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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
July 12, 2013

Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: Malala to Speak on Girls' Education at UN

Courtesy Reuters  

Courtesy Reuters

Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani activist who survived a Taliban assassination attempt to become an international champion of girls' education, will mark her sixteenth birthday by addressing the United Nations today (AFP). She is expected to call on world leaders to follow through on achieving universal primary education by the end of 2015 (GlobalPost), one of the Millennium Development Goals. More girls than ever before are enrolled in school in Malala's native Swat Valley. But challenges remain steep as the Taliban's violent campaign against girls' education (NYT) in northwestern Pakistan continues largely unabated.


"Malala's crusade started years before the shooting, when she started writing a blog for the BBC about life in Pakistan's conservative Swat Valley. Her father, Ziauddin, continued to operate a school there despite a Taliban edict that girls in the region are banned from getting an education," writes Kyle Almond for CNN.

In Pakistan, "around 5.4 million children of primary school age don't get an education, according to the latest statistics from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco). There are an additional seven million adolescents out of school. And spending on education has been decreasing in recent years," writes Orla Guerin for BBC News.

"At the global level, the MDG target on parity at primary school has already been met. Estimates of global progress can mask stark differences at the country or regional level, however. Today, the gender gap in primary education is concentrated in a much smaller group of countries," writes the Guardian.



Investment Talks 'Breakthrough' in U.S.-China Dialogue

China and the United States will negotiate an investment treaty (Bloomberg), U.S. treasury secretary Jack Lew announced Thursday, saying it "marks the first time China has agreed to negotiate a bilateral investment treaty, to include all sectors and stages of investment, with another country."

JAPAN: Radioactive groundwater found at the site of Fukushima nuclear plant is likely leaking into the Pacific ocean (GlobalPost), Japanese authorities said.



Verdict Deferred in Indian Gang Rape Trial

A New Delhi juvenile court deferred announcing the verdict (al-Jazeera) of a teenager suspected of taking part in a gang rape that triggered a nationwide outcry last year.



Al-Qaeda Attack on FSA Commander Opens New Syrian Front

Rivalries between Islamists and the Western-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) came to a head after al-Qaeda assassinated a top FSA commander, which, rebels said Friday, was tantamount to an act of war (Daily Star).

In this CFR Interview, veteran diplomat Edward P. Djerejian discusses the U.S. role in Syria.

IRAQ: At least forty-four people were killed across Iraq on Thursday (Reuters), largely police and civilians. Sunni militants, resentful of the Shia majority's political domination, have maintained a sustained campaign of attacks this year.



Mandela Family May Face End-of-Life Questions

Many medical experts believe that Nelson Mandela is being sustained by equipment (NYT), an implication drawn from the government's opaque statements. If so, his family and doctors will be faced with the wrenching decision of how long to keep the ailing post-Apartheid leader alive—all under intense public scrutiny.

NIGERIA: The Nigerian army restored mobile phone service (BBC) in one of three states declared to be in a state of emergency. Service was blocked to prevent the militant group Boko Haram from organizing raids.



Greek State Television Resumes Programming

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras reopened the state television network (NYT) on Thursday—albeit a "bare-bones version." He had closed the station as a cost-cutting measure one month ago.

BOSNIA: A UN war crimes tribunal restored a genocide charge (CNN) faced by former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, which, the court said, was improperly dismissed last June.



NSA Leaks to Overshadow Trade at MERCOSUR Summit

South American presidents, gathering in Uruguay's capital Friday, are expected to discuss revelations of U.S. electronic surveillance (WSJ), which several leaders have condemned. Regional trade disputes are highlighted on the official agenda; MERCOSUR was founded as a trade bloc but has turned increasingly political in recent years.

BRAZIL: Tens of thousands of striking Brazilian workers blocked the nation's highways Thursday (Mercopress), demanding improved working conditions and public services on the heels of last month's mass protests.

In this blog post, CFR's Isobel Coleman explains the frustrations that motivated Brazil's protests.



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