BEIJING - China's foreign reserves, already the world's largest, have risen past $1.2 trillion, a state news agency said Thursday, amid surging trade and plans to create a multibillion-dollar company to invest some of the stockpile.Their surplus is up $300 Billion in one year. The U.S. might as well be loading freighters with cash and shipping them over to China so they can then return with Wal Mart items.
The figure, as of the end of March, represented a 37.4 percent rise over the same period last year, the Xinhua News Agency said, citing the central bank.
China's reserves have risen rapidly as huge trade surpluses and foreign investment force Beijing to drain billions of dollars from the economy every month through bond sales to hold down pressure for prices to rise. The money is stockpiled in U.S. Treasury bonds and other foreign assets.
Everyone goes inside with the White House saying that e-mails relating to official government business that were improperly sent through a private system may have been lost. These e-mails, which included communication with Karl Rove and several other officials, could have included key documents in the investigation of the fired U.S. attorneys. There has been growing concern that Bush officials may have used private e-mail accounts, set up through the Republican National Committee, to avoid investigations. The White House said it will try to recover the lost messages.Yeah, I'm sure the White House is busting it's ass to resurrect these emails.
Gates made sure to emphasize that although the new policy doesn't meen the troop buildup will be extended, it will allow the Pentagon the possibility to maintain current troop levels in Iraq for another year.Another case of the Pentagon enabling Bush, or simply following Bush's orders. By taking this particular route, the military has made allowances for two full Friedman Units, reassuring the Preznit that he has the "flexibility" to do what he perceives is needed.
"Once I was called to an explosion site," Saad, a humanitarian worker, is quoted as saying in the report.I don't believe in Hell but I'm wishing I did. Just for George and his neocon buddies.
"There I saw a four-year-old boy sitting beside his mother's body, which had been decapitated by the explosion. He was talking to her, asking her what had happened. He had been taken out shopping by his mum."
"Shawn Steele, the former Republican Party chairman in California, said the candidates were being dragged down by their associations with Mr. Bush as well as with the war. Mr. Steele and other Republicans argued that the candidates were in a difficult position as they tried to distance themselves from a president who is having so many difficulties, while at the same time not alienating Republican base voters and donors who remain loyal to Mr. Bush and his foreign policy.I think this is the real story of this year's politics.
"'It's a dying administration,' Mr. Steele said. 'There's a fatigue factor and there's a rubbing-off when it's not very smart to be closely associated with such low ratings.'"
"Republican leaders across the country say they are growing increasingly anxious about their party’s chances of holding the White House, citing public dissatisfaction with President Bush, the political fallout from the war in Iraq and the problems their leading presidential candidates are having generating enthusiasm among conservative voters," reports the New York Times.
"In interviews on Tuesday, the Republicans said they were concerned about signs of despondency among party members and fund-raisers, reflected in polls and the Democratic fund-raising advantage in the first quarter of the year. Many party leaders expressed worry that the party’s presidential candidates faced a tough course without some fundamental shift in the political dynamic."
"The White House wants to appoint a high-powered czar to oversee the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with authority to issue directions to the Pentagon, the State Department and other agencies, but it has had trouble finding anyone able and willing to take the job, according to people close to the situation," they write.My first thought was, isn't that the President's job?
"At least three retired four-star generals approached by the White House in recent weeks have declined to be considered for the position, the sources said. . . .
"'The very fundamental issue is, they don't know where the hell they're going,' said retired Marine Gen. John J. 'Jack' Sheehan, a former top NATO commander who was among those rejecting the job. Sheehan said he believes that Vice President Cheney and his hawkish allies remain more powerful within the administration than pragmatists looking for a way out of Iraq. 'So rather than go over there, develop an ulcer and eventually leave, I said, "No, thanks," ' he said. .
Bolthouse requires recipients of its grants to pledge adherence to a statement of faith that includes the declaration that "man was created by a direct act of God in His image, not from previously existing creatures" and a belief in "the everlasting blessedness of the saved and the everlasting punishment of the lost."
