Archivi tag: News

BUDGET-Obama compromise heeds voter call for concilation

Independent voters will be crucial to winning in 2012

Obama ‘compromise’ may help him with voters in 2012
Critics see budget debate as a failure of leadership
Debt ceiling debate promises more Obama intervention
Fresh off a White House-brokered budget deal, President Barack Obama’s reelection team hopes his intervention can lure back the moderate and independent voters who will be crucial to winning in 2012.
The president’s campaign strategists have latched onto voters’ distaste for partisan bickering, selling his role in the negotiations as evidence of a leadership style that can fix a broken political system and bring the parties together.
“Compromise … cannot be a dirty word,” top Obama adviser David Plouffe told NBC News’ “Meet the Press,” saying he hoped this would be a model for future dealings with the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives.
But critics are not convinced. They say Obama’s accommodation of Republicans was forced upon the White House by Democratic losses in 2010, and those very losses underscore a lack of leadership from within the White House that will matter more to voters in 2012.
Voters dumped many Democratic lawmakers in the 2010 midterm elections and sent a message that government was trying to do too much and Obama was too liberal, according to research by Third Way, a nonpartisan Washington think tank.
“Obama, by trying to be the grand conciliator … shows he is heeding that call,” said Third Way’s Ryan McConaghy. “Elections are decided in the middle. … There is a real battle to be won and that is the battle of reasonableness.”
A Gallup poll before Friday’s budget deal found that 58 percent of Americans favored a compromise that averted a shutdown of the government, even if this meant giving ground on issues in the budget they personally felt strongly about.
Voters will get plenty more give and take in the months ahead, as Obama navigates a divided Congress grappling with next year’s budget and raising the country’s debt ceiling, which Republicans say they won’t do without agreement on even more spending cuts.
The government could hit the current $14.3 trillion limit on its borrowing authority by mid-May and will need Congress to approve another increase or risk defaulting and sparking a debt crisis.
The White House says Obama will continue to seek common ground with Republicans on those issues. And he will lay out a plan to tackle the deficit over the long term in a speech in Washington on Wednesday.
While the White House portrays Obama as a unifier operating above party politics, critics see the president trying to make a virtue of necessity. The real issue, they argue, is about leadership that is not coming from the Oval Office.
Michael Barone, resident fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute in Washington, said the White House was trying to make the best of a bad situation by selling Obama’s intervention in last week’s budget showdown as a president mediating between ideologues.
“Voters may feel comfortable with that … but I don’t see this as the main problem,” said Barone. “The strong leadership thing at this point is the problem for him,” he said, arguing that Obama had sat back while Congress thrashed out the deal.
Obama formally declared himself a candidate for reelection on April 4. While the Republican field lacks a clear
front-runner, Obama will still face a challenge in recreating a coalition of moderate and independent voters and the highly energized grass-root activists who swept him into the White House in 2008.
This block frayed in the 2010 midterm elections, when Democrats lost control of the House and saw their weight
reduced in the Senate.
Republicans have been energized by support from the fiscally conservative Tea Party movement as well as social
conservatives, who pushed to exclude taxpayer support for abortion from this year’s budget.
But Obama, taking a traditional Democratic stance, beat off efforts to control birth control funding to the Planned
Parenthood family planning organization.
Plouffe maintained that line on Sunday. He also took a traditional Democratic line when he criticized a Republican
proposal to tame the long-term U.S. deficit, saying it put an unfair burden on old and poor Americans while supporting tax breaks for the country’s wealthy.

Is Obama ready for Pentagon leadership turnover?

Is Obama ready for Pentagon leadership turnover?

