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Morning Brief, Thursday, September 21

Talking tough Iran's Ahmadinejad and Venezuela's Chavez love the spotlight. And they both took the opportunity while in New York for the U.N. General Assembly to talk quite the game. Last night, Ahmadinejad was guest at the Council on Foreign Relations and his hosts found him to be quite the slippery orator. He questioned the ...

Talking tough

Iran's Ahmadinejad and Venezuela's Chavez love the spotlight. And they both took the opportunity while in New York for the U.N. General Assembly to talk quite the game. Last night, Ahmadinejad was guest at the Council on Foreign Relations and his hosts found him to be quite the slippery orator. He questioned the Holocaust and turned every question about Iran's nuclear program back on the U.S. One former White House official had this to say:

If this man represents the prevailing government opinion in Tehran, we are heading for a massive confrontation with Iran."

And then there was Chavez. He called Bush the devil and thundered on about U.S. imperialism. But here's the best part. After brandishing a copy of Noam Chomsky's Hegemony or Survival and encouraging the assembled diplomats to read it, Chavez…

…[later] told a news conference that one of his greatest regrets was not getting to meet Mr. Chomsky before he died. (Mr. Chomsky, 77, is still alive.)

Gitmo and detainees

Whoa. The FT is reporting today that CIA interrogators refused to continue running secret prisons holding high-level detainees in the war on terror because of their concerns over illegality. And that's what forced Bush's hand in transferring the detainees to Gitmo – not the mid-terms or a pesky Supreme Court.

Iraq

The U.N. alleges that the death toll in Iraq is far higher than current figures show. More fallout from the sacking of the chief judge in the Saddam trial. Attacks on U.S. troops are up.

Elsewhere

In a chaotic trial, Turkish novelist Elif Shafak was acquitted today of insulting Turkishness ih her recent best-selling novel.

The AU agrees to extend its mission to Darfur until the end of the year. 

Germany steps in and agrees to contribute 2,400 troops to Lebanon.

The Thai coup, yet another example of a democracy reinterpreted in nondemocratic ways, seems to have the tacit support of most Thais. Markets in the region remain steady.  

Incredibly, Musharraf blames Afghanistan for Pakistan's troubles. And could there be a breakthrough in the global trade talks?

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