Building A Better Police State
Through More Domestic Spying
Welcome To Bush’s America
Six days that broke one country – and reshaped the world order
Saturday August 16 2008
Pity Georgia’s bedraggled first infantry brigade. And its second. And its hapless navy.
For the past few evenings in the foothills of the Southern Caucasus on the outskirts of Joseph Stalin’s hometown of Gori, reconnaissance units of Russia’s 58th army have been raking through the spoils of war at what was the Georgian army’s pride and joy, a shiny new military base inaugurated only last January for the first infantry, the army engineers, and an artillery brigade.
A couple of hours to the west, in the town of Senaki, it’s the same picture. A flagship military base, home to the second infantry brigade, is in Russian hands. And down on the Black Sea coast, the radars and installations for Georgia’s sole naval base at Poti have been scrupulously pinpointed by the Russians and destroyed.
No Cold War, but Big Chill Over Georgia
By STEVEN LEE MYERS
Published: August 15, 2008
CRAWFORD, Tex. – “The cold war is over,” President Bush declared Friday, but a new era of enmity between the United States and Russia has emerged nevertheless. It may not be as tense as the nuclear standoff with the Soviet Union, for now, but it could become as strained.
Russia’s military offensive into Georgia has shattered, perhaps irrevocably, the strategy of three successive presidential administrations to coax Russia into alliance with the West and integration into its institutions.
From Russia’s point of view, those efforts were never truly sincere or respectful of its own legitimate political and security interests. Those interests, it is now clear, are at odds with those of Europe and the United States.
U.S. May Ease Police Spy Rules
More Federal Intelligence Changes Planned
By Spencer S. Hsu and Carrie Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, August 16, 2008; Page A01
The Justice Department has proposed a new domestic spying measure that would make it easier for state and local police to collect intelligence about Americans, share the sensitive data with federal agencies and retain it for at least 10 years.
The proposed changes would revise the federal government’s rules for police intelligence-gathering for the first time since 1993 and would apply to any of the nation’s 18,000 state and local police agencies that receive roughly $1.6 billion each year in federal grants.
Did Washington waste millions on faulty voting machines?
By Greg Gordon | McClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON _ Hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding that have gone to upgrade the nation’s voting machines since 2003 were used to purchase touch-screen systems that many states are now scrapping because of concerns about their security and reliability.
State governments in Alaska, California, Florida, Iowa, Maryland, Tennessee and New Mexico have decided to replace their touch-screen electronic machines. While some states have completed the switch, others won’t finish replacing the machines until 2010. Nationwide, the federal government spent $1.2 billion on new voting machines between 2003 and 2007.
Spain accused of exporting binge drinkers to Portugal
By Elizabeth Nash in Madrid
Saturday, 16 August 2008
The little resort town of Tavira, in Portugal’s Algarve, is fed up with the hordes of noisy foreigners who party all night on the beach, drinking themselves senseless and then trashing sunshades, deckchairs and life-saving equipment.
So disgusted have the local residents become with the violent antics of these invaders that this summer the town’s mayor, Macario Correia, is calling on the government in Lisbon to change the law so as to ban binge-drinking in public places.
Those responsible for this seaside mayhem are not drunken Britons, nor are they other pallid northern Europeans. They are from Spain – Portugal’s neighbour 12 miles up the road.
Russia in nuclear threat to Poland
From The Times
August 16, 2008
Catherine Philp and Tony Halpin in Tbilisi
Russia threatened Poland with a nuclear strike yesterday as the ripples of the Caucasus conflict spread through Europe and pitched West against East along new borders.
In a chilling echo of the Cold War, Russia gave warning that Poland was “exposing itself to a strike – 100 per cent” after signing a deal with the US to set up a missile shield on Polish soil.
The threat, the strongest since the fall of the Soviet Union, came as President Saakashvili of Georgia was forced to accept defeat as he signed a truce giving the Russian Army the right to patrol Georgian soil.
New fakery scandal, as China’s ‘ethnic’ children actually come from Han majority
From The Times
August 16, 2008
Jane Macartney and Hannah Fletcher in Beijing
As they paraded cheerfully into the Bird’s Nest stadium in their brightly coloured cultural costumes, the 56 smiling children were described as coming from China’s 56 ethnic groups.
