Robyne Robinson in MN, Drilling permits in DC, Wars and secret wars

Photo from Fox9 website

Robyne Robinson moved from news anchor to news maker yesterday, with the disclosure that she has been asked by the Matt Entenza campaign to be his lieutenant governor candidate. The campaign stayed mum, while Robinson apparently confirmed the rumors – and MinnPost’s David Brauer critiqued the journalistic ethics and conflict of interest involved in Fox9’s reporting:

I realize this is the very definition of conflict of interest, but so many things were wrong here. As I’ve written, Robinson should be sidelined as long as she’s a political newsmaker in play. If not, Fox9 political reporter Jeff Goldberg should’ve grilled Robinson (and Entenza) for a report — her statements (that she’s been offered the gig) are being dodged by the campaign, which only says it has a list of folks whose identities won’t be revealed yet.

Robinson previously announced that she is leaving Fox9 News, with her last day set for Wednesday.

The bigger question, however, is what difference there is between the three DFL primary contenders – DFL-convention-endorsed former MN House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, former U.S. Senator Mark Dayton, and former MN Representative Matt Entenza. Most of the news focuses on the horse race – who’s ahead in the polls, who’s naming a running mate, how will that running mate pull votes or strengthen the ticket. Relatively little focuses on substantive differences (if any) between the candidates.

Those differences may not be large – all three support opting in to Medicaid for MN’s poorest patients, as does Independence Party gubernatorial candidate Tom Horner. That’s in stark contrast to GOP Tom Emmer’s parrot-like denunciationof “ObamaCare! ObamaCare! ObamaCare!”

More drilling permits and environmental waivers were handed out by the federal government during the month since the Deepwater Horizon disaster, even as oil rolls through the fragile marshes and onto Gulf shores, with plenty of BP promises, but no end in sight. According to the New York Times, “federal regulators have granted at least 19 environmental waivers for gulf drilling projects and at least 17 drilling permits, most of which were for types of work like that on the Deepwater Horizon.” Department of Interior officials are bobbing and weaving around the moratorium supposedly declared by the administration, saying it applies only to new drilling, not to existing projects. The NYT notes that some of the permits and environmental waivers are for projects that go even deeper, and are therefore even riskier, than Deepwater Horizon.

Then there’s the conflict between Environment Secretary Ken Salazar’s tough talk on BP (“If we find they’re not doing what they’re supposed to be doing, we’ll push them out of the way appropriately.” and Coast Guard Admiral Thad W. Allen’s admission that the feds just don’t have what it takes to take over – “[BP has] the eyes and ears that are down there. They are necessarily the modality by which this is going to get solved.”

Or not.

In news from Somalia, BBC reports that a German military security firm is contracting to provide security to a Somali warlord who declared himself president in 2003, but has not been in Somali in five years.  Asgaard German Security Group says it will provide security services when Abdinur Ahmed Darma becomes president, but some German politicos say the contract is private foreign policy that violates U.N. sanctions on arming rebels.

Meanwhile, the U.N.-backed president, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, is attending peace negotiations in Germany.

BBC’s Mark Doyle in Istanbul says it is far from clear if the president, described in the West as a moderate, will prevail.

He has Western support now, because Washington hopes he will keep al-Qaeda at bay in East Africa, but Western support is a poisoned chalice in nationalist Somalia, he says.

More secret war may be in the cards, under Obama administration policy that looks more and more like Bush administration policy. The New York Times reports that a secret directive signed by General David Petraeus in September authorized sending U.S. Special Ops troops to countries throughout the Middle East, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa.

While the Bush administration had approved some clandestine military activities far from designated war zones, the new order is intended to make such efforts more systematic and long term, officials said.

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