x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Bush and Lieberman praise McCain

President Bush and Sen Joe Lieberman both praise John McCain as the right choice to be America's next president, in speeches at the Republican National Convention. But questions remained about Sarah Palin's suitability for the vice presidency after reports about her teenager daughter's pregnancy surfaced in the press. US vice president Dick Cheney arrived today in Azerbaijan as part of his tour to shore up the southern neighbors of Russia. In Pakistan, the government opened an investigation into the honour killing of five women in Balushistan Province. In the Philippines, senators attack President Arroyo for being indecisive in the ongoing military offensive against separatist Muslim rebels. Google launches its new browser called "Chrome".

The truncated Republican National Convention continued in St.Paul, Minnesota, on Tuesday night with President George W Bush praising presidential candidate John McCain as an excellent choice to replace him when he steps down next January. "John is an independent man who thinks for himself," Mr Bush said. "He's not afraid to tell you when he disagrees." "We live in a dangerous world," Mr Bush said, "And we need a president who understands the lessons of Sept. 11, 2001: that to protect America, we must stay on the offense, stop attacks before they happen, and not wait to be hit again. The man we need is John McCain." Mr Bush's speech was from the White House in Washington via satellite. A pundit on CNN said that keeping the president away from the convention was a deliberate move in order not to overshadow Mr McCain and because Mr Bush has been one of the most unpopular US presidents in history. He also noted that the excuse offered up by the White House, that Mr Bush did not want to attend the convention because of concerns of how it would look with Hurricane Gustav barreling down on New Orleans and the millions of evacuees, was hog-wash. The well-known tensions between Mr Bush and Mr McCain were also cited by the New York Times as a main reason for the president staying away from the RNC. "If the sub-plot of the Democratic convention in Denver was the lingering resentment between Obama and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, the undercurrent here is the longstanding tension between Bush and McCain, and McCain's efforts to distance himself politically from the man he hopes to succeed. Though McCain campaigned diligently for Bush in 2004, he was seared by their clash during the 2000 presidential primaries, and Tuesday night brought their complex relationship full circle, with Bush symbolically handing over the party to McCain," wrote the New York Times. The once Democratic Sen Joe Lieberman, who is now an Independent, was the Rottweiler of choice for the Republicans, saying that Democratic presidential candidate Sen Barack Obama was an eloquent speaker but lacked the experience of Mr McCain. "Sen Barack Obama is a gifted and eloquent young man who can do great things for our country in the years ahead," Lieberman said. "But my friends, eloquence is no substitute for a record ? not in these tough times for America." Meanwhile, questions continued to swirl around whether or not Ms Palin would make a good vice president, especially after news leaked that her 17-year-old daughter Bristol was five months pregnant. A poll in People magazine found that 61 per cent of readers would not accept being Mr McCain's running mate if they faced the same problems that Ms Palin is facing. Thirty-nine per cent said they would accept the challenge. Sarah Miles, a columnist for The Times of London, wrote that Mrs Palin was a lovable woman but would make an appalling candidate. "Mrs Palin may be a feminist (you can hear, by their silence, old leftie feminists grappling with the concept of a 'Feminist for Life' anti-abortionist, the group that Mrs Palin belongs to) but there is little feminine about her. She may be the supermum who can 'just put down the BlackBerry and pick up the breast pump', as she put it - but there's nothing maternal in flinging a vulnerable teenage daughter at the flashlights of the world. It's the sort of self-interested decision a softer 'mom' would not make," writes Ms Miles. "If someone is to present womankind on the international stage, please let it not be Mrs Palin. Please not her, I think." Ms Miles rightly points out that the hunting and anti-abortion Palin is a pile of contradictions that make people both love and hate her. But, the columnist says that choosing Palin as McCain's running mate will ultimately be a joke.

US Vice President Dick Cheney arrived today in Azerbaijan on a visit aimed to shore up American support for the now-independent states of the former Soviet Union. "Vice President Cheney arrived in Azerbaijan on Wednesday, the US Embassy said, as part of a tour in support of Russia's southern neighbors," reported the Associated Press. "Cheney was expected to meet with President Ilham Aliev and other top officials in this Caspian Sea nation, home to some of the largest oil and gas reserves in the former Soviet Union. "The vice president planned to head later to neighboring Georgia, where Washington is trying to bolster support for Mikhail Saakashvili's US-allied government, battered by last month's short war with Russia. "Cheney also will pay a visit to Ukraine for talks with leaders there. "The trip comes amid increasingly tense relations between Washington and Moscow. Following the war in Georgia, Russia has boldly its right to exert clout over what it says is its historic sphere of influence, including many former Soviet republics. "Both Georgia and Ukraine have sought to pull themselves out from under Russia's shadow, pushing for membership in Western organizations such as the European Union and NATO, much to Moscow's consternation," said the AP report. It's what many people are calling the new Cold War. In Pakistan, the Pakistan People's Party-led government has opened an investigation into the gruesome deaths of five women in Baluchistan who were buried alive for allegedly wanting to marry men of their own choice. The killings have provoked nationwide protests, especially after a Baluchistan senator said that the federal government should not criminalise honour killings. "The case ignited widespread protests last week after an opposition senator, Yasmeen Shah, accused the government of turning a blind eye to the killings and then trying to cover up the episode. She was interrupted by a Baluchistan senator, Israr Ullah Zehri, who defended honor killings as "our norms" and said they should "not be highlighted negatively," reported the International Herald Tribune. "After widespread public uproar, the government moved to support a Senate resolution condemning the killings. Various critics said the Pakistan Peoples Party was trying to ignore the episode while trying to secure Baluchistan's support for the leader of the party, Asif Ali Zardari, in Saturday's electoral college vote for president. "A senior Interior Ministry official, Rehman Malik, said Monday that he had ordered an inquiry that would be completed within a week, and that three people had already been arrested."

The ongoing fighting in the southern Philippine province of Mindanao between Muslim separatists and government forces has left 66 dead and 79 hurt according to the National Disaster Coordinating Council. Philippine senators slammed president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for allegedly failing to contain the violence in the south, reported the Philippine Daily Inquirer. "Sen Manuel Roxas II said the Arroyo administration's strategy of gradual or incremental military presence in Mindanao was insufficient to 'smother' the conflagration which has led to more isolated acts of terrorism. "'As the tense situation escalates, civilians will decide to carry arms, form their own vigilante groups. We need to overwhelm them, there is not enough military presence because the military is still weighing the need for more troops,' Mr Roxas said in an interview with reporters. "He said that in contrast to former President Joseph Estrada's all-out war policy against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (Milf), he was advocating intimidation through a broader military presence in Mindanao to suppress violence. "'I don't think they have a full grasp of the situation,' Mr Roxas said." Finally, in a direct challenge to both Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Firefox, Google unveiled its new browser called "Chrome". "Chrome sharpens Google's already intense competition with Microsoft, the maker of Internet Explorer, by far the most popular browser on the Web. Google hopes that Chrome will loosen Microsoft's grip on the browser market, which it fears Microsoft could leverage to promote its struggling search and advertising business at the expense of Google's," reported the IHT. "But Google also said Chrome was created in large part to allow users to interact with increasingly powerful programs that run in a browser window, like Gmail, Google Docs and applications created by other companies. The company claims Chrome is the first browser built from scratch with such applications in mind." It remains to be seen if Google's new browser will be able to bump Explorer and Firefox out of their market leadership.