Morning Brief, Wednesday, January 2

Welcome to 2008. Here are today’s top stories. Iowa Caucuses STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images The Democratic primary race is coming down to the wire in Iowa, with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in a dead heat and John Edwards not far behind. On the Republican side, Mike Huckabee leads Mitt Romney by two points in the ...

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Democratic presidential hopeful and New York Senator Hillary Clinton campaigns, 01 January 2008, two days ahead of the 03 January state caucus at the Sheraton Hotel in Iowa City, Iowa. In the penultimate full day 01 January on the trail before the Iowa caucuses, Democrat Barack Obama basked in a poll giving him a surprise seven point lead in Iowa, but rival Hillary Clinton refused to cede any ground. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

Welcome to 2008. Here are today's top stories.

Iowa Caucuses

STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images

Welcome to 2008. Here are today’s top stories.

Iowa Caucuses

STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images

The Democratic primary race is coming down to the wire in Iowa, with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in a dead heat and John Edwards not far behind. On the Republican side, Mike Huckabee leads Mitt Romney by two points in the latest Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby poll.

Asia

Pakistan’s parliamentary elections have been delayed until February 18, but a great deal of uncertainty remains. U.S. intelligence officials told the New York Times they don’t yet accept Pakistan’s official findings on the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.

In a New Year’s Day editorial, North Korea’s state mouthpiece denounced “hostile” U.S. policies, but made no mention of an unfulfilled North Korean promise to fully disclose the country’s nuclear programs by the end of 2007.

Malaysia’s health minister resigned after admitting being in two explicit sex DVDs. “At the end of the day, it just tells you that honesty sometimes does not pay,” he said.

Europe

A bomb exploded in a Serb-owned bank in Kosovo. 

Britain faces the worst economic outlook “since the dotcom bubble burst,” according to the Financial Times.

Facing new U.S. sanctions, Belarus threatened to eject the American ambassador and switch to the euro.

Middle East

At least thirty people died from a suicide blast in a mixed area of eastern Baghdad, and a female suicide bomber killed 10 people in Baquba.

Israel has put the Palestinian Authority on notice after Friday’s killing of two off-duty Israel soldiers in the West Bank. Visiting Cairo, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called for new elections and dialogue with Hamas.

Egypt and Iran moved a step closer toward normalizing relations for the first time since 1980.

Elsewhere

Packages containing a suspicious white powder were sent to U.S., Israeli, and British embassies in Australia.

A USAID official was shot and killed in Khartoum, Sudan.

Mob violence in Kenya, which has followed accusations that President Mwai Kibaki rigged the recent elections, has killed at least 300 people so far, including as many as 50 people who were trapped inside a church.

Oil prices rose to around $97 a barrel on news of falling U.S. stockpiles. 

Today’s Agenda

  • Slovenia takes the helm at the EU.
  • Serge Brammertz, ending his term as chief investigator of the assassination of former Lebanese PM Rafiq al-Hariri, delivers his final report to the U.N. Security Council.
  • Libya’s foreign minister arrives in Washington for Thursday’s talks with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Web Exclusives

Musharraf’s Last Jam
The tragic assassination of Benazir Bhutto was merely the coup de grâce for a U.S. strategy that was already doomed to failure. When Pervez Musharraf falls, too, will American leaders finally wake up and see Pakistan for what it is, not for what they wish it to be? By John McCreary

The List: New Year’s Resolutions for World Leaders
The year 2008 is upon us, and many people will be vowing to make big changes in the coming months. Here are a few resolutions we hope—but don’t necessarily expect—that the world’s top leaders will make.

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