Egypt’s deposed dictator Hosni Mubarak, wearing a white shirt and loafers while flashing a smile, was released from prison Thursday after being cleared of all charges by the new regime and transported to a military hospital in a Cairo suburb.
** NEW COLUMN COMING UP … OBAMA’S STRANGE MIX: ULTRA-PC AND ANTI-PC.
** QUICK HITS. New charges that the Assad regime used chemical weapons against its losing opponents in the Syrian civil war are surfacing again. Look to Russia to call for an investigation. Only a major Western intervention might turn the tide in Syria. Or trigger a much broader war. As you may have heard before, in case your snooze button is handy. … US Army Major Nidal Hassan, the psychiatrist (hah!)-turned-homegrown jihadist — whom the Obama Administration wouldn’t call a homegrown jihadist — who by all accounts massacred his fellow soldiers in 2009 at Fort Hood while screaming “Allahu Akbar!,” will find out Friday if he’s been convicted of murder and attempted murder. He defended himself and essentially mounted no defense. … Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel visited with the Marines in Hawaii as he kicked off his latest big tour of the Asia-Pacific, telling them they are key to the Pacific Pivot. … Meanwhile, the latest negotiations on the Trans Pacific Partnership for trade and commerce are underway in Brunei. … The billionaire Koch brothers, at the center of national hard right politics, will not buy the Los Angeles Times and other Tribune Company newspapers that have been hanging for the past few years.
** NEW SURVEY: OBAMACARE STILL MORE DISFAVORED THAN NOT. With new health insurance exchanges going into effect in less than two months, a new Gallup Poll survey indicates that the new national health care law is still something most voters have not warmed to.
A clear plurality views the program unfavorably.
And far more think it will make their own health situation worse.
Less than two months before the health insurance exchanges open nationwide, more Americans disapprove (49%) than approve (41%) of the Affordable Care Act. An additional 11% have no opinion. As this landmark legislation enters the next phase in its implementation process, it remains divisive. With the exception of a bounce likely caused by President Barack Obama’s re-election in November 2012, Americans have been more disapproving than approving of the healthcare law. …
Additionally, more Americans are pessimistic than optimistic about the future impact of the law. Less than a quarter believe it will make their family’s healthcare situation better, while 38% say it will make it worse. When asked about the law’s impact on the healthcare situation in the U.S., 35% say it will make the situation better, while 44% say it will make it worse. Americans’ views are essentially the same as they were in June. …
Despite a coordinated campaign on the Obama administration’s part to increase awareness about the healthcare law, 15% of Americans say they are very familiar with the law. Fifty-three percent say they are somewhat familiar with the ACA, 18% are not too familiar, and 12% are not familiar at all. …
The Obama administration and its allies have spent much of the summer mounting a multimillion-dollar outreach campaign to educate the public about the Affordable Care Act and the coming changes to the healthcare system. In particular, new insurance markets will go into effect Oct. 1 and broader portions of the bill, including the controversial individual mandate requiring Americans to purchase health coverage, start in early 2014. While these efforts are still unfolding, it appears the administration has its work cut out for it.
Americans currently are more likely to disapprove than approve of the law and are pessimistic about its prospects of improving the healthcare situation, at the individual or national level. …
Ousted decades-long Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak, whose fall was arguably the signature moment of the Arab Spring, was released by Egypt’s new military-dominated government, cleared of all charges against him. The retired general was transferred to a military hospital.
** OBAMA THURSDAY. President Barack Obama is in Washington and New York.
Obama received the intelligence and economic briefings in the Oval Office.
He then flew on Air Force One to Buffalo, New York.
There he delivered remarks about reforms of higher education and higher ed financing at the University of Buffalo.
This was the opening event of a two-day bus tour on these issues through New York and Pennsylvania. One reason for the bus tour is that Obama’s standing with young voters, a bulwark of his campaigns and presidency, has gone down sharply in the wake of the Snowden revelations and various events surrounding them.
At 2:55 PM Pacific, Obama delivers remarks at Henninger High School in Syracuse, New York.
The White House release doesn’t say where Obama is overnighting.
Having recently been to upstate New York, I doubt it’s upstate New York, though it is an historically interesting place.
The US, after some delay, has backed away away from the British detention of the domestic partner of Guardian columnnist Glenn Greenwald of Snowden affair fame Sunday at Heathrow Airport.
Perhaps the administration should have backed away sooner, say when the Brits gave a heads up about the move to the White House before using their terrorism act to detain David Miranda for nine hours, questioning him repeatedly about the Snowden affair and seizing his computer, phone, and all other electronic devices.
The Obama Administration also seems to have backed away, for now at least, from widespread reports that it is attempting to rein in the generals now running Egypt by informally withholding already agreed upon aid, military and civilian.
Army PFC Bradley Manning received his sentence from an Army court martial on Wednesday, having been convicted on multiple offenses for releasing in rather pell-mell fashion all manner of secret documents to Wikileaks while serving as an intelligence analyst in Iraq.
