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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
September 30, 2013

Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: U.S. Government on Brink of Shutdown

The U.S. government is on the brink of its first partial shutdown in seventeen years after a weekend of negotiations between the House and Senate over passing a clean budget ended in stalemate (Bloomberg). Republicans in the House, along with some Democrats, voted to delay the implementation of President Obama's landmark healthcare overhaul law for a year as a compromise to keep the government open, a position that was quickly rejected by Senate leaders (AP). Stock markets in Japan, Australia, Hong Kong, and South Korea declined over concerns about the shutdown (BBC).


"Mr. Obama also refuses to bend on any part of ObamaCare—except when he unilaterally announces bending in his own political interest. He decided on his own, and contrary to the plain text of the law, to delay for a year the business mandate to provide insurance for employees. He also unilaterally delayed verifying the income of Americans seeking subsidies," the Wall Street Journal writes in an editorial.

"Delaying the health law by a year, supported by all but two House Republicans, would prevent 11 million uninsured people from getting coverage in 2014 and raise premiums for those buying coverage in the individual insurance market. The real goal is not to delay but to destroy health reform by making it appear unworkable," the New York Times writes in an editorial.

"And so we have arrived at the bizarre juncture where it makes more sense for Mr. Obama to talk to the leader of Iran than to talk to Congress. Republicans will soon face the choice of climbing down from their demands or pressing the fiscal equivalent of the nuclear button. Either route will bring them defeat. Everyone must hope that they opt for the less glorious version this time," writes Edward Luce in the Financial Times.



Hagel Says U.S. Won't Cut Force in Korea

U.S. defense secretary Chuck Hagel toured the Korean demilitarized zone and said the United States didn't plan to reduce its 28,500-member force in South Korea (Reuters). "This is probably the only place in the world where we have always a risk of confrontation," he said.

AUSTRALIA: Prime Minister Tony Abbott will meet with Indonesia's president as tensions between the two countries mount over Abbott's tough policy on asylum seekers (SMH).



Pakistan Market Blast Kills Dozens

A bomb ripped through a historic market in Peshawar, the third to hit the Pakistani city in a week, killing at least forty-three people (Dawn). Government officials blamed Taliban insurgents and decided to form a special task force to deal with terrorism in the region.

AFGHANISTAN: As U.S. troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, students and administrators at the American University in Kabul worry about the long term viability of their institution (WaPo).



Turkey Reveals its 'Democratization Package'

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan outlined a sweeping proposal to change Turkey's treatment of minorities, allowing Kurdish and other languages to be taught in private schools, abolishing penalties for the use of certain letters used in Kurdish, and ending the use of a student oath (Hurriyet Daily).

This Backgrounder explains the origins and structure of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).



Protests Continue in Sudan

Thousands of Sudanese protesters took to the streets of Khartoum demanding freedom and the ouster of longtime president Omar al-Bashir after dozens were killed in clashes last week (AP). The government responded by saying it would distribute cash to impoverished families.

NIGERIA: Islamist gunmen of Boko Haram allegedly killed forty students at an agricultural college, storming the dorms as the students slept (ThisDay).



Italian Prime Minister Seeks Vote of Confidence

Italian prime minister Enrico Letta is expected to call for a vote of confidence on Wednesday after five members of Silvio Berlusconi's party resigned from government (France24). Letta plans to meet with Berlusconi on Monday to stave off the collapse of his government.

BELGIUM: The head of Eon, Germany's largest utility warned that Europe can't counter the growing advantage in U.S. energy costs and that heavy industries will leave the continent (FT).



Colombia Rejects Mediation of Jesse Jackson

Colombia's president rejected the help of civil rights activist Jesse Jackson to oversee the release of a former U.S. Marine who was kidnapped by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia in June (al-Jazeera). The president said he didn't want to give the guerilla a "media spectacle."



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