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Showing posts from August, 2008

Chavez blusters over cocaine smuggling charge

NY Times:

Fuming over assertions by American officials that cocaine smuggling through Venezuela has surged in recent years, President Hugo Chávez threatened the American ambassador with expulsion on Sunday, opening a new phase of tension between Venezuela and the United States.

Speaking on his Sunday television program, Mr. Chávez also called the Bush administration’s drug czar, John P. Walters, “stupid,” mocking him by breaking into English and asking, “Are you a donkey?” Going further, Mr. Chávez described the United States as hypocritical, calling it the largest producer of marijuana. Mr. Chávez was responding to an assertion by Mr. Walters that flows of Colombian cocaine through Venezuela had quadrupled since 2004, reaching about 282 tons in 2007. The American ambassador, Patrick Duddy, later asserted that drug traffickers were taking advantage of tense relations between the United States and Venezuela. Mr. Chávez’s comments effectively ended what seemed to be the start of a thaw…

Suck Up Story of the Day--Chavez and the Russians

From the Sophia News:

Venezuela Recognizes South Ossetia and Abkhazia Independence
This came close to being a Bottom Story of the Day, but the suck up aspect of it won out.

Pakistan halts air attacks for month

NY Times:

The Pakistani military, which has been criticized by the Bush administration as not pushing hard enough against Taliban militants in the country’s tribal areas, has used jet fighters and helicopter gunships in the past three weeks to strike at insurgents pouring over the border to attack American forces in Afghanistan.

The air assaults have resulted in more than 400 Taliban casualties in Bajaur, an area of the tribal region where Al Qaeda and the Taliban have forged close ties, and have forced the militants to retreat from villages that they controlled, a military official involved in the operations said. But on Saturday night, the Pakistani government declared a cease-fire in the area for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins here on Wednesday. The deal was arranged after the electorally important Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, a religious party, and legislators from the tribal areas said they would support Asif Ali Zardari for president in return for an end to the airstrike…

Brit SAS take out 3.500 terrorist in Baghdad

Daily Mail:

More than 3,500 terrorists have been 'taken off the streets of Baghdad' by an elite British force aimed predominantly at stopping suicide car bombers.
The brazen 'Black Ops' have been going on for the past 18 months and while a majority of the insurgents were captured, it is also thought several hundred - mainly members of an organisation known as 'al-Qa'eda in Iraq' - have been killed by the SAS.The SAS is part of a top-secret unit called 'Task Force Black' which also includes Delta Force, the US equivalent of the SAS.
Suicide car bombers killed around 3,000 people a month in Baghdad at the height of the terrorist attacks in 2006.The SAS began to tackle the threat almost exclusively at the same time the US military launched its so-called 'surge', in which an 30,000 extra American troops moved into Baghdad's most dangerous areas, in early 2007. Using spies and informers to gain intelligence Task Force Black have dismantled the…

Emergency EU summit called on Russia-Georgia

Guardian:

Calls grew louder yesterday for Russia to face greater international isolation because of its invasion and partition of Georgia as European leaders prepared for an emergency summit on the Caucasus crisis and to review the basis of the EU's relations with Russia.France's president, Nicolas Sarkozy, the EU's current president, who negotiated a ceasefire agreement between Moscow and Tbilisi, has convened the first EU emergency summit since February 2003 in the run-up to the Iraq war in order to concentrate the minds of leaders on their policies towards Moscow.Gordon Brown yesterday took a tough position, indicating that Russia's membership of the G8 grouping of big industrial democracies could be frozen, an option that found some support from Germany.France is worried that any tough action agreed by 27 European leaders at this afternoon's summit in Brussels will provoke Russian retaliation and undermine its chances of playing the peacemaker.Russia showed no s…

Gustav preparation

I have been watching Gov. Bobby Jindal in a news briefing on Fox News and have to say, wow. This guy is super competent and informative. I just hope that the people listening to him can comprehend what he is saying so fast. The level of detail is impressive.

