Weekend News Digest is an Open Thread
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1 McCain orders convention changes because of storm
By TOM RAUM, Associated Press Writer
6 minutes ago
|ST. PAUL, Minn. – John McCain ordered changes in the Republican National Convention that was to be a four-day celebration of his presidential nomination Sunday, to “redirect our efforts” to reflect the seriousness of Hurricane Gustav as it churned toward the Gulf Coast. President Bush, Vice President Cheney and prominent GOP governors decided to skip the gathering altogether.
“I pledge that tomorrow night, and if necessary throughout our convention, we will act as Americans and not as Republicans because America needs us now,” McCain said.
McCain, his wife Cindy, and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, toured the emergency management center in Mississippi, a state that could be hit hard by the approaching hurricane.
Cowards! They can’t put on as good a show so they’re going to excuse it with the misery of others.
What a pathetic bunch of losers.
More outrage below.
2 Russia support for separatists could have ripples
By PAISLEY DODDS, Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 17 minutes ago
|LONDON – Russia’s conflict with Georgia and recognition of its small breakaway territories as independent states may have broad repercussions for separatist movements in the former Soviet sphere and around the world.
The crisis could give a jolt of energy to other breakaway regions, especially those with links to Russia, or embolden China to pursue a tougher line in Tibet and Taiwan in the absence of tough Western measures.
“Any country that has a potential separatist movement will view the events in Georgia through its own unique prism,” Richard Holbrooke, the former U.S. envoy who mediated peace in Bosnia in the mid-1990s, told The Associated Press.
3 Iraq "surge" followed sharp internal debate: report
Sat Aug 30, 11:41 PM ET
|NEW YORK (Reuters) – President George W. Bush’s decision to mount a troop “surge” in Iraq last year was taken against the initial recommendations of his top advisers, including his field commander, The New York Times reported in Sunday editions.
Bush’s January 2007 decision to send an extra 20,000 troops to Iraq was criticized for deepening the unpopular conflict but has since been credited with sharply reducing the violence.
Citing secret memorandums and interviews with a host of current and former officials, the Times said Bush’s decision to increase troops for a counterinsurgency in Iraq came after months of tumultuous debate within the administration.
So, listening to “the commanders on the ground”? Just another lie.
4 Thai PM turns to parliament to try to defuse protests
by Thanaporn Promyamyai, AFP
2 hours, 25 minutes ago
|BANGKOK (AFP) – Thailand’s prime minister turned to parliament Sunday to try to prevent anti-government protests from entering a second week, but angrily rejected opposition calls for him to step down or hold fresh elections.
Samak Sundaravej is still looking for a peaceful way out of the crisis that erupted Tuesday when thousands of demonstrators rampaged through Bangkok’s historic district and invaded his offices, demanding that he resign.
The premier called the emergency parliament session after police briefly clashed with rowdy supporters of the so-called People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) on Friday, while rallies spread outside the capital to key tourist spots.
5 Past evidence boosts concern for Greenland icesheet: scientists
by Richard Ingham, AFP
44 minutes ago
|PARIS (AFP) – Scientists Sunday said they could no longer rule out a fast-track melting of the Greenland icesheet — a prospect, once the preserve of doomsayers, that would see much of the world’s coastline drowned by rising seas.
The researchers found that the great Laurentide icesheet which smothered much of North America during the last Ice Age melted far swifter than realised, dumping billions of tonnes of water into the ocean.
The discovery raises worrying questions about the future stability of Greenland’s icesheet, for the Laurentide melt occurred thanks to a spurt of warming that could be mirrored once more by the end of this century, they said.
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6 Amazon deforestation on the rise
By BRADLEY BROOKS, Associated Press Writer
Sat Aug 30, 8:25 PM ET
|RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – Amazon deforestation jumped 69 percent in the past 12 months – the first such increase in three years – as rising demand for soy and cattle pushes farmers and ranchers to raze trees, officials said Saturday.
Some 8,147 square kilometers (3,145 square miles) of forest were destroyed between August 2007 and August 2008 – a 69 percent increase over the 4,820 square kilometers (1,861 square miles) felled in the previous 12 months, according to the National Institute for Space Research, or INPE, which monitors destruction of the Amazon.
“We’re not content,” Environment Minister Carlos Minc said. “Deforestation has to fall more and the conditions for sustainable development have to improve.”
