John McCain Is President
Already In A Parallel Universe
Or His Own Diluted Universe
Neither Of Which Is The Real Universe
Phelps’s Epic Journey Ends in Perfection
By KAREN CROUSE
Published: August 16, 2008
BEIJING – It was so surreal to be Michael Phelps here, to listen to people debate whether he is the greatest athlete in Olympic history after he passed a group that included the runners Carl Lewis and Paavo Nurmi to become the one with the most gold medals.
Phelps is a self-described klutz, a real fish out of water on land, and he has a surgical scar on his right wrist to prove it. In October he took a nasty stumble that imperiled his pursuit of Mark Spitz’s single Games record of seven gold medals. Phelps, 23, slipped on a patch of ice and fell while climbing into a friend’s car in Michigan and broke his right wrist.
Georgia, Russia took a path of belligerence and bluster
Russia supported separatists and distrusted Georgian leader Saakashvili, whose mocking attitude and head-long rush to embrace the U.S. made matters worse.
By Borzou Daragahi and Peter Spiegel, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers
August 17, 2008
TBILISI, GEORGIA — The Russian diplomat said he couldn’t make it. He had a flat tire. The Georgian official in charge of bringing breakaway regions back into the fold was incredulous.
Temur Iakobashvili had driven up to South Ossetia from the Georgian capital to begin Russian-mediated peace talks to end months of escalating fighting in the pro-Moscow republic. But his Russian counterpart hadn’t shown up.
“Can’t you change the tire?” Iakobashvili says he asked Yuri Popov. No, the Russian diplomat replied. The spare was flat, too.
Less than 12 hours later, war between Russia and Georgia began, a conflict that has roiled the volatile, oil-rich Caucasus, raised tensions between Moscow and the West and nearly crushed this small U.S. ally.
But long before that flat tire, both sides had set their course for conflict, analysts and officials in Washington, Tbilisi and Moscow say: A combination of Russia’s relentless drive toward confrontation and Georgian hubris made last week’s warfare inevitable
Justice Dept. Moves Toward Charges Against Contractors in Iraq Shooting
By Del Quentin Wilber and Karen DeYoung
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, August 17, 2008; Page A01
Federal prosecutors have sent target letters to six Blackwater Worldwide security guards involved in a September shooting that left 17 Iraqi civilians dead, indicating a high likelihood the Justice Department will seek to indict at least some of the men, according to three sources close to the case.
The guards, all former U.S. military personnel, were working as security contractors for the State Department, assigned to protect U.S. diplomats and other non-military officials in Iraq. The shooting occurred when their convoy arrived at a busy square in central Baghdad and guards tried to stop traffic.< /blockquote>
Obama-themed merchandise sales strike it hot
By Sasha Issenberg
Globe Staff / August 17, 2008
PHILADELPHIA – Malik Onley was standing behind a table filled with hip-hop CDs on a West Philadelphia sidewalk, fondly recalling the weeks this spring when he quickly sold out of 150 copies of a $5 mix tape featuring Jay-Z’s raps interspersed with Barack Obama’s speeches, when the candidate’s logo caught his eye.
It was barely the size of a dime, prominently featured on the cover of a new “One Hood Promo TV” DVD of music videos curated by Jim Jones, a New York hip-hop impresario. Onley picked up the case and skimmed its contents.
“There’s nothing with Obama on there,” Onley said, shrugging as he gestured back at the logo. “That just says it’s cool.”
More Chinese, beset by pollution woes, are going green
By Jack Chang | McClatchy Newspapers
ZIBO, China – While Olympic visitors from around the world get a firsthand glimpse this month at China’s pollution problems, a homegrown movement is racing to ward off what many here predict could be epic environmental meltdown.
Hundreds of millions of Chinese are taking the first steps to turn the tide, fueled by growing unhappiness with the plunging quality of life caused by out-of-control environmental degradation.
Industrial districts such as Zibo in coastal Shandong province are closing heavily polluting factories and encouraging the development of cleaner industries. The effect of such efforts in Zibo, about 400 miles from the capital of Beijing, has been immediate, as the thick pall of smoke that used to cover the city just a year ago has disappeared.
Pakistan looks to life without the general
Jason Burke was the first reporter to interview General Musharraf when he seized control in 1999 from one of the men who today threaten to impeach him.
Sunday August 17 2008
Tomorrow morning two convoys of luxury four-wheel-drive vehicles will speed from the leafy western suburbs of Islamabad on to the newly widened dual carriageway through the centre of the Pakistani capital.
Barely braking for the police checkpoints, they will converge on the National Assembly. The two most powerful politicians in Pakistan – Nawaz Sharif, the head of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), and Asif Ali Zardari, the husband and successor of assassinated Benazir Bhutto as leader of her Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) – will either be burying President Pervez Musharraf or praising him. If negotiations to secure an ‘honourable exit from power’ for the military strongman have been successful, it will be the latter: speeches disingenuously praising his contribution over nine years of rule to the Pakistani people. If not, it will be impeachment.
