links for 2009-09-25

  • State legislative aide Joel Angeles was found not guilty of all charges today in his misdemeanor battery trial in Ventura County Superior Court.

    The jury issued its decision one day after beginning its deliberations.

    Angeles, 45, chief of staff for Assemblywoman Audra Strickland, R-Moorpark, was accused of roughing up three Democratic demonstrators outside a June 2008 Republican fundraiser for Strickland’s husband, state Sen. Tony Strickland, R-Moorpark, at the Hyatt Westlake Plaza hotel in Thousand Oaks.

    “I am so grateful,” Angeles said today after the verdict was announced. Fifteen months elapsed between the incident and the trial. “That was the longest 15 months of my life,” he said.

    The Sacramento resident testified Wednesday that Democratic demonstrators, including one of the alleged victims, battered him, not the other way around.

  • Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) received a handwritten note Thursday from Joint Committee on Taxation Chief of Staff Tom Barthold confirming the penalty for failing to pay the up to $1,900 fee for not buying health insurance.

    Violators could be charged with a misdemeanor and could face up to a year in jail or a $25,000 penalty, Barthold wrote on JCT letterhead. He signed it "Sincerely, Thomas A. Barthold."

    The note was a follow-up to Ensign's questioning at the markup.

    (tags: Obamacare)
  • Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden demanded that European nations withdraw their troops from Afghanistan in a new audio tape aired on Friday, saying they were sacrificing men and money in an unjust U.S.-led war.

    "We are not demanding anything unjust. It is just for you to end injustice and withdraw your soldiers (from Afghanistan)," he said in the tape, released on the Internet with a background picture of bin Laden and with German and English subtitles.

    "One of the greatest injustices is to kill people unjustly, and this is exactly what your governments and soldiers are committing under the cover of the NATO alliance in Afghanistan," bin Laden said in the recording, entitled "A message to the people of Europe."

    "An intelligent person does not waste his children and wealth for the sake of a gang in Washington," he said in the four-minute recording produced by al Qaeda's media arm As-Sahab.

  • Americans are more likely to say they would oppose (50%) rather than favor (41%) a possible decision by President Barack Obama to send more U.S. troops to Afghanistan.
  • As the UN nuclear watchdog agency confirmed relevations coming out of the G-20 today that Iran has admitted that it has a second, covert pilot fuel enrichment plant under construction in the country, Iran experts said the news is a potential game changer going into international talks with Iran next week.

    "The mantra of the Obama team for months has been that the fissile material for [an Iranian] bomb was more likely to come from a covert faciilty" than an overt enrichment facility such as that at Natanz, the Washington Instiute for Near East Policy's Patrick Clawson told POLITICO.

    (tags: Iran)
  • Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has warned President Barack Obama against pressing Tehran about new revelations that Iran has been constructing a secret uranium-enrichment plant. "If I were Obama's adviser, I would definitely advise him to refrain making this statement because it is definitely a mistake," Ahmadinejad told TIME in New York on Friday. "It would definitively be a mistake." His comment came as President Obama, speaking at the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh, made a dramatic announcement that Iran has been constructing a second uranium-enrichment facility whose existence had been kept secret in violation of the non-proliferation agreements to which Tehran is a signatory.
  • President Obama and the leaders of Britain and France accused Iran on Friday of building a secret underground plant to manufacture nuclear fuel, saying the country has hidden the covert operation from international weapons inspectors for years.
    Appearing before reporters in Pittsburgh, Mr. Obama said that the Iranian nuclear program “represents a direct challenge to the basic foundation of the nonproliferation regime.” President Nicolas Sarkozy of France said that Iran had a deadline of two months to comply with international demands or face increased sanctions.

    “The level of deception by the Iranian government, and the scale of what we believe is the breach of international commitments, will shock and anger the entire international community,” Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain said. “The international community has no choice today but to draw a line in the sand.”

    (tags: Iran)
  • “Voting is a precious right that all voters should exercise,” the former eBay CEO said in a written statement. “I have repeatedly said that my voting record is inexcusable. I failed to register and vote on numerous occasions throughout my life. That is simply wrong and I have taken responsibility for my mistake.”

