Thursday, April 06, 2006

China Browsing For Boeings

China Browsing For Boeings

Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi is leading a delegation of Chinese companies to the United States on April 6 that intend to sign contracts totaling $15 billion with U.S. companies. Among the U.S companies China is looking to do business with are Boeing Co., General Electric Co., Microsoft Corp., General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler AG. This move comes after U.S. President George W. Bush's demand that China increase its investment in U.S. goods and services to attempt to even out the U.S.-China trade deficit.
More from China Daily.

China will be seeking additional business with General Electric. I wonder what they'll be looking for? What is it about the thought of increased business with American weapons systems experts - for the political sake of shrinking the trade deficit - combined with these two words that cause me to shiver?
China. Nuclear.
The Energy Department predicts China's nuclear energy will double between 2010 and 2015, outpacing single-digit growth in mature economies. General Electric, (GE) Siemens (SI) and Mitsubishi are chasing deals with Chinese power companies in Shanghai and the southwestern industrial city of Dongfang. Says Chi Ping Chen of Cap Gemini in Beijing: "With more than 25 sites planned for the 15 years . . . China is the center of the global nuclear power industry."
Oy. The blind trust is brethtaking, in light of all we hear from the Bush administration about mushroom clouds and evildoers.

Look at what Australia is doing:
Australia on Monday signed an agreement with China, allowing the Asian giant to buy uranium to feed its fast-developing nuclear energy sector. Because uranium also can be used to fuel nuclear weapons, the deal is a sensitive one, and the Australian government sought to play down concerns that the sale would have any impact on China's nuclear arsenal. Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said supplying China with uranium would not make "the slightest difference" to Beijing's nuclear weapons program. [Yeah. Right.

Forbes reports that two-way trade between Saudi Arabia and China passed the $14 billion mark in the first 11 months of last year--a nearly 60% increase over the same period a year earlier and nearly nine times the figure six years ago. Neither country breaks down trade figures by category, but the rising price of oil and petrochemicals, and a jump in Chinese demand, accounts for much of the increase, according to Samuel Blatteis, a Fulbright Fellow researching Gulf-China energy relations. The two countries didn't have much of a relationship until 1985, when Saudi Arabia turned to China for ballistic missiles after Washington wouldn't provide them.
[content taken from the Forbes article].

In other news from China, police yesterday confirmed that 121 skulls found in the the western part of Northwest China's Gansu Province were human and had been hacked from their bodies after death. [warning: graphic photo]

Immigration and the Catholic Conscience

Immigration and the Catholic Conscience

"No human being is ever to be reduced to being totally or even primarily identified by the color of their skin, their country of origin, their legal status or any other external characteristic. Every human being is first and foremost a person. "

Vincentian Father Richard Benson is academic dean and professor of moral theology at St. John's Seminary, Camarillo. He offers a Catholic perspective on Immigration.

Immigration: Senate Compromise Likely To Sink Bill in Hardline House

Immigration: Senate Compromise Likely To Sink Bill in Hardline House

Steve Soto has my favorite commentary on today's Senate Immigration Reform compromise. It's title: 'Immigration Deal Reached - GOP Will Be The Loser.'

Bloomberg News' Nicholas Johnson reports that Rep. Tom Tancredo is having a hissy fit about the compromise.
Colorado Republican Representative Tom Tancredo, chairman of the 96-member House Immigration Reform Caucus, called the compromise "miserable public policy."

"I do not believe that a plan of this nature can pass the House," he said.

Senate Democrats said they would support the Senate compromise as long as it isn't undermined by amendments that are too harsh and they have commitments that it won't be significantly changed in negotiations with the House."
Nicholas Johnson also shows how these Republicans just cannot be trusted - not even by their own statesmen-colleagues.
"We're trying to figure out some mechanism by which we can have an assurance that the bill that we've agreed to is actually the bill that gets voted on and is the bill that the president signs,'' Democrat Barack Obama of Illinois said.

Al Franken Eviscerates Ann Coulter

Al Franken Eviscerates Ann Coulter

This is a must-see for anyone who's ever been disgusted by the stylings of Ann Coulter.

Al Franken took her to task at a a dinner for about 75 sponsors of a lecture series sponsored by the University of Judaism, at which he and Ann were set to debate.

At the Huffington Post, Franken humorously writes about Ann's affect on that particular audience:
Before the debate, there was a dinner for about 75 sponsors – mainly middle-aged-to- older Jewish couples. Between dinner and dessert Ann and I were to each make three minutes of remarks. I had planned to open with my usual at such Jewish events: "I'm going to start by answering the question I've been asked most tonight – Yes, I've had enough to eat."

But Ann went first, and set her tone for the entire evening. "It was fascinating being here for the demonstrations this weekend," she said with a snotty Darien sneer. "I guess that's why I didn't get clean towels in my hotel room this morning."

There was an audible gasp from the Jews. Ann continued: "I haven't seen so many agitated Mexicans since the World Cup Soccer Games were in L.A." As offended as the diners were, the waiters were pissed. Ann was actually dumb enough to drink her coffee afterwards.