What a difference from three years ago.

Alaska National Guard key element of missile defense

DefenseLink:

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Eleven ground-based interceptor missiles buried in underground silos here represent a key part of a multi-layered defense system designed to protect the United States from a ballistic missile attack. These interceptors, and two more at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., would destroy incoming missiles at the “midcourse phase,” outside the earth’s atmosphere.

In the event of an attack, members of the Alaska Army National Guard’s 49th Missile Defense Battalion based here would use sophisticated surveillance and radar systems to track the missile through its initial boost phase, explained Maj. Joe Miley, the unit’s operations officer. If the missile reached the midcourse phase, the Alaska Guardsmen would await the order to engage it.

On order, they would fire an interceptor at the incoming missile. The force of the collision --the equivalent of two refrigerators slamming into each other at 15,000 mph -- would destroy the target before it reentered the atmosphere, Miley said.

Authenticity threatens Obama-Biden

Newt Gingrich:

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The great threat to the Obama-Biden ticket can be captured in one word: authenticity. There is something unaffected and "unsophisticated" (in the Columbia, Princeton, Harvard and University of Chicago meanings of the word) about Governor Palin. She really was point guard of a state championship basketball team. She really is a competent hunter. She is a hockey mom. She has one son about to go to Iraq. She has 13 years in elected office By any practical standard she has done far more in the real world with much more spontaneity and practicality than Barack Obama. And there is something deeply real and courageous about John McCain ignoring most of his advisers and all of the "insider wisdom" to reach out to a younger woman whose greatest characteristic is undaunted courage and a willingness to clean out the corruption in her own party. This is a moment of stunning authenticity versus a sad collapse on the part of the Obama campaign from "…

Hellfire hits 5 al Qaeda in Pakistan

Bill Roggio:

The US has targeted another al Qaeda safe house in South Waziristan, according to reports from Pakistan. At least five al Qaeda operatives were reported killed in the attack, which appears to have been launched by unmanned Predator aircraft hovering over the area. "Two Canadians of Arab origin" were among those killed. Two Punjabis were reported wounded.The strike was targeted at the home of Noor Khan Wazir in the Korzai region near Wana. The home was recently rented to "foreigners."The region is controlled by Mullah Nazir, a rival of Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud. Nazir is often described as a "pro-government" Taliban leader as he does not advocate overthrowing the Pakistani government and ejected Uzbeks from the al Qaeda-allied Islamic Jihad Union from the Wana region in 2007.But Nazir openly supports al Qaeda and its leadership, and admitted he would provide shelter to senior al Qaeda leaders. "How can I say no to any request from…

Chavez converts military to Cuban model

Miami Herald:

Under new regulations decreed by President Hugo Chávez just three weeks ago, Venezuela's military will undergo the most ambitious restructuring plan in more than a century, remodeling itself in many aspects on the Cuban military.The new legislation enacted by Chávez places the ''popular Bolivarian militias'' directly under the command of the president, promotes the role of social intelligence networks similar to the Cuban revolutionary defense committees and gives the president unprecedented powers over the armed forces.The measure also allows the military to take on civilian functions from the previously banned, such as the intelligence network that will now operate through the thousands of community centers around the country.''The new legislation governing the armed forces militarizes the society and puts citizens under military order,'' explained Rocio San Miguél, a military expert that heads Control Ciudadano, a watchdog group tha…

Palin excites GOP base

Jonathon Martin:

The selection of Sarah Palin as John McCain’s running mate has electrified conservative activists, providing a boost of energy to the GOP nominee-in-waiting from a key constituency that previously had been lukewarm — at best — about him.

By tapping the anti-abortion and pro-gun Alaska governor just ahead of his convention, which is set to start here Monday, McCain hasn’t just won approval from a skeptical Republican base — he’s ignited a wave of elation and emotion that has led some grass-roots activists to weep with joy.