7 Deputy says Russian police kill Web site owner
Sun Aug 31, 10:23 AM ET
|MOSCOW – The owner of an independent Web site critical of authorities was shot and killed Sunday by police in a volatile province in southern Russia, his colleague said.
Police arrested Ingushetiya.ru owner Magomed Yevloyev on Sunday, taking him off a plane that had just landed in Ingushetia province near Chechnya, said the site’s deputy editor, Ruslan Khautiyev.
Police whisked Yevloyev away in a car and later dumped him on the road with a gunshot wound in the head, Khautiyev said. He said Yevloyev died in a hospital shortly afterward.
8 Rainwater collectors work to ease shortages
By MALIA WOLLAN, Associated Press
Sat Aug 30, 2:29 PM ET
|SAN FRANCISCO – Tara Hui climbed under her deck, nudged past a cluster of 55-gallon barrels and a roosting chicken, and pointed to a shiny metal gutter spout.
“See that?” she said. “That’s where the rainwater comes in from the roof.”
Hui is one of a growing band of people across the country turning to collected rainwater for non-drinking uses like watering plants, flushing toilets and washing laundry.
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9 Wind, solar energy built on temporary tax breaks
By JIM ABRAMS, Associated Press Writer
Sun Aug 31, 9:28 AM ET
|WASHINGTON – Congress is putting the short-term future of renewable energy companies in jeopardy even as the presidential candidates and most lawmakers hail windmills, solar panels and biofuels as long-term solutions to high gasoline prices and global warming.
Some $500 million in investment and production tax credits will expire Dec. 31 unless Congress renews them. Without that help, solar and wind power companies say they will reverse planned expansions and, in many cases, cut payrolls and capital investment.
Schott Solar has visions of quadrupling its operation in Albuquerque, N.M., to reach 1,500 jobs and $500 million in investment. But the investment tax credit, company spokesman Brian Lynch said, is what makes solar power cost-competitive. Without it, expansion plans must be reconsidered.
10 Scientists fear impact of Asian pollutants on U.S.
By Les Blumenthal, McClatchy Newspapers
Sun Aug 31, 6:00 AM ET
|WASHINGTON – From 500 miles in space, satellites track brown clouds of dust, soot and other toxic pollutants from China and elsewhere in Asia as they stream across the Pacific and take dead aim at the western U.S.
A fleet of tiny, specially equipped unmanned aerial vehicles, launched from an island in the East China Sea 700 or so miles downwind of Beijing , are flying through the projected paths of the pollution taking chemical samples and recording temperatures, humidity levels and sunlight intensity in the clouds of smog.
On the summit of 9,000-foot Mt. Bachelor in central Oregon and near sea level at Cheeka Peak on Washington state’s Olympic Peninsula , monitors track the pollution as it arrives in America.
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11 Zimbabwe doctors’ advice: Don’t get sick
By ANGUS SHAW, Associated Press Writer
2 hours, 31 minutes ago
|HARARE, Zimbabwe – The advice of doctors to Zimbabweans is, don’t get sick. If you do, don’t count on hospitals – they’re short of drugs and functioning equipment.
As the economy collapses, the laboratory at a main 1,000-bed hospital has virtually shut down. X-ray materials, injectable antibiotics and anticonvulsants have run out.
Emergency resuscitation equipment is out of action. Patients needing casts for broken bones need to bring their own plaster. In a country with one of the world’s worst AIDS epidemics, medical staff lack protective gloves.
12 Russia warns will respond to "aggression"
By Christian Lowe, Reuters
19 minutes ago
|MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia does not want confrontation with the West but will hit back if attacked, Kremlin leader Dmitry Medvedev said on Sunday, a day before EU leaders meet to draft a response to Moscow’s actions in Georgia.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Sunday said he would press fellow European Union leaders to review ties with Russia in retaliation for Moscow’s decision to sent troops to Georgia and recognize two Georgian breakaway regions.
But underlining the differences in approach inside the 27-member EU, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier took a softer line, saying isolating Russia would harm the interests of the bloc.
13 Zimbabwe rival parties return home with no sign of deal
by Fanuel Jongwe, AFP
Sun Aug 31, 9:46 AM ET
|HARARE (AFP) – Zimbabwe’s rival parties have returned home from talks in South Africa, officials said Sunday, with no sign of a power-sharing deal to resolve the country’s bitter political crisis.
