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Beijing Olympics Letter; South Africa Honors Rep. Waters; Sen. Boxer Upset With Interior Secretary

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Jack Shaw of Market News International says several members of California's congressional delegation are urging President Bush to skip the Beijing Olympics; South Africa's president honors Rep. Maxine Waters for her long support of a racially integrated South Africa; and Senator Barbara Boxer is upset with Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne.

Frank Stoltze: Jack Shaw of Market News International talks with us every Monday about what California's congressional delegation is up to in Washington. It is Monday. Jack, good morning.

Jack Shaw: Good morning, Frank.

Stoltze: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week urged President Bush to consider boycotting the opening of the Summer Olympics in Beijing. Now, several members of the California delegation say the president should go even further?

Shaw: That's right. Yeah, the president received an unsolicited letter last week from Maxine Waters, Democrat from L.A., and Republican congressman Dana Rohrbacher, and several others, in which they urge the president to just skip the whole Beijing Olympics altogether.

he letter just said that, given China's foreign policies, and particularly its human rights practices, that the president should not even attend. Bush has made it very clear that he is going to be there, so I don't think that there's a lot of wiggle room there, but it was very interesting. It was a very sharply worded letter urging the president to just stay home this summer.

Stoltze: And in any case, an interesting combo; the liberal Democrat Maxine Waters with the conservative Republian Rohrbacher.

Shaw: And that was sort of the way the letter got the attention that it did; just having a very kind of unlikely coalition sending it.

Stoltze: Speaking of Congresswoman Maxine Waters, South Africa's president recently honored her long support for a racially integrated South Africa?

Shaw: That's right. She was in South Africa a few weeks ago and received a very prestigious award called "the Order of the Companion," which is given to strong supporters of South Africa. And Waters, though, was very touched by it. She said it was one of the most important recognitions she's received, and Waters going way back, a quarter century ago, has been very active, was very active in fighting the apartheid government, pushed very hard when she was in the California assembly to support divestiture; some $12 billion from public pension funds that were invested in companies doing business with the apartheid regime.

And I might also add, Frank, that she's been working on other issues important to South Africa recently. She put together a bill that passed her foreign financial services committee to expand debt cancellation programs, and also she's pushing some legislation to expand the HIV/AIDS global bill, so she's been very active in African issues throughout her career, and certainly continues to be.

Stoltze: Jack, you've talked a lot about Senator Barbara Boxer's very public battles with key members of the Bush Administration, like Stephen Johnson, the director of the EPA. Boxer's latest target is the Secretary of the Interior. Why is she so upset with Dirk Kempthorne?

Shaw: Well, she's angry because Kempthorne stiffed her at a hearing. He did not attend, and it was a hearing that Boxer's very interested in. There was an issue about whether the polar bear should be on the endangered species list, and her committee's held several hearings. Kempthorne declined her invitation to attend, and it's pretty unusual for a cabinet secretary to decline the request of a committee chairman to attend.

Kempthorne's reasoning was that there's some litigation concerning this whole listing of the polar bear that he, that is going on with his department, and he just doesn't feel it's appropriate for him to talk at the time. But Boxer was very angry; she said that he's involved in a lot of other things, including letting some oil leases go. She said he certainly could take some time and pay attention to this, this legislation. So she's going to be very– I think she's going to be calling him back, and we will be hearing from him again, before Boxer's committee soon, I think.

Stoltze: What's the upshot on that? You think she'll have any impact on the policy?

Shaw: Well, I don't know. I mean, she basically wants the department to make a decision. They were supposed to decide by January, and so I think she really wants them to declare themselves, and she very much thinks that they're kind of ducking the issue, so she's not going to let it pass easily, I don't think.

Stoltze: Jack, thanks for joining us.

Shaw: Thank you, Frank.

Stoltze: Jack Shaw, reporter for Market News International. He joins us on Mondays with news of the California delegation.