- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Insider note from United Press International for Jan. 29 …

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The left has a new star — Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. A recent article in the French daily Le Monde, no less, called him an inspiration for France's recently defeated leftist parties. The headline was: "Can the French left learn from the Brazilian model?" And of course the writer, Socialist Deputy Jean-Christophe Cambadelis, concluded that it can. The election was Lula's fourth attempt and French Socialists would do well to study his perseverance, Cambadelis wrote. Closer to home, the election of Ecuador's Louis Gutierrez, a moderate leftist, was attributed in part to the impact of Lula's sweeping victory, raising the question whether the left is poised for a comeback in Latin America. Lula also won praise for creating the "Friends of Venezuela Group" to help resolve that country's ongoing general strike. Reformist-minded Latin Americans are looking to him for a lead on such continent-wide problems as political corruption and mismanagement. The irony is that he has alienated segments of his own Workers' Party, who think he is watering down his socialist programs. But you can't please all the people all the time.

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If Iran, Iraq, and North Korea form an "Axis of Evil" in President Bush's view, does that make Britain, Spain, and Italy an Axis of Good? The leaders of all three countries — Tony Blair, Jose Maria Aznar, and Silvio Berlusconi — continue to support Bush's hard-line view of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's regime despite rising public opposition in their respective countries to war against Iraq. An eventful week that started with the weapons inspectors' report to the United Nations and Bush's State of the Union speech will end with a flurry of consultations between Bush and the members of the good axis. On Thursday, Berlusconi flies to London for breakfast with Blair on his way to Washington for lunch with Bush. Then on Friday Bush flies to Madrid for talks with Aznar, and goes on to Washington to spend the weekend at Camp David, the presidential weekend retreat. Aznar himself is scheduled to visit Washington, but not until early June. And it may all be over by then. The word is that Blair and Berlusconi will get a preview of Bush's full "secret case" — the secret intelligence Secretary of State Colin Powell will make public next month, which they have so far only seen in part.

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This year around 1,200 U.S. companies will receive windfall checks from the U.S. Customs Service ranging from a few hundred dollars to more than $60 million because American consumers preferred to buy foreign. They can thank West Virginia Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd for this money. It was Byrd who maneuvered through Congress the cumbersomely named Continued Dumping and Subsidy Offset Act of 2000. Cumbersome or not, it is still music to the ears of manufacturers because it is designed to compensate them from revenue lost to foreign imports. The checks are tariffs imposed on their overseas competitors when they manage to convince Washington that the imports are harming their profits. Last year, the number of claims rose to 1,200 from 900 in 2001, when the program was introduced in its present form. Award money increased to $329 million from $230 million in 2001. The bad news is that the bonanza may be short lived. The European Union and eight other countries complained in December 2000 to the World Trade Organization about the act. The WTO ruled in September 2002 that the act was illegal and recommended that it be repealed. Not surprisingly, Washington appealed the decision; the WTO's response is expected later this month. -0-

Bush's fervent support of Taiwan has puzzled many Washington watchers. One factor influencing Bush might be the joint U.S. National Security Agency-National Security Bureau signals intelligence, or SIGINT, facility in Yangmingshan in suburban Taipei. The NSA-NSB base, established in the mid-1980s, allows Washington to intercept Chinese military communications in Nanjing and Guangzhou, permitting the spooks to eavesdrop radio traffic from up to 310 miles away. The base has 10 antenna masts, of which six are high-frequency "Fix-6" or "6 Element" dipole antennas in a circular configuration that can be used for both interception and direction-finding. Seventeen satellite dishes near the antennas allow data to be up-linked directly to the NSA. The base is particularly focused on China's strategic nuclear Second Artillery corps; Taipei fears that they could fire up to 400 Dong Feng-11 (M-11) and DF-15 (M-9) tactical ballistic missiles against the island. These days Yangmingshan is doubly crucial to the U.S. eavesdropping intelligence effort: Washington lost its Hong Kong base when the colony was returned to Chinese sovereignty by Britain.


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