Gates, a holdover from Bush era, to step down this year
Panetta, Hamre and Mabus are possible successors
Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff also set to retire
As Libya adds a third war to President Barack Obama’s growing list of foreign policy challenges, a big question is how soon a long-anticipated shakeup of U.S. defense leadership might unfold.
Admiral Mike Mullen, the military’s top officer, is expected to retire after his term as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff ends in September — a tight timeline for congressional confirmation that could require the White House to nominate a replacement soon.
But the hardest part will be naming a successor to Robert Gates, who has announced his intention to retire as defense secretary this year.
Gates, a former CIA director with enormous clout in Washington, was brought in by Republican President George W. Bush in 2006 to replace Donald Rumsfeld at the height of the Iraq war. Gates was kept on by Obama, a Democrat, in an unprecedented step, becoming one of his most influential advisers.
“You have to worry about the optics of a leadership change during a time of overseas interventions. There’s always a fear of a loss of continuity,” said Darrell West of the Brookings Institute, a Washington-based think tank.
The credibility Gates has with both Republicans and Democrats will be difficult for Obama to replicate, particularly as Congress second-guesses the administration on its Libya strategy. Gates has been a voice of caution about the limits of the U.S. role in Libya, even as he supports the air campaign.
Other issues loom large: Afghanistan will move into the spotlight in July when the United States begins to pull out its troops, and the U.S. military is forging ahead with plans to completely withdraw from Iraq this year.
Turmoil elsewhere in the Middle East plus the nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea also present dangers.
Stephen Biddle of the Council on Foreign Relations think tank said the next defense secretary will face tremendous budget pressure, with calls for deep defense cuts that Gates has opposed.
Speculation about replacements for Gates has centered on: Leon Panetta, the current CIA director; John Hamre, a former U.S. deputy secretary of defense; and Ray Mabus, the current secretary of the Navy.
But many observers in Washington are unconvinced, with some still looking for a surprise pick like Hillary Clinton, despite her statements that she plans to end her career in government after serving as Obama’s secretary of state.
“I don’t get a sense that there’s a clear pick at this point,” said Representative Adam Smith, the top Democrat on the Armed Services Committee in the House of Representatives.
Democratic Representative Dutch Ruppersberger, also on the Armed Services Committee, said it was his opinion that everything is “on hold” for the moment because of, among other things, the conflict in Libya.
When he saw Gates in late March, Ruppersberger told him: “I just hope you stay for a while.”
“He didn’t say one thing or the other,” Ruppersberger said.
U.S. officials refused to speculate on timing.
Whoever Obama chooses as defense secretary will have to work closely with Mullen’s successor as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The turnover of both posts could come very close together.
“For a country that’s now involved in three wars, it’s an enormous amount of change at the top of the military and really will present a daunting challenge to the president,” said Bruce Riedel, a former CIA Middle East expert who has advised the White House in the past.
One way to ensure continuity would be to promote Mullen’s deputy, General James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Cartwright was dubbed Obama’s favorite general in Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward’s book “Obama’s Wars.”
Another possibility would be for Obama to pick General David Petraeus, credited with turning around the Iraq war and picked by Obama last year to do the same in Afghanistan.
But some question whether Obama would pick Petraeus, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, as one of his closest advisers. The general denies any political ambitions but there is persistent speculation he could be a potential Republican presidential candidate some day.

