Morning Brief, Wednesday, November 29

Middle East President Bush dismisses talk about civil war in Iraq as “speculation,” while the U.S. military predicts a surge in sectarian violence following last Thursday’s rash of bombings in Sadr City. Nominee for Secretary of Defense Robert Gates questions pre-war planning about Iraq and National Security Advisor Stephen J. Hadley wonders if Iraqi PM ...

Middle East

President Bush dismisses talk about civil war in Iraq as "speculation," while the U.S. military predicts a surge in sectarian violence following last Thursday's rash of bombings in Sadr City. Nominee for Secretary of Defense Robert Gates questions pre-war planning about Iraq and National Security Advisor Stephen J. Hadley wonders if Iraqi PM Nuri Kamal al-Maliki can do his job.

Israeli papers express doubts about the long-term prospects of the cease-fire. The Palestinians are only slightly more optimistic. Currently, though, Israelis are more concerned with the manhunt for Benny Sella, a convicted serial rapist who escaped police custody in Tel Aviv last Friday.

Middle East

President Bush dismisses talk about civil war in Iraq as “speculation,” while the U.S. military predicts a surge in sectarian violence following last Thursday’s rash of bombings in Sadr City. Nominee for Secretary of Defense Robert Gates questions pre-war planning about Iraq and National Security Advisor Stephen J. Hadley wonders if Iraqi PM Nuri Kamal al-Maliki can do his job.

Israeli papers express doubts about the long-term prospects of the cease-fire. The Palestinians are only slightly more optimistic. Currently, though, Israelis are more concerned with the manhunt for Benny Sella, a convicted serial rapist who escaped police custody in Tel Aviv last Friday.

The latest draft of the United Nations Security Council resolution on Iran omits talk of sanctions.

South Asia

At the NATO summit, France and Germany refuse to send large numbers of troops to southern Afghanistan, but the Dutch and Romanians decide to pick up some of the slack.

An official report in India says that Muslims are among the country’s poorest inhabitants and the BBC reports that Pakistani nuclear scientist and notorious proliferator A.Q. Khan is sick.

Europe

The Pope makes a 180 while in Turkey, supporting the country’s E.U. bid. Conversely, the European Commission pushes for a freeze in the talks.

Embattled Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko writes in today’s WaPo that the Orange Revolution is still strong.

A European Parliament report says that 11 countries, including Britain, Italy, and Germany were aware of the C.I.A.’s rendition program. In Virginia, the German citizen who accuses the C.I.A. of torturing him in Afghanistan after mistakenly abducting him is appealing his case against the U.S. government.

Americas

An ailing Fidel Castro misses the opening ceremonies for his 80th birthday. He hasn’t been seen since October 28.

The Supreme Court considers the EPA’s role in combating global warming.

The president-appointed Civil Liberties Board is “impressed” by the controls in place to protect Americans from the administration’s bank-data spying in Europe.

Violence rises in Mexico, which has seen almost twice as many drug killings this year than it did last year.

Elsewhere

The Chinese Patriotic Catholic Church plans to consecrate its third bishop without the Vatican’s sanction.

U.N aid chief Jan Egeland warns the African Union about the links between the conflicts in Darfur, Chad, and the Central African Republic.

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