The Egyptian military’s crackdown on peaceful protesters demanding the release of deposed President Mohamed Morsi turned into a bloodbath later on Wednesday.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … PINBALL WIZARD: OBAMA’S MURKY GLOBAL TERROR ALERT, CANCELED RUSSIA SUMMIT, AND EGYPTIAN MESS.
** QUICK HITS. Expect President Barack Obama to emerge from his Martha’s Vineyard vacation for a statement on Egypt, the second largest recipient of US aid in the world. (Israel is first.) … The military coup that the administration won’t call a coup turned late Wednesday into an ongoing massacre of supporters of Egypt’s only democratically elected president, generals were named as governors of the provinces, and Nobel Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei, who famously helped front the coup against USC-educated President Mohamed Morsi as a champion of liberal reform, resigned as vice president, the post he took when others who backed the coup vetoed him being prime minister. Egypt may be in flames, but he can return to Aspen. … In California, Governor Jerry Brown’s administration looks increasingly open to moving the controversial twin tunnels designed to funnel water out of the Sacramento River Delta to a thirsty state. … Changes in the California Environmental Quality Act, sometimes used to simply delay and block developments, are also emerging again as a live issue.
** NATIONAL CLEAN ENERGY SUMMIT WITH REID AND SCHWARZENEGGER. The annual National Clean Energy Summit on Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nevada, pointed up the promise and pitfalls of such events.
On the one hand, it drew a glittering array of speakers to the cause of promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency, as well as an impressive crowd of energy participants and policy supporters. On the other hand, it didn’t present much in the way of news, suggesting it may be wise to re-think how such events are conceived. There certainly wasn’t a hint of conflict.
The scientific debate over the cause of climate change is over, new U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, though it rages on in Congress. “In the scientific community, there is near consensus on drivers of climate change,” said Moniz.
For her part, new U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said she hoped there weren’t any climate deniers in the house. If there were, they were adopting a low profile for the occasion.
Actually, this may be the wrong approach. Because it’s conflict that creates drama and news. An endless procession of the like-minded can result in a pro forma response.
While the summit came off very well, if it’s to go to another level of engagement and impact, perhaps it’s time for the founder of this feast, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and his colleagues to mix things up a bit to create more news.
This was the sixth time Reid has brought this event to the legendary oasis in the Nevada desert. This time around his partners in the summit at Mandalay Bay on the Las Vegas Strip were the Center for American Progress, Clean Energy Project, MGM Resorts International, and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
In his opening remarks, Reid talked up the many elements of the conference but, with many of President Barack Obama’s programs stymied, zeroed in on action at the state level as providing the real leading edge today in America.
Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who enacted California’s landmark climate change program and greatly expanded its leadership on renewable energy, joined Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, for the Clean Energy Solutions in States portion of the program.
Both Granholm, now a lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley, and O’Malley, who got his start in politics as an advance man in the Gary Hart for President campaign and is contemplating a future presidential run of his own, acknowledged that their states have enacted standards requiring that a certain portion of electric power come from renewable sources but that California’s “renewable portfolio standard,” greatly expanded by Schwarzenegger after its enactment by Governor Gray Davis and continued when Schwarzenegger finished his second term by Governor Jerry Brown, is much bigger.
Schwarzenegger got off some good gibes to win the crowd over.
Speaking of greenhouse gas deniers: “Strap some conservative-thinking people to a tailpipe for an hour and then they will agree it’s a pollutant!”
And naturally, there was this quip: “Use your Hummer, but have an electric engine.”
But Schwarzenegger mostly played it pretty straight, discussing what has been done in California and his pride in being part of a tradition of such action in California. With the gridlock at the federal level, states are essential. He then went on to note that his international travels for the R20 organization he heads of sub-national governments from around the world makes it all too clear that America is unfortunately not the only national government to be doing much less than it can. …
** NEW SURVEY: A BIG DISCONNECT — COLLEGE GRADUATES HAVE THE LOWEST RATE OF WORKPLACE ENGAGEMENT. A new Gallup Poll survey has a sobering set of results.
While there is a clear connection between education and success, and between education and intellectual inquiry, there is a different sort of connection between education and work. It’s called alienation.
A college degree can do a lot of things — such as improving job prospects and increasing lifetime earnings — but it doesn’t guarantee engagement at work. In fact, people with a high school diploma or less are slightly more likely to be engaged in their work than those with a college degree, according to Gallup Daily tracking. …
These findings come at a time when U.S. educational attainment is at an all-time high. One-third of Americans aged 25 to 29 currently hold a bachelor’s degree, according to a 2012 Pew Research Center report. This number is up from 28% in 2006, reflecting Americans’ strong conviction that a college education is necessary to succeed in life. In a 2012 study conducted by Gallup and the Lumina Foundation, more than seven in 10 Americans said it is “very important” to have a certificate or degree beyond high school. …
Brandon Busteed, executive director of Gallup Education, blames colleges for not encouraging students to develop their strengths. “The key driver of college graduates being less engaged is that they are much less likely than everyone else to say they have an opportunity to ‘do what they do best every day,’” Busteed says. “Something about college isn’t working — it appears it doesn’t do a good enough job of bringing students closer to figuring out what they are best at.”
