Tags: Iran | Israel | Showdown

Iran-Israel Showdown Near; Schwarzenegger; Chris Matthews; More

By    |   Sunday, 01 March 2009 04:52 PM

Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories):
1. Schwarzenegger Mulled Leaving GOP
2. Arctic Sea Ice Underestimated Due to Sensor Glitch
3. Why Chris Matthews Nixed a Senate Run
4. Author: Iran-Israel Showdown Near
5. Bloggers’ Group to Push Democrats to the Left
6. Chinese Seeking Housing Bargains — in California
7. We Heard: William Shatner, Syrian WMD, Mags in Trouble


1. Schwarzenegger Mulled Leaving GOP

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and several advisers a few months ago discussed whether he should follow the move of his friend Michael Bloomberg, the New York City mayor who left the Republican Party to become an independent.

But in the end, Schwarzenegger and crew decided that Californians already saw him as independent of the GOP, and there would be no point in a switch, according to Schwarzenegger biographer Joe Mathews, author of “The People’s Machine: Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Rise of Blockbuster Democracy.” 

The governor’s recent battle with GOP lawmakers over efforts to balance the budget, and his criticism of Republicans who opposed President Barack Obama’s stimulus package, are only the most recent examples of Arnold’s alienation from mainstream Republicans:

  • When he served as President George H.W. Bush’s fitness czar, Schwarzenegger was critical of the administration’s education policy, Mathews reported on The Daily Beast

    Web site.

  • In 1998, Schwarzenegger publicly criticized the Republican Party for leading the impeachment of President Bill Clinton.

  • Schwarzenegger was a tepid supporter of George W. Bush in 2004, and agreed only at the last minute to deliver a speech at the GOP convention, according to Mathews. And he made only one appearance with Bush during the campaign. Four years later, Schwarzenegger skipped the GOP convention altogether.

  • As governor, Schwarzenegger has appointed about the same number of Democrats as Republicans to state offices, and his vow in his second inaugural address to govern as a “post-partisan” angered some Republicans who had worked for his re-election.

Republicans, for their part, have routinely opposed Schwarzenegger’s budgets, torpedoed his effort to establish universal health coverage in the state, and fought Schwarzenegger initiatives on prisons, water, the environment, and infrastructure investment.

“The most consequential political divide in America’s largest state,” Mathews notes, “is not between Democrats and Republicans but between the centrist GOP governor and his own party.”

Editor's Note:

2. Arctic Sea Ice Underestimated Due to Sensor Glitch

Climate change alarmists are quick to point to diminishing Arctic sea ice as an indicator of global warming. But a faulty sensor led scientists to underestimate the extent of the ice — by an area larger than California.

The error began in early January and persisted until mid-February, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) at the University of Colorado, which releases estimates of Arctic sea ice.

The problem was caused by the malfunction of a satellite sensor used for daily updates on the extent of Arctic sea ice.

The NSIDC explained on its Web site: “On February 16, 2009, as e-mails came in from puzzled readers, it became clear that there was a significant problem — sea-ice-covered regions were showing up as open ocean . . . 

“Upon further investigation, we found that data quality had begun to degrade over the month preceding the catastrophic failure.

“As a result, our processes underestimated total sea ice extent for the affected period. Based on comparisons with sea ice extent derived from the NASA Earth Observing System Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer sensor, this underestimation grew from a negligible amount in early January to about 500,000 square kilometers (193,000 square miles) by mid-February.”

The area of California is about 163,700 square miles.

The NSIDC uses Department of Defense satellites to obtain its Arctic sea ice data, rather than more accurate National Aeronautics and Space Administration equipment, Bloomberg.com reported.

The Arctic ice cap retreated to its smallest extent on record in 2007, then posted its second-lowest annual minimum at the end of last year’s melt season, and the NSIDC said the recent error does not change its view that the ice is retreating.