How secret talks killed off apartheid
A TV film tells story of hidden negotiations in an English country house that changed South Africa and led to an unlikely long-term friendship
Vanessa Thorpe, arts and media correspondent
Sunday August 17 2008
It was a moment of political history too sensitive to be revealed for more than a decade. In the luxurious surroundings of an English country house, secret round-table discussions took place in the late 1980s that were to bring about the dismantling of the apartheid system in South Africa.
In the seclusion of Mells Park in Somerset, and unknown to all but a few invited guests, Thabo Mbeki, then a dissident member of the African National Congress and now President of his country, met representatives of the white regime he hated.
Work has just finished on a film that will tell the story of these meetings for the first time. Endgame, a political thriller shot in England and South Africa, stars the Hollywood actor William Hurt as Willie Esterhuyse, who represented P.W. Botha’s government, and Chiwetel Ejiofor, the award-winning British actor, as Mbeki. The two opposing politicians, who remain friends to this day, formed a strong bond in these discussions that later enabled their country to move forward.
Mbeki gets tough with Mugabe over Zimbabwe talks
Mugabe and Tsvangirai meet neighbouring leaders as mounting crisis cracks traditional African solidarity
By Donna Bryson and Muchena Zigomo in Johannesburg
Sunday, 17 August 2008
Zimbabwe’s political rivals resumed power-sharing talks yesterday on the sidelines of a regional free-trade summit in Johannesburg with pressure mounting to find a way to end the country’s political crisis. And President Robert Mugabe, who is still refusing to make the concessions necessary to achieving an agreement with the opposition, faced protesters from South African unions – a sign that his intransigence is losing him former friends.
On the eve of the summit, Zimbabwe’s opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, met key southern African leaders in Johannesburg. An aide, George Sibotshiwe, said Mr Tsvangirai was briefing them on talks aimed at forming a transitional unity government being mediated by the South African President, Thabo Mbeki. Mr Mbeki takes over the rotating chair of the South African Development Community (SADC) at the summit.
Tourists beware: if it’s fun, Italy has a law against it
Head for the beach or a park bench without knowing the rules, writes Peter Popham, and you could come home with a hefty fine
Sunday, 17 August 2008
In addition to the usual perils of sunburn, jellyfish attacks and bottom-pinching, holidaymakers in Italy face a new range of menaces this summer, the result of the Berlusconi government’s frontal assault on what it calls the “security emergency”.
The nation’s mayors have been given carte blanche to write laws to address their own particular security hang-ups. The result is a blizzard of new rules and regulations that threatens to turn the bel paese into the biggest nanny state of them all.
Unwary foreigners risk getting hefty fines for doing things that are perfectly legal everywhere in the world except the particular town or city where they find themselves.
Forlorn Ségolène sees dirty tricks everywhere >
Royal says she has the support of the Socialist grass roots but has been let down by party bigwigs
From The Sunday Times
August 17, 2008
Matthew Campbell, Marseilles
She almost scaled the summit of French power but these are difficult days for Ségolène Royal, the former Socialist presidential candidate. Last week she was struggling to convince police that it was worth investigating a series of mysterious break-ins at her apartment.
“In a democracy you would think that it would cause a scandal, that it would provoke some condemnation from the authorities,” she said in an interview with The Sunday Times, referring to the break-ins and the possibility that she is being bugged.
“But no,” she went on. “It amused them [the police]. Their reaction was very sarcastic. I think it’s very strange.”
Middle East Sees Hypocrisy in U.S. Stance on Georgia
By JEFFREY FLEISHMAN | Los Angeles Times
August 17, 2008
CAIRO, Egypt – – President Bush’s condemnation of Russia as a bullying intimidator in the Georgian conflict struck a hypocritical note in a Middle East that has endured violent reverberations from the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, and where the sharp White House rhetoric against Moscow echoes what many Arabs feel about the U.S.
The president’s swaggering style and frequent veiled threats of military force have angered and baffled a region that blames his administration for alienating Muslims and instigating turmoil in a misguided war on terrorism.
Now Bush’s spirited attack on Russia’s invasion of its weaker neighbor, Georgia, has raised derisive smirks among Arab commentators, who say the U.S. president is condemning the same power politics he practices.
Hugo Chavez basks in Paraguay President Fernando Lugo’s glory
The Venezuelan travels with the new president to spread their leftist message in the countryside.
By Patrick J. McDonnell, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
August 17, 2008
SAN PEDRO, PARAGUAY — On his first full day in office, President Fernando Lugo traveled Saturday to this agricultural zone where he first won acclaim as a Roman Catholic bishop defending the landless poor against large landowners.
Lugo told an ecstatic crowd of his goal to improve living conditions in the region, one of the poorest and most backward parts of one of the least developed countries in South America. Many San Pedro residents emigrate to seek better lives in places such as Argentina, Europe and the United States.
“The time of Paraguay has arrived,” Lugo said, echoing the egalitarian themes that helped him topple a ruling party entrenched for six decades, including 35 years of military dictatorship. “From now on, all Paraguayans will be treated the same, without distinction.”
Sharing the stage was a euphoric Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, clearly viewing the newly installed Paraguayan chief of state as his newest ally in the Caracas versus Washington political battle that has split Latin America.