Whatever the case, the data also show that people with a high school diploma likewise have slightly higher employee engagement than those with a college degree. And employees with a postgraduate degree have engagement levels on par with those who have technical or vocational training. …
At least 40 people were reportedly killed early Wednesday as security forces started an operation to clear pro-Morsi protesters who have been camped out on the streets of Cairo since the Egyptian president was deposed by the military last month. On Wednesday morning, live footage from Cairo showed smoke engulfing Nahda Square – which was later completely cleared – and there were reports of tear gas and birdshot being used on supporters of ex-President Mohamed Morsi, who was removed from power on July 3.
** NEW COLUMNS COMING UP … CLEAN ENERGY SUMMIT WITH HARRY REID AND SCHWARZENEGGER and PINBALL WIZARD: OBAMA’S MURKY GLOBAL TERROR ALERT AND CANCELED RUSSIA SUMMIT.
** OBAMA WEDNESDAY. President Barack Obama is in Massachusetts.
The Obama family is on vacation on Martha’s Vineyard through next weekend.
Obama has no scheduled public events.
But he has plenty with which to occupy himself while he tries to recreate himself.
Egypt’s military-dominated government instituted a very bloody crackdown today on peaceful protesters demanding the release of the country’s only democratically-elected president, USC-educated Mohamed Morsi.
International reaction is predictably poor, but the US reaction has been muted.
Obama’s murky global terror alert continues, with little happening, at least in public, and increasing rumblings that there’s not much to it outside of Yemen.
Veteran Washington political reporter Jack Germond died this morning at the age of 85 from chronic pulmonary disease. Germond, who for decades did a very well-done political insiders column with Jules Witcover, was one of the classic old political reporters. Brusquely charming, a hard-drinking raconteur and horse racing aficionado, shrewd, and preternaturally well-informed in ways that journalists today are not. I learned a fair amount from him back in the early presidential campaign days.
He passed away this morning at home in Charles Town, West Virginia, with his wife, Alice Travis Germond, who for decades was secretary of the Democratic National Committee, by his side. (Note: In one of my earliest ventures, I managed her campaign for chair of the California Democratic Party. Which fell more than a little bit short.)
Obama is monitoring several geopolitical crises involving the global terror alert, the Egyptian military coup, the Snowden NSA 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.
Controversial legislation in California signed by Governor Jerry Brown gives transgender students more freedoms in schools.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES – WEDNESDAY. Governor Jerry Brown is in Northern California.
He has no scheduled public events as of this morning.
As a result of the long threatened latest Bay Area Rapid Transit strike, transit strikes in general are in question now.
Legislation may emerge to prohibit such strikes in California as a menace to the public good.
Negotiations will continue now that Brown has moved for a third time, so far, to block the strike, moving successfully on Sunday for a 60-day cooling off period.
Speaking of transit, Silicon Valley entrepreneur Elon Musk (SpaceX, Tesla Motors, SolarCity, PayPal) unveiled his Hyperloop concept to replace the state’s high-speed rail program with a system of pods rocketing past the speed of sound up and down the state.
Musk, who says he will not build a prototype himself as he has his hands full with his burgeoning space program, electric car company, and other ventures is also a model for Tony Stark/Iron Man.
Would his plan work? I’ve only had time to read Musk’s introductory statement and a number of press accounts, so I don’t know. We may never find out.
Meanwhile, Brown is moving to exempt many smaller businesses from what critics call coercive lawsuits given rise by the Proposition 65 requirements on disclosure of toxic chemicals in products.
Meanwhile, the state’s legislative analyst office says that the cost of Brown’s water conveyance program — the two big tunnels — through the Sacramento River Delta could outweigh its benefits.
If, that is, there are major cost overruns. Or if water needs prove to be less than anticipated.
** CALIFORNIA’S PIVOTAL DAY: THINGS COULD HAVE GONE VERY DIFFERENTLY FOR ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, JERRY BROWN, GRAY DAVIS, AND MANY MORE. … From my August 7th column.
** CALIFORNIA STORY: JERRY BROWN’S FORTUNES, OR, STOP ME IF YOU’VE HEARD THIS BEFORE. … From my August 5th column.
** A CASE OF CONVICTION: MANY TROUBLING ASPECTS OF THE MANNING VERDICT AND SNOWDEN SAGA. … From my August 1st column.
** A FAR-FLUNG STRATEGY UNFOLDS: FROM WASHINGTON TO MUMBAI TO TOKYO TO THE SOUTH CHINA SEA. … From my July 28th essay.
** 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.
** 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 $106 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $72 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 $8 per barrel from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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