After two years of conflict in Syria stemming from the Assad regime’s repression of the Arab Awakening in which it mostly backed its longtime ally, Russia today said it is intervening in the crisis to bring the old client under control and move to a peaceful future.
** QUICK HITS. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who thought he was retiring to his California Central Coast walnut farm, is in Brussels for the NATO defense minister meeting thanks to the Senate Republican filibuster-that-isn’t-a-real-filibuster of Chuck Hagel. Which will end next week. The main topic of the Brussels confab? The winding down of the Afghan War. … Governor Jerry Brown is heading to Washington at the end of the week for the National Governors Association annual winter meeting. He’ll meet with the president and various other folks, and may have a word or two to offer on various matters of state, here and there.
** JERRY-RIGGING: JUST CALL HIM “SERGEANT BROWN.” Now this is just nuts.
It turns out that there are 572 San Francisco city employees who make more than Governor Jerry Brown.
San Francisco has about 800,000 people; California’s population is 38 million.
Brown’s $174K per annum is what a senior police sergeant makes in the City by the Bay.
Well, Brown does have more in the way of psychic rewards, as he likes to call it, so there is that.
On the other hand, Brown would probably be substantially less fit, on account of all the donuts.
So the real gold rush, from a public employee standpoint, isn’t state government at all. It’s local government.
But at least Brown makes more now than when he was merely attorney general of California, the state’s chief law enforcement officer and lawyer.
More than 1,500 city workers made more than state Attorney General Kamala Harris. And that’s without overtime.
“That’s pretty staggering,” said Tom Dalzell, head of the California Citizens Compensation Commission, which sets pay for state lawmakers.
With a salary of $173,987, Brown makes about as much as a senior police sergeant in San Francisco, once premium pay for the cop’s years of service, special training and the like are included.
At $151,127 a year, Harris is making less than many of the lawyers she used to oversee when she was San Francisco district attorney.
“I think you will find that in just about every major city or county in the state,” Dalzell said.
That may be the case, but San Francisco is a true municipal gold mine when it comes to pay. The days when the headline-grabbing “$100,000 club” was made up of a handful of top managers and overtime earners are long gone.
Last year, city controller’s records show, roughly a quarter of the city’s 36,000 full- and part-time workers made more than $100,000 – without overtime.
And 195 workers and execs made more than $200,000.
The highest-paid was Police Chief Greg Suhr, who made $321,522. Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White came in second, at $314,759, followed by a slew of police and fire deputy chiefs.
Mayor Ed Lee checked in at No. 27, with $260,547.
This year’s cash-out prize went to outgoing police Capt. John Goldberg, who got $245,999 for his unused sick and vacation time, bringing his yearly pay to $350,403.
** NEW SURVEY: TOP GLOBAL GOALS ARE STOPPING TERRORISM AND SPREAD OF NUKES, SECURING ENERGY. A new Gallup Poll survey indicates that most Americans have, not surprisingly, a fairly “me” orientation to geopolitics.
Making sure there aren’t terrorist attacks, averting the threat of getting nuked, and getting enough energy to sustain what they do are the top priorities.
Promoting nation-building, the spread of democracy? Not so much. At all.
Eighty-eight percent of Americans say preventing future acts of international terrorism should be a very important foreign policy goal of the U.S., top among nine issues. Americans also give a high priority to preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and to securing adequate energy supplies for the U.S. Americans are less likely to see promoting economic development in other countries and helping other countries to build democracies as very important U.S. foreign policy goals. …
The rank ordering of the nine issues tested in the poll indicates that Americans believe the U.S. should focus its foreign policy on matters that can or do affect the country directly — terrorism, nuclear weapons, energy, and favorable trade policies. Americans give lower priority to matters that involve the U.S. acting on behalf of other countries, including defending U.S. allies, working with international organizations to bring about world cooperation, promoting and defending human rights, and promoting economic development and democracy. These lower priority issues do not have an obvious benefit to the U.S., but they could certainly work to the country’s benefit in the long run.