Many, who’ve apparently not looked at the US Constitution recently, wanted him executed for treason. Others wanted him to get life in prison. The military and the administration were pushing for 60 years.
My guess was that Manning would be sentenced to around 50 years in prison, and that he would end up getting most of that off for good behaavior.
In the event, his sentence was less than I expected, some 35 years. With time served counted against that, along with an additional seven months for treatment that many consider to be a form of torture. Having to do with disruption of his sleep, acts to humiliate, etc.
He could be out in 10 years, even less.
When he comes out of prison, he will long since have already come out. Sorry about that. He announced today that he wants to be addressed as Chelsea rather than Bradley, and wishes to serve his time as a transgendered female.
If he changes his last name even less than his first, he can be Chelsea Morning. (Apologies to Joni Mitchell.)
Kidding aside, should Manning be going to prison? Absolutely he should. We can’t have a military in which soldiers, especially very junior soldiers, as Manning at his highest rank of private first class was so low-ranking as to be ignored in many situations, pick and choose which orders to follow.
Which is not to say that there are not stupid orders or wrong orders, just that obedience and discipline are required for things to work.
Those who try to pick and choose amongst orders can get it right, but they can also get it wrong. And if everyone does it, the military devolves into chaos.
As it happens, I think Manning got it right and wrong in his decisions around the materials he released. Some of it is very alarming and worthy of notice. Some of it is more on the side of embarrassing. Manning, who frankly isn’t capable of making a sophisticated assessment of all that stuff, took a rather adolescent approach in throwing it all together and releasing it pell-mell.
But he is no traitor, nor is he a spy. He seems well-intentioned and some, though hardly all, of what he did will lead to some good.
So those are mitigating factors.
While US Army Private Bradley Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for his indiscriminate leadking to the Wikileaks organization, the National Security Agency, under heavy fire for its practices as a result of the Snowden revelations, was forced to release that it has gathered many American e-mails having nothing to do with legitimate investigations of terrorism.
He’s not a hero, he’s not a villain. He’s a somewhat confused fellow who sought to do some good. But because he is a member of the military, there is no way that he can not be convicted and sentenced for some of his actions.
Meanwhile, decades-long Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak — amusingly cleared of all charges under the new secular liberal reform regime, heh — was released from custody today. But he’s off to a military hospital for medical treatment. And protection.
There are also again charges that the Assad regime, which has the decided upper hand in the Syrian civil war, used chemical weapons against opponents and civilians.
Meanwhile, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is off today for a four-nation, week-long trip to the Asia-Pacific. Starting off for overview purposes at Pacific Command headquarters in Hawaii, Hagel continues on to Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, and the Philippines. He will meet with most of the Asian defense ministers on this trip, with the exception of course of China. (The PRC will, however, take part in limited way for the first time next year in RIMPAC, the Rim of the Pacific naval exercise, next year with the US and more than 20 other nations.)
And planning and negotiations for the sweeping Trans Pacific Partnership on trade and investment continue as well.
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.
** FROM THE JERRY FILES – THURSDAY. Governor Jerry Brown is in Northern California.
He has no scheduled public events as of this morning.
Brown is in semi-stealth mode working on his projects, which I believe I allude to from time to time around here and elsewhere.
Meanwhile, the appalling saga of San Diego Mayor Bob Filner may be coming to an end, with reports that he will resign from office shortly as part of a settlement of Gloria Allred’s sexual harassment lawsuit against him on behalf of Filner’s former communications director.
I haven’t gotten into this story because it’s such a natural for the conventional media — which feeds off these sorts of melodramas — and because there is simply too much else of greater overall consequence than the fate of one hack politician.
It should be clear from how I’ve put things that I don’t like Filner. And it’s been clear here from the beginning that if the charges are true, Filner’s not simply a sometimes misbehaving rowdy in need of a spanking but someone who simply has to go.
You’ll note in the AP link that Bronwyn Ingram, who was Filner’s fiancee until the scandal broke, is joining Allred for a press conference in LA on Thursday. When one’s extremely recent ex-fiancee is appearing with Gloria Allred at a press conference calling for your scalp, it’s safe to say that things have gone far beyond being out of control.
** JOBS: HOW DOES THE FIRST STEVE JOBS BIOPIC PLAY COMPARED TO THE REAL THING? … From my August 20th essay.
** PINBALL WIZARD: OBAMA’S MURKY GLOBAL TERROR ALERT, CANCELED RUSSIAN SUMMIT AND EGYPTIAN MESS. … From my August 16th essay.
** NATIONAL CLEAN ENERGY SUMMIT WITH REID AND SCHWARZENEGGER. … From my August 14th column.
** 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.
** 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 $105 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
This is up about $71 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 $9 per barrel from the price at the time of the Osama bin Laden raid.
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