Negotiating teams from President Robert Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF and both factions of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) returned home after holding separate talks with South African President Thabo Mbeki on Friday.
The South African president’s spokesman told AFP on Sunday that the talks would continue, but silence from the parties about the way forward pointed to tensions.
14 Was a Would-Be Saint Gay?
By JEFF ISRAELY, Time Magazine
2 hours, 35 minutes ago
|The long-running battle between gay rights activists and the Vatican has moved into the realm of the dead. With 19th century Anglican convert Cardinal John Henry Newman, arguably the greatest Catholic thinker from the English-speaking world, moving ever closer to sainthood, trouble is brewing over where his final resting place should be. The London-born historian and theologian died in 1890 and, following the instructions in his will, was buried beside his lifelong friend and fellow convert Ambrose St. John, who had died 15 years earlier. Newman’s deep expressions of grief after St. John’s death, along with other writings, have led some historians to ask whether the two men, who lived together for many years, lived much like common-law spouses.
|From Yahoo News U.S. News
15 Where Palin Made Her Name
By NATHAN THORNBURGH / WASILLA, ALASKA, Time Magazine
28 minutes ago
|It’s Friday night, and there have got to be 500 people packed into the Sluice Box, a beer-soaked clapboard honky-tonk at the Alaska State Fair – the state’s biggest event all year – just down the highway from Governor Sarah Palin’s hometown of Wasilla. The legendary Hobo Jim, Alaska’s official state balladeer, the guy who has opened sessions of the legislature with a song, is onstage, working blue.
|From Yahoo News Politics
16 Bush: No to convention, plans Gustav trip to Texas
By BEN FELLER, Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 33 minutes ago
|WASHINGTON – President Bush is skipping the Republican National Convention on Monday and will travel instead to Texas to meet with emergency workers and evacuees as Hurricane Gustav bears down on the Gulf Coast.
After a briefing Sunday from Federal Emergency Management Agency officials, Bush urged residents to heed local officials’ order to evacuate.
“Do not put yourselves in harm’s way or make rescue workers take unnecessary risks,” he said. “And know that the American people stand with you. We’ll face this emergency together.”
It couldn’t be any clearer that this COWARD is using Gustav simply as an excuse to avoid embarrassing his party of THIEVES, LIARS, AND TRAITORS by the stench of his CORRUPTION AND INCOMPETENCE!!!
And he’s lazy too, wants a vacation in Crawford while New Orleans drowns AGAIN!
17 McCain defends VP pick
23 minutes ago
|ST PAUL, Minnesota (AFP) – Republican White House candidate John McCain on Sunday defended his choice of Sarah Palin as running mate against Democratic claims she is dangerously inexperienced.
McCain’s wife Cindy meanwhile said Palin credentials were bolstered by the fact that she hails from Alaska, the closest part of the US continent to Russia, to which her husband has adopted a tough political line.
“She’s got the right judgement. She doesn’t think like Senator Obama does that Iran is a minor irritant,” McCain said an interview with Fox News Sunday on the eve of the Republican National Convention here.
“She’s been a commander in chief of the Alaska national guard,” said McCain, adding Palin’s son, who is in the US Army, is shortly to be deployed to Iraq.
The. Alaska. National. Guard.
For 18 stinking months.
18 US House speaker to make landmark Hiroshima visit
by Shaun Tandon, AFP
1 hour, 52 minutes ago
|TOKYO (AFP) – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is set this week to be the highest-ranking sitting US official to visit the site of the Hiroshima atomic bombing, which bitterly divides opinion six decades later.
No sitting US president or vice president has ever paid respects to the dead of the US nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, a sore point for many survivors in Japan.
Pelosi will travel to Hiroshima for a meeting of parliament speakers from the Group of Eight major industrial nations. Pelosi, who is second in line to the presidency, is a member of Barack Obama’s Democratic Party.
19 Bush to address nation
Mike Allen, Politico
2 hours, 44 minutes ago
|ST. PAUL, Minn. – President Bush will skip the Republican National Convention because of Hurricane Gustav and instead plans to address the nation on Monday night instead of his farewell speech to the party faithful, organizers told Politico.
The convention is being radically curtailed. Vice President Cheney will also stay in Washington, officials said. A third speaker scheduled for Monday, California Gov. Arnold Schwarenegger, will remain in the state to deal with a budget crisis.