...

The media elite — as well as elite members of the GOP consulting community — have all but mocked Palin as a former small-town mayor with zero Washington experience. But that view of her totally misses the cultural resonance she carries to crucial Republican power centers and could not be more at odds with the jubilation felt among true believers that one of their own is on the ticket.Palin, say conservative activists, has instantly changed how they f…

Russian police kill web site owner

The unquotable news agency says that police met the plane of one of the critics of the state, arrested him and then dumped his body with a hole in his head. It must be part of that famous concern for human rights.

Another radical friend of Obama

Guy Benson:

Eighty-five thousand cheering fans. Pyrotechnics. A dramatic, temple-style backdrop. Such was the scene in Denver Thursday night as Barack Obama accepted his party’s presidential nomination with “great humility.” As his deep voice reverberated throughout the massive venue, thousands of eyes welled up with tears of hope and change. In the sea of faces and waving flags stood a woman by the name of Marilyn Katz. Like several of the other radicals who populate Obama’s sphere, she once advocated guerilla tactics against police officers and participated in violent riots. Unlike some of her more infamous counterparts like Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn—who are in self-imposed exile until November 5—Katz is deeply, and officially, involved in Obama’s presidential campaign.

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Katz wasn’t just an aggrieved foot soldier in the anti-war movement. She was the head of security for the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), a hardcore leftist cabal from which Ayers’ militant Wea…

The case for coal liquefaction

Ralph Hostetter:

Coal liquefaction has been around for a long time. Although relatively unfamiliar in the American energy vocabulary, it dates back to 1923, when German scientists developed the Fisher-Tropsch process for converting coal into the liquid fuels of gasoline and diesel. The process was used extensively by Nazi Germany during World War II. It came into its most extensive use when South Africa faced a world oil embargo during that nation's political practice of racial apartheid in the latter part of the last century. The government of South Africa formed the South African Synthetic Oil Ltd. Corp., which has become known as Sasol. The Sasol operation at its peak, during the apartheid embargo years, was producing as much as 70 percent of South Africa's liquid fuel needs. Prices at the pump were competitive with world prices for imported oil. As demand grew for increased production of synthetic fuels, Sasol built a much larger facility at Secunda. Sasol today converts…

The Palin difference

Raymond de Souza:

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She is Alaska’s youngest-ever governor. And she rocketed to the top of Alaska’s political scene by blowing the whistle on the corrupt, insider game that has long characterized the politics of Alaska -- which, aside from geography, is a small state with a lot of big resource companies.

She is something genuinely new. Unlike Senator McCain (22 years in the Senate) and Senator Biden (36 years in the Senate), she is not someone who has risen in politics by sheer longevity. Unlike Senator Obama, who accommodated himself to the seedy ethno-religious politics of Chicago’s South Side in search of political preferment, she challenged he own corrupt party machine to advance. And unlike Senator Clinton — who, with her husband, never quite exits the stage -- she achieved early success by defeating the old bulls who ran her state, not by marrying the hottest ticket in Arkansas.

She is a hockey mom who hunts and fishes. Her husband, Todd, is something almost unheard of in the moni…

Obama campaign disses small town America

Washington Times:

Sen. Barack Obama's campaign went on a "rant" when it harshly reacted Friday to news that Sen. John McCain had selected Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate, a senior McCain aide said Saturday. Just 36 hours after word leaked out that Mr. McCain would add Mrs. Palin to the Republican ticket, his campaign rekindled the controversy during the Democratic primary that Mr. Obama was condescending to middle America, exemplified by his remark that people in rural areas were bitterly clinging to guns and religion. "The Obama campaign was caught flat-footed by McCain's choice and typically lashed out in a rant that once again insulted small-town Americans," McCain adviser Charlie Black said after the Obama campaign dismissed Mrs. Palin as a former small-town mayor with no foreign policy experience. Unsure how to respond to the 44-year-old self-described "hockey mom," the Obama camp on Saturday changed tack for the third time, iss…

