Monday, September 1, 2008

BREVITAS

THE WORLD

Times, UK
- Russia is planning to send members of its security forces to train their counterparts in Afghanistan for the first time since the Soviet Union withdrew from the country in 1989, The Times has learnt. At a meeting with President Karzai in Tajikistan last week President Medvedev offered to send 225 Russian police officers to help to train the Afghan National Police, according to Afghan officials. Mr Karzai, who met the Russian leader at a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, accepted his offer and the details are being discussed, the officials said. . . The number may be tiny compared with the 70,000 or so troops from Nato, the US and its allies now deployed in Afghanistan, some of whom are already training the ANP, but the agreement highlights Russia’s determination to reassert its influence in Central Asia, the Caucasus and other regions that it sees as lying within its strategic "sphere of influence".

CITIES

SF Chronicle -
Thousands of people from throughout the Bay Area converged on San Francisco's streets Sunday, but they weren't protesting anything. Instead, people of all ages rode bicycles and scooters and jogged and strolled on 4.5 miles of waterfront streets closed to car traffic for the city's first Sunday Streets event.. . . Mayor Gavin Newsom first proposed the street closures in July, modeling it after a program in Bogota, Colombia. Other cities across the world and in the United States have similar street closures. Newsom took criticism for not taking enough time to talk with merchants and neighborhoods that would be affected. The complaints persuaded city officials to shorten the length of the street closures and cut the time that cars would be banned.

ECO CLIPS

Physorg - Writing in the journal Nature Geoscience, a team of researchers led by University of Wisconsin-Madison geologist Anders Carlson reports that sea level rise from greenhouse-induced warming of the Greenland ice sheet could be double or triple current estimates over the next century. . . The most recent estimates of sea level rise due to melting of the Greenland ice sheet by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggest a maximum sea level rise during the next 100 years of about 1 to 4 inches. That estimate, Carlson and his colleagues note, is based on limited data, mostly from the last decade, and contrasts sharply with results from computer models of future climate, casting doubt on current estimates of change in sea level due to melting ice sheets. According to the new study, rising sea levels up to a third of an inch per year or 1 to 2 feet over the course of a century are possible.

GUSTAV

Wired
- Perhaps the most startling call for forces [for New Orleans] comes from Blackwater, the controversial private security contractor. The firm -- which patrolled New Orleans after Katrina -- is "compiling a list of qualified security personnel for possible deployment into areas affected by Hurricane Gustav," according to an e-mail obtained by R.J. Hillhouse. They're looking for current sworn law enforcement officers, with "arrest powers" and "armed status (must indicate Armed and/or Semi Auto. Revolver only not accepted)." The firm is also looking for "current/active/licensed/registered armed security officer[s]," but "only from the following states: OR, WA, CA, NV, NM, AZ, TX, FL, GA, SC, NC, VA, MD, IL, OK." Applicants "must be US citizens," the e-mail notes. "Contract length is TBD."

OUTLYING PRECINCTS

Toronto Star
- The Green Party has wooed Independent MP Blair Wilson to its ranks, giving the party its first politician in the House of Commons and as a result, a spot in the televised election debates. Because the party now has a MP, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May will be entitled to participate in the televised leaders' debates in the election that is expected to be called within days.

Del Ali, Research 2000 - As Palin's cultural views become better known -- she opposes abortion in all cases and opposes the use of birth control pills and condoms even among married couples -- she will undoubtedly scare the hell out of the soccer moms and 98% of Hillary voters.

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