The Japanese government has said it needs to create a US Marines-style force and a fleet of drone aircraft as it faces territorial threats from China and North Korea. In a draft defense document published on Friday, the pacifist nation’s defense ministry said it was necessary to boost the strength and range of forces that could be used to protect Japan’s outlying territories.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … A FAR-FLUNG STRATEGY UNFOLDS: FROM WASHINGTON TO MUMBAI TO TOKYO TO THE SOUTH CHINA SEA.
** QUICK HITS. Charges against ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi for supposedly being a spy for Hamas are driving mass demonstrations across Egypt, with the military beginning a violent crackdown against the democratically elected leader’s Muslim Brotherhood supporters. … The Moody’s rating service identified the extra money now flowing to California school districts as a result of the passage of the Prop 30 revenue initiative and Governor Jerry Brown’s education finance reform directing extra funding to poor and English-challenged students as a “major credit positive” for the state and its school districts in its regular bulletin. “The liquidity of all school districts will improve as the budget reduces payment deferrals and thereby improves the timeliness of aid payments. However, the credit positive budget measures are not a panacea because some school districts will continue to be challenged by expense pressures and growing pension costs.”
** NEW SURVEY: MOST PALESTINIANS DOUBT U.S. ABILITY TO BROKER PEACE WITH ISRAEL. A new Gallup Poll survey, taken before last week’s announcement of new Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, a process that already seems to be broken down, indicates that few Palestinians believe the US can play the role it has long sought.
But even though Palestinians seriously doubt American ability in this area, most favor a peace process. Too bad that’s not true of some of the major players who are influencing events.
Ahead of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s announcement last week that Israel and the Palestinians have agreed in principle to resume peace talks, most Palestinians remained skeptical about the U.S. commitment to brokering a solution. Nearly three in four Palestinians Gallup interviewed in late May and early June this year rejected the notion that recent efforts by U.S. President Barack Obama and Kerry demonstrate that the U.S. is more serious than ever about mediating a solution to the conflict that is acceptable to both sides. …
While internationally many see the U.S. as the only viable broker of peace negotiations, doubts abound among Palestinians about what the Obama administration can deliver. Two in three Palestinians (66%) say they do not have any trust at all that Obama can help Israel and the Palestinians negotiate a peace treaty that is equally fair to both sides. And, 23% say they do not have much trust.
Israelis surveyed in fall 2012 shared some of this doubt. Twenty percent of Israelis said they had no trust at all in Obama’s ability to navigate both sides toward a treaty that is fair to Israel and the Palestinians, while 38% did not have much trust. Seven percent said they have a great deal of trust, while 32% had a fair amount of trust. …
Palestinians’ strong doubts about U.S. intentions or willingness to deliver a fair peaceful settlement do not shroud their support for the peace process. Thirty-eight percent of Palestinians say they strongly support the process, and 27% moderately support it. A minority strongly (18%) or moderately (12%) oppose it. …
** NEW SURVEY: IN TOUCHY RACIAL TIMES, WHAT ARE THE CORRECT TERMS? A new Gallup Poll survey indicates that, even though we live in times of some increased racial discord, a variety of terms are acceptable when it comes to characterizing ethnic and racial background.
So there is that.
The vast majority of U.S. blacks and Hispanics have no preference when it comes to labels commonly used to describe their racial or ethnic group. Sixty-five percent of blacks say it doesn’t matter to them whether they are called “African-American” or “black,” and 70% of Hispanics say it doesn’t matter to them whether they are referred to as “Latino” or “Hispanic.” …
Blacks who do have a preference divide evenly between African-American and black. Hispanics who have a preference show a stronger proclivity toward the “Hispanic” label. …
Majorities of all key subgroups of blacks say it doesn’t matter whether they are called black or African-American. Although certain subgroups tilt in the direction of preferring “African-American” to “black,” or vice versa, these differences are not large enough to be statistically meaningful. …
Over time, cultural norms change and some labels commonly used to describe a group fall out of favor. In the 1930s through 1971, Gallup typically used the term “Negro” when asking questions about blacks. In fact, a 1969 Gallup poll of blacks found “Negro” to be the most widely preferred term among blacks — at 38%, compared with 19% for “black” and 10% for “Afro-American.”
Since 1971, Gallup has used the term “black” when asking questions about U.S. blacks. Although “African-American” has become more commonly used to describe blacks in recent decades, the current data suggest it is not a label blacks prefer to be called.
The U.S. Hispanic population has grown rapidly and has risen to become the largest minority group in the United States, outnumbering blacks. Gallup did not ask a question about Hispanics as a group until 1980, and has referred to them exclusively as Hispanics in questions since then. …
After being held for weeks by the Egyptian military following the coup which deposed him, ousted President Mohamed Morsi is finally charged with something: “Spying for Hamas.”
