Morning Brief, Thursday, June 14

Middle East MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images Hamas militants stormed Tel al-Hawa, the Gaza City headquarters of Fatah’s once-feared Preventive Security Services, and consolidated their control over most of the rest of Gaza. A Hamas spokesman proclaimed, “The era of justice and Islamic rule has arrived.” Israeli defense officials consider Hamas the outright victor in this fight, ...

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601197_070614_gaza_05.jpg

Middle East

MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images

Hamas militants stormed Tel al-Hawa, the Gaza City headquarters of Fatah's once-feared Preventive Security Services, and consolidated their control over most of the rest of Gaza. A Hamas spokesman proclaimed, "The era of justice and Islamic rule has arrived." Israeli defense officials consider Hamas the outright victor in this fight, but Fatah leader Mahoud Abbas promises a big announcement later today. Palestinian security forces loyal to Abbas have begun rounding up Hamas members in the West Bank, where Fatah is stronger. Perhaps Israel's expected incoming defense minister, Ehud Barak, will know what to do with this mess.

Middle East

MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images

Hamas militants stormed Tel al-Hawa, the Gaza City headquarters of Fatah’s once-feared Preventive Security Services, and consolidated their control over most of the rest of Gaza. A Hamas spokesman proclaimed, “The era of justice and Islamic rule has arrived.” Israeli defense officials consider Hamas the outright victor in this fight, but Fatah leader Mahoud Abbas promises a big announcement later today. Palestinian security forces loyal to Abbas have begun rounding up Hamas members in the West Bank, where Fatah is stronger. Perhaps Israel’s expected incoming defense minister, Ehud Barak, will know what to do with this mess.

Shiite leaders in Iraq, including Moqtada al-Sadr, are urging their followers to refrain from violence after yesterday’s bombing of one of the holiest sites in Shiite Islam. Overall, the level of violence in Iraq remains stubbornly high, according to a quarterly report released yesterday by the Pentagon.

Yet another anti-Syrian lawmaker in Lebanon, Walid Eido, was assassinated via car bomb.

Europe

Lots of Russia news today. Moscow’s chattering classes are reportedly abuzz with speculation that Vladimir Putin would seek a third term as Russia’s president. Oil company Rosneft snapped up more of the remaining assets of liquidated oil giant Yukos after a competing bidder was disqualified. And over 75 percent of business executives with interests in Russia are confident enough to boost their investments, according to a new survey.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says an upcoming European Union summit is not likely to produce a deal on the EU constitution.

Is the honeymoon over already? French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s proposal to increase the value added tax by five percentage points is coming under fire.

The Vatican is asking Catholics not to donate money to Amnesty International on the grounds that the human rights organization promotes abortion.

Asia

Did Kim Jong Il undergo surgery for a clogged artery? South Korea has agreed to send $20 million in food aid to North Korea via the United Nations’ World Food Programme.

U.S. senators on both sides of the aisle are losing patience with what they see as currency manipulation by China.

The Indian government is apparently alarmed by the rapid spread of HIV/AIDS through the country’s military. 

Chinese researchers discovered the bones of a gigantic dinosaur bird thing

Elsewhere

In more than 1,000 cases, the FBI may have broken U.S. laws regarding the use of Americans’ personal data, according to an internal audit obtained by the Washington Post.

Today’s Agenda

  • Bertie Ahern takes the helm once again as Ireland’s prime minister following an agreement on a coalition government.
  • NATO defense ministers gather in Brussels today and tomorrow to discuss Afghanstan, Kosovo, and missile defense. Special guest: Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov.
  • It’s the 25th anniversary of the end of the Falklands war between Britain and Argentina.
  • Today is Flag Day in the United States.

Yesterday on Passport

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