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    Monday, August 18, 2008

    CNN - Is GPS a high-tech crime-fighting tool or Big Brother?

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    Is GPS a high-tech crime-fighting tool or Big Brother?


    It's the stuff crime movies are made of: Determined police officers shadowing their suspect as he drives around town, watching and waiting for his next move, always careful not to lose him.

    But now, investigators can track a potential bad guy without ever leaving their desks, thanks to the Global Positioning System, or GPS.

    The technology is easy to use and the devices are hard to detect.

    All police have to do is attach a GPS receiver to a suspect's car and they easily go along for the ride online, tracking the individual's exact location in real time from their computer.

    "I think it's a good use of resources. It doesn't put any officers in danger, which is a good thing," said Mike Brooks, a CNN security enforcement analyst and a former Washington police detective.

    "You can sit at a computer and find exactly where [a suspect] goes."

    But because investigators often track without a warrant, privacy advocates say the tactic threatens to monitor innocent people as well.

    "Law enforcement has a legitimate right to try to solve crimes and track suspects, provided that there are protections so that the innocent are not improperly snooped upon," said Norman Reimer, executive director of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

    He wondered how many people would be comfortable knowing that police could attach something to their car and be able track their whereabouts 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week.

    A recent case illustrates how investigators use the technology.

    Court documents show Fairfax County, Virginia, police followed David Lee Foltz Jr. without a warrant in February by placing a GPS device inside the bumper of his van.

    Police began watching Foltz, who had previously been convicted of rape, after 11 attacks on women in the area where he lived, The Washington Post reported.

    Foltz is facing trial, charged with abduction and sexual battery. He is charged in connection with an attack that happened after the monitoring began, according to the Post.

    The attacks stopped after his arrest in February, the newspaper reported.

    Foltz's attorney tried to get the GPS evidence thrown out of court. Chris Leibig wouldn't discuss the case with CNN, but said the tracking constituted illegal search and seizure, a violation of his client's Fourth Amendment right.

    "Our main point with this is that before installing a GPS tracking device secretly on someone's vehicle, a judicial officer should make the decision about how much evidence is good enough, how long the tracking can be for, and the parameters of the tracking," Leibig said.

    "I want to point out it's very easy to get a warrant if the police have a good reason, it doesn't take a long time, and if there is a real reason, the warrant will be granted."

    Leibig described GPS tracking as more intrusive than just an investigator following someone down the street.

    "It's a lot more like a police officer tagging along inside your car, an invisible police officer inside your car," Leibig said.

    Despite Leibig's motion to suppress, a judge has allowed the evidence to be used at Foltz's trial this October, The Washington Post reported.

    Police involved in the case would only say there is an internal review before GPS tracking can be used. Many privacy advocates say that's not enough.

    The Supreme Court has yet to address GPS tracking without warrants, so the legal standards vary from state to state. Most allow it or haven't ruled on it. Courts in Washington and Oregon, however, have ruled police need a warrant before using GPS.

    "It's a wonderful tool for law enforcement," Reimer said.

    "The question always comes down to how much are we willing to give up in freedom and privacy for how much marginal increase in our security."

    Reuters - New York Web site gives juicy details on city's notables

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    New York Web site gives juicy details on city's notables

    Thursday, Aug 14, 2008 9:59PM UTC

    By Michelle Nichols

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Which failed presidential hopeful from New York once married his second cousin and who married the same person twice? Which New Yorker gave his girlfriend a $1 million Rolls Royce birthday gift? And which top literary agent drove a cab?

    The answers are part of a new Web site, www.cityfile.com, which lists profiles of the 2,121 most notable people in New York City and has sparked questions by some wannabe movers and shakers as to why they are not on the list.

    "We have had quite a few e-mails from people suggesting other people to include or (to include) themselves," said Cityfile founder Remy Stern.

    While he would not name names, he said: "Society wannabes are the kinds of people who want to be on the list. They desperately want to be taken seriously."

    Cityfile has sparked controversy among some of those on the list by revealing some potentially embarrassing details of their private lives and where they live, in some cases even including a picture of their front door.

