Morning Brief: Bush ups the ante in Georgia

Top Story VANO SHLAMOV/AFP/Getty Images With President George W. Bush’s promise yesterday to send “vigorous and ongoing” aid to Georgia via the U.S. military, the conflict in the Caucasus has entered a new phase. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrives in Paris today for consultations with French President Nicolas Sarkozy before heading to Tbilisi, and ...

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593254_080814_cargo5.jpg

Top Story

VANO SHLAMOV/AFP/Getty Images

With President George W. Bush's promise yesterday to send "vigorous and ongoing" aid to Georgia via the U.S. military, the conflict in the Caucasus has entered a new phase. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrives in Paris today for consultations with French President Nicolas Sarkozy before heading to Tbilisi, and the air convoys to Georgia are already under way.

Top Story

VANO SHLAMOV/AFP/Getty Images

With President George W. Bush’s promise yesterday to send “vigorous and ongoing” aid to Georgia via the U.S. military, the conflict in the Caucasus has entered a new phase. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrives in Paris today for consultations with French President Nicolas Sarkozy before heading to Tbilisi, and the air convoys to Georgia are already under way.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, meanwhile, vowed to back South Ossetia and Abkhazia in their quest for independence from Georgia — a direct challenge to Bush’s insistence that “the sovereign and territorial integrity of Georgia be respected.”

In Georgia itself, “irregulars” from other parts of the Caucasus raised fears of ethnic violence. Russian forces showed signs of pulling out of the city of Gori, but their commanding general said they would not leave until they had restored order. Russian tanks were also seen patrolling the Black Sea town of Poti.

The New York Times looks at the pipeline angle, and the Wall Street Journal finds “compelling” evidence that Russia tried to bomb the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline.

Decision ’08

John McCain is sending his Senate allies Joseph Lieberman and Lindsay Graham to Georgia. Speaking Wednesday in Michigan, the Arizona senator dismissed the idea of sending U.S. troops into the fray in Georgia but called for punitive measures against Russia.

Economy

Gloom is spreading to Asia and Europe.

Former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan expects U.S. housing prices to bottom out “sometime in the first half of 2009.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appears to be relaxing her stance on offshore drilling (while hardening her stance on Joseph Lieberman).

Americas

Americans have cut back on driving for eight straight months.

Minorities will become the majority in the United States by 2042, the U.S. Census Bureau projects.

Hugo Chávez may be many things, but he is apparently not an anti-Semite.

Asia

Pakistan’s military is rapidly distancing itself from Pervez Musharraf, who faces growing pressure to resign. On Thursday, the embattled president ignored the speculation and rumors and called for national reconciliation.

An international NGO is pulling out of Afghanistan after three of its aid workers were shot and killed.

A top Beijing official passionately rejected the view that China had broken its promises about the Olympics.

The Japanese economy contracted in the second quarter.

Middle East and Africa

Lebanon and Syria agreed to demarcate their shared border.

Zimbabwe state media reports that Robert Mugabe has reached a deal with a marginal opposition leader, not Morgan Tsvangirai.

Iraq’s foreign minister claims that U.S. combat troops will withdraw in three years.

Europe

Europe’s 15 major economies shrank by 0.2 percent in the second quarter.

Spain’s housing market is collapsing.

Today’s Agenda

The U.S. National Archives is opening up the vast personnel files of the Office of Strategic Services, including those of famed TV chef Julia Child.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is visiting Turkey.

Today is Pakistan’s 61st Independence Day.

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