Editor's Note:

3. Why Chris Matthews Nixed a Senate Run

In the 1972 film “The Candidate,” Robert Redford plays a Senate candidate who fights his way to an election victory, only to find himself asking his top adviser on the night of his win, “What do we do now?”

That quandary has a parallel in MSNBC’s “Hardball” host Chris Matthews’ decision not to run in 2010 for the Pennsylvania seat held by Republican Arlen Specter.

White House correspondent Chuck Todd told Paul Bedard, who writes the “Washington Whispers” column for U.S. News & World Report, that Matthews “had a really good friend of his say to him, ‘What are you going to do when you get there?’ and he couldn’t answer the question, and he realized that, and that’s why he didn’t run.

“It was a childhood dream to be a senator, but he didn’t know what he was going to do if he got there.”

Newsmax reported in November that Matthews, a Pennsylvania native, was making preliminary inquiries about running against Specter. And a Rasmussen poll in December showed Matthews in a virtual dead heat against the incumbent.

But on Jan. 7, The New York Times reported that Matthews told his staffers he would not run for the Senate.

Editor's Note:

4. Author: Iran-Israel Showdown Near

Four recent developments have pushed Israel closer to a confrontation with Iran over its nuclear weapons program — and that could have dire consequences for an already beleaguered U.S. economy, according to best-selling author Edwin Black.

Black, an investigative journalist whose books include, “The Plan: How to Save America When the Oil Stops,” cited the four developments in an Op-Ed piece for the Jerusalem Post:

  • Iran successfully launched a satellite into outer space on Feb. 2 and plans three more satellites this year, creating “an easily weaponized space net that worries American military planners.”

  • The International Atomic Energy Agency admitted in mid-February that it had underestimated Iran’s nuclear stockpile by about one-third, and now confirms that Iran has enough nuclear material to build at least one bomb.

  • Iran has stepped up its uranium enrichment program with thousands of highly advanced centrifuges, and is now near its goal of 6,000 centrifuges. “American policy-makers are now convinced that Iran, despite all protests and charades, is in a mad dash to create a deliverable nuclear weapon,” Black disclosed.

  • Benjamin Netanyahu has just become the prime minister-designate of Israel, and he is determined to take action against Iran before it can deliver a nuclear weapon to the nation that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said should be “wiped off the map.”

Also, Russia is in the process of delivering an advanced air defense system that can shoot down Israeli aircraft and drones. But the system will not be fully operational for several months, “creating a narrow window for Israel to act,” Black observes.

The author points out that Iran has repeatedly vowed that if attacked by Israel, it will close the Strait of Hormuz to shipping and attack the Saudi Arabian oil facilities at Ras Tanura and Abqaiq.

“Any one of these military options, let alone all three, would immediately shut off 40 percent of all seaborne oil . . . and some     20 percent of America’s daily consumption,” Black writes.

Such an interruption in oil supplies, he warns, would likely push gasoline prices in the U.S. to $20 per gallon.

Editor's Note:

5. Bloggers’ Group to Push Democrats to the Left

Liberal bloggers are joining forces with organized labor and MoveOn.org to form a political action committee that will work to push the Democratic Party further to the left.

Bloggers in the new group, Accountability Now, will solicit donations from their readers and fund efforts to recruit liberal candidates to challenge more moderate Democrats in Congress.

The formation of the group “illuminates a deepening wrinkle for President Obama, whose attempt to build a broad governing coalition — often by tempering some of his more liberal positions — has already angered some of his supporters on the left,” The New York Times reported on Friday.

The goal of the group is to raise at least $1 million to recruit and help potential primary challengers, according to MSNBC.

“We’re going to be about targeting incumbents to make space for Obama to be more progressive,” Glenn Greenwald, who is a member of the group and a blogger for the online magazine Salon, told The Times.

Markos Moulitsas, the founder of DailyKos — which is also supporting Accountability Now – said the goal isn't only to challenge incumbent Democrats in primaries, but also to change their voting records and behavior.