    "There were people who just really objected to it, found it invasive and were unhappy that we listed where they lived or the names of their kids or put up satellite imagery of their house in the Hamptons," Stern, 34, said.

    "It's a little amusing when people complain because it's stuff that's really easy to find on the Internet," he said.

    Stern, who was born and raised in Manhattan and called on family and friends to help fund Cityfile, said his small editorial team spent the past year determining the city's most influential people.

    He likened Cityfile to the Zagat guides, which rate restaurants, clubs, bars and stores. On Cityfile, the most notable are rated by visitors to the site and on Thursday long-time Village Voice columnist Michael Musto was No. 1.

    "I'm very flattered, but I don't feel that popular," Musto said, adding that he didn't have a problem with the Web site. "It's fun because it's a place for the 'bold-faced' names of New York. A place to catch up on their antics.

    The most viewed profiles are currently Vogue editor Anna Wintour, businessman Aviv Nevo, socialite Tinsley Mortimer, Fox News host Shepard Smith and film producer Harvey Weinstein.

    Stern said the Web site aims to be impartial and trustworthy, giving people the "straight scoop on the good the bad and the ugly."

    "There's really no place to go to look up who people are and how they're connected," Stern said. "You search for people online and pull up a corporate bio that's full of the charities they donate to, but doesn't tell you the guy spent three years in jail in the '80s or he's been married eight times."

    As for the New Yorker who married his second cousin, that was former mayor Rudy Giuliani. Playwright Neil Simon married the same person twice and rapper Jay-Z gave Beyonce, then his girlfriend and now his wife, a $1 million 1959 Rolls Royce for her 25th birthday.

    And top New York literary agent Andrew "The Jackal" Wylie once drove a cab.

    (Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz)

    Reuters - HP introduces lightweight business laptops

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    HP introduces lightweight business laptops

    Monday, Aug 18, 2008 2:13PM UTC

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Hewlett-Packard Co <HPQ.N> has announced a line of portable lightweight computers aimed at business travelers to compete with a product range announced by rival Dell Inc <DELL.O> last week.

    HP said on Monday that the lineup included the EliteBook 2530p, which is the smallest and lightest of its computers with a weight of just over 3 pounds and an extended battery life.

    The company said its EliteBook 2730p is an ultra-thin computer that converts to a touch-screen pen-based tablet computer with a twist of its screen and weighs 3.7 pounds.

    HP said it expected the HP EliteBook 2530p and HP EliteBook 2730p to become available by early September, with estimated prices of $1,499 and $1,670, respectively.

    (Reporting by Sinead Carew; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

    CNN - U.S. at risk of cyberattacks, experts say

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    U.S. at risk of cyberattacks, experts say


    The next large-scale military or terrorist attack on the United States, if and when it happens, may not involve airplanes or bombs or even intruders breaching American borders.

    Instead, such an assault may be carried out in cyberspace by shadowy hackers half a world away. And Internet security experts believe that it could be just as devastating to the U.S.'s economy and infrastructure as a deadly bombing.

    Experts say last week's attack on the former Soviet republic of Georgia, in which a Russian military offensive was preceded by an Internet assault that overwhelmed Georgian government Web sites, signals a new kind of cyberwar, one for which the United States is not fully prepared.

    "Nobody's come up with a way to prevent this from happening, even here in the U.S.," said Tom Burling, acting chief executive of Tulip Systems, an Atlanta, Georgia, Web-hosting firm that volunteered its Internet servers to protect the nation of Georgia's Web sites from malicious traffic.

    "The U.S. is probably more Internet-dependent than any place in the world. So to that extent, we're more vulnerable than any place in the world to this kind of attack," Burling added. "So much of what we're doing [in the United States] is out there on the Internet, and all of that can be taken down at once."

    "This is such a crucial issue. At every level, our security now is dependent on computers," said Scott Borg, director of the United States Cyber Consequences Unit, a nonprofit research institute. "It's a whole new era. Political and military conflicts now will almost always have a cyber component. The chief targets will be critical infrastructure, and the attacks will emerge from within our own computer systems."

