Morning Brief, Friday, December 21

2008 Election ALEX WONG/Getty Images A new USA Today/Gallup poll shows Barack Obama pulling even with Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire. On the Republican side, Mitt Romney retains a slight edge over John McCain. Anti-immigration candidate Tom Tancredo dropped out of the race and endorsed Romney. Asia  Pakistan’s former interior minister survived a suicide blast ...

597415_071221_romney_05.jpg
597415_071221_romney_05.jpg
WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 16: (AFP OUT) Republican U.S. presidential hopeful and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney speaks as he is interviewed during a taping of "Meet the Press" at the NBC studios December 16, 2007 in Washington, DC. Romney spoke on his campaign for the 2008 presidential elections. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images for Meet the Press)

2008 Election

ALEX WONG/Getty Images

A new USA Today/Gallup poll shows Barack Obama pulling even with Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire. On the Republican side, Mitt Romney retains a slight edge over John McCain.

2008 Election

ALEX WONG/Getty Images

A new USA Today/Gallup poll shows Barack Obama pulling even with Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire. On the Republican side, Mitt Romney retains a slight edge over John McCain.

Anti-immigration candidate Tom Tancredo dropped out of the race and endorsed Romney.

Asia 

Pakistan’s former interior minister survived a suicide blast at a mosque that killed more than 50 people.

Japan’s plan to hunt 50 humpback whales in Antarctica has been shelved due to international pressure.

Battling rising inflation, China’s central bank raised interest rates for the sixth time this year.

Europe 

Belgium arrested 14 people suspected of plotting to free an al Qaeda sympathizer from prison.

Inking a new pipeline deal with Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, Russia tightened its grip on Central Asian supplies of natural gas.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy went to Rome to meet with the pope, but most of the media focus was on his relationship with Italian ex-model Carla Bruni.

Middle East 

Bahraini authorities arrested at least seven members of a top Shiite opposition group. Shiites are the majority in Bahrain, but Sunnis control the government.

Iraq’s top Shiite clerics may be losing influence as the Iraqi government they backed struggles to deliver basic order and services.

A car-bomb attack on a Baghdad liquor store killed three people and wounded 27. 

Elsewhere

U.S. President George W. Bush urged Wall Street financial institutions to take their lumps and fully disclose the extent of their losses from the subprime mortgage crisis.

Bush refused to comment Thursday on the CIA’s destruction of interrogation videos.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged countries with nationals in Guantánamo to take them into custody so that the United States can close the facility.

Kenya is seeking to become the world’s next offshoring hub.

The Lakota Sioux have declared independence from the United States.

Today’s Agenda

  • Thailand and Malaysia are opening a new bridge between the two countries.
  • Saturday is Queen Elizabeth II’s 81st birthday, making her older than Queen Victoria at the 19th century monarch’s death.
  • Winter solstice, i.e. the instant that marks the shortest day of the year, happens at 1:08 a.m. EST Saturday.

Yesterday on Passport

Housekeeping

Passport will be on vacation next Monday and Tuesday, but will return at a subdued pace Wednesday, December 26. The Morning Brief will be on hiatus until Wednesday, January 2. Enjoy your holiday!

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