    The campaign of Whitman’s top Republican rival, Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, was quick to pounce with an personal email shipped to my desk yesterday afternoon.

    “In the history of America, no one has been elected governor or a state with Meg Whitman’s 25-year history of no-show voting,” said Poizner communications director Jarrod Agen. “She is unelectable and has tried to cover her lack of honesty with millions of dollars.”

    I think this is the real news; Whitman has – for the first time in this race – offered a reply to an opponent in the race.

  • Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina is thinking about running for the GOP nomination against California Senator Barbara Boxer next year. Earlier this week, she put up a campaign website that got what could charitably be described as unenthusiastic reviews. "A little weird," wrote Holly Bailey of Newsweek. CNN added that even her fellow Republicans are "snickering about her bare-bones site." And Christopher Orr at the New Republic ventured that the site was possibly "the sorriest in recent political history."

    I'll agree that the website left a lot to be desired. But after a conversation I had with Fiorina last week, I'm willing to cut her some slack for not having managed the smoothest campaign launch. Fiorina has had a lot on her plate lately. Last week, she was on a panel of cancer survivors that I moderated at Fortune's Most Powerful Women Summit in North San Diego.

  • Two wealthy California businesswomen took steps toward running for office this week. Neither is a newcomer to politics, exactly, but Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina have never run for public office before.

    Ms. Whitman, the billionaire former chief executive of eBay, formally announced her campaign Tuesday to replace outgoing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The same day, Ms. Fiorina, a former Hewlett Packard CEO, launched her Senate campaign Web site as she aims to knock off Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, though Ms. Fiorina still hasn't officially announced her candidacy.

    Both former CEOs are facing competitive primaries that both are currently favored to win. Ms. Whitman will have to beat out state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner and former Rep. Tom Campbell; Ms. Fiorina will likely face Assemblyman Chuck DeVore. Awaiting Ms. Whitman in the general election will be either Attorney General (and former Gov.) Jerry Brown or San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

  • New details about Meg Whitman's failure to vote in elections for most of her adult life have given ammo to critics who say her past performance — or lack thereof — should disqualify her from seeking the Republican gubernatorial nomination.

    A Bee investigation published today found that Whitman, who formally announced her bid for the Republican gubernatorial nomination this week, regularly missed voting in elections for most of her adult life. Bee reporter Andrew McIntosh also found no record of the 53-year-old former eBay executive registering to vote before 2002.

    The story set off the latest round of attacks fired between the Whitman campaign and one of her chief rivals, Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner.

    Poizner's camp issued a statement in response to the story this morning, attacking the Whitman campaign for "refusing to answer simple questions and deliberately lying to cover up the facts" and calling for the candidate to "step aside" and drop out of the race.

  • Almost 9 million Californians cast ballots in the 2003 special election that swept movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger into the Governor's Office.

    Meg Whitman wasn't among them.

    The billionaire businesswoman now running for governor herself in 2010 didn't vote in that special election, even after Business Week listed her among a group of top executives with "worse than spotty voting records" in a 2000 magazine story, public records show.

    (tags: Meg_Whitman)
  • There’s a lot of interest in the California midterm elections because of two well-known business ladies, Meg Whitman (former-CEO of eBay) and Carly Fiorina (former-CEO of Hewlett-Packard). Of course, California’s economy and fiscal position are in a death march. All kinds of capitalists and entrepreneurs are running away from the state’s high taxes and over-regulations. (Among other palaces, they’re headed to Texas.) But Whitman and Fiorina — because they are women and former big-business honchos — lend some glamour and renewed interest to California Republicans.
  • The government of Iran has told the International Atomic Energy Agency that it is building a previously undisclosed uranium enrichment plant for making fuel, the nuclear watchdog agency said Friday.
    President Obama will call attention to the existence of the underground facility in an early-morning statement to reporters here before the opening of the G-20 economic summit, and will say that Western intelligence agencies have been tracking the facility for years. U.S. officials said Obama decided to disclose the program's existence after learning that Iran had become aware that it was no longer a secret.
    (tags: Iran)