Archive for October, 2007

Rich, Good Looking Doesn’t Make You Happy: So Crying on TV Gets Attention?

October 31, 2007

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
November 1, 2007

Heather Mills, who as far as we can tell is wealthy, healthy, good looking and lucky, is divorcing former Beatle great and near-richest guy in the world, Paul McCartney.

Today she cried on TV. But at least she had better reasons than Ellen Degeneres who cried because of a repossessed dog.

“Do you fear for your life?” Mills McCartney was asked in a British Broadcasting Corp. television interview.

“Yes I do, yes I do,” she said.

“And you are saying that Paul McCartney does not protect you and your child?”

“I’m afraid not,” Mills McCartney said.

She also appeared earlier in the day on an ITV television morning show, saying she had taken precautions because of death threats.

“I have a box of evidence that’s going to a certain person, should anything happen to me, so if you top me off it’s still going to that person, and the truth will come out,” she said.

“There is so much fear from a certain party of the truth coming out that lots of things have been put out and done, so the police came ’round and said, `You have had serious death threats from an underground movement.'”

On the BBC, she was asked if the tabloid newspapers were at fault.

“It’s the tabloids and a certain party, but it is so extreme and so abusive … I mean, I’ve been called monster, whore, gold digger, fantasist, liar.”

“When you say certain party, do you mean someone from Paul McCartney’s camp?” BBC reporter Maxine Mawhinney asked.

“I’m not allowed to talk about Paul and the court case and all that kind of stuff, because we are in court,” Mills McCartney said.

“But it is, by clear implication, that’s what you’re saying,” BBC reporter Jon Sopel said.

“I can’t say, because I’d be in contempt of court. But you’re not stupid, that’s all I can say.”
Paul McCartney, 65, declined to respond. “There’s no comment from our side,” said his spokesman, Stuart Bell.

Ellen Degeneres cried during her TV show last week bemoaning the fact that her adopted doggie was repossessed in a dispute with the adoption agency. But Ellen recovered quickly by most accounts.

Ellen’s executive producer Andy Lassner hid in a hollowed out pumpkin for over 35 minutes so that he could surprise Ellen during her show today, Halloween. He is still pulling pumpkin seeds out of his ears, we hear.

And Ellen doesn’t look any worse for wear after the dog-crying jag.

These are people with nothing important going on…..


“Gaffe Machine” Karen Hughes Leaving State Department

October 31, 2007

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
October 31, 2007

An American gaffe machine gets set to go home.  Good riddance.  No amount of costuming on this Halloween can convince us that Mrs. Hughes made a valuable contribution to U.S. foreign policy.

We are not big fans of the U.S. State Department these days so the announcement that Karen Hughes will leave and return to Texas didn’t break any hearts here.

Mrs. Hughes was give her cushy Foggy Bottom job by her pal George W. Bush. When she came to State — amid much publicity and hoopla — the world was informed that Mrs. Hughes would take charge of “winning over the world’s hearts and minds.”

Mrs. Hughes was supposed to restore respect for America and highlight the importance of America’s lustrous democracy.

Mrs. Hughes didn’t exactly impress anyone in the world outside of her buddy at the White House.

Officially, Mrs. Hughes is Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.

On her fist major trip as America’s “Goodwill Ambassador,” Mrs. Hughes proved that she was a gaffe machine with little knowledge of the Arab world.

John Brown wrote in The Second Coming of Karen Hughes on August 9, 2007 in the Huffington Post: “her infamous ‘listening tour’ to the Middle East in the fall of 2005 — was ridiculed by both the US and international media as an illustration of her ignorance (she disclosed, to an Egyptian opposition leader, that our Constitution cites “one nation under God”) and lack of cultural sensitivity (she offended some Saudi women by reproaching them for not having the right to drive). After that disastrous overseas venture, she seemed to keep a lower profile, and by 2006 was practically off the media radar screen, especially during the Second Lebanese War. When she did engage in rare (for her official position) public events (many directed to American audiences to show them how good we US citizens were because of our compassionate-conservative aid to less fortunate foreigners) she was not infrequently criticized, including by the right-wing media, which accused her of being too accommodating to Muslim organizations like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).”

