Morning Brief: The homestretch; oil tanks

Top Story MANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images As the 2008 campaign begins its final phase, Barack Obama appears to have convinced at least some pillars of the foreign-policy establishment that he is ready for prime time. Today, the Washington Post‘s editorial board endorses the Illinois senator. So, it appears, does former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who thinks ...

592017_081017_obama5.jpg
592017_081017_obama5.jpg

Top Story

MANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images

As the 2008 campaign begins its final phase, Barack Obama appears to have convinced at least some pillars of the foreign-policy establishment that he is ready for prime time.

Top Story

MANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images

As the 2008 campaign begins its final phase, Barack Obama appears to have convinced at least some pillars of the foreign-policy establishment that he is ready for prime time.

Today, the Washington Post‘s editorial board endorses the Illinois senator. So, it appears, does former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who thinks an Obama presidency would be “phenomenal.”

Last night, however, Obama and his rival John McCain enjoyed a brief respite from the campaign trail at a charity dinner in New York. McCain joked that he is planning to replace his entire staff with “Joe the plumber,” while Obama said his middle name is actually “Steve.”

Meanwhile, it turns out Joe is not actually a licensed plumber, and he owes the state of Ohio more than $1000 in back income taxes.

Nor is Obama declaring victory just yet. Some polls show the race as much closer than others.

Economy

OPEC called for an emergency meeting as oil prices fell below $70 a barrel for the first time in more than a year. If, as many believe, prices stabilize at $80, that’s “essentially a $275 billion stimulus package to the U.S. economy,” in the words of one analyst quoted in the Wall Street Journal.

Two hedge funds are shutting down due to “unprecedented market volatility,” NPR reports. (And in fact, hedge funds’ troubles explain much of the recent slide in oil prices, as the WSJ makes clear.)

Americas

A gas pipeline in British Columbia, Canada, was bombed for a second time.

Shots were fired near the U.S. consulate in Monterrey, Mexico.

Striking police officers battled other police in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Human Rights Watch accuses Colombian President Alvaro Uribe of stonewalling investigations of right-wing militias.

Asia

Foreign journalists in China may soon see their Olympics-related freedoms expire.

Chinese appear to be cutting back on travel.

Pakistan is detaining a U.S. citizen who entered the Pashtun region without permission.

Bananas are the hot new diet fad in Tokyo.

Middle East and Africa

U.S. President George W. Bush offered to lean on Israel to give up the Golan Heights if Syria broke with Iran, according to an unconfirmed report in a Kuwaiti newspaper.

Iraq’s bureaucracy is having trouble spending the country’s oil windfall.

A British couple may be going to prison for having sex on a beach in Dubai.

Europe

Russia’s billionaires are seeking a Kremlin bailout.

Hungary and Ukraine are seeking help from the International Monetary Fund.

Some European countries are trying to wriggle out of their climate-change commitments.

Europe is considering a trade agreement with Canada.

Weekend Agenda

French President Nicolas Sarkozy aims for nothing less than a “refoundation of capitalism” in his Saturday meeting with President Bush.

Bush is due to speak this morning before markets open.

The U.N. General Assembly votes Friday to choose the new Security Council members.

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