Passport

Morning Brief, Tuesday, February 12

2008 U.S. Elections

Win McNamee/Getty Images

With Barack Obama looking strong in today's "Potomac Primary" in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia, Hillary Clinton is already looking ahead to Texas and Ohio on Mar. 4.

Mike Huckabee is hoping to pull off a huge upset today in Virginia, where SurveyUSA has him gaining ground on John McCain in recent days.

Polls close at 7 p.m. EST in Virginia and 8 p.m. EST in Maryland and D.C.

Al Gore won't endorse either Democratic candidate, CNN's Political Ticker reports.

Middle East

Iran celebrated the 29th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution by excluding political reformers from the upcoming parliamentary elections. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad used the occassion to whip up pro-nuclear and anti-American sentiment.

Israeli PM Ehud Olmert is in Germany to lobby Chancellor Angela Merkel to get tougher on Iran, which he says is pursuing the bomb.

Envoys from the United States and Iran are due to meet in a few days to discuss Iraq.

Asia

A U.S. defense official was arrested for spying for China.

The 69-year-old man who confessed to burning down South Korea's historic Namdaemun gate says he did it because the government didn't fully compensate him for redevelopment in his neighborhood.

Referring to an alleged rape by a U.S. Marine on Okinawa, Japanese PM Fukuda labeled it an "unforgiveable" act that has "happened over and over again in the past."

Two Pakistani nuclear technicians have allegedly been kidnapped along the northwest frontier.

Europe

Other European countries are pressuring France to deal with its budget deficit.

Police in Denmark arrested five men accused of plotting to kill a cartoonist who depicted the Prophet Mohammed.

Here we go again: Russia is threatening to cut off Ukraine's gas if the latter country doesn't pay its bill by 15:00 GMT.

Elsewhere

The White House says the U.S. economy is on a "solid foundation" and a recession is unlikely.

The United States is seeking the death penalty for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-described mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, and five others.

The horror: A network outage left millions of North Americans without fully functioning Blackberries for three hours Monday.

General Motors lost nearly $39 billion in 2007.

Warren Buffett is offering to reinsure some $800 billion in municipal bonds.

Today's Agenda

  • It's Safer Internet Day in Europe.
  • UNESCO debuts the International Year of Planet Earth, an initiative aimed at putting the best science in the hands of policymakers.
  • Russia's prime minister, Viktor Zubkov, is visiting India.
  • Today is Abraham Lincoln's birthday.
  • U.S. President George W. Bush welcomes Mali's president to the White House.

Yesterday on Passport

Web Exclusive

The List: The World's Best Places to Be an Immigrant
Throughout the developed world, countries are tightening up border security, building fences, and raising citizenship requirements. But there are still a few places left that are willing to say: "Give us your huddled masses."

Passport

What We're Reading

Preeti Aroon

  • "Why It Was Called 'Water Torture'," by Richard E. Mezo in the Washington Post. An argument against waterboarding, written by an American who actually experienced it.

Caitlin Wall

  • The Way to Win: Taking the White House in 2008. Mark Halperin and John F. Harris look at the state of modern American politics and attempt to write a sort of handbook for the secrets of the trade. Political strategy trumps all in this less-than-inspiring, if timely read.

Christine Chen

  • The In Septembers of Shiraz. First-time novelist Dalia Sofer, whose own family escaped from Iran in 1982, tells the tale of Isaac Amin, a gem trader who is imprisoned and tortured by Revolutionary Guards for being Jewish. During his incarceration, his wife Farnaz tries to keep the family together while his young daughter is befriended by the daughter of the man who runs the prison where he's being held. Meanwhile, his secular son is far away in Brooklyn, falling in love with the daughter of his Hasidic landlord.

Blake Hounshell

Mike Boyer

  • "Mitt Romney: Not in His Father's Footsteps," Rick Perlstein in Sunday's Los Angeles Times. Romney "will go down as the most robotic big-ticket presidential candidate in history," because his father taught him that authenticity kills.