Today, the Fox News Channel is extolling Mrs. Hughes’ many accomplishments and achievements. They even allowed Mrs. Hughes to go on screen to brag about, well, herself.

U.S. Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs ... 
Charm machine turned into a gaffe
machine right in front of the world.

But polls show no improvement in the world’s view of the U.S. since Hughes took over. A Pew Research Center survey earlier said the unpopular Iraq war is a persistent drag on the U.S. image and has helped push favorable opinion of the United States in Muslim Indonesia, for instance, from 75 percent in 2000 to 30 percent last year.

“The great irony of this administration is that its opponents credit it with being masterful at spin,” wrote Mr. Jim Hoagland of the Washington Post on September 3, 2006.

“When it is in fact pathetic in managing its messages and its collective image. Whatever small credit Bush was gaining for becoming more realistic about Iraq was quickly wiped out by the controversy created by sharply partisan speeches of Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld last week in the latest example of a gang that can’t spin straight,” Mr. Hoagland concluded.

When asked by NBC News reporter Brian Williams on August 29, 2006 why there is so much anti-American sentiment and out-right hatred for America in many parts of the world., President Bush said “We are great with TV but we are getting crushed on the P.R. [Public Relations] front.”

About a month later Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld mused, “The enemy is so much better at communicating. I wish we were better at countering that because the constant drumbeat of things they say — all of which are not true — is harmful. It’s cumulative. It weakens people’s will and lessens their determination, and raises questions in their minds as to whether the cost is worth it.”

So if the President and his cabinet were Mrs. Hughes’ “customers,” it is difficult to find them happy about her performance.

We were ourselves so distressed by Mrs. Hughes that we made up a word to describe her gaffes: “Misunderspinning.” She just couldn’t get the hang of the spin game and often looked over her head.

And what have former Secretaries of State said?

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said: “Are Iran and Syria regimes that I look down upon? I certainly do. But at the same time I’ve looked down on many people over the years in the course of my military and diplomatic career and I still had to talk to them.”

Powell made the observation on “Face the Nation,” the CBS Sunday morning talk show with Bob Schieffer last December.

Secretary Powell has no illusions that a dialogue with Iran, for example, would change their direction in the pursuit of nuclear weapons, but most former Secretaries of State adopt the position that “Talking and engagement with all nations can have some merit.”

But the official policy of the White House and the State Department was not to dialogue with Iran, North Korea and Syria.

At about the same time that former Secretary Powell made his criticisms, the Iraq Study Group headed by another former Secretary of State, James Baker, and former Rep. Lee Hamilton — a noted expert in international thinking — were saying that America should engage all nations and not ignore places like Iran.

Secretary Powell’s position and that of Mr. Baker and Hamilton rests in sharp contrast to that of President Bush and the current Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who branded Syria, Iran and North Korea members of the “Axis of Evil” and broke all relationships and dialogue with these nations at the start of the war against terror in 2001.

Still, the commission said, “Given the ability of Iran and Syria to influence events within Iraq and their interest in avoiding chaos in Iraq, the United States should try to engage them constructively.”

Another former Secretary of State, Dr. Henry Kissinger, has also made remarks disparaging to the “no-discussion diplomacy” of Secretary Rice and Mrs. Hughes.

When asked by the BBC’s Andrew Marr on November 19, 2006, about Kissinger’s plan to remove U.S. troops from Iraq, Dr. Kissinger responded, “At some point I think an international conference – at some early point an international conference should be called that involves neighbors, perhaps the permanent members of the Security Council and countries that have a major interest in the outcome, like India and Pakistan.”

So the spin coming from the State department today is that Karen Hughes made a wonderful contribution and many “achievements.”

Frankly, we view her collective time at State as a gigantic mistake that should have resulted in an even earlier termination.