    Hackers mounted coordinated assaults on Georgian government, media, banking and transportation sites in the weeks before Russian troops invaded. Known as distributed denial of service, the attacks employ multiple computers to flood networks with millions of simultaneous requests, overwhelming servers and crippling Web sites.

    Hackers shut down the Web site of the Georgian president, Mikheil Saakashvili, for 24 hours and defaced the Georgian parliament site with images of Adolf Hitler. Saakashvili blamed Russia for the attacks, although the Russian government said it was not involved.

    Web sites and computer networks have been targeted by hackers for decades, although large-scale, coordinated cyberattacks are still a relatively new phenomenon. Some Internet-security experts believe that the Georgia conflict marks the first time a known cyberattack has coincided with a ground war, but others said that similar computer attacks have accompanied military operations in the Middle East and elsewhere.

    The challenge to U.S. security experts is that such attacks can be mounted anonymously, and relatively cheaply, from anywhere in the world. Georgia's attackers employed "botnets," or malicious automated programs that take root undetected in far-flung computers and barrage their targets with useless data. By last Friday, some of those botnets were originating from Comcast Internet addresses in the United States, Burling said.

    "It only takes a couple of experts; it doesn't take a whole cyber infantry division to pull something like this off," said Don Jackson, director of threat intelligence for SecureWorks, an Atlanta-based computer security firm. "For a very small investment in resources, you can have a huge impact."

    In the United States, government computer networks parry millions of attempted intrusions every day, Internet-security experts say. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security created a National Cybersecurity Center this year to coordinate federal cyberdefense efforts and quicken responsiveness. However, a recent Homeland Security Department intelligence report, obtained by The Associated Press, concluded that there are no effective means to prevent a coordinated attack on U.S. Web sites.

    "When it comes to our government IT security, we're pretty strong in protecting against [attacks]," Homeland Security spokesman William R. Knocke told CNN. "But I wouldn't say ... we're 100 percent impenetrable."

    So what would a cyberattack on the United States look like? And where is the U.S. most vulnerable? It depends on who you talk to.

    Borg does not believe that the U.S. is susceptible to the kind of attacks launched at Georgia.

    "We can command so much bandwidth that it's hard to overwhelm our servers," he said. "We are vulnerable to more sophisticated attacks, but right now most of the people who want to do us harm don't have those capabilities."

    The Web sites of key government security agencies, such as the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency, are difficult to bring down, experts said. So are the computer networks of large American banks. But experts say a successful, large-scale attack on U.S. computer systems could hobble electric-power grids, transportation networks and industrial-supply chains.

    "You'd see some disruption of essential services, like electricity. You'd definitely see espionage," said James A. Lewis, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. "Would it be decisive? No. Nobody's going to win a conflict with the United States in cyberspace. But would it be disruptive and irritating? Yes."

    Federal researchers who launched an experimental cyberattack last year in Idaho caused a generator to self-destruct, prompting fears about the effect of a real attack on the nation's electrical supply.

    And a May report by the Government Accountability Office found that the Tennessee Valley Authority, which supplies power to almost 9 million people in the southeastern U.S., had not installed sufficient cybersecurity measures. Spokesman Jim Allen said the TVA, the nation's largest publicly owned utility company, is "on track" to correct the problems.

    What frustrates computer-security experts is that the features that make the Internet such an invaluable resource -- its openness and interconnectedness -- also make it easier for hackers to do harm. As a staple of 21st-century warfare, cyberattacks will become increasingly sophisticated, forcing governments and private industry to build ever-stronger firewalls and other defenses, experts said.

    Also, vague international laws and a lack of accountability will continue to make tracking down and prosecuting cyberattackers difficult.

    "We don't know quite what the rules are for this kind of conflict. If it's spying, it's illegal. But is it an act of war? And who do you arrest?" Lewis asked. "We're much safer [in the U.S.] than we were a year ago. But we still have a long way to go."