The arrogance and ignorance of Democrats

Dean Barnett:

In 1981, former Harry Truman consigliere and LBJ Secretary of Defense Clark Clifford memorably labeled the new Republican sheriff in town an "amiable dunce." At the time, Clifford was the living embodiment of the Washington establishment, and his glib analysis showed that while you can find the occasional memorable phrase on the D.C. cocktail circuit, facile conclusions delight the crowd more than serious inquiry. It comes as no small irony that in the years that followed, the discovery of Reagan's voluminous private writings revealed him to be the finest writer and most original political philosopher to sit in the Oval Office since at least Theodore Roosevelt. As for the condescending genius Mr. Clifford, he ended up the 1980s enmeshed in the BCCI scandal, thanks largely to his own confusion. At least that's how he told the story, complaining to the New York Times, "I have a choice of seeming either stupid or venal." Clifford opted for the for…

Mexicans demonstrate against criminal insurgents

Houston Chronicle:

Disgusted and furious with the violence battering their country, crowds estimated in the hundreds of thousands took to the streets across Mexico on Saturday evening to demand peace and security. "Enough with so much bloodshed and crime," said Rodolfo Sosa, 48, who was among the white-clad protestors braving torrential tropical downpours earlier in the day to march through the heart of Mexico City.A crowd estimated by Reforma newspaper to be at least 200,000 marched in Mexico City. Smaller marches were held in Monterrey, Guadalajara and other major cities."Mexico is awakened now," said Leticia Ramirez, 45, a physical education teacher who was among a group of women carrying a banner demanding life sentences for kidnappers, rapists and murderers. "If our authorities can't handle the problem, they should resign."The marches were hastily organized this month amid widespread outrage at the kidnap-murder of the 14-year-old son of one of M…

Gustav moving faster than expected

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As you can see the hurricane is well past Cuba and is still tracking for the central Louisiana coast. Landfall is now expected Monday afternoon which puts it about 12 hours earlier than previous predictions. It could still hit anywhere between Mississippi and East Texas, but the steering currents have not developed and its rapid movement suggest it will stay on its present course.

This site has a round up of news on the hurricane. Click on the image above for a larger view. It is a hot link so it should be updated throughout the day. A tracking map of the storm is here.

My relatives in Lafayette plan to ride it out so I may have more reports as long as their power stays on.

CNN covers the storm and the evacuation process which includes chartered flights out of the area into Tennessee. Louisiana has a very proactive governor this time in Jindal and even Nagin is showing a sense of urgency in evacuating the population of New Orleans.

The sanctuary mentality

Milwaukee Sentinel-Journal/Houston Chronicle:

Immigration enforcement officials are now targeting migrant and seasonal Head Start centers in some states as part of efforts to track down illegal immigrants, the executive director of the National Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Association says. Yvette Sanchez, president of the Washington, D.C.-based association, was in Milwaukee recently for a meeting of the national board of directors at United Migrant Opportunity Services Inc.She said immigration surveillance is emerging as one of the top three issues for the group, comprising migrant and seasonal Head Start directors, staff, parents and friends. Financial appropriations and the need for more bilingual materials are the others, she said."Several kids and babies died in the fields because parents were fearful of sending them to Head Start," she said in an interview."Since early 2007, many of our programs started to notice that Border Patrol of Immigration and Customs Enf…

Tracking criminals through their GPS

NY Times:

Like millions of motorists, Eric Hanson used a Global Positioning System device in his Chevrolet TrailBlazer to find his way around. He probably did not expect that prosecutors would use it, too — to help convict him of killing four family members.