I answered by saying that I hadn't seen so many agitated Mexicans since 1846 when James K. Polk invaded Mexico because he thought Santa Ana had weapons of mass destruction. I wasn't sure of the year, but I thought the different approaches to our "agitated Mexican" jokes might give everyone an idea of what to expect.
There's a copy of his speech at his Midwest Values PAC blog.

President Bush Authorized NIE leak

President Bush Authorized NIE leak

According to a headline at Raw Story, L. Lewis Libby has testified to a grand jury that President Bush indirectly gave him permission to release sensitive information from a closely-guarded "National Intelligence Estimate" on Iraq to a New York Times reporter in 2003. (The direct authorization came from VP Cheney's office). This new information comes from an article appearing in today's New York Sun and is based upon a new court filing from the special prosecutor in the case. This is the first revelation of a direct Bush link.

From the Sun article:
In a court filing late Wednesday responding to requests from Mr. Libby's attorneys for government records that might aid his defense, Mr. Fitzgerald shed new light on Mr. Libby's claims that he was authorized to provide sensitive information to the Times reporter, Judith Miller, at a meeting on July 8, 2003.

"Defendant testified that he was specifically authorized in advance of the meeting to disclose the key judgments of the classified NIE to Miller on that occasion because it was thought that the NIE was 'pretty definitive' against what Ambassador Wilson had said and that the vice president thought that it was 'very important' for the key judgments of the NIE to come out," Mr. Fitzgerald wrote.

Mr. Libby is said to have testified that "at first" he rebuffed Mr. Cheney's suggestion to release the information because the estimate was classified. However, according to the vice presidential aide, Mr. Cheney subsequently said he got permission for the release directly from Mr. Bush. "Defendant testified that the vice president later advised him that the president had authorized defendant to disclose the relevant portions of the NIE," the prosecution filing said.
According to the court filing, a legal counsel to the vice president named David Addington had indicated to Mr. Libby that President Bush's permission to disclose the estimate "amounted to a declassification of the document."

According to the Sun, Bush may not have know that Judith Miller would be at the receiving end of the leak, but VP Dick Cheney did.
The court papers filed by Mr. Fitzgerald do not make clear whether Mr. Bush knew the disclosure was destined for Ms. Miller, though they indicate Mr. Cheney knew that fact. Mr. Libby is also said to have testified that five days later Mr. Cheney authorized the release to the press of information about a cable about Mr. Wilson's trip.
An important question to ask is why the President felt it was important enough to declassify this extremely sensitive information and leak it. And why did Bush (if he knew) or Dick Cheney (who knew) have leaked it to Judith Miller of the New York Times? Doing something just because you can does not relieve anyone - especially the President - of the responsibility to do what is right.

Murray Waas has the story at the National Journal.

At Think Progress, Judd is highly disappointed by the White House press corps' lack of curiosity (or nerve?) :
When the White House press corps had an opportunity this morning to ask Press Secretary Scott McClellan questions [regarding this story], they didn’t ask him about it.
It's all over the internet already.

This may cause people to wonder if former Chief of Staff Andrew Card's resignation didn't come at just the right time. Bod Woodward has claimed that he had been told about Valerie Plame Wilson's CIA employment in June of 2003, before any other journalists. Last November, he'd written a Washington Post column about it and identified his source as a "senior administration official". Raw Story claims it was National Securioty advisor Stephen Hadley, but we must remember that Andrew Card was closely involved with WHIG and he was "leak-proof" (according to Dan Froomkin). Yet, here we have an intentional leak with the blessings of the Oval Office. The White House Iraq Group (WHIG) was formed in summer of 2002 by Andrew Card to publicize the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. WHIG operated out of VP Cheney's office. Cheney allegedly knew exactly where the leak was going to and did it for the politics of destruction. Libby is fingering Bush as the one who declassified the document and who gave permission to leak information from it. WHIG has become entwined in Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation. Last year, Fitzgerald had subpoenaed the WHIG's emails and other documents.

I realize this is confusing if you haven't followed the story. In the simplest terms, both the State Department and the CIA concluded the Niger aluminum tubes story was total bullcrap prior to WHIG, Bush, and Dick Cheney went off leaking to the press and attacking Joseph Wilson. Not only that, there was a paper trail left by the CIA confirming that after they were commissioned to look into it. I still have questions about the INR (see Left Coaster's astute commentary from today) in its relation to known Bush propagandist Jeff Gannon (aka J.D. Guckert) and the Republicans on the Intelligence Committee.

The Washington Post explains why this "declassification" seems to have been done in such a questionable, haphazard, and disjointed way that the public looks upon the Bush administration with even more skepticism and distrust than they did before (if that could be possible). As I heard Conan O'Brien predict during his most recent "In the Year 2000" skit, Bush will need to have remedial lessons in Math when his poll percentages dip into fractions.
In one telling footnote in the filing, Fitzgerald notes that even after Bush authorized the dissemination of the intelligence data, White House national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley was "active in discussions about the need to declassify and disseminate" the information.

"There is an institutional interest and ultimately a public interest in having these decisions documented," said Ronald D. Lee, a Washington lawyer and former general counsel to the super-secret National Security Agency. "You can't have a government where everything is sort of done in people's heads."