The cancellations are a crushing disappointment for organizers who have spent more than a year planning the convention, and is a huge setback to a party that had hoped to use the convention to lift the spirits of supporters and reach out to swing voters.
Well maybe we’ll get a chance to tie this MISERABLE FAILURE around the neck of those criminal jackass plutocrats and religious facists yet.
20 Fired official: Palin talked to me about ex-brother-in-law
By Lisa Demer, McClatchy Newspapers
Sat Aug 30, 5:00 PM ET
|ANCHORAGE – Alaska’s former commissioner of public safety claims that Gov. Sarah Palin , John McCain’s pick to be vice president, personally talked to him on two occasions about a state trooper who was locked in a bitter custody battle with the governor’s sister.
In a phone conversation Friday night, Walt Monegan , who was Alaska’s top cop until Palin fired him July 11 , told The Anchorage Daily News that the governor also had e-mailed him two or three times about the trooper, Mike Wooten , though the e-mails didn’t mention Wooten by name.
What role Palin played in seeking her ex-brother-in-law’s dismissal is the governor’s first brush with scandal in a political career that has been premised on reforming Alaska’s corruption-plagued Republican party and raises questions not only about her willingness to use her office to further a personal agenda but also about her administrative abilities.
So she’s a LIAR!
21 Primary defeat of 2000 toughened McCain of 2008
By William Douglas, McClatchy Newspapers
Sun Aug 31, 6:00 AM ET
|WASHINGTON – Sen. John McCain isn’t the same man who first ran for president in 2000.
Rarely seen on the stump is the “Happy Warrior” of eight years ago, the McCain who once likened battling members of his own party to “Star Wars” hero Luke Skywalker trying to escape the Death Star .
His chummy, free-wheeling bull sessions with reporters aboard his “Straight Talk Express” bus – a key to his victory in the 2000 New Hampshire primary – are now carefully controlled, cautious exchanges, a consequence of YouTube’s 24/7 real-time risk to expose anything that sounds like a gaffe.
This is why I don’t use McClatchy Political so much even though it’s available now. They are just as much BELTWAY BUTTKISSING BOZOS as all the rest of the Villager Idiots.
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22 Nigeria militants: 29 military personnel killed
By EDWARD HARRIS, Associated Press Writer
Sat Aug 30, 4:38 PM ET
|LAGOS, Nigeria – Nigeria’s main militant group claimed Saturday that it killed at least 29 military personnel in three separate attacks across the restive southern oil region.
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta said in an e-mail statement that the near-simultaneous battles came in the three main oil producing states of southern Nigeria, leaving 29 dead and others unaccounted for after they jumped from their military boats.
The group reported that six of its own fighters were also killed in the clashes, which they say they launched as reprisals for attacks they allege the military carried out on civilians.
23 United Steelworkers, ArcelorMittal reach agreement
Sat Aug 30, 8:49 PM ET
|PITTSBURGH – The United Steelworkers and ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steel producer, agreed Saturday to a tentative four-year contract.
The union has been negotiating with the company since April on a contract that would cover more than 14,000 workers and tens of thousands of retirees. The current contract expires Monday, and rank-and-file had given union leaders the authority to launch a nationwide strike if contract negotiations had failed.
While both sides declined to publicly discuss details of the contract, the agreement headed to members provides a lump sum payment of $6,000 following ratification, plus a $1 hourly increase in the first year and 4 percent increases in each of the following three years.
24 Hard-up consumers seen seeking solace in gadgets
By Nicola Leske and David Milliken, Reuters
Sun Aug 31, 10:09 AM ET
|BERLIN (Reuters) – Consumer electronic makers are bracing themselves for slower growth in the second half of this year and in 2009, but count on consumers turning to home entertainment amid tougher economic times and tighter budgets.
“When people don’t have much money, they cut on big stuff and buy things that make their lives a little bit better, like consumer electronics,” TomTom (TOM2.AS) co-founder Corinne Vigreux said.
Vigreux said she expected the satellite navigation device company to be largely unaffected by the slowing economy in Europe and the United States, but retailers were being “very careful” on inventory levels in the run-up to Christmas.
First, wishful thinking. Second, what a Versailles disconnect- “I can’t afford gas to go anywhere, but this new GPS is so bright and shiny!”
