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Eye Opener: 3 Cabinet Secretaries Overseas

By Ed O'Keefe

Secretaries Steven Chu, Timothy Geithner and Gary Locke are overseas today. (Wires)

Eye Opener

Happy Tuesday! Three Cabinet secretaries embark on important overseas missions today, with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner continuing his trip to Europe and the Middle East while Gary Locke and Steven Chu visit their ancestral homeland of China on official government business.

The Treasury chief meets with Saudi King Abdullah later today after delivering a speech to the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce that defends the Obama administration's stimulus program and its international economic recovery efforts.

In his prepared remarks, Geithner reiterates his support for a strong U.S. dollar and cautions that, "It seems realistic to expect a gradual recovery, with more than the usual ups and downs and temporary reversals. Growth will turn positive before unemployment peaks, uncertainty will slow the pace of recovery in new investment, and credit conditions will remain unusually tight even as growth recovers."

The Wall Street Journal reports that "The trip to the Middle East, Mr. Geithner's first since stepping into office earlier this year, comes as the U.S. financial crisis has left key oil-rich nations in the Gulf skeptical of investing in the West. Sovereign wealth funds have lost billions of dollars on investments overseas, prompting some to consider pulling back from investments in the U.S. and Europe."

Half a world away, Chu and Locke will arrive in China for a series of meetings with leaders on renewable energy efforts.

"They will land in the middle of a building storm over China’s protectionist tactics to become the world’s leader in renewable energy," reports today's New York Times.

"Calling renewable energy a strategic industry, China is trying hard to make sure that its companies dominate globally. Just as Japan and South Korea made it hard for Detroit automakers to compete in those countries...China is shielding its clean energy sector while it grows to a point where it can take on the world."

The pair will make several speeches to academics and business leaders, tour factories and a "green" Walmart, mostly in the Beijing area.

Earlier this year, the Times characterized Locke as a good fit for the Commerce job because of his China connections: As Washington State governor, he made at least three trade trips to China. Since leaving office, he has helped lead the China practice of the Seattle law firm Davis Wright Tremaine, which he joined in 2005. (Read what Locke has to say about playing golf twice with President Obama here.)

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Other Cabinet and Staff News: Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. lays out his civil rights priorities in an NAACP speech while he faces an avalanche of work and scrutiny. Hillary Rodham Clinton blasts the administration's vetting process. Obama taps an Alabama surgeon for surgeon general. The administration's auto task force czar resigns and will be replaced by a former union leader. Education Secretary Arne Duncan asks teachers' unions to join reform efforts. Cass Sunstein meeting with opponents of his nomination while holding an advisory position at OMB. Robert Groves wins Senate confirmation for Census director.

Administration Considers Revamping Color-Coded Warning System: Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is expected to announce today the creation of a task force to issue recommendations for changes in 60 days.

CIA Had Program to Kill Al-Qaeda Leaders: A broad program to deploy teams of assassins to kill senior terrorists was legally authorized by the administration of George W. Bush, but it never became fully operational.

Nation's Scientific Assets Poorly Maintained: A survey released last week underscores the vast size and scope of the nation's scientific assets, but notes the shrinking pool of qualified support staff to maintain and manage them.

NTSB Urges D.C. Metro to Add Safety Backup: The agency also recommended that the Federal Transit Administration advise other transit agencies to also assure adequate safety redundancy.

Will New Bill Save Postal Service?: A House committee has thrown the nation's postal carriers a lifeline, but it won't be substantial enough to allow the agency to fully escape the financial quicksand pulling it under.

Quake Fears Stall Energy Extraction Project: Two federal agencies are stopping a contentious California project from fracturing bedrock miles underground and extracting its geothermal energy until a scientific review determines whether the project could produce dangerous earthquakes.

Administration Seeks to Restrict Antibiotics in Livestock: Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, principal deputy commissioner of food and drugs, said feeding antibiotics to healthy chickens, pigs and cattle should cease.

OMB Questions GAO on Small Biz Decisions: Pending a legal review, the office has told federal agencies not to implement recommendations made by the Congressional auditing agency.

Tiny Airports Get Big Chunk of Stimulus Cash: According to a ProPublica/CBS News investigation.

By Ed O'Keefe  | July 14, 2009; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
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