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Correction to This Article
An item in this article incorrectly described the military service of W. Scott Gould, who was nominated by President Obama as deputy secretary of veterans affairs. Gould was a naval reservist who worked on intelligence for the war in Afghanistan; he did not serve in Iraq.
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Saturday, January 31, 2009

DISAGREEMENT ON YUAN

Obama Calls China's Hu To Discuss Currency

President Obama called Chinese President Hu Jintao on Friday, according to carefully worded statements released by both the White House and the official New China News Agency, in the wake of pre-confirmation statements by Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner suggesting that Obama might believe China is a currency manipulator.

The news releases provided clues to the current delicate relationship between the two nations on the currency question.

"Hu said the core interest of either country should be respected by each other and taken into consideration," the Chinese government said, an apparent request for an end to potentially insulting comments about the currency exchange rate.

Meanwhile, the otherwise opaque White House statement noted that "President Obama stressed the need to correct global trade imbalances as well as to stimulate global growth and get credit markets flowing" -- a point that suggests continuing concern over the weak yuan's effects on the U.S. economy.

-- Glenn Kessler

BONDING OVER CHIPS

A Really Select Super Bowl Party

Continuing the sociability that has distinguished his new administration, President Obama has invited members of the Pennsylvania and Arizona congressional delegations to the White House to watch Sunday's Super Bowl XLIII, featuring the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Arizona Cardinals.

Obama has admitted a preference for the Steelers, the heavy favorite to win. But here's guessing that, when it comes to this inclusive president and his bipartisan list of guests, everyone will root diplomatically.

The guest list includes Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) -- who this week said he'd vote for Obama's attorney general nominee, Eric H. Holder Jr., after earlier seeming to question his selection -- Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) and, from the Washington area, Reps. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.).

-- Garance Franke-Ruta

SHINSEKI's DEPUTY

Naval Reservist Tapped As VA Deputy Secretary

W. Scott Gould, a former naval reservist who served in the Iraq war as an intelligence officer, has been announced as President Obama's nominee to become deputy secretary at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Gould, who most recently has been a vice president at IBM Global Business Services, will work under Secretary Eric K. Shinseki, a retired four-star general, to revamp the sprawling Veterans Affairs bureaucracy. In a statement, Shinseki said he and Gould are committed to "transforming the Department of Veterans Affairs" and that Gould brings expertise in information technology and managing large organizations.

During Obama's campaign, Gould co-chaired the National Veterans Policy Team. He is married to Michèle A. Flournoy, whom Obama has nominated to be undersecretary of defense for policy.

-- Philip Rucker

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