents a significant step forward in our journey to the stars; and
WHEREAS, the leadership of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of California Institute of Technology has been central to the success of Curiosity’s mission; and
WHEREAS, the new images of the Red Planet sent home by Curiosity and the technological genius inherent in the mission have captivated the world’s imagination and reinvigorated our commitment to reach for the stars;
NOW THEREFORE I, EDMUND G. BROWN JR., Governor of the State of California, do hereby proclaim August 22, 2012, as Space Day.
** RECALLING TOTAL RECALL: INTRIGUE, ULTRA-VIOLENCE, HUMOR AND WHAT ELSE THAT IS MISSING FROM THE SCHWARZENEGGER REMAKES. … From my August 17th essay.
** LONDON’S GRAND OLYMPICS, ON AND OFF THE TRACK. … From my August 13th essay.
** GORE VIDAL: REMEMBERING A BRILLIANT, CONTROVERSIAL LEGEND OF THE SORT WE DON’T FOSTER ANY MORE. … From my August 3rd essay.
** ROMNEY’S DANGEROUS BUFFOONERY. … From my August 1st essay.
** SUNRISE IN CALIFORNIA? … From my July 26th feature.
** CHINA MOVES SWIFTLY ON NEW “CITY” ENCOMPASSING SOUTH CHINA SEA, GULF CRISIS SIMMERS. … From my July 24th feature.
** 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 is trading around $97 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $63 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 $17 per barrel from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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