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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
October 17, 2013

Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: Government Reopens After 16-Day Shutdown

President Barack Obama signed a bipartisan measure early on Thursday to end a sixteen-day-long partial shutdown of the U.S. government, which Standard & Poor's said has cost the economy $24 billion (AP). The agreement will keep the government funded until January 15 and raise the debt ceiling through February 7. Many business leaders and economists say that Congressional dysfunction is the biggest risk to the economy (Reuters), citing damage done by last-minute budget deals. The U.S. dollar weakened against the euro while bonds and gold gained on Thursday as investors speculated that the Federal Reserve will maintain its stimulus amid the deadlock in Washington (Bloomberg).


"Our policymakers can only address these issues at the last possible moment, and when there isn't agreement on the last possible moment … mistakes can happen. In particular, the recent pressures on the money market would have forced extraordinary actions from the Fed or Treasury soon, leaving a question mark over how future showdowns will be handled," writes CFR Senior Fellow Robert Kahn.

"In the process, they also brought on a government shutdown that deeply damaged the party, dismayed many in the party's business-community base, distracted attention from the budget issues where others in the party believe they have had the most success and turned the keys to that budget debate over to more moderate forces in the Senate," writes Gerald Seib in the Wall Street Journal.

"Then, on Feb. 7, the Treasury will again hit the debt ceiling. That will be closer to the midterm political season, and the futility of trying to use default as a weapon should be a fresh memory for Republicans. But many in the party remain defiant, opposing this week's deal and vowing to keep waging their crusade," writes the New York Times in an editorial.



Japan Considers Expanding TPP Tariff Exceptions

Tokyo, seeking to protect its agricultural industry in new free trade agreements, plans to expand the scope of foreign farm products it aims to impose tariffs on under the Trans-Pacific Partnership (Kyodo).

This CFR Backgrounder explains Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's economic vision for Japan.

CHINA: The mayor of China's eastern city of Nanjing is under investigation for corruption, part of a high-profile antigraft campaign launched by President Xi Jinping last year (SCMP).



Pakistani Minister Dies in Suicide Bombing

A minister from Pakistan's northwest, Israrullah Gandapur, was killed along with nine others in a suicide attack in northwestern Pakistan (Express Tribune). The bomber struck when Gandapur was greeting constituents during the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha.

INDIA: Three policemen were killed by suspected Maoist rebels in a landmine blast in India's western state of Maharashtra (Hindu).



OPCW Will Meet Syria Deadlines

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said it remains confident it will meet deadlines to destroy Syria's arsenal even though some sites are in disputed or rebel-controlled territories (Reuters). Syria must destroy its stocks by mid-2014.

IRAN: Negotiations in Geneva this week between Iran and world powers over Tehran's nuclear program were described by attendees as the most detailed yet and are set to resume on November 7 (BBC).

CFR's Ray Takeyh discusses the nuclear diplomacy in this op-ed.



Nigeria Expects to Win Seat in UN Security Council

Nigeria is running unopposed for one of five nonpermanent seats open on the UN Security Council in elections on Thursday (All Africa). Chad, Chile, Lithuania, and Saudi Arabia are expected to win the other four seats.

CFR's John Campbell writes about Nigerian security force brutality in this blog post.

MALI: The UN envoy to Mali said it needs to strengthen its force to stabilize the country and confront terrorists (DW). There are 5,200 troops on the ground, less than half the UN-mandated number.



Dutch Outrage over Attack on Diplomat in Moscow

The Dutch Foreign Ministry condemned an attack on its number-two diplomat in Russia in his Moscow apartment (Moscow Times). The incident took place a week after the detention of a Russian diplomat in The Hague by Dutch police.

FRANCE: Norwegian neo-Nazi writer and musician Kristian Vikernes will stand trial in France on Thursday for glorifying war crimes and crimes against humanity (France24).



NSA, CIA Collaborated on Drone Strikes

The National Security Agency collaborates closely in the CIA's drone-strike program, providing intelligence used in the U.S. government's efforts to target suspected terrorists, according to the latest reporting on documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden (WaPo).



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