Prosecutors in suburban Chicago analyzed data from the Garmin G.P.S. device to pinpoint where Mr. Hanson had been on the morning after his parents were fatally shot and his sister and brother-in-law bludgeoned to death in 2005. He was convicted of the killings this year and sentenced to death.Mr. Hanson’s trial was among recent criminal cases in which the authorities used such navigation devices to help establish a defendant’s whereabouts. Experts say such evidence will almost certainly become more common in court as the systems become more affordable and show up in more vehicles.“There’s no real doubt,” said Alan Brill, a computer forensics expert in Minnesota who has worked with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Secret S…

Mike Williams to introduce McCain acceptance speech

Houston Chronicle:

With President Bush's national approval ratings hovering around 30 percent, you might think it's a bad year to be a Republican convention delegate from the state the president calls home. Not so, say some prominent Texas Republicans."We're the second-largest state in the country. We're the state with the strongest economy in the country. We've been the source of presidents and the source of significant members of the Congress. I expect us to be treated the way we've always been treated — very well," said Michael Williams, a delegate and state Railroad Commission chairman.Williams, who believes history will judge Bush's presidency a success, is scheduled to help introduce John McCain when the senator accepts the GOP presidential nomination on Thursday.But others, who foresee no problem with the Texas delegation's welcome, still say that Bush's record doomed any chance for a Texan to join McCain on the ballot....
Williams is…

McCain's choice shows how different he is

Dick Morris and Eileen McGann:

Sarah Palin does not simply represent an opportunity to appeal to women voters and to add a new, charismatic presence to the ticket. Her selection signals the rebirth of John McCain, the courageous, independent senator who seemed to have been anesthetized during the long primary process.

...

Her appointment demonstrates the crucial flaw in the Democratic attack on McCain: the accusation that he is another George W. Bush. Bush chose Cheney. McCain chose Palin. That's emblematic of the difference between them.

Now McCain needs to follow up this bold choice by articulating the many differences between his views and those of the Bush administration. From his opposition to torture to his proposal of the surge that saved the war in Iraq, he is no Bush clone. With his push for campaign-finance reform, tobacco regulation, corporate-governance reforms, an end to earmarking and cuts in spending, he has crafted a totally independent course that he needs to articul…

Palin draws support from unlikely places

Washington Times:

Pro-choice Republican women, including one of their movement's best-known leaders, have embraced the strongly pro-life Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as Sen. John McCain's choice for running mate. Somewhat surprisingly, Mrs. Palin has elicited enthusiasm not only from pro-choice Republican groups, but from many rank-and-file pro-choice Republican women. Ann Stone, who founded Republicans for Choice in 1989 and has led it ever since, told The Washington Times that in picking Mrs. Palin, Mr. McCain did what he needed to do to make the Republican National Convention a success because Mrs. Palin will help the GOP ticket with pro-choice women. "He did it on Friday. He picked a non-Washington fresh face, a woman who is totally out of the box," Mrs. Stone said. "She breaks all kinds of stereotypes - if Republicans can overcome the lies that the Democrats are already spreading about her." "Do you think I have lost my mind to be excited over someo…

Zogby poll after Pallin announcement puts McCain ahead

Zogby International:

Republican John McCain's surprise announcement Friday of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate - some 16 hours after Democrat Barack Obama's historic speech accepting his party’s presidential nomination - has possibly stunted any Obama convention bump, the latest Zogby Interactive flash poll of the race shows.

The latest nationwide survey, begun Friday afternoon after the McCain announcement of Palin as running mate and completed mid-afternoon today, shows McCain/Palin at 47%, compared to 45% support for Obama/Biden.

In other words, the race is a dead heat.

...
Other tracking polls are using a daily average that might include results before the announcement.There is obviously considerable excitement about the Palin selection that ahs resulted in money flowing into the McCain campaign. Gateway Pundit indicates that over $7 million has come in since Friday morning.

Most got it wrong on surge

Michael Gordon:

When President Bush speaks to the Republican convention on Monday, he is expected to tout the “surge” of forces in Iraq as one of his proudest achievements. But that decision, one of his most consequential as commander in chief, was made only after months of tumultuous debate within the administration, according to still-secret memorandums and interviews with a broad range of current and former officials.

