Morning Brief, Monday, April 16

Middle East Breaking: The mercurial Moqtada al-Sadr has ordered his bloc to withdraw from the Iraqi government. And the southern Iraqi city of Basra is seeing rising tensions between the Sadrists and their local rivals, while 35 miles north of Baghdad, the city of Baquba has become a new hotbed for Sunni Arab insurgents. Israeli ...

602592_moqtada_iraq2.jpg
602592_moqtada_iraq2.jpg

Middle East

Breaking: The mercurial Moqtada al-Sadr has ordered his bloc to withdraw from the Iraqi government. And the southern Iraqi city of Basra is seeing rising tensions between the Sadrists and their local rivals, while 35 miles north of Baghdad, the city of Baquba has become a new hotbed for Sunni Arab insurgents.

Israeli and Palestinian leaders met for the first of a regular series of biweekly Sunday talks.

Middle East

Breaking: The mercurial Moqtada al-Sadr has ordered his bloc to withdraw from the Iraqi government. And the southern Iraqi city of Basra is seeing rising tensions between the Sadrists and their local rivals, while 35 miles north of Baghdad, the city of Baquba has become a new hotbed for Sunni Arab insurgents.

Israeli and Palestinian leaders met for the first of a regular series of biweekly Sunday talks.

I believe “chutzpah” is the proper word for this: Iran is entertaining bids for two additional nuke plants.

Europe

Russia police arrested some 370 people, among them chess champ Gary Kasparov, over “unauthorized” opposition rallies in Moscow and St. Petersburg. 

Meanwhile, in Turkey, the presidential election is heating up, with Islam and secularism dominating the debate. 

Immigration is playing a huge role in the French elections, to the benefit of frontrunner Nicolas Sarkozy.

British businesses haul in over a third of Europe’s profits, according to a new report. 

Asia 

Want your rice? Better shut down that reactor, South Korea tells its troublesome northern neighbor. For its part, China is counseling patience after North Korea missed Saturday’s deadline.

Beijing announced a one-ticket policy for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Olympic Games. Over 7 million tickets went on sale Sunday, 75 percent of them to residents of mainland China.

Thousands rallied in Karachi, Pakistan, against a Taliban-style anti-vice campaign by an Islamabad religious school. 

Elsewhere

Paul Wolfowitz expressed confidence in his continued leadership of the World Bank despite strong public criticism from the Bank’s oversight committee and mounting speculation that he will be ousted. But will U.S. President George W. Bush make the call?

Violence marred Nigeria’s state elections on Saturday, in which the governing People’s Democratic Party won most of the contests.

The Pope turns 80 today.  

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