Created just 13 years ago with the support of such Christian Right powerhouses as James Dobson, D. James Kennedy, and Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, it is today the nation's leading Christian Right legal organization. Through its National Litigation Academy, ADF has trained more than 900 lawyers, who commit themselves to performing 450 hours of pro bono legal work "on behalf of the body of Christ." It doles out millions of dollars a year to other Christian Right organizations—many of which are already well endowed—to cover attorneys' fees and costs.
The president invited lawmakers to the White House to discuss the bill but emphasized he's not willing to compromise. Democrats stood firm and said that sort of meeting would be useless.What a clod.
In sixteenth-century Paris, a popular form of entertainment was cat-burning, in which a cat was hoisted in a sling on a stage and slowly lowered into a fire. According to historian Norman Davis, "[T]he spectators, including kings and queens, shrieked with laughter as the animals, howling with pain, were singed, roasted, and finally carbonized." Today such sadism would be unthinkable in most of the world.
In reality, the most secular countries—those with the highest proportion of atheists and agnostics—are among the most stable, peaceful, free, wealthy, and healthy societies. And the most religious nations—wherein worship of God is in abundance—are among the most unstable, violent, oppressive, poor, and destitute.Morality is not dependent on religion. In fact, it is observed in the animal world. A recent New York Times article begins:
Some animals are surprisingly sensitive to the plight of others. Chimpanzees, who cannot swim, have drowned in zoo moats trying to save others. Given the chance to get food by pulling a chain that would also deliver an electric shock to a companion, rhesus monkeys will starve themselves for several days.Regardless of what is changing, we should not give up hope when we see all of the violence in the news. Pinker ends his article with this thought:
Whatever its causes, the decline of violence has profound implications. It is not a license for complacency: We enjoy the peace we find today because people in past generations were appalled by the violence in their time and worked to end it, and so we should work to end the appalling violence in our time.
"...the Senator [Norm Coleman R-MN] is avoiding a conversation because he is headed into a difficult, uphill reelection bid. He does not want to speak publicly about how he has supported the Bush Administration at every opportunity because his constituents have opposed President Bush's destructive War Policy.
So his office decided to have us arrested instead.
Ford CEO saves President Bush’s life.
Ford CEO Alan Mulally tells reporters that he had to run over and stop President Bush from plugging an electrical cord into the hydrogen tank of a hybrid car at the White House last week.
“I just thought, ‘Oh my goodness!’ So, I started walking faster, and the President walked faster and he got to the cord before I did. I violated all the protocols. I touched the President. I grabbed his arm and I moved him up to the front,” Mulally said. “I wanted the president to make sure he plugged into the electricity, not into the hydrogen This is all off the record, right?”
64 Dead in Iraq; 4 US Troops Killed;
Bombings in Baghdad, Bodies in Baquba;
US vs. Mahdi Army in Diwaniya
The US offered to take military action on behalf of the 15 British sailors and marines held by Iran, including buzzing Iranian Revolutionary Guard positions with warplanes, the Guardian has learned.
One F.U. and two days ago George Casey said:Atrios keeps a running commentary on those who invoke Friedman Units and puts those statements up when the Unit is over. It's funny to watch just how ridiculous these folks are .... and tragic.
This is a decisive period for everyone and everyone knows it. The next six months will determine the future of Iraq.Any idea what we've decided?
The U.S. attorney’s office in Minnesota demonstrates the havoc that ensues when the Bush administration places politics over justice. Four top staffers to Rachel Paulose, the U.S. attorney in Minnesota, have voluntarily demoted themselves in protest of Paulose’s “highly dictatorial style” of managing. Paulose has also “earned a reputation for quoting Bible verses and dressing down underlings.”
According to news reports, the staffers’ dramatic moves were “intended to send a message to Washington — that 33-year-old Paulose is in over her head.” The Bush administration tried to prevent the resignations by sending a “top justice official to Minneapolis Thursday to mediate the situation. The mediation failed.”
Nonfarm payroll employment rose by 180,000 in March, and the unemployment rate was essentially unchanged at 4.4 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today.The details seem to point to some seasonal factors, but we'll take a net increase in employment anytime.