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … A FAR-FLUNG STRATEGY UNFOLDS.
** OBAMA FRIDAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington and Maryland.
Obama received the intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
He then met with senior advisors in the Oval Office.
At 6:30 AM Pacific, Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama depart the South Lawn of the White House on Marine One en route Camp David, Maryland.
At 4 PM Pacific, the Obamas return, landing on the South Lawn of the White House.
The Obamas invited members of the Cabinet and their families to spend the day at the presidential retreat at Camp David in the Maryland countryside.
It’s a sort of retreat and bonding exercise.
While Obama tried Wednesday and Thursday to re-light the fire on his popular standing by refocusing on his economic message in events in several states, he also held a mini-summit at the White House with the president of Vietnam, part of his Asia-Pacific Pivot strategy.
Meanwhile, Vice President Joe Biden is on a tour of the vast region.
On Wednesday, Biden delivered a major address on the emerging US-India partnership at the Bombay Stock Exchange in Mumbai, India.
Now he’s in Singapore, where he will meet with Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his legendary father Lee Kuan Yew.
He will also meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was in Manila two days ago for summitry with Philippine President Benigno Aquino III.
That’s part of the good news.
Now some decidedly bad. With deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi suddenly up on seemingly trumped up charges of having been a “spy” for Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and its backers are set for demonstrations and street clashes with the military-backed regime in Cairo and elsewhere.
Thouhgh the Obama Administration’s expansive NSA surveillance program narrowly survived a sudden challenge late Wednesday in the House of Representatives, when a bipartisan amendment to the defense bill that would have ended the telephone metadata program was defeated, 217 to 205, the debate is really just getting underway now.
A majority of Democrats voted against the Obama NSA program, but some are crediting House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi with saving the program for her role in getting key Democrats who opposed Patriot Act reauthorization, as she did, to nonetheless vote for this program which many say expands the original Act.
Meanwhile, several Californians nominated for ambassadorships had their Senate confirmation hearings on Thursday afternoon. They all apparently went well.
John Emerson is Obama’s pick as the new US ambassador to Germany, always a key post which has only grown more important over the last few months of Snowden revelations. My old friend and Hart for President colleague is a very strong pick.
James Costos is the pick to be ambassador to Spain and Denise Campbell Bauer to be ambassador to Belgium.
Obama is monitoring several geopolitical crises involving the Egyptian coup, the Snowden revelations, the Syrian civil war, 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 – FRIDAY. Governor Jerry Brown is in Germany.
He has no scheduled public events as of this morning.
Brown is nearing the end of a two-week trip to Ireland and Germany, exploring his ancestral roots in both nations.
He’s been mostly accompanied on the largely personal trip by First Lady/Special Counsel Anne Gust Brown and his sister and brother-in-law, former California Treasurer Kathleen Brown and former CBS News president Van Gordon Sauter.
His sister and brother-in-law have returned to Chicago in mid-week.
Meanwhile, Tuesday’s Central Valley special election for a Democratic seat in the state Senate given up by a rising Latino star who became head of government affairs for a big oil company ended with Republican grower Andy Vidak defeating Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez, 54% to 46%. Vidak nearly won outright in the initial special election in the spring.
This is a big early win for new state Republican chairman Jim Brulte.
As a result, the Democratic super-majority in the California Senate is down to its bare two-thirds minimum. In order to retain it next year, Dems will either have to hold a difficult Orange County seat, or defeat incumbent Republican Sal Canella. Canella led Brown a merry chase in 2011 as he sought a handful of Republican votes to place a tax extension on the ballot.
As CNN reports, it’s increasingly evident that the military is running Egypt. But the White House has apparently determined that there was no military coup in the ouster of the country’s first democratically elected president.
** DESPITE MULTIPLE CRISES, OBAMA’S ASIA-PACIFIC MOVES ROLL ON. … From my July 22nd essay.
** HOW PROP 187 BECAME THE PIVOT FOR THE IMMIGRATION ISSUE AND FUTURE OF DEMOCRATIC POLITICS. … From my July 18th essay.
** BETTER TO BE RESPECTED OR FEARED? … From my June 16th column.
** WELCOME PROTO-SKYNET. … From my July 12th column.
** ICONS OF AN ERA. … From my July 10th essay.
** OBAMA PIVOTS AMIDST ENCROACHING CHAOS: IS THE PROMISE OF THE CALIFORNIA SUMMIT RECEDING IN THE REAR VIEW MIRROR? … From my July 5th 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.
** 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 $104 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $70 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 $10 per barrel from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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