In January 2007, at a time when the situation in Iraq appeared the bleakest, Mr. Bush chose a bold option that was at odds with what many of his civilian and military advisers, including his field commander, initially recommended. Mr. Bush’s plan to send more than 20,000 troops to carry out a new counterinsurgency strategy has helped to reverse the spiral of sectarian killings in Iraq. But Mr. Bush’s penchant to defer to commanders in the field and to a powerful defense secretary delayed the development of a new approach until conditions in Iraq, in the words of a Novem…

Economy may not effect election?

Washington Post:

Home prices are plummeting, food and energy costs are sky high and, for many families, disposable income is stagnant or falling. Economic forecasters say conditions are the worst they've seen in a presidential election year in nearly three decades. That should spell big trouble for the party in control of the White House, and the Democrats should be waltzing to victory, history suggests. But so far it hasn't turned out that way, even though voters by a wide margin name the economy as the most important issue in the campaign. As the presidential contest enters its final months, public opinion polls show Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) locked in a tight race with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). Economists who say economic conditions can be used to explain the outcome of almost every presidential election since at least the 1950s are perplexed. "Historically, the economy seems to matter. And given the state of the economy, it should be giving Obama an edge," sa…

Defending a tradition of 'honor' killings

Arab News:

A Pakistani lawmaker defended a decision by southwestern tribesmen to bury five women alive because they wanted to choose their own husbands, telling stunned members of Parliament this week to spare him their outrage.“These are centuries-old traditions and I will continue to defend them,” Israr Ullah Zehri, who represents Balochistan province, said yesterday. “Only those who indulge in immoral acts should be afraid.”The women, three of whom were teenagers, were first shot and then thrown into a ditch. They were still breathing as their bodies were covered with rocks and mud, according to media reports and human rights activists, who said their only “crime” was that they wished to marry men of their own choosing. Zehri told a packed and flabbergasted Parliament on Friday that Baloch tribal traditions helped stop obscenity and then asked fellow lawmakers not to make a big fuss about it.Many stood up in protest, saying the executions were “barbaric”. They demanded that the disc…

Russia threatens to sell air defense system to Iran

Sunday Telegraph:

US intelligence fears the Kremlin will supply the sophisticated S-300 system to Tehran if Washington pushes through Nato membership for its pro-Western neighbours Georgia and Ukraine. The proposed deal is causing huge alarm in the US and Israel as the S-300 can track 100 targets at once and fire on planes up to 75 miles away. That would make it a "game-changer", greatly improving Iranian defences against any air strike on its nuclear sites, according to Pentagon adviser Dan Goure. "This is a system that scares every Western air force," he said. Senior US intelligence operatives believe that Russia is planning to use a stand-off over the S-300 to create a foreign policy showdown that would test the mettle of a new US president. Republican candidate John McCain has taken a strongly anti-Kremlin line on a series of international issues and backed Georgia's desire to join Nato. His Democratic rival Barack Obama …

Taliban threatens Pakistan city

Sunday Telegraph:

Should they let their daughters go back to lessons in the rubble of their school, blown up by the Taliban in the middle of the night, or should they keep them safe at home? Hashim, the caretaker who was held at gunpoint by masked gunmen, was warned that they would be back if the school is rebuilt. He fears that next time they could blow it up with pupils inside. Yet this is not Kandahar, the Taliban capital of southern Afghanistan, but Peshawar - a city of 1.4 million people in neighbouring Pakistan, once celebrated as a cultural haven for artists, musicians and intellectuals. A year ago schools were considered safe in the city, the capital of North-West Frontier Province. But the Taliban insurgency that has been growing in the wild mountains that rise in the distance is spreading into urban Pakistan. Clerics and political leaders critical of the Taliban have been kidnapped and shot dead, around 15 suicide bombers have attacked inside …