The Ford Motor Company paid its new chief executive, Alan R. Mulally, $28.18 million in his first four months on the job, the automaker said in a regulatory filing yesterday.Ford is giving the usual excuses about acquiring talent, the market rate blahblahblah. The news channel I was watching interviewed a few Ford autoworkers who looked like someone had stuck a really sour lemon in their mouths.
His compensation included an $18.5 million bonus that Ford, which reported a record $12.7 billion loss last year, disclosed in September when it hired him from Boeing.
Figures in Ford’s annual proxy statement show that his pay was more than three times that of any other executive at the company. That includes the executive chairman, William Clay Ford Jr., who has kept a 2005 promise not to accept any new salary, bonus or stock awards until Ford consistently earns a profit.
The second-highest pay, $8.67 million, was also for only a few months’ work; it went to James J. Padilla, who retired as president and chief operating officer in July.
Three executives received bonuses for their roles in reducing manufacturing capacity, cutting costs and achieving other goals as part of Ford’s overhaul plan, known as the Way Forward. The awards were part of a retention program that the company recently abandoned.
USAT also fronts a piece on an invasive plant species that can grow 18 feet high along the Mexican border, allowing drug- and/or people-smugglers cover as they sneak across. The United States plans to spend $1.5 million to bring in European bugs to eat the vegetation.We should give the minutemen a hoe and let them do their part to protect Amurika.
It cost fund-raiser Sam Fox more than $4,600 for the ambassadorship to Belgium. Fox, a top Republican donor, gave $50,000 in 2004 to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a group that helped sink John Kerry's presidential campaign and spawned its own verb. That was enough for Democrats to vow to block his confirmation to the post. Bush withdrew his nomination last week, only to bring it up again while the Senate is out of session, allowing him to bypass it. Though USAT points out below-the-fold that the move will cost Bush in terms of his relationship to Congress, he may have figured he had little left to lose.So that wackjob Sam Fox is our new ambassador!
Over 100,000 People Donate to Obama Campaign in First QuarterThe money figure is impressive itself. But from 100,000 donators? That's huge and very grassrootsy.
Campaign Raises At Least $25 Million, At Least $23.5 Million for Primary
Chicago, IL- The Obama for America campaign today announced that it will report raising at least $25 million from more than 100,000 people in the first quarter of 2007, with at least $23.5 million eligible to be spent in the Democratic primary.
“This overwhelming response, in only a few short weeks, shows the hunger for a different kind of politics in this country and a belief at the grassroots level that Barack Obama can bring out the best in America to solve our problems,” said Obama for America Finance Chair Penny Pritzker.
The Obama campaign raised $6.9 million over the Internet from more than 50,000 donors.
We have reviewed Ms. Goodling's declaration and the letters you sent to us and Senator Leahy, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and we are concerned that several of the asserted grounds for refusing to testify do not satisfy the well-established bases for a proper invocation of the Fifth Amendment against self- incrimination. In addition, of course, the Fifth Amendment privilege, under long-standing Supreme Court precedents, does not provide a reason to fail to appear to testify; the privilege must be invoked by the witness on a question-by-question basis.Ask a question, get the fifth response. Lather, rinse, repeat.
The President today asked the American people to trust him as he continues to follow the same failed strategy that has drawn our troops further into an intractable civil war. The President's policies have failed and his escalation endangers our troops and hurts our national security. Neither our troops nor the American people can afford this strategy any longer.More like that please.
Democrats will send President Bush a bill that gives our troops the resources they need and a strategy in Iraq worthy of their sacrifices. If the President vetoes this bill he will have delayed funding for troops and kept in place his strategy for failure.
The LAT off-leads with a scoop from Iraq, reporting that militants formerly loyal to cleric Muqtada Sadr are being siphoned off by other militant groups, some of which may have Iranian backing. Sadr is losing support because he urged his followers to freeze their activities at U.S. behest. Officials worry that if Sadr loses control of his people, it will be much harder to influence Shiite militants.Cooperating with the U.S. in the Middle East makes anyone automatically radioactive.
