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Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Rounding up the news...

The Shih campaign is riding the tiger, and is now stuck in a mode where they will have to have ever more grandiose ideas to retain their position in the public eye. Lately they've been playing coy with the idea of calling a general strike:

On the possibility of a nation-wide strike, Shih said the issue was still under discussion and would not be decided until at least Friday, as his movement's members shared different opinions on the matter.

Minister of Economic Affairs Steve Chen (陳瑞隆) said yesterday that he had contacted union leaders of state-run businesses to see if their groups would respond to a possible nationwide strike call.

He said union leaders told him that they did not intend to take part in such a strike. He also said the ministry was strongly opposed the idea of a nationwide strike.

The article cites the Green Ho De-fen as a protest spokesman; apparently she is back after media reports that she had been removed last week. Or else the reports were wrong. Ho had been an advocate of bipartisan approaches. Meanwhile a pro-independence group is calling for 100,000 people to show up Saturday to counter protest the Blue-led anti-Chen protest:

A pro-independence group yesterday called on 100,000 people to participate in Saturday's rally on Ketagalan Boulevard to counter the sit-in initiated by former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Shih Ming-teh (施明德) to oust President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

Chet Yang (楊文嘉), secretary-general of the Taiwan Society, said the group planned to invite high-ranking officials from the Presidential Office, Executive Yuan and DPP legislative caucus as well as pioneers of the nation's democratic development to attend the event.

I think they'll be lucky to get 5,000. Chen is not what anyone would call popular, and that weekend the colleges all start up, so many people will be traveling, especially young people.

The Shih campaign is also calling for a city-encircling campaign for Sept 15.

A leader of a campaign to depose President Chen Shui-bian urged people in central and southern Taiwan yesterday to make a one-day trip to Taipei Sept. 15 to join a "city-encircling" march slated for that day to demonstrate a determined public will in demanding Chen's resignation.

The irony should not be missed and may well be intentional: former President Lee Teng-hui compared himself to Moses and Chen to Joshua. Recall that the Biblical Joshua took Jericho by surrounding it and blowing horns.

In other non-news, China blocked Taiwan into the UN again, and criticized a Japanese official who came for a visit and *gasp* met Chen Shui-bian.

Just so we're not all Shih, all the time, here, Jason at Wandering to Tamshui clued me in that the British Magazine Prospect is reporting that the Washington Times may be in for big changes...

The Republican right may be losing its most devoted media ally. The Washington Times editor-in-chief Wes Pruden and managing editor Fran Coombs, who have yanked the Reverend Moon-owned paper to the far right, are in trouble. Word is out that the leftist Nation is preparing an exposé on racism and sexism at the paper. The Times has published pieces by Coombs's wife Marian Kester quoting BNP chief Nick Griffin as an expert on Muslim culture. And Pruden is the son of the chaplain of the Citizens' Council in Little Rock, Arkansas, a segregationist group. When Eisenhower sent troops to protect nine black teenagers attempting to enrol at the local high school in 1957, the Reverend Pruden told the mob, "That's what we gotta fight: niggers, communists and cops." The Moonies, who have spent over $1.1bn on the loss-making Times in the 25 years they have owned it, have been fretting about the newspaper's attacks on the UN (which they like) and on North Korea, where the South Korea-based Moonies have big investments. They have now quietly set up a search committee to seek replacements. A strong contender is said to be Maggie Thatcher's former aide John O'Sullivan.

As a good liberal, I can't stand the WashTimes, but this may prove to be a problem for Taiwan, as the Washington Times has been one Taiwan's most reliable media supporters.

The arms package continues to cause problems. Experts said that if the US sold subs to Taiwan, China might get angry. Imagine, China getting angry at US arms sales to Taiwan. Who wudda thunk it? No wonder they are experts.....

China is likely to regard the submarines as offensive weapons, rather than defensive ones, but U.S. Representative Rob Simmons, who has adopted the order as a pet project, says these concerns are "Ludicrous." China's massive submarine fleet dwarfs the four submarines sought by Taiwan.

Simmons is the Congresscritter for the area that includes Electric Boat. The KMT has said it will green-light the PC3 Orions:

On reports the main opposition Kuomintang will give the green light only to purchasing one of three items on the shopping list -- the P-3C anti-submarine aircraft -- Yeh expressed doubt this alone would be able to enhance the nation's overall defense capabilities.

DPP Legislator Lee Wen-chung also said the United States has begun to doubt Taiwan's determination to defend itself, and is impatient with the long-stalled procurement.

"If the budgets for military procurement can't pass the legislative in the session, it would seriously undermine Taiwan-U.S. relations," he reaffirmed.

KMT Legislator Lu Hsiu-yen paraphrased a U.S. Defense Department official in charge of Taiwan affairs in saying the U.S. hopes the legislature will pass the military procurement package by the end of October, hinting it "could be an ultimatum."

There has been some discussion that the Orions, which are no longer made, will be made in Japan. Perhaps the KMT is sending a sop to Japan. Or hoping that the KMT can stave off more ire from the US. Or perhaps it is protecting China, as the Orions are the least important of the arms projects and no threat to China at all, being large, slow, anti-submarine aircraft that are useless without control of the air. Give us more fighters, guys.


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