UK says Russia unreliable supplier of energy

Observer/Guardian:

Gordon Brown warns today that the West will not be held to ransom by Russia, threatening a 'root and branch' review of relations with the Kremlin and urgently moving to stop Britain's reliance on Russian oil and gas.His defiant words in an article in today's Observer, following a 'frank' conversation with the Russian president yesterday, will heighten tensions ahead of tomorrow's meeting of European heads of state called to discuss the crisis in Georgia. The Prime Minister's intervention reflects fears that the territorial conflict over South Ossetia risks spilling into an energy war, with Russia using its vast supplies of oil and gas - on which many European countries depend - to blackmail the West into submission.'No nation can be allowed to exert an energy stranglehold over Europe,' says Brown. He promises urgent action to prevent Britain 'sleepwalking into an energy dependence on less stable or reliable partners', i…

Obama's European delusions

Sunday Telegraph:

Senator Jack Reed, who accompanied Mr Obama on his recent trip to Europe and the Middle East and is a spokesman for his presidential campaign, revealed that Mr Obama thinks he can appeal over the heads of EU leaders to win support for British and American forces fighting the Taliban. The senator from Rhode Island, a member of the foreign relations committee, told the Daily Telegraph that Mr Obama believes the goodwill he has accumulated in Europe can be used during the first months of his presidency to recast the war on terrorism, focusing on al-Qaeda forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan, rather than the war in Iraq. Mr Obama's trip was widely criticised in the US, where some voters thought it odd that he spent more than a week courting leaders and publics overseas, rather than panning for votes at home. But his allies believe that the goodwill generated, particularly in Berlin, where Mr Obama made a speech in front of 200,000 peopl…

Palin--The case for ANWR

Biden has been around long enough to have voted against the original trans Alaska pipeline. He has a real long record of being wrong on energy.

Palin makes a positive impression

Rasmussen Reports:

Sarah Palin has made a good first impression. Before being named as John McCain’s running mate, 67% of voters didn’t know enough about the Alaska governor to have an opinion. After her debut in Dayton and a rush of media coverage, a new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey finds that 53% now have a favorable opinion of Palin while just 26% offer a less flattering assessment. Palin earns positive reviews from 78% of Republicans, 26% of Democrats and 63% of unaffiliated voters. Obviously, these numbers will be subject to change as voters learn more about her in the coming weeks. Among all voters, 29% have a Very Favorable opinion of Palin while 9% hold a Very Unfavorable view. By way of comparison, on the day he was selected as Barack Obama’s running mate, Delaware Senator Joseph Biden was viewed favorably by 43% of voters.
... Palin’s selection may have already provided a short-term boost for McCain by muting any further convention bounce following Obama’s successful …

Palin visits troops in Kuwait

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Lieutenant Col. David Cogdell helps Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin test out the Engagement Skills Trainer in this DOD photo. She looks like she definitely knows the business end of the weapon. I think she can take both Obama and Biden in this exercise.

More photos with the troops here.

Freedom for Cuban rock dissident

Miami Herald:

Cuban punk rocker Gorki Aguila is irreverent, vulgar -- and bolder than any other performance artist in modern Cuban history.His lyrics blasting the Cuban dictatorship are so strong, this newspaper can't print many of them. The founder and lead singer of the 10-year-old group ''Porn for Ricardo'' walks around his western Havana neighborhood with T-shirts that say things like, ``59: Year of the Mistake.''In a case that has drawn attention around the world, the 39-year-old rocker went on trial Friday on charges of ''pre-crime social dangerousness.'' He faced a sentence of up to four years in prison, but in the end the court fined him the equivalent of $28 and promised to free him.Wire-service reports from Havana said the singer yelled ''freedom!'' as he was led into a courthouse. Diplomats, human rights activists, artists and journalists swarmed the municipal courthouse Friday morning awaiting the trial, which beg…