April 2, 2007 — An American citizen is missing in Iran, the State Department said today.Why has this been so quiet? Do you believe this is not connected to the British hostages? What would an "former" FBI agent be doing in Iran? He was their on "private" business? Or was he there on "company" business.
Sources tell ABC News that the missing American was a former FBI agent, although they stressed that he was now a private citizen and that his trip to Iran was on "private business" and not associated with official U.S. matters.
State spokesman Sean McCormack said that the United States had been monitoring this case for several weeks and today had sent a message to Iran through diplomatic channels for more information on his whereabouts.
State Department officials say that Iran has yet to respond with any information. Because the United States does not have diplomatic relations with Iran, the message was passed on by the Swiss Embassy in Tehran.
"If they continue at this pace, and they get the centrifuges to work and actually enrich uranium on a distinct basis," said David Albright of the Institute for Science and International Security, "then you're looking at them having, potentially having enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon in 2009."Note all the qualifiers and if's in the quote. Methinks the administration is ginning things up again.
The live wire at last week’s Arab League summit in Riyadh was undoubtedly the non-Arab guest of honor, Iranian foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki.I'll freely admit I don't know this news source so I take it with a bit of salt. But it is quite intriguing to think of the impact on the U.S. if this is true. A treaty between the two countries would represent an impressive counter force to the U.S. in the region, and a very significant threat to world oil supplies. And I'm not even thinking about the impact on Israel ........
He breezed around the Arab delegations hard-selling the notion of a mutual defense treaty between Iran and the Arabs on the lines of the Tehran-Damascus pact. Mottaki argued that a treaty of this kind would allay Arab fears of an Iranian nuclear threat, put a stop to a Middle East nuclear arms race, provide the Arabs with a protective umbrella against Israeli aggression and set up an Arab-Islamic front against US and other foreign intervention in the region.
I would suggest that it was when the Democrats finally took the issue of Iraq seriously that the country began to take them seriously. And it wasn't because it was a "daddy issue." It was because it was the most important issue on the table. It still is.Digby, discussing the nonsense meme of the "mommy/daddy" political parties.
Susan Kahane, who is twenty-two, graduated from Columbia last spring. When she took the MCAT, in August, she checked a box to signal that she wished to receive information about outside sources of financial aid. Soon, she was inundated with e-mails from the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force (“FREE MEDICAL SCHOOL!!!”). One, sent on January 31st by Captain Christopher D. Mayhugh, of the Army Medical Service Corps, stood out. “Upon finishing your residency,” the message read, “you will be assigned to one of a variety of locations including Germany, Italy and Hawaii and your obligation will be complete.” (The Medical Service Corps’s Web page, in contrast, notes prominently that its officers have participated in combat operations in Korea, Kosovo, Somalia, Panama, and Iraq.)Ah. Yeah.
Mayhugh’s omission of Iraq, Kahane recalled last week, “seemed a little bit strange.” Still, she said, “These e-mails were often slightly tempting to me, because of my worries about paying for medical school.”
On March 14th, Kahane received another e-mail from Mayhugh, with the subject “Medical school scholarships still available.” This time, rather than invoking European and tropical destinations, Mayhugh addressed the prospect of being posted to a less than desirable locale. “What if you get sent to Iraq?” he wrote in the letter’s final paragraph. He continued:Well, consider this: there has been an average of 160,000 troops in the Iraq theater of operations during the last 22 months, and a total of 2112 deaths, that gives a firearm death rate of 60 per 100,000. The rate in Washington, D.C. is 80.6 per 100,000. That means that you are about 25% more likely to be shot and killed in our Nation’s Capitol, which has some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation, than you are in Iraq.Kahane recalled, “After reading it once, I felt strongly that something was wrong, but I didn’t know what.”
Today is Washington's 65th Opening Day since 1910, when William H. Taft gave us a tradition: the ceremonial first pitch by the president. Taft threw the inaugural one for the Senators that year. In the local club's 63 home openers since, a dozen presidents have done the honors 45 times, from front-row seats or from the mound, making them 46 for 64 overall (.719). Pretty reliable.Gee, I wonder?