    USA TODAY - Inventors are sure cars can fly

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    LOS ANGELES
    By Chris Woodyard and Sharon Silke Carty, USA TODAY

    The auto industry has seen its share of technological leaps, whether it was the advent of electric starters, automatic transmissions or hybrid gas-electric powertrains. And don't forget hideaway headlights.

    One leap that engineers and tinkerers have never quite made, however, but refuse to let die: the flying car.

    PHOTO GALLERY: Those incredible flying and driving machines

    Year after year a few more try. Of all those stuck stewing in traffic gridlock, who hasn't imagined soaring Jetsons-style directly to a destination?

    Most flying cars never get off the page, let alone the ground. The few that do are bedeviled by lack of funding, impracticality, limited appeal or fears they may simply break apart in flight as some have.

    The fact is that these keystones of modern transportation cars and planes have basic differences that make them a match made in hell.

    "It's like trying to mate a pig and an elephant," says Lionel Salisbury, editor of the Roadable Times, a website that has made him a de facto chronicler of flying car attempts. "You don't get a very good elephant, or a very good pig."

    Today, a new crop of magnificent men and women believe advanced materials and sounder business practices finally will allow their flying machines to defy skeptics.

    They range from a guy who just built a prototype three-wheel flying motorcycle in the driveway of his Los Angeles home to a Woburn, Mass., company with more than 50 orders for a two-seat car that flies. Some designs call for wings that telescope. Some fold, manually or at the push of a button.

    No dreamers allowed. Only cold-eyed realists. Aware of how quickly they can be branded kooks, the new breed deliberately discourages the label "flying cars" and eschews Hollywood fantasies such as Harrison Ford cruising the skies of Los Angeles in Ridley Scott's 1982 Blade Runner.

    Their preferred terminology is "roadable aircraft" a plane you can drive to the airport, then sprout wings and fly off into the sunset. They see early adopters as private pilots.

    "You get a lot of people who have the Jetsons dream of one of these things in everyone's driveway. Maybe that will happen someday, but it's not something you can build a business on now," says Carl Dietrich, CEO of Massachusetts-based Terrafugia.

    The effort has been helped by innovations in cheap, lightweight engines and strong, light materials such as carbon-fiber composites. They could finally lead to an affordable vehicle equally at home on the interstate or the runway.

    Today's group follows pioneers such as Paul Moller, who has pursued his vision of a flying car since 1970. He predicted to USA TODAY in 1994 that he would be mass producing his M400 Skycar by 2000 and selling it for as little as $30,000. His company is still alive and he's still trying to start production.

    Moller was far from the first. Salisbury, a former pilot living north of Toronto, says he's found records of attempts at a flying car formulated "within months of the Wright brothers." The first patent was issued 15 years later in 1918.

    At least 100 serious tries followed. The original Aerocar of the 1950s was among the most successful, with five built, says Jake Schultz, author of A Drive in the Clouds The Story of the Aerocar. It was a novel design: The wings detached to turn into a trailer towed behind the car. He says at least one is still flying and three are in museums.

    Developed by private pilot Molt Taylor, the Aerocar was one of only two flying cars to be certified by the predecessor agency to the FAA. An aircraft company later known as Ling-Temco-Vought looked at the Aerocar, but didn't get enough orders to justify production. Ford Motor looked, too, but lost interest, so Taylor started building sport aircraft.

    Salisbury says it was 1970s entrepreneur Henry Smolinski who developed a wing and engine to be hooked to the back of a Ford Pinto, a subcompact car in the era, with hopes of production.

    "It was fun," says Bert Boeckmann, whose Galpin Motors in Los Angeles is the nation's largest Ford dealership. He took a test ride in the Flying Pinto to an altitude of about 10 feet.

    But the operation "was kind of working on a shoestring" and didn't pay enough attention to safety. Smolinski and a colleague were killed in 1973 when a wing collapse led to a fiery crash.

    "Henry said if he ever died, he would like to die in his Flying Pinto," Boeckmann recalls.

