Morning Brief, Thursday, January 31

Decision ’08 GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images Sparks flew at Wednesday night’s Republican debate, with John McCain and Mitt Romney trading barbs over Iraq, immigration, and tax cuts. Highlights here. (The Democratic candidates debate tonight in Los Angeles.) As expected, Rudy Giuliani and John Edwards abandoned their presidential bids. Giulani quickly endorsed McCain, and California Gov. Arnold ...

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596749_debate_05.jpg

Decision '08

GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images

Sparks flew at Wednesday night's Republican debate, with John McCain and Mitt Romney trading barbs over Iraq, immigration, and tax cuts. Highlights here. (The Democratic candidates debate tonight in Los Angeles.)

Decision ’08

GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images

Sparks flew at Wednesday night’s Republican debate, with John McCain and Mitt Romney trading barbs over Iraq, immigration, and tax cuts. Highlights here. (The Democratic candidates debate tonight in Los Angeles.)

As expected, Rudy Giuliani and John Edwards abandoned their presidential bids. Giulani quickly endorsed McCain, and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger plans to follow suit today.

Asia

China’s severe winter weather could have a devastating effect on the country’s agriculture. With the Lunar New Year approaching, the storms have already wreaked havoc on the country’s rail system.

Japanese consumers have been getting violently ill after eating Chinese-made dumplings containing pesticide. 

Have Asian economies really “decoupled” from the United States? The Financial Times takes a look at how the East is handling the U.S. economic slowdown.

Did the CIA just pull off another Predator drone strike in Pakistan

Middle East

The severing of two undersea cables has disrupted Internet access to much of the Arab world and beyond, affecting 70 percent of Egypt’s network and even 60 percent of India’s.

A commission tasked with investigating Israel’s mistakes in the 2006 Lebanon war reported “grave failings” by military and political leaders. Israel PM Ehud Olmert appears likely to hang to his job, so long as Defense Minister Ehud Barak doesn’t pull his Labor Party out of the government.

Top U.S. military commanders in Iraq want to see a pause in troop reductions

Europe

A new poll projects Putin protégé Dmitri Medvedev as the runaway winner of Russia’s upcoming presidential election. Shocking.

Inflation in the eurozone is at a 14-year high

A spinster librarian in Oxford, England, somehow amassed an $8 million art collection.

Elsewhere

The U.S. Federal Reserve moved to cut interest rates by another 50 basis points

The U.S. Senate Finance Committee passed a $157 billion stimulus package that is $11 billion larger than the House version.

Kenya is witnessing “ethnic cleansing,” according to U.S. envoy Jendayi Frazer. A second opposition MP was killed Thursday in what police termed a “crime of passion.”

Booming South Africa faces an “electricity emergency.” 

Today’s Agenda

  • Ethiopia hosts the African Union summit.
  • Human Rights Watch publishes its annual report.
  • U.S. President George W. Bush heads to Las Vegas for a party fundraiser and a speech on terrorism.

Yesterday on Passport

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