Friday, June 6, 2008

The Nightowl Newswrap

Getting uglier every day in Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe's authorities have banned several opposition rallies ahead of the 27 June presidential elections. The order came after police briefly detained opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai ahead of a rally in the second largest city of Bulawayo. The Movement for Democratic Change cited a police letter that said "several future public rallies" were to be banned because of security fears. It comes soon after the government banned the distribution of food aid. The authorities accused aid agencies of helping the opposition. Relief organisations reject the charges, warning that Zimbabwe's "desperate" situation could get even worse. Some four million people - a third of the population - rely on aid after poor harvests and an economic crisis.

You can see Putin's hand sticking out of his back, can't you? Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has warned Georgia and Ukraine of serious consequences if they press ahead with plans to join Nato. Mr Medvedev and his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Georgia's president that joining the alliance would lead to a "spiral of confrontation". Mr Medvedev said Ukraine would be in breach of a friendship treaty if it joined Nato, Mr Lavrov said. The leaders are at a summit of 12 ex-Soviet states in St Petersburg.

Rudd rides the porcelain bus: Australian PM Kevin Rudd has said a simple stomach upset was blown out of proportion by speculation he is ruining his health through over-work. His pale appearance at a conference in Sydney last month prompted reports that he might have cardiac trouble. He said he had been hit by a vomiting bug after watching a rugby match, and blamed a pie he ate. Mr Rudd has been dubbed "24/7 Kevin" because of his hectic work schedule since being elected last November. Rumours circulated that the 50-year-old had suffered a minor heart attack after he looked unwell while making a speech at the New South Wales Labor Party conference on 3 May. Mr Rudd said he had been struck down with severe stomach pains the night before, hours after watching his beloved Brisbane Broncos beat the Wests Tigers in Sydney.

Will the Israelis enter Gaza? A newswire story today sounds the alarm on a probable Israeli incursion into Gaza to address repeated Hamas terrorist attacks into Israel. "Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Friday raised the spectre of a full-scale military operation in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip despite Egyptian attempts to mediate a truce. 'According to the information as it is now, the pendulum is much closer to tough military action,' Olmert told journalists on arrival in Israel following a three-day trip to the United States.'" The article includes statistics on the continued cross-border warfare. "At least 491 people, nearly all Palestinians and mostly Gaza militants, have been killed since Israeli-Palestinian peace talks resumed in November, according to an AFP count. The Israeli military said on Friday that Palestinians fired more than 2,300 rockets and mortar bombs at Israel in the past six months." The article predicts the move will come "within days." None of this is news to the Bush Administration or Congress. They've already been briefed that the incursion is inevitable and top leaders from both parties will support it. The Egyptian government, which fears a Hamas-led Gaza as much as Israel does, has tried to mediate. But Hamas showers Israel with rocket fire, continues arms smuggling through tunnels built between individual houses inside and outside of Gaza, and won't release Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, kidnapped in 2006.

I never thought $100 bbl would seem quaint
But at $138 bbl, it sure does. Morgan Stanley analysts predict $150 bbl by July 4.

Yes, that is exactly what Courtney Hazlett said about Spike Lee and his political differences with Clint Eastwood.

Make that 200 point drop a 400 point drop
Todays decline was the sharpest single-day drop since February 2007. President Bush is considering new measures to stimulate the economy, the White House said, although officials acknowledged that time is short. Bush, in his speech on the economy, also said "the stimulus may be working."

It is going to get really ugly out there between now and November
. The ugly, embarrassing, racist crap is only getting started. Decent people, because they are decent people, really have no idea the depths to which the vermin will sink, practically as a default position.

23 dead, 67 wounded
in two separate bus bombings in Sri Lanka. The Tamil Tigers were blamed for the attacks.

Energy Secretary says fuel subsidies "ought to stop"
U.S. Energy Secretary Sam Bodman called on more countries to scrap fuel price subsidies that stoke oil demand, and warned the world to brace for more "shocking" volatility. "It's a shock, but if you look at the rate of oil production globally, it has been 85 million barrels a day for three years in a row," Bodman told a group of reporters. "We know demand is increasing because a lot of nations are still subsidizing oil, which ought to stop," he said.

NYC's top crane inspector arrested, accused of taking bribes
The top inspector charged with assuring the safety of the cranes that make high-rises possible was arrested on Friday and accused of allowing cranes to pass inspections and unqualified operators to obtain licenses.

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