In one of his less original phrases as the latest round of Democratic-Republican fiscal Kabuki plays out, President Barack Obama said this morning in Pennsylvania that failure to extend middle class tax cuts would amount to “a lump of coal” for Christmas.
** QUICK HITS. Egypt’s constitution-writing assembly produced a new constitution today. Sketchy first-take impression?It’s actually somewhat better, on balance, though not in all ways, than the existing constitution — which isn’t all that hard, since Egypt was a dictatorship with widespread torture and unlawful detentions — but it may give broader leeway for the already existing foundation of sharia law. Though some think it takes away the possibility of extremist interpretations. Religious freedom is protected, but only for Muslims, Christians, and Jews, i.e., Abrahamic religions. Gender rights are endorsed but seem too unspecific for women to rest too easy. While opponents are threatening demonstrations trying to derail a quick national referendum, the Muslim Brotherhood, which will hold its own demos this weekend, is already campaigning for its passage. … In the wake of the big UN recognizing limited statehood for Palestine, Israel, which has raised Palestinian ire by pursuing aggressive settlement projects in disputed territories, decided late last night to move settlers into one of the most sensitive places in East Jerusalem. Not that the Israelis are upset or anything about the move they are calling meaningless. … The US Supreme Court did not take up same sex marriage today, nor say when or if it might do so. … In California politics, Democratic legislators are prepping legislation for introduction next week to lower thresholds for local election passage of new revenues for schools and libraries to 55%. There’s also a renewed effort to block deportation of illegal immigrants picked up by police on other charges, legislation previously vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown.
** NEW SURVEY: A BAD SIGN IN A STILL FRAGILE ECONOMY. Perhaps reflecting underlying uncertainty about the economy as the federal government faces its “fiscal cliff,” a new Gallup Poll survey indicates that small business owners are pessimistic about their future prospects.
The survey comes amidst mostly good news on surveys about economic expectations.
Gallup doesn’t say it, but one possible reason for the results is that many small business people supported Mitt Romney, and Republican views of the future have darkened tremendously with their defeat earlier this month.
U.S. small-business owners are pessimistic post-election, with the Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index plunging to -11 in November from 17 in July. This is the most pessimistic that owners have been about their operating environment since July 2010, when the index stood at -28.
The decline in small-business owners’ future expectations is disproportionately responsible for the plunge in the overall index. Owners’ expectations for their financial situation, cash flow, capital spending, and hiring over the next 12 months all worsened significantly in November.
One in five small-business owners (21%) expect the number of jobs at their company to decrease over the next 12 months, the highest percentage Gallup has measured to date.
One in three owners (34%) expect their company’s capital spending to decrease over the next 12 months — the highest recorded since July 2010.
Thirty percent of owners expect “poor” cash flow over the next 12 months — the highest Gallup has measured to date.
Twenty-eight percent of owners expect to be in a “poor” financial position 12 months from now — the highest Gallup has measured to date. …
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton denounced the overwhelming UN vote to grant limited statehood recognition to Palestine.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
Obama flew on Air Force One early this morning to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
At 8:45 AM Pacific, Obama tours the Rodon Group manufacturing facility in Hatfield, Pennsylvania.
At 9:10 AM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks at the Rodon Group manufacturing facility in Hatfield,
At 11 AM Pacific, Obama departs Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on Air Force One en route Joint Base Andrews.
At 11:40 AM Pacific, Obama arrives Joint Base Andrews, where he boards Marine One.
At 11:55 AM Pacific, Obama lands on the South Lawn of the White House.
After weeks of both Democrats and Republicans dancing around without specific proposals on the table for avoiding the the fiscal cliff, Dems went first yesterday with a plan heavily weighted toward tax increases over budget cuts. Now they wait for a Republican counter beyond generalized outrage.
So Obama is in modified campaign mode today. Since today was reserved for a potential event of this type, it seems this is all part of a plan.