    Such structural risks inevitably come into play as inventors try to make a car light enough to get off the ground.

    "Weight is one of the problems," says Bob Blake, an auto historian in North Carolina. "You're trying to make something that's designed for the highway to go into the sky. Even now, with the lightweight composite materials, it's more of a novelty than something practical."

    But the latest entrepreneurs believe otherwise and are convinced they can strike the balance. Drivable aircraft now being developed include:

    Terrafugia Transition.

    Dietrich says he thought most interest in his carbon-fiber craft would be from "wealthy playboy types. We have a couple of those but have a lot of retired couples who want to use it to fly around for fun."

    He says his company has 10 employees and that he's been working on the Terrafugia Transition's design since 2004. Design goals include a range of 500 miles and conversion from car to plane or vice versa in about 15 seconds.

    Dietrich says more than 50 have already been ordered. The first flight is planned by the end of the year, and he hopes deliveries can begin in 2010.

    At a projected price of $194,000, the Transition "is not a replacement for a Honda," he says, Rather, it's meant to provide "a fundamental new freedom that has never existed in one package. And we know there is a market for it."

    LaBiche FSC-1.

    Mitch LaBiche believes he has the winning formula for his flying car: The wings extend from the car with the push of a button, instead of being bolted on or unfolded.

    LaBiche Aerospace settled on the configuration after interviewing about 3,000 people to find out what they wanted in a car that could fly. "Most people most interested in flying cars were already pilots," LaBiche says. "They wanted to drive to a local airport, take off, land at their destination and then reverse the whole process to come home."

    He says, "People basically structure their lives around where they live and work. We are a car-based society, and 75% of our travel is less than 80 miles, so people want something that acts more like a car than a plane."

    LaBiche is taking orders for the FSC-1 as a buildable kit costing $175,000. He hopes eventually to get the craft federally certified an expensive proposition so it can be sold as a fully-built unit.

    "We want to show people what we can do," he says of his six-worker company. "Once we have enough of them out there, some history and some backing, we can go out and attract the $250 million we need."

    Samson SkyBike.

    Sam Bousfield came up with a futurist design for a three-wheeled flying motorcycle with wings that telescope so it won't be blown around on the highway.

    Bousfield, whose Samson Motorworks is based near Sacramento, says engineering is underway and he hopes to have a half-scale, radio-controlled model flying in a few months.

    He hopes to be able to produce a full-size kit version that could sell for about $50,000. At that price, "We feel we can sell at least 1,000 kits a year," he says.

    Caravella CaraVellair.

    After a decade working at Rocketdyne, a big aerospace company, Joseph Caravella had saved up more than $100,000 to be able to quit and pursue his dream: a flying three-wheel motorcycle.

    The idea came to him after he got a speeding ticket driving from Indiana to Virginia while in college. He'd been clocked by an aircraft.

    Caravella Aerospace's design calls for a lightweight single engine that powers both the motorcycle and a rear-mounted propeller from an enclosed cockpit. Aimed at commuters, he sees cost as a key advantage for the single-seat CaraVellair, as he's named it: He believes it can be produced as a kit for $50,000. He hopes to have a version flying by 2010.

    Caravella spent months working in his garage and driveway with dad Joe Sr. to finish the non-flying prototype in time for EAA AirVenture Oshkosh aviation show earlier this month in Wisconsin. Terrafugia and Samson also were displayed at the show.

    Moller Neuera.

    While Moller's Skycar won attention, it has been grounded by cost. Moller International has moved to a less ambitious project designed to make sales, not just headlines.

    Moller is working on a saucer-like, ground-effect vehicle. The M200X prototype, possibly to be marketed as the Neuera (pronounced: new era), would "fly" actually hover at less than 10 feet and travel for an hour at speeds of up to 75 miles per hour. It is not a true plane and, the company says, would not require a pilot's license.

    Moller general manager Bruce Calkins says the 17-worker company in Davis, Calif., hopes to build 40 for delivery starting in 2010 at up to $250,000 each. But he considers it just a way station on the way to producing a car that really flies. "Eventually, the common vision of having a flying car is going to be true."

