France is rushing more troops to Mali, part of the massive preparation for a ground assault to dislodge the still advancing Islamist militants occupying the West African country’s north.
** QUICK HITS. President Barack Obama will unveil his gun control plans tomorrow morning in a White House event. … Governor Jerry Brown continues his push for higher ed online tomorrow at a meeting of the University of California Board of Regents in San Francisco. He discussed the issue at the last meeting, but said later that he didn’t think his message had gotten through. … Brown revealed that he found Udacity CEO Sebastian Thrun, now partnering with San Jose State as announced today, last year by looking him up online and sending him an e-mail after noticing a mention of the online learning company in the New York Times. … Online education is actually what I call a back-to-the-future “new idea” of Brown’s. He championed online education — then known as distance learning — in the 1980s through his National Commission on Industrial Innovation. …
** NEW SURVEY: IT’S A SMALL WORLD AFTER ALL … OR IS IT? A Gallup Poll survey turns up huge holes in what many imagine to be an emerging worldwide web of interactive communications.
By the end of 2011, the most recent data available in the Gallup database, about a third of adults worldwide had home Internet access. The number is edging upward, increasing 28% in two years time.
But there were many countries around the world in which that relatively low number was actually under 10%.
Note that India is on that list, a nation widely touted as one of the next world economic superpowers. And Pakistan, our deeply troubled ally.
The US, incidentally, ranks only 23rd on the list, with 80% of adults having home Internet access.
That is actually shockingly low, if you think about it.
How will trailing countries catch up? With mobile phones.
Worldwide, 32% of adults in 2011 reported having home Internet access, according to Gallup surveys conducted in 148 countries. This is up from 29% in 2010 and 25% in 2009, marking the continuation of a steady uptick each year that Gallup has conducted surveys worldwide. …
Fewer than one in 10 respondents in 41 nations said they had Internet access in their home, including less than 1% in Burundi, Guinea, Mali, and Madagascar. Yemen, India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Haiti are also among the countries where home Internet access remains highly rare. …
In 48 of the 148 countries surveyed in 2011, half or more adults report home Internet access. In 23 of these nations, 80% of respondents or more reported access.
Access in Sweden and Singapore is highest worldwide, both countries are tied with 93% of residents reporting home Internet access, followed by Denmark and the Netherlands, where more than nine in 10 do.
A nation’s home Internet access coverage — or lack thereof — has implications for that population’s economic strength and wellbeing as well as the global economy. The more people who have Internet access in their homes, the more likely they are to have easy, around-the-clock access to consume news and information, and in some cases, to sell and buy goods online.
Home Internet access also has implications for the education of a nation’s youth, the productivity of its workers, and the civic engagement of its citizens. Home Internet access provides students with access to critical materials for education, workers with ways to stay connected and productive during hours away from their place of business, and all citizens with news and resources they can use to learn and connect with others.
Mobiles phones, however, are helping to fill the void in many countries and will be increasingly likely to do so as access to smartphones and tablet devices powered by mobile phone networks continues to increase worldwide. Still, additional Gallup research in sub-Saharan Africa has found that income is a key indicator of both mobile phone ownership and Internet access. As such, economic development more broadly is the key to expanding home Internet access worldwide.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said today that the U.S. has ruled out putting any American troops on the ground in Mali, but hopes the French will be able to succeed in establishing better security for the West African nation.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington.
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden received the intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
At 9:30 AM Pacific, Obama and Biden meet for lunch in the Private Dining Room.
Former President George H.W. Bush, 88, hospitalized in Houston in late November with a bronchitis-like condition, was released yesterday.
The big news of the day on the Chuck Hagel confirmation battle is that New York Senator Chuck Schumer this morning endorsed his appointment to be secretary of defense.
Schumer, who is not a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee but is arguably the most pro-Israel member of the Senate, had an unannounced meeting yesterday with Obama. He then met for 90 minutes at the White House with Hagel.
Today he pronounced himself satisfied with Hagel’s pro-Israel bona fides.
Schumer, who reportedly aspires to be Senate majority leader one day, was in a tough spot. He was clearly unenthusiastic about Hagel. But he clearly did not want to be in a position where he was more pro-Netanyahu than pro-Obama.
California Senator Barbara Boxer also declared herself a supporter of Hagel. She had expressed some concern about Hagel with regard to Israel, and especially with regard to gay rights and abortion rights. Now she says her concerns have been allayed after communicating with Hagel.
Hagel had already been enthusiastically endorsed by California’s other senator, Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein.
Meanwhile, the fighting in Mali is continuing and apparently intensifying. French air raids have accelerated in a bid to stop the advance of jihadist forces.
France is also rushing ground troops into the landlocked and impoverished African nation, with nearly 3000 French troops slated to be on the ground.
France scrambled on Friday to mount a military response when the tattered government in Bamako reported that it was unable to stave off a suddenly mounted military offensive by fundamentalist Islamists, many of them reportedly closely aligned with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, thus raising the specter of Mali becoming the failed state base for transnational jihadist activities.
West African leaders gathered today in Mali’s capital of Bamako to work out the intervention of their troops, but the help won’t be arriving for a week or so. And it may not be very heavy, with only 3,300 troops envisioned so far.
Obama is monitoring several other geopolitical crises involving the Arab Awakening, Iran and Israel, Syria, Iraq, AfPak, and the South China Sea.
Military Crisis Zone Times: West Africa is eight hours ahead of Pacific time, 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 Sacramento and San Jose.
At 9:30 AM, he delivers remarks at a ceremony in the Martin Luther King Library at San Jose State University marking the college’s partnership with a leading Silicon Valley online education start-up to develop a pilot program to make online courses available to students.
To make a long and complex story short, the California Legislative Analyst Office, a sometime critic of the Brown Administration, on Monday afternoon concurred in Brown’s assessment that he has produced a balanced state budget. “The state has reached a point where its underlying expenditures and revenues are roughly in balance.”
Former California Senate and Assembly Republican Leader Jim Brulte confirmed yesterday that he will go for the chairmanship of the troubled state GOP at its convention the first weekend in March in Sacramento. His will be a “nuts and bolts chairmanship.”
Unfortunately for the Republicans, their problems are far beyond the nuts and bolts. No, I won’t take the cheap opportunity for a pun there.
While Brulte will be new to the party chairmanship, it’s not an unfamiliar role. In the early Bush years, Brulte held a sort of co-regency position over the state’s fractious Republicans by White House designation with financier Gerry Parsky, who was California chair of the Bush/Cheney campaign.
** POWELL POSITIONS THE DEBATE OVER CHUCK HAGEL. … From my January 14th essay.
** JERRY BROWN’S NEW BUDGET FOR POST-CRISIS CALIFORNIA: DISCIPLINE BEGETS OPPORTUNITY. … From my January 11th essay.
** WHY THE HAGEL BATTLE MADE MORE SENSE FOR OBAMA THAN THE RICE BATTLE. …
From my January 9th essay.
** CALIFORNIA’S FUTURIST AGENDA: A TALE OF THREE GOVERNORS. … From my January 4th essay.
** THE CLIFFS WE AREN’T FALLING FROM (AND ONE FROM WHICH WE ARE). … From my December 15th column.
** EXIT SUSAN RICE. … From my December 13th column.
Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose new film The Last Stand opens on Friday, says he is a better actor now than before he went into politics.
** 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 $94per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $60 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 $20 per barrel from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
Your posts are welcome in the Forum. You can send me a private tip by clicking on the “Contact” button in the upper right.