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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
November 1, 2013
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Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: U.S.-Europe Spying Rift Continues

Secretary of State John Kerry said U.S. surveillance efforts have sometimes "reached too far," in response to a question addressed to him at a London conference, but added that the collection of data was necessary to fight terrorism (AFP). Meanwhile, a German lawmaker met with Edward Snowden, the intelligence contractor who leaked details on the NSA spying program, in Moscow, and said Snowden was willing to come to Germany to help investigate the alleged U.S. surveillance of Chancellor Angela Merkel (Reuters). In a Washington hearing, NSA director General Keith Alexander blamed U.S. diplomats for requests to place foreign leaders under surveillance (Guardian).

Analysis

"The U.S. can take another step to build necessary bridges with its allies. America already is part of the decades-old 'Five Eyes' pact with Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, agreeing to share intelligence and not to spy on each other. The U.S. should accede to recent requests from Germany and France to join the group," R. James Woolsey writes in the Wall Street Journal.

"The German press has worked itself into a state of self-righteous hysteria; the German foreign minister is talking about severing alliances and suspending trade discussions. There is an element of post-Gestapo, post-Stasi historical memory at work in Berlin, as well as joy in the revival of anti-American rhetoric that hasn't been heard in this city in years," Anne Applebaum writes in the Washington Post.

"[W]hatever our differences may have been in the past, we strongly agree that the dragnet collection of millions of Americans' phone records every day—whether they have any connection at all to terrorism—goes far beyond what Congress envisioned or intended to authorize. More important, we agree it must stop," Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) write in Politico.

 

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PACIFIC RIM

China's Manufacturing Sector Expands

Manufacturing data accelerated in October to its strongest reading in eighteen months, but other measures for new order and new exports orders slipped in October, raising concerns that momentum might not be sustained for the rest of the fourth quarter (FT).

THAILAND: Parliament moved another step closer to passing a political amnesty bill that could allow the return of exiled former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra (AP).

 

SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA

India Stocks Close at Record High

The Sensex, India's main stock index, has hit a record high, boosted by the increased flow of foreign capital, which has reversed from outflows over the past two months after the U.S. Federal Reserve delayed the tapering of its stimulus program (Hindu).

PAKISTAN: The Pakistani Taliban said it had no contact with the government, a day after officials said a process for peace talks had been started (Dawn).

 

MIDDLE EAST

Syria Seeks to Convert Some Chemical Weapons Factories

Syria asked the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to spare some chemical facilities from destruction so they can be converted to civilian use, raising concerns that Damascus wants to keep its industrial capacity to reconstitute its program in the future (ForeignPolicy).

This CFR Backgrounder explains the history and use of sarin.

ISRAEL: Israeli aircraft carried out a strike this week near the Syrian coastal city of Latakia, targeting Russian-made missiles intended for the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah (BBC).

 

AFRICA

Kenya Launches Air Strike on al-Shabab in Somalia

Kenya's air force attacked an al-Shabab training camp in Somalia in retaliation for the al-Qaeda-linked group's September attack on a mall in Nairobi, which killed more than sixty people (al-Jazeera).

This CFR Backgrounder explains the origins and evolution of al-Shabab.

ZIMBABWE: A law that makes it a crime to insult the president was ruled unconstitutional by Zimbabwe's highest court. At least eighty cases have been filed in recent years under the law (AFP).

 

EUROPE

Deflation Risk Complicates Eurozone Recovery

Consumer prices in the eurozone are rising at the slowest pace in four years at 0.7 percent in October, far below the European Central Bank's target of roughly 2 percent, threatening the recovery of the seventeen-nation economy (Bloomberg).

This CFR Backgrounder explains the economic crisis in the eurozone.

 

AMERICAS

Obamacare Enrollment Small in First Days

Just 248 Americans were able to sign up for health insurance plans using the troubled Obamacare website during the first two days of operation (Reuters). The U.S. government expects that seven million people will enroll for insurance by the end of the year.

UNITED STATES: Fannie Mae sued nine of the world's largest banks for manipulating the Libor interest rate and is seeking $800 million in damages (LATimes).

This CFR Backgrounder explains the Libor scandal.

 

 

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