    Matt Novak, however, remains unconvinced. The host of Paleofuture.com, a blog that looks at past predictions of the future, says flying cars look even further away these days.

    "We had this sort of optimism in the '50s and '60s, a feeling that things were inevitable because of technology. And flying cars were on the short list," Novak says. "I don't think we're going to have freeways in the sky any time soon."

    Woodyard reported from Los Angeles and Carty from Detroit.

    Website address: http://www.usatoday.com/money/autos/2008-08-17-flying-cars_N.htm

    Reuters - Xbox 360 beats PS3 in Japan

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    Xbox 360 beats PS3 in Japan

    Monday, Aug 18, 2008 7:17AM UTC

    TOKYO (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp's <MSFT.O> Xbox 360 beat Sony Corp's <6758.T> PlayStation 3 in Japan weekly sales for the first time two weeks ago, riding robust demand for a recent Xbox 360 title produced by Namco Bandai Holdings <7832.T>, a magazine publisher said.

    Microsoft sold 28,116 units of the Xbox 360 in the week ended August 10, compared with 10,705 units of the PS3, driven by the August 7 launch in Japan of Namco Bandai's "Tales of Vesperia" role-playing game, Ascii Media Works said.

    Microsoft, locked in a three-way game console battle with Sony and Nintendo Co Ltd <7974.OS>, has been struggling to stir up demand for the Xbox 360 in Japan.

    During the week, the Microsoft machine still lagged behind Nintendo's Wii, which sold 41,044 units, according to an Ascii Media Works report dated August 14.

    The Wii has been leading the global video game console market since its launch in late 2006 thanks to its easy-to-learn motion-sensing controller, low price and innovative software titles such as "Wii Fit" exercise game.

    Namco Bandai plans to launch "Tales of Vesperia", an Xbox 360 exclusive, in North America on August 26.

    (Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

    Reuters - Russia promises to "crush" future aggressors

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    Russia promises to "crush" future aggressors

    Monday, Aug 18, 2008 1:16PM UTC

    By Oleg Shchedrov and James Kilner

    KURSK/GORI (Reuters) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev promised on Monday a "crushing response" to any attack on its citizens as Georgia waited for concrete signs of a promised Russian military pullout.

    Medvedev was speaking shortly before Russian military authorities announced that the withdrawal had begun, although Georgia denied this.

    "If anyone thinks that they can kill our citizens and escape unpunished, we will never allow this," Medvedev told World War Two veterans in the Russian city of Kursk. "If anyone tries this again, we will come out with a crushing response."

    "We have all the necessary resources, political, economic and military. If anyone had any illusions about this, they have to abandon them."

    In Moscow, the Russian General Staff told a daily briefing that Russian troops had began their pullout from the conflict zone but there was no immediate sign of this on the ground.

    "The Russians aren't withdrawing, they are in the same places. They are in Senaki, Khashuri, Zugdidi and Gori," Shota Utiashvili, a Georgian Interior Ministry official, told Reuters at 6:30 a.m. EDT.

    Russian troops with armored cars mounted checkpoints on a major Georgian highway, ahead of the promised withdrawal from parts of the country under an international ceasefire plan.

    In the central Georgian town of Gori, a reporter saw armored personnel carriers bringing what looked like ration boxes out to checkpoints.

    One soldier from Volgograd, asked how long he would be there, replied: "We don't know. Our orders are to stay here."

    Russia mounted its biggest military deployment outside its borders since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union after Georgia sent a force on August 7-8 to try to recapture the rebel, Moscow-backed province of South Ossetia.

    The European Union and the United States, wary of a drift back into conflict if there are delays, are pressing Moscow to finish the pullout quickly.

    Both Brussels and Washington want to see international observers on the ground quickly to monitor the pullout but no arrangements for this have yet been made.

    The United Nations said a first aid convoy managed to enter Gori on Sunday and that while buildings did not appear to be badly damaged, there were "clear signs of massive looting".