Still, a majority of Americans say each of the nine issues is at least a somewhat important foreign policy goal for the U.S., indicating Americans see some value in pursuing each.
Gallup has asked a version of this question five times since 2001. Each time, preventing terrorism or preventing nuclear weapons has rated as the most important foreign policy goal, with securing adequate energy supplies also ranking relatively high. Building democracy in other countries has consistently ranked near the bottom of the list. …
Thus, on the current world stage, for example, it is likely Americans would prioritize the Obama administration’s efforts to prevent North Korea from developing a nuclear weapon over providing assistance to democratic movements in several Middle Eastern nations.
That is not to say Americans are highly isolationist, as two-thirds or more believe a variety of actions designed to help out other countries are at least somewhat important for the U.S. to do. But on a relative basis, Americans show much more consensus on prioritizing foreign policy matters that have a more obvious effect on the U.S.
Shanghai security officers chased down a CNN crew today attempting to film a building at the center of the China global hacking allegations.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … THE VERY LONG RUN.
** 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.
At 11:20 AM Pacific, Obama is interviewed by regional television outlets in the Diplomatic Room.
At 1 PM Pacific, Obama and Biden meet with Secretary of State John Kerry in the Oval Office.
The China cyber-attack story is undoubtedly a major topic of discussion.
As is the next nominee to run NATO, with just-returned Afghan War commander Marine General John Allen having stepped aside in the wake of personal controversy around his e-mail relationship with Cent Comm socialite Jill Kelley. (I believe I referred to her as Cent Comm “socialist” yesterday.)
Meanwhile, it turns out that one of the dumbest charges against Defense Secretary-designate Chuck Hagel, that he secretly took money from a group called “Friends of Hamas” — which, as should be obvious, does not exist, as if any senator would speak before such a group if it did — began as an obvious joke which turned into a charge the next day in the far right mediasphere.
Obama is monitoring several geopolitical crises involving Mali and Algeria, the Arab Awakening, Iran and Israel, Syria, Iraq, AfPak, and the South China Sea.
Military Crisis Zone Times: Mali 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 Northern California.
He has no scheduled public events as of this morning.
The state Legislative Analyst Office pointed out yesterday that the Public Utilities Commission, which is supposed to be accounting for ratepayer funds in special accounts for utility projects — such as clean ups of hazardous materials, reading meters, low-income assistance, energy efficiency — every three years, hasn’t been doing it for a long time, perhaps ever.
The LAO doesn’t know if ratepayers have been undercharged or overcharged, merely that the accounting hasn’t been performed by the PUC.
Meanwhile, a preliminary federal ruling means that California ratepayers may get a refund of some $1.6 billion from market manipulation by merchant power generators such as Enron during the 2000-2001 electric power crisis.
I suspect former Governor Gray Davis is saying, “I told you so.”
The general originally picked to become the next head of NATO has decided instead to retire. The decision came after a scandal linking him to inappropriate e-mails to a woman. Marine General John Allen was nominated for the job after running the war in Afghanistan for 19 months.
** THE ANTI-HAGEL GAMBITS: CLEVER, BUT NOT REALLY THAT CLEVER. … From my February 15th essay.
** WITH LITTLE POLITICAL OR POLICY IMPACT AND DUMBED DOWN LANGUAGE, DOES THE STATE OF THE UNION EVEN MATTER? … From my February 12th column.
** JERRY BROWN FINDS FUN (IN NEW FOIL RICK PERRY) AND MORE THAN A BIT OF ILLUMINATION. … From my February 7th column.
** COME HAGEL OR HIGH WATER: IN THE SHADE OF IRAQ. … From my February 1st essay.
** THE STATE OF JERRY BROWN’S STATUS: AFTER THE STATE OF THE STATE. … From my January 30th essay.
** OBAMA’S CLEAR YET MUTED TRUMPET: HOPE’S AUDACITY MEETS LOWERED EXPECTATIONS. … From my January 23rd 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 $95 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $61 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 $19 per barrel from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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