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March 23, 2017

Daily News Brief

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PM Says London Terror Suspect British-Born

British Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed that the slain suspect in an attack at the British Parliament yesterday was British-born (Guardian) and previously investigated by security agencies for extremist views. May said the attack, the deadliest in the United Kingdom since subway bombings more than a decade ago, was "inspired by international terrorism" (WaPo) but likely carried out alone. The knife-wielding attacker, whose name has not been made public, was shot and killed after he killed three people, including a police officer. Forty people were injured as the assailant used a sport utility vehicle to run over pedestrians (NYT) before exiting the vehicle to attack the officer on foot. British police arrested eight people overnight (Al Jazeera) in raids across the country.


"The attack occurred on Parliament's busiest day of the week, when the prime minister appears for her weekly questions session and the House of Commons is packed with visitors. The Palace of Westminster, the ancient seat of the British Parliament, is surrounded by heavy security, with high walls, armed officers and metal detectors. But just outside the compound are busy roads packed with cars and pedestrians. The attack—a low-tech, high-profile assault on the most potent symbol of British democracy—fits the profile of earlier strikes in major European capitals that have raised threat levels across the continent in recent years," Karla Adam and Brian Murphy write for the Washington Post.

"The U.K. announced last year it was sharply increasing the number of police officers trained to handle firearms. More than 90 percent of police officers are unarmed, with only specialist firearms teams permitted to carry submachine guns and pistols capable of killing a hostile suspect. Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said security would be reviewed to see whether arrangements at Parliament were adequate and whether police at the front gates should be armed," Jenny Gross writes for the Wall Street Journal.

"The police and security services monitor about three thousand Britons, mainly Islamists, whom they regard as potentially capable of domestic terrorism. Of these, about five hundred are the subject of active investigations and only a limited number become the targets of physical surveillance. The Guardian understands the attacker was not one of them. He was regarded as posing so little threat that he did not even make the list of three thousand," Jamie Grierson and Ewen MacAskill write for the Guardian.


Chinese Ocean Agency Warns of Sea Level Rise

China's State Oceanic Administration reported that coastal sea levels rose 38 mm (Channel News Asia) between 2015 and 2016 and broke record highs during four months of the year. The agency said that marine disasters last year caused $726 million in damage and claimed up to sixty lives (SCMP).

NEW ZEALAND: A new report found that Apple paid no income tax in New Zealand (New Zealand Herald) over a decade despite billions in sales there due to a tax agreement that allows it to pay in Australia (Guardian). The company said in a statement that Apple is "the largest taxpayer in the world" (BBC).


Southern Afghan District Taken by Taliban

Forces from the Taliban insurgency captured Sangin district in Afghanistan's Helmand province (WSJ) Thursday, prompting Afghan forces to evacuate and the air force to bomb military installations (WaPo) to prevent Taliban militants from using them.

CFR's Max Boot argues that a stalemate with the Taliban insurgency is the best the United States can hope for in Afghanistan.

INDIA: Yogi Adityanath, a Hindu cleric recently appointed as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, India's largest state, ordered a crackdown on butchers (FT) and on men loitering in public spaces. The move is viewed by critics as targeting the Muslim minority in the state.

CFR's Alyssa Ayres discusses the implications of Adityanath's appointment in Uttar Pradesh.


U.S. Airlifts Fighters Into Raqqa

The United States airlifted Syrian fighters (Reuters) from the Syrian Arab Coalition and the Syrian Democratic Forces, including Kurdish fighters, into the city of Raqqa to retake territory from the self-proclaimed Islamic State and to block any advance of Syrian government forces from the city's west, according to the Pentagon. U.S special forces are on the ground (NYT) to advise the fighters, according to a military spokesman.

EGYPT: The administration of U.S. President Donald J. Trump confirmed that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will visit the White House (WSJ) on April 3. Egypt is one of the top recipients of U.S. foreign and military aid, taking in about $1.5 billion annually. 


Somaliland Reports Child Deaths from Starvation

At least twenty-five people, mostly children, have died of starvation (VOA) in the self-declared republic of Somaliland, according to the governor of the Sanaag region. The reports follow a UN warning that fifty thousand children in Somalia and Somaliland risk death from ongoing drought.

KENYA: An IT specialist has been charged with stealing $40 million from Kenya's tax agency (Al Jazeera) through a hacking scheme over the last two years. 


Germany to Deport German-Born Terror Suspects

Germany announced it will deport two German-born men of foreign ancestry (DW) to Algeria and Nigeria after they were arrested for plotting terror attacks; the two men were not charged. German citizenship law (BBC) takes into account the nationalities of one's parents as well as place of birth.


Fourteen Countries to Challenge Venezuelan Regime

Canada, Mexico, the United States, and eleven other nations in the region will release a joint statement (WSJ) calling on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to free political prisoners, restore power to the national assembly, and hold regional elections that the government had indefinitely postponed. Mexico's foreign minister said, "We feel the time has come to act."

CFR's Shannon K. O'Neil testified before the U.S. Senate on policy options toward Venezuela.

ARGENTINA: Tens of thousands of public school teachers went on strike and marched in Buenos Aires (AP) to demand a 35 percent pay raise to compensate for inflation. The strike, which began on March 6, has delayed the start of the school year for millions of students.