"We want a responsive party and a responsive government,” he said.

The bloggers’ group will have support from the Service Employees International Union, one of America’s largest service sector unions, and Democracy for America, the grass-roots group founded by Howard Dean, in addition to George Soros-funded MoveOn.org.

Organizers say they have already raised $500,000 and will step up their efforts in the coming month.

Editor's Note:

6. Chinese Seeking Housing Bargains — in California

Real estate speculators from China are looking for bargains in, of all places, Southern California — because housing there is actually cheaper than in major Chinese cities.

These bargain hunters from mainland China make up the newest Chinese exports to the U.S. — landlords, according to National Public Radio.

Home values in the cosmopolitan cities of Beijing and Shanghai haven’t slipped as much as they have in California. So cash-rich Chinese are buying tour-group packages that include trips aboard luxury buses destined for developments with unsold new homes or significant numbers of foreclosed houses.

NPR followed one group of Chinese looking at new homes in Corona, Calif., a suburb about 40 miles from downtown Los Angeles. Many want to buy properties to rent to Americans.

A Chinese lawyer named Ying looked at a home with a $400,000 price tag and said, “In Beijing, a house like this, this far away from the city center, wouldn’t be as cheap as this house.”

A prospective speculator looking for a house in the $500,000 price range said that amount “won’t really buy you much in the good neighborhoods of Shanghai, so the prices for these homes seem fair.”

An organizer of the real estate tours told NPR that in Beijing or Shanghai “you probably need to start with half a million U.S. dollars” to buy an apartment in a good area, adding: “If you are going to buy a house, you probably need to have 2 million to 5 million U.S. dollars.”

Many of the Chinese buyers aren’t concerned about the tight U.S. mortgage market — they pay in cash.

Editor's Note:

7. We Heard . . .

THAT William Shatner of “Star Trek” fame wants to boldly go where no actor has gone before — to Canada . . . to run for prime minister, that is.

Shatner’s ambition came to light in response to a letter from a fan who suggested he put himself up for the post of governor general of Canada, according to a report in the New Zealand-based Web site Stuff.co.nz.

Shatner, who played Captain James T. Kirk on the science fiction TV show, responded, “My intention is to be prime minister of Canada, not governor general, which is mainly a ceremonial position.”

He added, “As prime minister I can lead Canada into even greater exploits.”

THAT satellite imagery shows Syria has constructed a plant for the production of chemical weapons.

The Al Safir facility in northwest Syria shows “significant levels of construction,” including a production plant and an adjacent missile base, according to Jane’s Intelligence Review, which monitors military activity around the world.

Jane’s editor Christian Le Miere said the imagery “suggests that Damascus has sought to expand and develop Al Safir and its chemical weapons arsenal. Further expansion of Al Safir is likely to antagonize Israel and highlight mutual mistrust.”

In September 2007, Israel attacked a site in Syria that the U.S. said was a suspected nuclear reactor built with North Korea’s help.

THAT the Magazine Publishers of America has canceled its glitzy annual conference of editors and executives, citing the economy.

The American Magazine Conference was scheduled to be held in October in Boca Raton, Fla.

“The cancellation of this year’s AMC is in response to the difficult economic climate facing all businesses, including the magazine industry,” MPA President Nina Link said in a statement.

“We recognize that this year our members are looking at a variety of ways to achieve savings, which would include curtailing certain discretionary travel and hotel expenses.”

Last year’s AMC in San Francisco drew about 400 industry insiders.

Editor's Notes:

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Headlines (Scroll down for complete stories): 1. Schwarzenegger Mulled Leaving GOP 2. Arctic Sea Ice Underestimated Due to Sensor Glitch 3. Why Chris Matthews Nixed a Senate Run 4. Author: Iran-Israel Showdown Near 5. Bloggers Group to Push Democrats to the Left 6. Chinese...
Sunday, 01 March 2009 04:52 PM
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