25 Russia’s WTO bid in doubt as Georgia conflict stokes tensions
by Aude Marcovitch, AFP
Sat Aug 30, 11:16 PM ET
|GENEVA (AFP) – Russia’s longstanding aim of joining the World Trade Organisation has been thrown into doubt as the conflict with Georgia and tensions with the West threaten to reshape the geopolitical order.
Moscow has been knocking at the door of the Geneva-based body since 1993, just two years after the collapse of the Soviet Union and during the first flush of the country’s embrace with capitalism.
Now it is the only major world trading power outside the bloc and has seen its former Soviet satellites such as Georgia and Ukraine steal a march and join the organisation in 2000 and 2008, respectively.
26 Bulgaria’s real estate boom stumbles as demand slumps
by Vessela Sergueva, AFP
Sat Aug 30, 11:30 PM ET
|SOFIA (AFP) – Bulgaria’s real estate boom is turning to bust as its key British and Irish property buyers are now discouraged by financial difficulties at home and the ugly concrete views outside their windows.
According to a study by the Bulgarian Properties real estate agency, which works exclusively with foreign clients, holiday property sales in Black Sea and mountain resorts dropped 40 percent in the first half of 2008 compared to 2007.
“The withdrawal of British and Irish buyers from the Bulgarian market was prompted by the financial crisis in their countries but also by the bad infrastructure and the excess of concrete here,” said Dobromir Ganev of the Property Association in Varna on the Black Sea.
|From Yahoo News Science
27 Plague threatens prairie dogs, endangered ferrets
By CHET BROKAW, Associated Press Writer
Sat Aug 30, 1:44 PM ET
|INTERIOR, S.D. – On the grasslands a few miles from the pinnacles and spires of Badlands National Park, federal wildlife officials have been waging a war since spring to save one of the nation’s largest colonies of endangered black-footed ferrets.
The deadly disease sylvatic plague was discovered in May in a huge prairie dog town in the Conata Basin. The black-tailed prairie dog is the main prey of ferrets, and the disease quickly killed up to a third of the area’s 290 ferrets along with prairie dogs.
The disease stopped spreading with the arrival of summer’s hot, dry weather, but it poses a serious threat to efforts to establish stable populations of one of the nation’s rarest mammals, said Scott Larson of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Pierre.
28 Ghana’s grass-roots bid to save country’s last forests
by Aminu Abubakar, AFP
1 hour, 29 minutes ago
|KAKUM, Ghana (AFP) – For five years now the heat has been less intense and the rainfall more abundant in a small cocoa farming area in Ghana’s Upper Volta region, thanks to villagers bent on affecting climate change.
In this region in Afiaso in the country’s south, their efforts have focused on conserving the nearby Kakum National Park.
“We used to cut down many trees for agricultural use, which brought us a lot of hardship including windstorms, decreased rainfall and increased solar intensity,” said Nana Opare Ababio III, the traditional chief of a 620-member village.
29 No rain, no water for hundreds of thousands of Bulgarians
by Diana Simeonova, AFP
Sat Aug 30, 11:23 PM ET
|SOFIA (AFP) – Summer drought, lagging dam construction and persistent leaks and failures in old pipes have again made water rationing a part of life for hundreds of thousands of Bulgarians this summer.
On Monday, a state of emergency was declared in the central municipality of Panagyurishte, after already three weeks of shortages.
Major breaks in the main pipe channelling water uphill from the Maritza river, over 40 kilometres (25 miles) away, had sent thick rusty water, if any, running from the taps.
30 Hurricane Evacuations: A Better Way
Sat Aug 30, 12:55 PM ET
|Hurricane evacuations have long vexed emergency officials. Figuring out where a storm will hit is a sketchy bet 24 hours or more in advance, and many locations require at least that long to complete an evacuation.
A new approach could save lives by getting certain groups of people, such as tourists and the elderly, out first.
Waiting too long to evacuate people can have disastrous effects, as seen in 2005 with Hurricane Katrina. On the other hand, ordering too many precautionary evacuations can lead to one of hurricane official’s worst fears: complacency the next time around.
Well it doesn’t seem like much to me, but it is the 30 stories that interested me out of the 140 that I looked at.
Magnifico thinks these are easier to read if they’re shorter, I feel like I didn’t look hard enough.