Passport

Morning Brief, Wednesday, March 19

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Five Years in Iraq

After five years of fighting in Iraq, FP assesses the numbers and looks back at the war's most memorable moments.

Reuters has a fantastic retrospective and timeline on the war.

The headline-of-the-day award goes to the New York Times for "Estimates of Iraq War Cost Were Not Close to Ballpark." See also "Iraq's 100-Year Mortgage," by Linda Bilmes, in our current issue.

Asia

The latest from Tibet: More than 100 protesters have reportedly surrendered in Lhasa.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner says France is "considering" a boycott of the Olympic opening ceremony after what happened in Tibet. Human Rights Watch is reportedly reevaluating its stance as well. China does plan to keep Tibet on the Olympic torch route.

The United States says it will speak with China about its policy of giving no-strings-attached aid in places like Latin America and Africa.

Pakistan's parliament elected its first female speaker, Fahmida Mirza of Sindh Province.

2008 U.S. Elections

The Web is abuzz with dissections and denunciations of Barack Obama's speech on race.

At a press conference in Amman, Jordan, John McCain wrongly accused Iran of training members of al Qaeda to fight in Iraq -- before he was corrected by Sen. Joseph Lieberman. Iran has, however, been thought to have had ties to al Qaeda in the past.

Former U.S. Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger says McCain won't pander to the religious right.

Pennsylvania Rep. John Murtha endorses Hillary Clinton.

Global Economy

Wall Street rallied Tuesday after the U.S. Federal Reserve lowered a key interest rate by 75 basis points. Many expected a cut of a full point, but inflation remains a risk.

On the Charlie Rose show last night, former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker raised questions about the Bear Stearns deal.

David Leonhardt explains the credit crisis in plain English.

Europe

Russia is complaining that it has yet to receive a U.S. missile-defense proposal in writing.

Greece is preparing for a pension strike.

The United Nations is accusing Serbian officials of fomenting violence in northern Kosovo.

Elsewhere

According to NASA scientists, the loss of the oldest and thickest Arctic ice has continued since last summer.

Robert Mugabe is already trying to cheat to win Zimbawbe's elections on March 29.

Science-fiction icon Arthur C. Clarke died at the age of 90.

Today's Agenda

  • In a speech marking the fifth anniversary of the Iraq war, U.S. President George W. Bush is expected to declare a "major strategic victory." He will later host Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili.
  • Anti-war groups are holding protests in cities around the United States.
  • The National Archives plans to release more than 11,000 pages of records from Hillary Clinton's time in the White House.
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is visiting Syria, Israel, and the Palestinian territories. The Israeli press expects Lavrov to convey a message from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to the Israeli government.

 Yesterday on Passport

Passport

Israeli-Palestinian conflict strikes Facebook

Last month, pro-Palestinians, who hope Jerusalem will be the capital of a future Palestinian state, were angered when the board game Monopoly listed "Jerusalem, Israel," as a candidate city for its world edition. Recently, though, the controversy went the other way around at Facebook, the social-networking site.

Jewish settlers living in the occupied West Bank, in places such as Maale Adumin and Ariel, were angered when Facebook automatically listed their hometowns as being located in Palestine. Facebook heard their outcry, however, and now residents in Israeli West Bank settlements can choose between with Israel and Palestine.

Of course, opposing Facebook groups are now looking for members. The group "ITS [sic] NOT 'PALESTINE'- IT'S 'ISRAEL'" has nearly 14,000 members, while the group "If Palestine is removed from Facebook... Im [sic] closing my account." has around 4,600 members.

It all goes to show that on the Web, nobody has a monopoly on outrage.