China Could Unleash “Huge Economic Tsunami”

October 31, 2007
October 31, 2007

A “huge tsunami” of economic instability will engulf the globe’s financial markets if China bows to international pressure to switch the yuan to a free-floating currency, warns Australia’s treasurer. For America: higher interest rates, a falling dollar and soaring inflation may be about to smack home like the biggest wave since the Great Depression.

When China floats the yuan, it will be “a wild ride,” Peter Costello, the Australian treasurer, warned. “That will set off a huge tsunami that will go through world financial markets.”

For years, China has run a massive trade surplus with America—running into the trillions of dollars. Many U.S. officials feel the reason for this, at least in part, is the fact that China has kept its currency undervalued in relation to the dollar.

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China to spend $14 billion to clean up Lake Tai

October 28, 2007

BEIJING: China says it will spend more than $14 billion to clean up a famed lake inundated by so much pollution this year that it became a symbol of the country’s lax environmental regulation of polluting industries.

Officials in Jiangsu Province, in eastern China, posted a notice Friday on a government Web site announcing plans to spend 108.5 billion yuan, or $14.4 billion, for a cleanup of Lake Tai, the country’s third-largest freshwater lake. The campaign would focus initially on eradicating the toxic algal bloom that choked the lake this spring and left more than two million people without drinking water.

“Jiangsu Province plans to effectively control the eutrophication of Lake Tai in five years, and greatly improve the water quality of the lake,” the notice declared. Eutrophication occurs when a body of water becomes so rich in chemical nutrients that algae and other aquatic plants displace other life.

Lake Tai, known as China’s ancient “land of rice and fish,” is a legendary setting, once famous for its bounty of white shrimp, whitebait and whitefish. But over time, an industrial buildup transformed the region. More than 2,800 chemical factories arose around the lake, and industrial dumping became a severe problem and, eventually, a crisis.

This spring, urban sewage and chemical dumping caused an explosion of bright green pond scum that coated much of the giant lake with a fetid algal coating. Panic quickly followed in Wuxi, a nearby city that depended on the lake to supply drinking water for its 2.3 million …..

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Mass appeal to Latin tradition

October 28, 2007

By Kristi Moore
The Washingon Times
October 28, 2007

Roman Catholic churches nationwide are rushing to accommodate a surge in demand for the traditional Latin Mass, which is drawing a surprising new crowd: young people.
Since July, when a decree from Pope Benedict XVI lifted decades-old restrictions on celebrating the Tridentine Mass, seven churches in the Washington metropolitan area have added the liturgy to their weekly Sunday schedules.
“I love the Latin Mass,” said Audrey Kunkel, 20, of Cincinnati. “It”s amazing to think that I”m attending the same Mass that has formed saints throughout the centuries.”

In contrast to the New Order Mass, which has been in use since the Second Vatican Council in 1969 and is typically celebrated in vernacular languages such as English, the Tridentine Mass is “contemplative, mysterious, sacred, transcendent, and [younger people are] drawn to it,” said the Rev. Franklyn McAfee, pastor of St. John the Beloved in McLean. “Gregorian chant is the opposite of rap, and I believe this is a refreshing change for them.”

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Peking Duck Chain Launches IPO

October 27, 2007

BEIJING (AFP) – China‘s oldest Peking duck restaurant has kicked off its initial public offering to raise about 50 million dollars on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, state media reported Saturday.

China Quanjude (Group) Co. Ltd., which has been serving up the famous Chinese dish since 1864, on Monday launches its promotional tour to fix the price of its share offering, Xinhua news agency said.

The company plans to issue up to 36 million shares and raise at least 380 million yuan (50.6 million dollars), it said.

Dating back to imperial times, Quanjude is one of the oldest brands in China.

Starting from a small roast duck stall in 1864 under the Qing dynasty, the group now runs nine companies in China and 61 franchised restaurants, including five overseas, offering its specialty Peking roast duck.

Its most recent establishment opened earlier this year in the Silk Market in Beijing, a popular tourist shopping area.