Japan’s nuclear crisis: main developments

Japan Nuclear Alert

Following are main developments after a massive earthquake and tsunami devastated northeast Japan and crippled a nuclear power station, raising the risk of an uncontrolled radiation leak.
An aide to Prime Minister Naoto Kan says the government’s main aim is to stop radiation leaks from the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant that are spooking Japanese, hindering work and frightening tourists.
Plant operator Tokyo Electric Company (TEPCO) has poured concrete into a crack in a concrete pit in reactor no. 2 but this has failed to stop leaks. TEPCO is also using water-absorbent polymers, with plans to top the polymers with more concrete to halt the leaks.
Engineers examine alternatives to pumping in water to cool the reactor, including an improvised air conditioning system, spraying fuel rods with vaporised water or using the plant’s cleaning system.
Radiation levels in the sea nearby stand at 4,000 times the legal limit.
A group of farmers from the Fukushima region came to Tokyo with Geiger counters to show their produce is safe.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan ensured residents in the disaster zone on Saturday that the government would offer support in rebuilding. He entered the 20-km evacuation zone around the wrecked plant and visited “J-village”, a sports facility serving as headquarters for emergency teams tring to cool down reactors.
Kan said on Friday that TEPCO should remain in private hands, even though the company would need financial assistance from the government to deal with the aftermath of the disaster. Earlier, the Manichi newspaper said the government would take control of TEPCO.
Kan also said that he wanted to decide by the end of April on the content of an extra budget for earthquake relief.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said the evacuation of residents near the plant will be a “long-term” operation.
A U.N. watchdog on Thursday suggested widening of the exclusion zone around the station after radiation measured at a village 40 km distant exceeded a criterion for evacuation.
Japanese manufacturing activity slumped to a two-year low in March and posted the sharpest monthly fall on record as the quake and tsunami hit supply chains and output.
A total of 11,938 people are confirmed dead by Japan’s National Police Agency, while 15,478 are missing. A total of 168,586 households are without electricity and 220,000 without running water.
More than 164,200 people are living in shelters on high ground above vast plains of mud-covered debris.
Thousands of Japanese and U.S. Soldiers conducted a search for bodies on Saturday using dozens of ships and helicopters to sweep across land still under water along the northeast coast.
Estimated cost of damage to top $300 billion, making it the world’s costliest natural disaster. The 1995 Kobe quake cost $100 billion while Hurricane Katrina in 2005 caused $81 billion in damage.

Japan should consider extending evacuation zone around plant

Japan should consider extending evacuation zone around plant -safety agency

Japan Nuclear Alert

The Japanese government must consider whether to expand the evacuation zone around the earthquake-wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, the country’s nuclear safety agency said on Thursday.
The U.N. nuclear watchdog has suggested that Japan consider widening the zone. Currently, those within a 20-km (12-mile) radius from the plant have been ordered to leave. The government has encouraged those living in a 20-30 km ring to leave but has not ordered them to do so, advising only that they remain indoors.

Zapatero, sinistra spagnola e sindrome italiana.

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La Spagna, famigerata esportatrice di virus influenzale, contrae la malattia della sinistra italiana.
Sulla stampa e’ il tormentone di primavera: quando e come, Jose’ Luis Zapatero annuncera’ la sua futura uscita di scena, e chi sara’ il suo successore? Il premier socialista, ai minimi storici nei sondaggi, e con lui il Psoe, ufficialmente non ha aperto bocca. Ma tutti nel palazzo della politica madrilena danno per scontato che lascera’ alla fine dell’attuale mandato, per le politiche del marzo 2012.
La data dell’annuncio era stata prevista giorni fa da diversi giornali per questo sabato, quando a Madrid si riuniscono i vertici del Psoe. Un appuntamento pero’ ritenuto improbabile dal segretario organizzativo del partito Marcelino Iglesias. E nel frattempo sui tempi dell’annuncio si e’ scatenata una sorda battaglia dentro il partito e fuori fra chi lo vorrebbe subito e chi invece spera intervenga solo poco prima delle politiche. Fra questi ultimi anche Emilio Botin, patron del Banco Santander e prossimo banchiere di Spagna (c’e’ chi dice anche l’uomo piu’
potente), che ha chiesto a Zapatero di rinviare fino all’ultimo minuto la corsa alla successione. Questo fra l’altro per evitare analogie in un momento critico con i mercati con il Portogallo, dove il premier socialista e’ dimissionario da una settimana, e che si trova sull’orlo del salvataggio Ue-Fmi. Con Botin si schierano anche i socialisti catalani, che sperano di piazzare alla guida del partito al posto dell’attuale premier il ministro della difesa Carme Chacon. Per un annuncio rapido, che faccia chiarezza e indichi un nuovo leader piu’ presentabile da offrire agli elettori, premono i baroni regionali del partito, che temono una batosta alle regionali e amministrative del 22 maggio, ma anche dirigenti degli altri partiti come il ‘governatore’ nazionalista della Catalogna Artur Mas. Allungare i tempi – e’ la scommessa dei catalani – potrebbe infatti indebolire la posizione dell’attuale favorito, il vicepremier e ministro degli interni Alfredo Rubalcaba, e dare piu’ chance alla candidata catalana. E in effetti il fatto di essere visto per il momento come il ‘quasi sicuro’ successore di Zapatero fa si che sulla sua schiena si piantino gia’ colpi di spillo ma anche di stiletto di avversari e concorrenti. Contro di lui gonfia la polemica sul ‘Caso Faisal’, dal nome di un bar nel quale durante le trattative del 2006 – poi fallite – fra il governo Zapatero e l’Eta, avvenne una ‘soffiata’ della polizia al capo di una rete di estorsione del gruppo armato basco,
avvertito del suo imminente arresto. Una operazione immaginata per non disturbare la trattativa. L’inchiesta sulle
responsabilita’ della soffiata si avvicina sempre di piu’ ai piani alti del ministero degli interni. La pubblicazione da parte di El Mundo ieri di note sequestrate all’ex-capo Eta Javier Lopez Pena, alias ‘Thierry’, arrestato in Francia, hanno reso ancora piu’ delicata la posizione di Rubalcaba. I documenti affermano che durante il negoziato il governo si impegno’ a dare ordine alle forze di sicurezza di non procedere ad arresti di uomini del gruppo armato. Il governo mette in dubbio l’attendibilita’ delle carte dell’Eta, Rubalcaba ha detto di essere ”orgoglioso” di quanto fece allora, ma il Partido Popular ora chiede le sue dimissioni per ”collaborazione con i terroristi”.

