Morning Brief, Wednesday, November 21

Global Economy CHIP SOMODEVILLA/Getty Images Oil prices pushed past $99 a barrel on a weakening dollar and a downbeat report from the U.S. Federal Reserve. Gold stayed above $800 an ounce. Asia Chinese electronics are undermining the North Korean government’s totalitarian monopoly on information about the outside world, defectors say. In an intriguing development, U.S. ...

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598025_rsz_77911297_05.jpg
WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 14: Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board Ben Bernanke addresses the Cato Institute's 25th Annual Monetary Conference November 14, 2007 in Washington, DC. Bernanke announced that the Fed will double the number of times a year, from two to four, what its projections are for the health of the economy and will say what it thinks the business environment will be for the following three years instead of two. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Global Economy

CHIP SOMODEVILLA/Getty Images

Oil prices pushed past $99 a barrel on a weakening dollar and a downbeat report from the U.S. Federal Reserve. Gold stayed above $800 an ounce.

Global Economy

CHIP SOMODEVILLA/Getty Images

Oil prices pushed past $99 a barrel on a weakening dollar and a downbeat report from the U.S. Federal Reserve. Gold stayed above $800 an ounce.

Asia

Chinese electronics are undermining the North Korean government’s totalitarian monopoly on information about the outside world, defectors say.

In an intriguing development, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State met with the Pakistani Army’s second in command this past Saturday.

An advanced Chinese naval destroyer will visit Japan in a sign of warming ties between the two countries. 

Middle East

Thousands of Iraqis are returning home from Syria.

The Bush administration is scrambling to get high-level Arab representation in Annapolis for next week’s Middle East peace conference, which is to be held Nov. 27. 

Turkish President Abdullah Gul said he sees signs of “common sense” prevailing in northern Iraq now that the U.S. military and Kurdish Regional Government are pitching in to isolate the PKK.

Europe 

Sabotage has hit France’s high-speed trains. Faced with growing strikes that were set off by his liberal economic reforms, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Tuesday, “We will not surrender, and we will not retreat.”

Jacques Chirac, embezzler?

British PM Gordon Brown was forced to apologize for the loss of 25 million child-benefit records.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has frozen a Rumsfeld-era plan to draw the number of U.S. troops down to 24,000 in Europe.

Elsewhere 

In a new book, former White House spokesman Scott McClellan accuses U.S. President George W. Bush of complicity in the Valerie Plame leak case.

One of Hugo Chávez’s closest allies in the military has broken with the Venezuelan strongman over his proposed constitutional changes.

Ian Smith, a staunch defender of white rule in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), died at the age of 88.

Scientists in Wisconsin and Japan have made a breakthrough on stem cells developed from skin cells, not embryos.

Today’s Agenda

  • Portugal and England still have a shot at qualifying for soccer’s 2008 European Championships.
  • Prediction: Thousands of Americans will be stuck in airports today, many without their luggage.
  • The release of monthly U.S. crude-oil inventories data could send oil prices over $100 a barrel today.
  • Today is the 10th anniversary of the OECD’s Anti-Bribery Convention.

Yesterday on Passport

Note: Passport will be on hiatus until Monday, Nov. 26, due to the Thanksgiving holiday.

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