    Georgian television showed pictures of Russian forces moving out of the western Georgian town of Senaki, but it was not clear if this was part of the promised larger withdrawal.

    Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, in a shift from previous statements condemning Russians as "21st century barbarians" bent on ethnic cleansing, called on Monday for talks with Moscow.

    "I appeal to you that after your armed forces leave Georgian territory, to start serious thinking and discussions about further negotiations, a further search for ways (to conduct) relations in order not to sow discord between our countries for good," Saakashvili said in the broadcast.

    Russian leaders have condemned Saakashvili as a dangerous "maniac" and have suggested privately that there is no need to speak to him because his own people will topple him before long.

    ACCUSATIONS OF "GENOCIDE"

    The 10-day confrontation around South Ossetia has killed more than 170 Georgians, dealt a blow to the Georgian military, damaged the country's economy, disrupted road and rail links and drew Western criticism of Saakashvili's handling of the crisis.

    Washington has strongly backed its close ally Georgia and accused Russia of "bullying" its small, former Soviet vassal.

    Russia and Georgia have accused each other of attempted genocide during the conflict, though some humanitarian organizations have questioned whether the term is appropriate.

    Russia says some 1,600 people were killed in the initial Georgian attack on the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali, a figure which has not been independently confirmed.

    Georgia accuses Russian and irregular forces of leveling Georgian villages around the South Ossetian capital Tskhinvali.

    From Tskhinvali, the separatist leader Eduard Kokoity told Reuters in an interview that he wanted a permanent Russian military base in South Ossetia and pledged never again to accept international observers in his territory.

    "They fled meanly like traitors from South Ossetia just before the shooting started," he said. "...We have no confidence in these international observers, in these people who corrupt the truth."

    Russia has sent in aid to South Ossetia to help thousands of displaced people and help restore ruined infrastructure, water and sanitation facilities but international organizations have not been granted the same access.

    The International Red Cross complained on Monday that its president, Jakob Kellenberger, had not been given permission to enter South Ossetia to assess the situation.

    The Russians have not set a deadline for completion of the military pullout, saying it depends on stability in Georgia.

    The six-point peace plan foresee a prompt withdrawal of Russian forces from 'core Georgia' -- the areas outside South Ossetia and a second Russian-backed separatist province of Abkhazia -- but the West will also be looking for Russian troops to cut back their numbers quickly in South Ossetia itself.

    The conflict has rattled the West, which draws oil and gas through pipelines across Georgian territory from the Caspian region -- a route favored because it bypasses Russia.

    (Additional reporting by Guy Faulconbridge in Moscow, Margarita Antidze in Tbilisi; Writing by Michael Stott; Editing by Giles Elgood)

    CNN - Musharraf says he will resign Pakistan presidency

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    Musharraf says he will resign Pakistan presidency


    Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf announced his resignation Monday after weeks of pressure to relinquish power.

    Musharraf told the nation in a televised address that he would step down -- nearly nine years after he seized power in a bloodless coup in 1999.

    "I don't want the people of Pakistan to slide deeper and deeper into uncertainty," Musharraf said.

    "For the interest of the nation, I have decided to resign as president," he said. "I am not asking for anything. I will let the people of Pakistan decide my future."

    Musharraf has been a keen ally of the West in the fight on terror, receiving billions in military aid from the U.S. and launching attacks on militant groups near the country's border with Afghanistan.

    He was expected to turn in his resignation to parliament Monday.

    "It will be accepted, there is no second opinion about that," said Iqbal Zaffar Jhagra, the secretary general of the junior partner in the ruling coalition, the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N).

    Musharraf quit as the ruling coalition was taking steps to impeach him.

    Local media reports said he had been granted "safe passage" out of the country.

    British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said it was strongly committed to its alliance with Pakistan following Musharraf's resignation.

    He praised Musharraf's economic and security achievements, described Pakistan as a "vital friend" and said Britain's aid program for the country would continue, The Associated Press reported.

    Meanwhile, two Afghanistan government spokesman told AP Musharraf's resignation would be good for their country.

