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Morning brief, Friday, May 5

Haha. Zarqawi wears New Balance sneaks and can't even handle a machine gun (story, video). Moving on…Wait. But what exactly does the video mean? Am I supposed to sleep better knowing that Zarqawi is a wuss? Isn't he still killing our soldiers and evading capture? Important: The leader of Darfur's largest rebel group will sign ...

Haha. Zarqawi wears New Balance sneaks and can't even handle a machine gun (story, video).

Moving on…Wait. But what exactly does the video mean? Am I supposed to sleep better knowing that Zarqawi is a wuss? Isn't he still killing our soldiers and evading capture?

Important: The leader of Darfur's largest rebel group will sign a peace agreement

The Bush administration is getting tough with Russia and wants Putin to take concrete steps in the democratic direction ahead of the July G-8 meeting.

Bush isn't going to deal with Hamas until it disavows violence and its denial of Israel's right to exist. 

Simon Tisdall: It's a rocky relationship, but Washington still needs Pakistan. Quoting an "informed Western official" [links are mine]:

From the Americans' perspective, this is a highly unstable country. The situation in Waziristan is tipping in favour of the Taliban. There's trouble in Baluchistan, in Kashmir, in Karachi. There's the religious parties … Half the population of this country is virulently anti-American and it's growing. And then there is Musharraf, sitting on top of this volcano. He's pretty indispensable. We're only a bullet away from significant instability. But I'm not sure we have anyone else.

Mark Bowden draws a parallel between the Iranian hostage crisis and today's nuclear standoff:

Today, as the Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, presides over an increasingly restive, unhappy population, his pit bull, President Ahmadinejad, has picked a new fight with the United States of America. Even many Iranians who oppose the theocracy now favor joining the nuclear club; it adds to national prestige and arguably enhances Iran's security. In openly pursuing nuclear power and defying world opinion, the old revolutionaries are shoring up their stature at home by appealing to nationalism and to fears of foreign invasion or attack.

And why shouldn't they? It worked before.

Keeping the brief briefer today…

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