President Bush kept up the tradition in 2005, celebrating baseball's return to the nation's capital after a 33-season absence. But he missed last year's home opener -- and he'll miss today's, too, when the Nationals host the Florida Marlins at 1:05 p.m. Except for when the world was at war, only two other presidents, Woodrow Wilson and Richard M. Nixon, missed Opening Day ceremonies two years in a row. And Wilson had suffered a stroke.
In anticipation of a Bush veto and the likelihood that they won’t be able to summon enough Republicans who care about the troops or public opinion sufficiently to override that veto, Senate Democrats are already rolling out a contingency plan that puts the GOP on notice about something very important: That they are going to be forced over and over again to be on the record as voting to strand our military men and women in the middle of a bloody civil war.vs.
(AP) If President Bush vetoes an Iraq war spending bill as promised, Congress quickly will provide the money without the withdrawal timeline the White House objects to because no lawmaker "wants to play chicken with our troops," Sen. Barack Obama said Sunday.Methinks someone has their story wrong. Which is it?
U.S. intelligence officials now have a better understanding of what the leadership of a revamped, decentralized al-Qaida looks like, says the NYT. It is younger, better trained, less likely to have ties to the struggle against the Soviets in Afghanistan, and more likely to include members from a variety of nations. Authorities say camps in remote tribal areas of Pakistan were key to the network's resurgence.Isn't it interesting how the thing you resist, persists? Couldn't be more true with Bush. The more he fights against al Qaeda, the bigger and better it gets.
Iraq's government has endorsed plans to relocate thousands of Arabs who were moved to Kirkuk as part of Saddam Hussein's campaign to force ethnic Kurds out of the oil-rich city, in an effort to undo one of the former dictator's most enduring and hated policies.This means that Kirkuk becomes a de facto Kurdish city in an autonomous Kurdistan. It also means that national Iraqi reconcilliation is further unlikely as the Kurds solidify power and control over an autonomous region.
The contentious decision was confirmed Saturday by Iraq's Sunni justice minister as he told The Associated Press he was resigning. Almost immediately, opposition politicians said they feared it would harden the violent divisions among Iraq's fractious ethnic and religious groups and possibly lead to an Iraq divided among Kurds, Sunni Arabs and Shiites.
The plan was virtually certain to anger neighboring Turkey, which fears a northward migration of Iraqi Kurds — and an exodus of Sunni Arabs — will inflame its own restive Kurdish minority.
. . . Kirkuk, an ancient city that once was part of the Ottoman Empire, has a large minority of ethnic Turks as well as Christians, Shiite and Sunni Arabs, Armenians and Assyrians. The city is just south of the Kurdish autonomous zone stretching across three provinces of northeastern Iraq.
Iraq's constitution sets an end-of-the-year deadline for a referendum on Kirkuk's status. Since Saddam's fall four years ago, thousands of Kurds who once lived in the city have resettled there. It is now believed Kurds are a majority of the population and that a referendum on attaching Kirkuk to the Kurdish autonomous zone would pass easily.
One shopowner in Shorja, which was closed to traffic after the February bombings, said there had been a heavy security presence, with many U.S. soldiers on the ground and U.S. helicopters overhead.HEY MA! Look at this. I can take my helmet off! The escalation is really working! Can't you imagine the scene as all these big-wigs slowly, carefully, take their helmets off while anxiously looking all around ..... If you have enough troops, helicopters and VIP's traveling around in an area, you can go anywhere relatively safely!
Another member of McCain's delegation said the group had traveled in armored Humvees with the top U.S. commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, who had encouraged them to take off their helmets as they chatted to locals and bought carpets.
The chief strategist for President George W. Bush's 2004 reelection campaign wrote an editorial that said Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry was right in calling for a withdrawal from Iraq -- "Kerry Was Right" -- but never submitted it, according to an article to be published in Sunday's New York Times.Much is being written, pro and con, about Dowd coming to his senses. I'm feeling both pro and con. Pro because it's always nice to have someone come to their senses. What is disturbing is that it took so long.
I'm a very lucky person with every allergy known to man but still happy to be enjoying a wonderful life living in the best place in the world!