Their different hats, dresses and robes may indeed have represented the diversity of the world’s most populous nation. But an official from the children’s dance troupe revealed yesterday that the youngsters did not.
There were no Uighurs, no Zhuangs, no Huis, no Tujias, no Mongols and definitely no Tibetans. Indeed, in the latest in a series of manipulations that have soured memories of the spectacular opening ceremony, all 56 were revealed to be Han Chinese, who make up more than 90 per cent of the country’s 1.3 billion people.
Taliban wages war on aid groups
Wednesday’s ambush by the militants killed three Western aid workers and their Afghan driver. It’s part of an apparent bid to rid Afghanistan of foreign aid workers.
By Anand Gopal | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
Kabul, Afghanistan – A Wednesday attack that killed three Western aid workers in Afghanistan raises concerns that the Taliban is attempting to force the expulsion of all foreign humanitarian workers from the troubled country.
“This was the worst attack in many years and is a major escalation of hostilities,” says Sayed Rahim Satar, vice chairman of the Afghan NGO Coordinating Bureau.
The assault signals a shift in the Taliban’s strategy toward a policy of direct confrontation with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), says Waliullah Rahmani of the Kabul Center for Strategic Studies.
“This appears to be the beginning of a new approach,” he says, “to surround Kabul and eliminate any foreign or government presence in the area.
Shiite Iraqi cleric asks his followers to sign a blood pledge of loyalty
By Stephen Farrell and Suadad al-Salhy
Published: August 15, 2008
ABU DISHIR: Moktada al-Sadr, the Iraqi Shiite cleric, on Friday called on his followers to sign in blood a pledge of loyalty to the Shiite saint after whom he named the Mahdi army, and to affirm their commitment to ridding Iraq of U.S. troops.
The blood pledge was announced during Friday prayers at cities across Iraq, where a document of homage including a color photocopy of Sadr’s red fingerprint was circulated by his supporters.
The pledge request also called on all Muslim believers “to work to liberate all the Islamic states in general, and Iraq especially, from the armies of darkness, by which I mean the occupation and colonization.”
Egypt: Iran should reassure West on nuclear issue >
ALEXANDRIA, Egypt – Iran should not give Western nations the justification to “drag the region down a dangerous slope” by its lack of transparency and flexibility in the conflict over its nuclear program, Egypt’s presidential spokesman said Saturday.
Speaking after a meeting between Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Saudi King Abdallah in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, spokesman Suleiman Awwad defended Iran’s right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes but said the Islamic Republic should give more assurances to the international community.
Iran has refused to comply with repeated international demands to halt nuclear enrichment, a process that can be used to produce fuel for nuclear weapons or nuclear energy.
Mugabe, Mbeki discuss possible Zimbabwe deal <
HARARE Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has met South African President Thabo Mbeki ahead of a regional summit to discuss a possible settlement of the country’s political crisis, state media reported Saturday. Mugabe arrived in South Africa on Friday and was to participate in a weekend summit of regional leaders. His arch-rival, Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, was also in Johannesburg for the summit.
“President Robert Mugabe yesterday (Friday) met his South African counterpart, President Thabo Mbeki… to discuss the possibility of finalising a political settlement among Zimbabwe’s political parties ahead of the Southern African Development Community summit of heads of state and government,” the Herald reported.
In Paraguay, Fernando Lugo sworn in as president
The inauguration of the leftist former bishop breaks a six-decade domination by one party in the poor South American nation.
By Patrick J. McDonnell, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
August 16, 2008
ASUNCION, PARAGUAY — Former Roman Catholic Bishop Fernando Lugo, whose election broke a six-decade legacy of dictatorship and one-party rule, was sworn in Friday as president of this poor, landlocked nation in the heart of South America.
“Today a new Paraguay is born,” Lugo told thousands of supporters and various heads of state assembled outside the congressional palace in the normally sleepy capital. “Today marks the end of an exclusive Paraguay, a secretive, notoriously corrupt Paraguay.”
This nation of 6 million has had a fragile democracy since the 1989 ouster of strongman Alfredo Stroessner, who ruled for 35 years under the banner of the Colorado Party. But Stroessner’s colorados retained power until Lugo’s inauguration — which is being widely seen as the nation’s definitive transition to democratic rule.