Umberto Laqualunque al Gala della Lega: Amici Miei, le origini.

”Quelli degli altri partiti vanno a fare politica come carriera e sono sempre uno contro l’altro: noi non siamo cosi’, siamo amici e per questo siamo sempre andati avanti”. Lo ha detto Umberto Bossi, segretario della Lega Nord e ministro delle Riforme, parlando ad una festa del Carroccio dei 25 anni di presenza a Bergamo. 
La notizia battuta nella serata di ieri ha già fatto il giro di tutte le stanze del potere romano, guadagnando ghigni allusivi e sfociando in sonore risate quando, affiancato da tutto lo Stato maggiore, Bossi ha ripercorso le tappe della storia del movimento pronunciando una massima memorabile, degna del miglior Antonio Albanese: ”Non ci siamo arricchiti – ha aggiunto – siamo rimasti quelli di sempre. Noi siamo gente che mantiene la parola”.
La cena di gala alla Fiera di Bergamo e’ stato lo spunto per Bossi per ripercorrere davanti a militanti e simpatizzanti la storia del Carroccio da lui fondato. Un applauso e’ scattato dai circa 2 mila invitati quando il ministro delle Riforme ha ricordato Daniele Vimercati, il giornalista scomparso che fu il primo biografo del senatur, professionista con il quale anche noi di Millecaratteri avuto il piacere e l’onore di lavorare.
”La prima volta a Bergamo – ha ricordato Bossi – ci venni portato da Vimercati, che faceva domande anche ‘stronze’, finte domande per rompere le balle alla gente, come quelle di Annozero. Fosse oggi qui – ha concluso – sarebbe a dirigere una delle reti Rai, perche’ era uno in gamba”. Fra le persone piu’ citate dal leader del Carroccio, sia come amico, sia come compagno di esperienza politica, e’ stato il ministro dell’Interno, Roberto Maroni, con cui Bossi ha condiviso l’addio della battaglia autonomista a Varese, sul finire degli anni ’70.
”Mi ricordo di quando andavamo a fare le scritte sui ponti dell’autostrada ed una sera, per sfuggire alla polizia, rovesciai un secchio di colla sulla macchina di Maroni, e la cosa fece arrabbiare sua mamma”, ha riso di gusto.
Amici Miei, le origini.       

