Morning Brief, Thursday, December 6

Middle East SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney: Iraq will be a self-governing democracy by 2009. A more cautious Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, visiting Iraq, merely describes a stable, democratic Iraq as “within reach.” Meanwhile, Iraq’s insurgency is migrating northward as security improves in Baghdad and Anbar provinces. Secretary Gates has reportedly ...

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US Vice President Dick Cheney listens as US President George W. Bush speaks during the Iftaar Dinner with ambassadors and Muslim leaders in the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington, DC, 04 October 2007. AFP PHOTO/SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Middle East

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney: Iraq will be a self-governing democracy by 2009. A more cautious Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, visiting Iraq, merely describes a stable, democratic Iraq as "within reach."

Middle East

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney: Iraq will be a self-governing democracy by 2009. A more cautious Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, visiting Iraq, merely describes a stable, democratic Iraq as “within reach.”

Meanwhile, Iraq’s insurgency is migrating northward as security improves in Baghdad and Anbar provinces. Secretary Gates has reportedly rejected a proposal to transfer U.S. marines to Afghanistan, however.

Notes from high-level Iranian meetings led the intelligence community to determine that Iran had shuttered its nuclear program, according to the New York Times. Nonetheless, former Bush administration official John Bolton criticizes the NIE and Israel strongly disputes it as well.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas wants more money.

Asia 

U.S. President George W. Bush has reportedly sent a personal letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il, but its contents are unknown.

Even as it polishes its Olympian PR campaign, China is cracking down on civil-society groups.

Japan’s prime minister is planning a legislative push to resume military support for the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan, a move that could lead to his ouster if it backfires.

Their country in turmoil, Pakistanis are turning to cricket for solace and diversion.

Europe

France’s army is demanding payment in exchange for freeing six French NGO workers who stand accused of kidnapping children in Chad.

Citing concerns about tightening credit markets, Britain’s central bank cut interest rates for the first time in more than two years.

Ukraine is poised for the return of “Orange” coalition leader Yulia Tymoshenko as prime minister.

2008 Election

New York Sen. Hillary Clinton holds a narrow lead among Democratic presidential candidates in New Hampshire, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Elsewhere 

More than 200 scientists signed a declaration saying that “global emissions must peak and decline in the next 10 to 15 years” or else the planet will warm by more than 2 degrees Celsius.

No more Mister Nice Guy: Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez lashes out at his political adversaries.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development has cut its growth forecast to 2.3 percent for the coming year in the 30-country OECD area.

Analysts estimate OPEC’s new price target to be somewhere between $70 and $80 per barrel. 

Today’s Agenda

  • Finland celebrates 90 years of independence from Russia.
  • Rich folk are descending on Amsterdam for the Millionaires’ Fair, a trade show for luxury goods.
  • The space shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to launch from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center at 4:31 p.m.
  • President Bush is expected to announce his mortgage-relief plan.

Yesterday on Passport

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