Sarah Palin electrifies Republicans as she eviscerates Obama

Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin electrified the Republican National Convention on Wednesday night in St Paul, Minnesota, with her speech in which she accepted the nomination. She also eviscerated Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama for his comments about working class Americans. The Bush administration announces $1 billion in economic aid for Georgia in the aftermath of its invasion by Russian troops. Haiti reels from three tropical storms in the past 21 days, with 170 dead and thousands displaced. Thailand's government agrees to hold a referendum to decide on its fate.

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Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin electrified the Republican National Convention on Wednesday night in St Paul, Minnesota, with her speech in which she accepted the nomination. "Before I became governor of the great state of Alaska, I was mayor of my hometown. "And since our opponents in this presidential election seem to look down on that experience, let me explain to them what the job involves," said the governor of Alaska as she eviscerated Democratic presidential candidate Sen Barack Obama for his varying remarks about working class Americans. "I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a 'community organiser', except that you have actual responsibilities. I might add that in small towns, we don't quite know what to make of a candidate who lavishes praise on working people when they are listening, and then talks about how bitterly they cling to their religion and guns when those people aren't listening. "We tend to prefer candidates who don't talk about us one way in Scranton and another way in San Francisco. "As for my running mate, you can be certain that wherever he goes, and whoever is listening, John McCain is the same man," explained Ms Palin. The International Herald Tribune highlighted a dig she took at the media in her speech: "I'm not a member of the permanent political establishment," Ms Palin said in her remarks. which took aim at the media establishment to great shouts of approval from the delegates. "And I've learned quickly, these past few days, that if you're not a member in good standing of the Washington elite, then some in the media consider a candidate unqualified for that reason alone. But here's a little newsflash for all those reporters and commentators: I'm not going to Washington to seek their good opinion ? I'm going to Washington to serve the people of this country." The former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani earlier launched a nasty attack on Mr Obama and his running mate Sen Joe Biden by saying that: "She already has more executive experience than the entire Democratic ticket." "Barack Obama has never led anything, nothing, nada," Mr Giuliani added. "How dare they question whether Sarah Palin has enough time to spend with her children and be vice president," he added. "How dare they do that? When do they ever ask a man that question?" Meanwhile, a profile of Ms Palin's husband, Todd Palin, revealed that he works for BP, the large British petroleum company, despite Ms Palin's regular attacks on big oil companies. The profile in the IHT also claimed that Mr Palin was involved in providing incriminating information to Alaska police about the husband of Governor Palin's sister, who was a state trooper and in the process of getting a divorce, in order to get him fired from his job. Mr Palin denies pressuring the police and said that he was only "informing" the police.

The Bush administration is putting money behind its words, with US President George W Bush announcing a $1 billion aid package to help Georgia recover from its recent invasion by Russian troops. "Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, appearing in Washington, said that $570 million of the aid would be made available this year, while the rest would depend on approval by a new administration and a new Congress. It does not include any military aid, she and other administration officials said," reported the IHT. "The initial money, Bush said in a statement, would be used to feed and shelter tens of thousands of Georgians displaced during the fighting that began on the night of Aug. 7 when Georgia tried to establish control over a breakaway region, South Ossetia, only to be driven back by Russian forces. Bush also pledged to support its transition to a democratic market economy." This lavish aid and US concern over an expansionist Russia was in stark contrast to Haiti's suffering right in its backyard. According to the BBC, Haiti has been hit by three tropical storms in the past 21 days, which have caused much damage and killed 170 people. "Haiti faces a 'catastrophe' after being hit by a series of storms in recent weeks, President Rene Preval has said," reported the BBC. "The latest, Tropical Storm Hanna, could prove even more deadly than one that killed more than 3,000 people in 2004, Mr Preval warned. "Hanna is now approaching the Bahamas, where storm warnings have been issued. "At 0030 GMT on Thursday, Hanna was about 575 km south-east of Nassau and moving north-west, the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) says. "Separately, storm Ike has strengthened rapidly into an extremely powerful Category Four hurricane in the open Atlantic, the NHC says."

After days of riots and sit-in protests by opponents of Thai Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej, Thailand's Cabinet agreed today to hold a referendum on the fate of the government, reports the Associated Press. "Culture Minister Somsak Kietsuranond told reporters that no date has been set for holding the public referendum and the exact topic also remains unclear," said the AP. "But the possible questions that would be asked include whether the government should resign, whether it should dissolve the parliament and what the people think about the ongoing protest, he said. "'The Cabinet just agreed in principle for now,' he said, referring to the fact that there is no law that allows for holding a referendum. The Senate would first have to pass legislation to hold one. "'Whether it can be done and when it can be done depends on when the organic law on public referendum is passed by the Senate,' said deputy government spokesman Nattawut Sai-gua. "The announcement was met with skepticism from the anti-government protesters camped in the compound of Samak's office, the Government House. "'This is just a political game the government is trying to play. The government is not fixing the problems the PAD is talking about. This protest is about making sure the government corrects its mistakes,' said Pichet Pattanachote, a former vice president of the Senate who has joined the alliance." Finally, in Canada's northern Arctic an ice shelf the size of Manhattan has broken off from Ellesmere Island, an incident that shows the effect of warmer temperatures according to scientists, reports the AP. "Derek Mueller, an Arctic ice shelf specialist at Trent University in Ontario, told The Associated Press that the 4,500-year-old Markham Ice Shelf separated in early August and the 19-square-mile shelf is now adrift in the Arctic Ocean. "'The Markham Ice Shelf was a big surprise because it suddenly disappeared. We went under cloud for a bit during our research and when the weather cleared up, all of a sudden there was no more ice shelf. It was a shocking event that underscores the rapidity of changes taking place in the Arctic,' said Mr Mueller. Mueller also said that two large sections of ice detached from the Serson Ice Shelf, shrinking that ice feature by 47 square miles ? or 60 percent ? and that the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf has also continued to break up, losing an additional eight square miles. "Mueller reported last month that seven square miles of the 170-square-mile and 130-feet-thick Ward Hunt shelf had broken off. "This comes on the heels of unusual cracks in a northern Greenland glacier, rapid melting of a southern Greenland glacier, and a near record loss for Arctic sea ice this summer. And earlier this year a 160-square mile chunk of an Antarctic ice shelf disintegrated. "'Reduced sea ice conditions and unusually high air temperatures have facilitated the ice shelf losses this summer,' said Luke Copland, director of the Laboratory for Cryospheric Research at the University of Ottawa. 'And extensive new cracks across remaining parts of the largest remaining ice shelf, the Ward Hunt, mean that it will continue to disintegrate in the coming years.'"

ralsamh@thenational.ae