Boston Marathon terror bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev was buried today at an undisclosed location outside Worcester, Massachusetts.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … CALIFORNIA GETS A NEW DEMOCRAT: DEFECTION OF RECENT RISING STAR AMONG LATEST SIGNS OF GOP DECLINE.
** QUICK HITS. Republicans in the US Senate today blocked a committee vote on EPA Administrator nominee Gina McCarthy. This follows yesterday’s blockage of Labor Secretary nominee Thomas Perez. Republicans, who succeeded due to some Democratic absences, say in both cases they want more answers to a ton of questions. Democrats say they’re being obstructionist. … In a meeting today in LA with South Korean President Park Geun-hye, Governor Jerry Brown proclaimed Korea-California Friendship Day, noting that Korea is California’s fifth largest export market and California a top destination for Korean tourists, as well as the strong ties between the two on technology, research, food, and entertainment. … Brown also signed legislation further implementing the new national health care law, including giving state regulators powers to enforce anti-discrimination provisions against insurers and health plans. … Brown will address new political science graduates at our alma mater UC Berkeley on May 20th. … Who is the overall university commencement speaker? That would be Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, inventor of the first commercially successful personal computer, the Apple II. Woz dropped out of UC Berkeley to pursue the little start-up venture, then returned to finish his degree, under the name “Rocky Clark” at age 35. (“Rocky” being the first name of Woz’s dog, Rocky Raccoon.)
** NEW SURVEY: U.S. STOCK OWNERSHIP AT RECORD LOW. A new Gallup Poll survey shows a sharp divide between those who own some stock, and those who do not.
In fact, the level of stock ownership, even just a little stock ownership, is at the lowest point its been in Gallup’s regular 15-year measurement of it.
That level is down nearly 10 points from what it was before the great global recession.
The biggest drops in stock ownership are among the middle-aged, and middle-income. In other words, middle America, broadly defined.
Despite strong gains in the stock market over the past year, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average’s reaching record highs in the past month, stock ownership among U.S. adults is at its lowest level in Gallup trends since 1998, essentially unchanged from a year ago. Just over half of Americans, 52%, now say they personally, or jointly with a spouse, own stock outright or as part of a mutual fund or self-directed retirement account. …
Americans’ ownership of stock may, in fact, be more a function of their ability to buy it, than of whether its value is soaring. Between 1998 and 2008, a period of relatively modest unemployment, Gallup, with one exception, found at least 60% of Americans reporting that they owned stock. That changed in April 2009, at the same time the nation’s economy was descending into recession and experiencing a near-doubling of the unemployment rate compared with April 2008. By April 2012, with unemployment still elevated at 8.1%, stock ownership had fallen to 53%. It remains at about that level today, perhaps indicating that the nation’s current 7.5% unemployment rate, while improved, is still too high to support broader stock ownership. …
Majorities of Americans 30 and older, as well as those in households earning $30,000 or more per year, own stock, compared with no more than a third of their younger and lower-income counterparts. Similarly, employed Americans are much more likely than all non-employed Americans (including retirees, homemakers, and students, in addition to the unemployed) to own stock.
These patterns mirror what Gallup found in April 2008, when overall stock ownership was 10 percentage points higher than it is today, at 62%. However, the subsequent decline has been sharpest among 30- to 49-year-olds, as well as among middle-income Americans, the groups for whom stock ownership five years ago may have been the biggest financial stretch. …
As the dust continues to settle from the Boston Marathon bombings, Boston’s police chief told Congress this morning that his department never received word from the FBI that the Russian FSB had repeatedly warned about the Tsarnaevs.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … CALIFORNIA GETS A NEW DEMOCRAT: DEFECTION OF A RECENT RISING STAR REFLECTS THE STATE OF THE GOP.
** OBAMA TODAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington and Texas.
Obama received the intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
He then flew on Air Force One to Austin, Texas.
At 10:15 AM Pacific, Obama arrives Austin, Texas.
Obama is in Texas today to promote technology-based education, training, and jobs.
He is promoting his State of the Union proposals in the area, as well as approved manufacturing innovation centers.
Texas, with a large and growing Latino population, is also an emerging Democratic target state, so expect some asides on his immigration reform agenda.
At 10:45 AM Pacific, Obama tours classrooms at Manor New Technology High School in Austin.
At 11:05 AM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks at Manor New Technology High School.
At 2 PM Pacific, Obama tours Applied Materials Inc. in Austin.
At 2:40 PM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks at Applied Materials Inc.
At 3:35 PM Pacific, Obama departs Austin, Texas on Air Force One en route Joint Base Andrews.
At 6:25 PM Pacific, Obama arrives Joint Base Andrews, where he boards Marine One.
At 6:45 PM Pacific, Obama lands on the South Lawn of the White House.
Obama got good economic news with another decline in unemployment filings. It’s now at a four-year low.
But the news is not all good.
While Russia has agreed to co-host a conference on settling the crisis in Syria, it is also considering selling advanced anti-aircraft systems to the Assad regime, which is urgently requesting help after last week’s and weekend’s Israeli air strikes.
Obama is monitoring several geopolitical crises involving the Syrian chemical weapons situation, the North Korean nuclear program, the Arab Awakening, Iran and Israel, 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. The time on the Korean Peninsula is sixteen hours ahead of Pacific time.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES. Governor Jerry Brown is in Los Angeles.
He meets at noon with South Korean President Park Geun-hye at a luncheon at Getty House.
Brown is working on the annual “May Revise” of the state budget, expected on May 14th.
With strong revenues, the state’s newly balanced budget is easily holding.
This is prompting some Democrats to try to restore previously cut programs, an effort Brown is likely to resist.
California GOP gubernatorial hopeful Abel Maldonado ventured to Sacramento yesterday to unveil an initiative drive to roll back Brown’s realignment of some inmates from state to local custody.
The Protect California Families committee, which amusingly has a knife in its logo, will be funded by “angel investors,” the former lieutenant governor told reporters in parking structure press avail. That would be a way to use a few mega-rich donors in order to get around Maldo’s anemic fundraising as a gubernatorial candidate.
Maldonado is calling realignment an early release program. The administration flatly denies this.
In addition, the presentation contained serious factual errors.
More to follow.
** MAD MEN GETS A BOUNCE AFTER SHAKING THINGS UP. … From my May 8th essay.
** WHAT’S THE MEANING OF IRON MAN 3? (WARNING: BIG SPOILERS). … From my May 7th essay.
** CRISES ALSO FADE. … From my May 3rd column.
** SCHWARZENEGGER’S USC POLICY CENTER TAKES UP IMMIGRATION REFORM: WHERE IS THIS ISSUE HEADING? … From my May 1st 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.
The attack on a US mission in Libya which killed the ambassador and three colleagues last year continues to draw political heat for the Obama Administration. Three State Department officials testified on Wednesday before Congress that more could have been done before and during the incident in Benghazi.
** 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.
** 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 $96 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $62 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 $18 per barrel from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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