Senza Futuro (e Libertà)

Non sono ancora nati e sono già senza futuro. L’agenzia ANSA batte all’1:33 di oggi un lancio esilarante dal titolo “FLI: FINI NON SCIOGLIE NODO COORDINATORE, SI DECIDE IN MATTINA. SPACCATURA SU IPOTESI GUIDA BOCCHINO, CONTRARI URSO-VIESPOLI”.
Pare di leggere un dispaccio polveroso, recuperato dagli archivi della Prima Repubblica. Secondo indiscrezioni notturne, come si addice ad un congresso di un partito nato dalla scissione di un’altro partito aspramente criticato per la gestione personalistica del potere,

Gianfranco Fini esce dal vertice notturno di Futuro e Libertà con le idee chiare

resta ancora tutta aperta la questione degli organigrammi di Fli, nonostante il lungo vertice convocato da Gianfranco Fini per cercare una soluzione unitaria sulla guida di Futuro e Liberta’. Vertice che arriva dopo i forti dissidi scatenati nei primi due giorni della Assemblea Costituente dall’ipotesi di una segreteria affidata ad Italo Bocchino. Il leader di Fli, dopo una giornata di aspri scontri dietro le quinte del congresso, si e’ visto costretto ad intervenire e a convocare, a cena nell’hotel milanese che lo ospita, i vertici futuristi per chiedere loro di privilegiare su tutto la compattezza e l’unita’, in un momento politico delicato come questo. Ma la soluzione unitaria, nonostante il richiamo del leader, al momento non c’e’. E Fini, che questa mattina chiudera’ l’Assemblea Congressuale, prima dovra’ sbrogliare la matassa. Resta sul tappeto l’ipotesi, fortemente contrastata, che a fare il coordinatore sia chiamato Italo Bocchino. Ma un gruppo di finiani, capeggiati da Carmelo Briguglio e Fabio Granata, potrebbero chiedere che a votare sia l’Assemblea Costituente. ”Il partito si spaccherebbe – avverte pero’ uno dei presenti al vertice serale – e sono gia’ pronti i ricorsi, perche’ l’Assemblea Costituente non e’ dotata di questo potere”. Una delle ipotesi circolate e’ stata anche quella di non nominare un coordinatore e congelare gli attuali assetti: Italo Bocchino e Pasquale Viespoli resterebbero capigruppo rispettivamente alla Camera e al Senato, Roberto Menia responsabile organizzativo e Benedetto Della Vedova portavoce, mentre non si sceglierebbe al momento un coordinatore unico, ruolo in precedenza di Adolfo Urso, ne’ un coordinamento collegiale.
Forti i malumori espressi soprattutto dal coordinatore in pectore Adolfo Urso e dal presidente dei senatori Pasquale Viespoli, che ha riunito i senatori futuristi annunciando a Fini possibili defezioni nel caso fosse scelto Bocchino per la guida del partito. Contrari alla nomina anche diversi coordinatori regionali. Sara’ Fini a decidere, prima di chiudere il primo congresso futurista, contrassegnato dalla forte spaccatura del suo gruppo dirigente.Senza Futuro.

Diamo i numeri

La scuola di Atene: Pitagora e Anassagora

Dear Millecaratteri,numericamente non sei primo e forse neppure perfetto,ma certamente pratico ed equanime.A giudicare dalle cifre si rischia di confondere il reale con l’irrazionale,ma Pitagora ci insegna che è comunque meglio accettare i complessi che cadere,inseguito dai cilonei,in un campo di fave.Sulle coste italiche i numeri hanno in verità sempre avuto uno spessore e ancora oggi la tradizione del filosofo emigrato a Crotone si tramanda di C.d.A. in C.d.A.Millecaratteri possono essere naturali come mille punti,più surreali che razionali,ma non sfuggono all’eresia di Ippaso.Giocano con parole e percentuali,schemi e tabelle:assomigliano più a Mister José Mourinho che a Giulio Tremonti.Nel modello mediatico della società,nel quale viviamo,i numeri hanno un peso determinante come sognava il filosofo dell’Armonia.Per questo mi chiedi di affiggere quotidianamente in bacheca un commento dissacratorio e graffiante,irriverente e malizioso.Magari,qualche volta,dando semplicemente i numeri.

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