News briefs for Aug. 30

Published 12:13 am Saturday, August 30, 2008

McCain selects Alaska’s Palin to be vice presidential candidate

DAYTON, Ohio — John McCain picked Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, a maverick conservative with less than two years in office, as his vice presidential running mate Friday in a startling choice as the Republican National Convention drew near.

At a raucous rally in the swing state of Ohio, McCain introduced Palin as the political partner “who can best help me shake up Washington and make it start working again for the people who are counting on us.”

Palin, the first Republican woman tapped for national office, promised: “I’m going to take our campaign to every part of our country and our message of reform to every voter of every background in every political party, or no party at all.”

Gustav strengthens back into a hurricane

GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands — Gustav became a hurricane again on Friday as it plowed toward Cayman Islands resorts, the start of a buildup that could take it to the U.S. Gulf Coast as a fearsome Category-3 storm three years after Hurricane Katrina.

Gustav, which killed 71 people in the Caribbean, was expected to swirl through the Cayman Islands, a tiny offshore tax haven studded with resorts and cruise-ship souvenier shops, before crossing Cuba’s cigar country and heading into the Gulf of Mexico by Sunday.

Edwards to emerge from seclusion alone

RALEIGH, N.C. — John Edwards will emerge from seclusion and speak next month at Hofstra University in New York, taking the stage exactly one month after admitting to an extramarital affair, the school said Friday. But his wife Elizabeth has canceled what was to be a joint appearance.

A representative for the former Democratic presidential candidate confirmed Friday that Edwards will speak alone at the school on Sept. 8, said Hofstra spokesman Stuart Vincent.

Edwards and his wife were originally billed as the first speakers in a university series on the 2008 election. But that was before Edwards admitted to cheating on Elizabeth with a filmmaker hired by his political action committee.

Source: Commander recommends troop cuts to Pentagon chief

WASHINGTON — The top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, has given his military superiors and Defense Secretary Robert Gates his initial recommendation on when to resume a U.S. troop withdrawal and at what pace, a senior military officer close to the process said Friday.

The officer, who spoke to The Associated Press only on condition that he not be identified, said Petraeus was still analyzing the situation and had not yet submitted a final set of recommendations. That is expected to happen within the next week or so, but there is no firm deadline.

Georgia to sever diplomatic ties with Russia

TBILISI, Georgia — Georgia said Friday it will sever diplomatic ties with Moscow to protest the presence of Russian troops on its territory. Russia criticized the move, pinning blame for a breakdown in relations on Tbilisi.

Georgia’s remaining diplomats in Russia will leave Moscow on Saturday, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Nato Chikovani said.

Lawmakers had voted unanimously late Thursday to break off ties with Russia, branding it an “aggressor country” in their conflict over two Russian-backed separatist regions in Georgia.

Polls show suburbanites, white women, independents torn over president

WASHINGTON — Polls indicate a close race between Barack Obama and John McCain.

An Associated Press-Ipsos poll and other surveys taken before the Democratic and Republican conventions provide a look at how Obama and McCain are doing with blocs of voters.

– The Associated Press


Ex-Bosnian Serb leader Karadzic refuses to plead at hearing, signals he will fight court

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic made a defiant stand before a U.N. court preparing to try him on genocide charges, refusing to enter pleas Friday and branding the tribunal a NATO proxy out to “liquidate” him.

Judge Iain Bonomy entered not guilty pleas on Karadzic’s behalf on 11 counts, which also include charges of crimes against humanity, allowing pretrial proceedings to proceed even though he rejects the court’s legitimacy.

Karadzic is charged with genocide for allegedly masterminding atrocities, including the slaughter of more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica in July 1995 and the deadly siege of Sarajevo, when he was president of the breakaway Bosnian Serb republic.

He blended measured belligerence with sarcasm at his second appearance before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslav, declining to respond to an indictment that accused him of orchestrating Serb atrocities throughout Bosnia’s 1992-95 war.

“This court is representing itself falsely as a court of the international community, whereas it is in fact a court of NATO whose aim is to liquidate me,” Karadzic said. “I will not plead.”


Michael Jackson at 50: ‘I think the best is yet to come in my true humble opinion’

NEW YORK (AP) — Michael Jackson marked a personal milestone Friday: his 50th birthday.

The 13-time Grammy winner, who has sold more than 750 million albums, told ABC News’ “Good Morning America” that he’s “looking forward to doing a lot of great things. … I think the best is yet to come in my true humble opinion.”

Jackson talked to ABC by phone Thursday.

“People see some of the things I do and they say, ‘Why don’t you show this to the world? People don’t know you do these things.’ And maybe I will,” he said.

Jackson said recording the blockbuster albums “Thriller” and “Off the Wall” were the happiest times of his life.


Deep warm water current that fuels nasty gulf hurricanes seems to be next stop for Gustav

WASHINGTON (AP) — The difference between a monster and a wimp for Gulf of Mexico hurricanes often comes down to a small patch of warm deep water that’s easy to miss. It’s called the Loop Current, and hurricane trackers say Gustav is headed right for it, reminiscent of Katrina.

Gustav is likely to reach this current late Saturday, experts say. What happens next will be crucial, maybe deadly.

If Gustav hits the Loop Current and lingers in that hot spot, watch out. If the storm misses it or zips through the current, then Gustav probably won’t be much of a name to remember.

The meandering Loop Current, located in the southeastern gulf, provides loads of hurricane fuel. It was a key stopover for nearly all the Gulf Coast killers of the past, including Katrina and Camille, said Florida International University professor Hugh Willoughby, former director of the government’s hurricane research division.

Lynn “Nick” Shay, University of Miami meteorology and oceanography professor, flew over the gulf Thursday in a federal hurricane research plane to measure the Loop Current. He saw Gustav’s forecast track going “right down the throat” of it.