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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
November 20, 2014

Top of the Agenda

Obama to Announce Immigration Overhaul

U.S. President Barack Obama is set to announce a plan to overhaul immigration policy on Thursday night. Obama's plan (NYT) is anticipated to protect four million undocumented immigrants from deportation for five years and will allow those with no criminal record to work legally. Another one million will be protected from deportation through the expansion of an existing program that protects immigrants who came to the United States as children. The Obama administration is resorting to executive action (WaPo) to make what will be the most sweeping change to immigration policy in years. 

Analysis

"It has been the immigration system’s retreat from sanity, of course, that made Mr. Obama’s new plan necessary. Years were wasted, and countless families broken, while Mr. Obama clung to a futile strategy of luring Republicans toward a legislative deal. He has been his own worst enemy—over the years he stressed his executive impotence, telling advocates that he could not change the system on his own. This may have suited his legislative strategy, but it was not true," writes the New York Times.

"If the president announces executive amnesty, the new Senate majority leader who takes over in January should announce that the 114th Congress will not confirm a single nominee—executive or judicial—outside of vital national security positions, so long as the illegal amnesty persists," writes Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) in Politico.

"The partisan battle is about to begin—or, rather, begin again. Nothing can prevent that from happening. But what can and should be challenged is the notion that Obama is the radical here. In terms of how the United States treats immigrants, as opposed to what is on the statute books, he’s the one defending the traditional way of doing things," writes John Cassidy in the New Yorker

 

PACIFIC RIM

North Korea Threatens Nuclear Test

North Korean authorities threatened (Korea Times) to conduct nuclear and missile tests on Thursday in response to the adoption of a UN resolution that recommends referring North Korea's human rights record to the International Criminal Court.

CFR's Sheila Smith and Bonnie S. Glaser discuss Chinese and Japanese perspectives on North Korea in this CFR Meeting

MYANMAR: Government forces killed (Radio Free Asia) at least twenty-two rebels and injured another fifteen after firing a mortar on a rebel training center in northern Kachin state, according to Kachin Independence Army officials. The attack is the deadliest in three years and comes amid government efforts to negotiate a nationwide cease-fire with Myanmar's rebel groups.

President Obama is too optimistic about the path for future political reforms in Myanmar, writes CFR's Joshua Kurlantzick. 

 

SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA

Indian Guru in Custody Following Standoff

Indian guru Baba Rampal Maharaj was arrested on Wednesday (Hindu) following a weeklong standoff between police and thousands of Rampal's supporters. Six people died and at least ninety-two were hospitalized (NYT) in the standoff.

PAKISTAN: Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu arrived in Pakistan (Dawn) on Thursday to discuss enhancing bilateral defense and security cooperation. 

 

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

French ISIS Militants Call for Terror Campaign

ISIS released a video showing French-speaking militants burning French passports and calling on Muslims in France to wage a terror campaign (Guardian) at home. Meanwhile, France announced it will add six fighter jets (Al Arabiya) to the international coalition fight against ISIS on Wednesday.   

LIBYA: The United Nations Security Council added Libya-based Ansar al-Sharia to its terror list (AFP) and imposed sanctions against the group.  Ansar al-Sharia, which has links to al-Qaeda, is accused of being involved in the 2012 attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi.

 

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

China Signs Rail Deal With Nigeria

A Chinese rail corporation signed a $12 billion agreement (SCMP) with Nigeria to construct over 870 miles of rail on Thursday; the deal is China's single largest overseas investment to date.

SIERRA LEONE: Sierra Leone has experienced an uptick in Ebola cases (Deutsche Welle) according to new World Health Organization figures; the country confirmed 533 new cases and sixty-three deaths the week of November 9. The WHO reports there have been 15,145 cases of Ebola and 5,420 deaths in the current outbreak. 

CFR's Laurie Garrett argues that the lessons learned in the 1995 Ebola outbreak in Zaire must be applied to solve the current crisis.

 

EUROPE

OSCE: Ukraine Peace Prospects Bleak

An official from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe said that the prospects for peace in Ukraine are "bleak" (Reuters) on Thursday. The UN Human Rights Commission said that the violence in Ukraine has claimed an average of thirteen lives a day since the cease-fire agreement in September.

This CFR Backgrounder chronicles the crisis in Ukraine.

EU: The advocate general of the European Court of Justice rejected the UK's challenge (BBC) to a ruling that capped bonuses for bankers to 100 percent, or 200 percent with shareholder approval. The advocate general's ruling is not legally binding, but the ECJ can consider the opinion when making its final ruling next year. The imposed cap is intended to reduce incentives for bankers to take unnecessary risks. 

 

AMERICAS

FARC to Release Colombian General

The Colombian government and FARC rebel leaders agreed to conditions (MercoPress) for the release of a recently abducted army general and four others on Wednesday. The capture led to a suspension of peace talks between the government and FARC, the country's largest armed rebel group. 

 

 

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