North Korea signs agreements with Vietnam

October 27, 2007

By Grant McCool 

HANOI (Reuters) – Vietnam and North Korea signed agriculture, sport, tourism and cultural agreements on Saturday on the first stop of a rare Southeast Asian tour by North Korea’s Premier.

Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung formally welcomed Premier Kim Yong-il before senior officials of the two communist-run countries signed memorandums of understanding to share agriculture technology and promote cultural exchanges.

“We are convinced that our current visit will bear out good results,” said a statement by the North Korean delegation, which includes several cabinet ministers.

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US to order diplomats to serve in Iraq

October 27, 2007

By MATTHEW LEE, Associated Press Writer 

WASHINGTON – In the largest call-up of U.S. diplomats since the Vietnam War, the State Department is planning to order some of its personnel to serve at the American Embassy in Iraq because of a lack of volunteers.

Those designated “prime candidates” — from 200 to 300 diplomats — will be notified Monday that they have been selected for one-year postings to fill the 40 to 50 vacancies expected next year.

They will have 10 days to accept or reject the position. If not enough say yes, some will be ordered to go to Iraq and face dismissal if they refuse, Harry Thomas, director general of the Foreign Service, said Friday.

“Starting Nov. 12, our assignments panel will assign people to Iraq,” Thomas told reporters in a conference call. “Under our system, we have all taken an oath to serve our country, we have all signed (up for) worldwide availability.

“If someone decides … they do not want to go, we will then consider appropriate action,” he said. “We have many options, including dismissal from the Foreign Service.”

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Putin likens missile plan to Cold War

October 27, 2007

By Mike Eckel
The Washington Times
October 27, 2007

MAFRA, Portugal (AP) — President Vladimir Putin yesterday evoked one of the most dangerous confrontations of the Cold War to highlight Russian opposition to a proposed U.S. missile defense system in Europe, comparing it to the Cuban missile crisis of 45 years ago.

The comments, made at the end of a summit between Russia and European Union, were the latest in a series of provocative statements from the assertive Mr. Putin.

Emboldened by oil- and gas-fueled economic clout, Russia is increasingly at odds with Washington and much of Europe on issues ranging from Iran and Kosovo to energy supplies and human rights.

Mr. Putin used a press conference at the summit’s conclusion to reiterate Russia’s stalwart opposition to U.S. plans to put elements of a missile defense system in the former Soviet bloc countries of Poland and the Czech Republic — both of which are now NATO members.

“Analogous actions by the Soviet Union, when it deployed missiles in Cuba, prompted the ‘Caribbean crisis,’ ” Mr. Putin said, using the Russian term for the Cuban missile crisis.

“For us, the situation is technologically very similar. We have withdrawn the remains of our bases from Vietnam, from Cuba, and have liquidated everything there, while at our borders such threats against our country are being created,” he said.

The October 1962 crisis erupted when President Kennedy demanded that Soviet leader Nikita S. Khrushchev remove his country’s nuclear missiles from Cuba because they could have been used to carry out a close-range attack on the United States. Americans imposed a naval blockade on Cuba and the world teetered on the edge of war before the Soviets backed down.

Mr. Putin also suggested that the tension was much lower than in 1962 because the United States and Russia are now “partners,” not Cold War enemies. His relationship with President Bush, Mr. Putin said, helps solve problems. He called the president a “personal friend.”

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India’s Gandhi calls for dialogue with China

October 27, 2007

BEIJING (Reuters) – Sonia Gandhi, India‘s most powerful politician, stressed the importance of frank dialogue with China during her visit to Beijing, as the two rivals pledged to strengthen bilateral ties.

India and China are competing for global influence and for the raw materials and energy needed to fuel Asia’s two fastest growing economies.

“We may well have different views and different perspectives on both bilateral and global issues. That is only natural,” Gandhi said in a speech to a selected audience of about 50 students at the elite Tsinghua University on Saturday.

“However, I have no doubt that there is no problem that can not be sorted out through free and frank dialogue and discussion.”

Gandhi, the head of India’s ruling Congress Party, is visiting China to pave the way for a visit late this year or early next by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

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