Palestinians are celebrating their win yesterday in the UN, where they easily gained a notable upgrade in status and recognition as a state, albeit not yet a full-fledged member state. Israel lost more support, with no Western European nation voting against the Palestinians, as the UK and Germany abstained.
The vote of the General Assembly was 138 to 9, with 41 abstentions. Palestine now has the same status as the Vatican, which has its own ambassadors and plays a critical if little noted role in international diplomacy. The No votes: US, Israel, Canada, Czech Republic, Panama, Palau, Marshall Islands, Nauru, and Micronesia. France, Italy, Spain, Austria, Russia, and China were among the Yes votes. Abstainers included Britain and Germany.
In separate appearances, UN Ambassador Susan Rice (in her General Assembly speech in New York) and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (at a Foreign policy magazine event with outgoing Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak) each called the move “unfortunate and counter-productive.”
In a national address late Thursday in Cairo, new Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi again vowed that his power grab will end once the country has a new constitution. The body drafting that document is expected to report it out today. A up-or-down national referendum may well happen by mid-December.
Liberal secularists and Mubarak regime backers object, saying the body was stacked to favor Muslim Brotherhood proposals. The Muslim Brotherhood plans big pro-Morsi demonstrations on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the Internet is shut down by the Assad regime for a second day throughout war-torn Syria. The power seems to be out throughout most of the country as well. Syrian rebels are again approaching Damascus, where the road has been cut.
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 Persian/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 Northern California.
He has no scheduled public events as of this morning.
The vote count continues to dribble toward its conclusion. Brown’s Prop 30 revenue initiative is now more than 10 points up, 55.2% to 44.8%.
President Barack Obama’s victory over Mitt Romney is right around his 23-point margin over John McCain. It’s Obama, 60.2% to 37.4%.
We may get another form of news today.
The US Supreme Court may decide whether to take up same sex marriage, or allow lower court decisions invalidating anti-gay marriage moves to stand. The proponents of 2008′s Proposition 8 have appealed to the Court after losing in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The Attorney General Brown joined then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in refusing to have the state defend the anti-gay marriage initiative in court, thus aiding Prop 8′s fellow opponents and forcing the crew behind Prop 8 to act as its defenders in court.
If the Supreme Court declines to review the case, Prop 8 is out and same sex marriage is likely legal again in California.
Or the court could take up the case a few months from now, or even delay making any decision at all today.
** WAR OF THE WORDS: A NEARLY FOUR DECADE VENDETTA AGAINST JERRY BROWN. … From my November 29th Sacramento News & Review cover feature.
** “JUST WHEN I THOUGHT I WAS OUT…”: OBAMA PUSHES THE GEOPOLITICAL PIVOT AMIDST ANCIENT ENMITIES. … From my November 27th essay.
** JERRY BROWN RIDES A WAVE WITH NATIONAL IMPLICATIONS. … From my November 20th essay.
** SKYFALL IN PERSPECTIVE. … From my November 15th essay.
** SUSAN RICE, MCCAIN, OBAMA AND THE NEXT SECRETARY OF STATE. … From my November 14th column.
** VETERANS DAY IN A STILL DEEPLY FRACTURED AMERICA.…From my November 12th column.
** HOW JERRY BROWN PULLED OFF THE BIG PROP 30 WIN. … From my November 8th essay.
** MOMENTS: THE LIGHT DAWNS ON…FOX NEWS. … From my November 7th essay.
A group of scientists has discovered that polar ice is melting three times faster than it was twenty years ago. More than 20 polar research teams that have been studying ice in Greenland and Antarctica say the melting is already causing sea levels to rise.
** LOOKING FORWARD: BENGHAZI BLUES, CLIMATE WAKE-UP CALLS, AND THE IMPORTANCE OF MAPS. … From my November 5th essay.
** DON’T LOOK NOW, BUT … CAN JERRY BROWN ACTUALLY PULL OFF A PROP 30 WIN? … From my November 2nd column.
** TERM 2: OBAMA ON THE VERGE. … From my November 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 is trading around $89 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $55 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 $25 per barrel from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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