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Obama spokesman bungles geography on China leader trip

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The world is round — a fact the White House spokesman didn’t seem to take into account Wednesday.

In defending a decision for President Obama to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on June 7-8 in California, instead of Washington, D.C., White House spokesman Jay Carney implied it was done to help Mr. Xi.

President Obama “had domestic travel in California. California is closer to Asia obviously,” Mr. Carney said.

Except, not really.

While California looks to be “obviously” closer to China on a flat map of the world than is Washington, the Earth is a near-sphere and airplanes between China and North America fly over the Arctic, near the North Pole. The difference between California and Washington is just one to two hours on a half-day journey.

The flight-duration finder at OAG Travel’s web site says a flight from Washington Dulles International Airport to Beijing lasts 14 hours and 5 minutes. Similar flights from the international airports in Los Angeles and San Francisco take 13 hours, and 12 hours and 5 minutes, respectively.

Mr. Xi will also only get even that slight benefit for half his trip, as he will be arriving in the U.S. after several days of visits to other countries in the Americas — Trinidad and Tobago, Costa Rica and Mexico.

In Wednesday’s White House exchange, Mr. Carney did not specify the nature of Mr. Obama’s “domestic travel,” though he was asked “is it a fundraiser?” by a reporter.

Mr. Obama’s California trip includes a $32,400-per-head fundraiser June 6 in Portola Valley, a second benefit in Palo Alto to benefit Senate Democratic candidates. He also will attend a Democratic National Committee fundraiser June 7 in Los Angeles.


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