    Until now, Musharraf, 65, had resisted pressure to resign. But his power had eroded since parties opposed to his rule swept to victory in February's parliamentary elections.

    Musharraf spent a large part of his speech delivering a state-of-the-union style list of Pakistan's "accomplishments" under his rule. He contrasted it with what he called the deteriorating economic situation now.

    "After the elections, the nation wanted solutions from the new government," he said. "But the politicians could not do so. A personal vendetta was started."

    A coalition committee spent last week compiling a list of charges against Musharraf including corruption, economic mismanagement and violating the constitution. Parliament was expected to consider an impeachment motion Monday or Tuesday.

    "I am confident that not a single charge can stand against me," Musharraf said. "I have not done anything for my personal gain. Whatever I have done, I have done it for Pakistan."

    Faisal Kapadia, a commodities trader in Karachi who runs a blog about Pakistan called Deadpan Thoughts, said Musharraf's decision would get a mixed reaction.

    "Leading Pakistan is not an easy task, and anyone doing it comes under a lot of criticism," he said.

    "In the start, most Pakistanis were for him. And he still has some supporters -- especially because the new government, which promised to do things differently, has failed to do much in the past 100 days in power."

    Musharraf grabbed power in 1999. He was serving as military chief when then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif dismissed him, setting off a confrontation.

    As Musharraf was returning from an overseas visit in October 1999, Sharif refused to allow the commercial airliner with 200 passengers on board to land.

    Within hours the army had deposed Sharif in a bloodless coup, and the plane was allowed to touch down with only 10 minutes of fuel left.

    Musharraf was welcomed by a nation on the brink of economic ruin.

    "I think at this point, his intentions were good," said Lt. Gen. Talat Masood, a political analyst. "He wanted to serve the country and to be different."

    During his rule, Pakistan attained respectable growth rates and established a generally favorable investment climate.

    Along with that came a growing middle class, a more aggressive media, and a more assertive judiciary.

    "He brought parliamentary reforms. He brought women into the parliament," said Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, director of the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency.

    But, analysts say, Musharraf never lost his military mindset.

    "He in a way, always believed in a unity of command, a very centralized command, which means his command, in fact," said Masood.

    After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States, Musharraf found himself on the frontline of the 'war on terror.'

    Pakistan had long supported the Taliban as they battled for control of Afghanistan in 1990s, in the aftermath of the Soviet pull out.

    But after the 2001 attacks, Musharraf aligned himself with the U.S. to help rout the fundamentalist Islamic movement.

    Washington gave Musharraf billions in aid as he vowed to deprive the militants of the sanctuary they had established along the country's border with Afghanistan.

    He cast himself as indispensable -- to the West and to Pakistan, analysts said.

    However, Musharraf's popularity began to plummet last year following the March suspension of Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry.

    The move triggered protests and accusations that he was trying to influence the court's ruling on whether he could run for another five-year term.

    Chaudhry was reinstated but the damage was done.

    "Undoubtedly, that was the catalyst," Masood said. "This is where he went wrong, and he underestimated the value of democracy."

    In October, Musharraf was re-elected president by a parliament critics said was stacked with his supporters. Opposition parties filed a challenge.

    The next month, he declared a state of emergency, suspended Pakistan's constitution, replaced the chief judge again and blacked out independent TV outlets.

    Under pressure from the West, he later lifted the emergency and promised elections in January.

    He allowed Sharif, the prime minister he deposed, to return from exile. He also let in another political foe, Benazir Bhutto. She, too, had been a prime minister, and led the Pakistan People's Party.

    However, in December, the country was plunged into further turmoil when Bhutto was killed at a rally in Rawalpindi.

    Musharraf's government and the CIA contend the killing was orchestrated by Baitullah Mehsud, a leader of the Pakistani Taliban with ties to al Qaeda. But nationwide polls found that a majority of Pakistanis believe Musharraf's government was complicit in the assassination.

    Meanwhile, several other factors compounded Musharraf's declining popularity: a shortage of essential food items, power cuts, and a skyrocketing inflation.

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