Passport

Morning Brief, Wednesday, December 5

Middle East QASSEM ZEIN/AFP/Getty Images In Iraq, violence and chaos are down. For now. Joby Warrick and Walter Pincus of the Washington Post look at how the Iraq intelligence disaster informed the writing of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran. More here from Mark Mazzetti of the New York Times. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, speaking on the ...

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An Iraqi Shiite woman affiliated with the Sadr movement carries her national flag as she takes part in a women's demonstration in the shrine city of Najaf, central Iraq, to demand the release of Sadrist prisoners, 04 December 2007. Radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr blasted yesterday US President George W. Bush for signing a deal with Baghdad that ensures a long-term American military presence in Iraq. AFP PHOTO/QASSEM ZEIN (Photo credit should read QASSEM ZEIN/AFP/Getty Images)

Middle East

QASSEM ZEIN/AFP/Getty Images

In Iraq, violence and chaos are down. For now.

Joby Warrick and Walter Pincus of the Washington Post look at how the Iraq intelligence disaster informed the writing of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran. More here from Mark Mazzetti of the New York Times.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, speaking on the NIE at a rally in western Iran: “Today, the Iranian nation is victorious but you (the United States) are empty-handed.”

Israel has been stepping up attacks on Hamas militants in Gaza this week. U.S. President George W. Bush will visit Israel in January, the White House announced.

Asia 

A suicide car bomber killed 13 soldiers and civilians in Kabul, Afghanistan. The United States plans to boost its support for the beleaguered Afghan military.

Pakistani lawyers have gone on half-strike to protest against President Pervez Musharraf. 

China is under fire for its companies’ illegal trade in steroids.

India’s prime minister warned of a “massive threat” from bird flu.

Europe

Latvia’s government, wracked by corruption allegations and buffeted by street protests, stepped down Wednesday. 

British housing prices have fallen three months in a row for the first time in 12 years.

Gazprom’s profits fell by 20 percent in the second quarter of 2007. Is another strong-armed price hike in the cards?

Elsewhere 

Meeting in Abu Dhabi, OPEC members agreed not to raise production quotas.

The U.S. Senate joined the House in passing the free trade deal with Peru.

Facing corruption allegations, the president of the Brazilian senate has resigned.

Today’s Agenda

  • The U.S. Supreme Court will hear appeals in the cases of 36 Guantánamo detainees, including that of Osama bin Laden’s alleged driver.
  • U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is in Iraq to push Iraqi leaders toward compromise.
  • U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is in Ethiopia for talks on unresolved conflicts in the so-called “Great Lakes” region of Africa.
  • Thailand celebrates the king’s 80th birthday.
  • Knut the no-longer-cute polar bear turns one year old.

Yesterday on Passport

Web Exclusive

  • Seven Questions: The End of the Bolivarian Dream?
    In nine years, Hugo Chávez has never lost at the polls. Until Sunday, that is, when voters narrowly rejected his referendum to amend the Venezuelan constitution and rid himself of term limits. Noted Latin America expert and author Andrés Oppenheimer explains why Chávez lost, what it means for the region, and where Venezuela—and the United States—ought to go from here.

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