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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
October 25, 2013
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Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: Europe Demands Limits to U.S. Surveillance

The leaders of Germany and France said on Friday they wanted to hold talks with the United States as European concerns over American spying intensified with recent allegations that German chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone was tapped by the NSA (NYT). Brazil and Germany met yesterday to advocate for a UN resolution that would promote the right of privacy on the Internet (Foreign Policy). Separately, another report based on leaks from former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden revealed that U.S. and British agencies monitored Italian telecommunications, targeting the government, companies, and suspected terrorist groups (al-Jazeera).


"So far, most of the damage sustained by the U.S. and UK has been reputational and rhetorical. Some of the accusers, Hollande in particular, are well aware that their own intelligence services are up to the same tricks, if not quite so adept and well-equipped. Essential national interests demand that the core relationship is maintained," writes Julian Borger in the Guardian.

"The real battle—the NSA's war against sacred civil rights—will have to be won in Congress. Ms. Merkel would do better to call Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate intelligence committee, than chastise the US ambassador. When Americans see the NSA as a threat to their own freedoms, they will act to leash it," writes Jose Joffe in the Financial Times.

"The perception here is of a United States where security has trumped liberty, intelligence agencies run amok (vacuuming up data of friend and foe alike), and the once-admired "checks and balances" built into American governance and studied by European schoolchildren have become, at best, secret reviews of secret activities where opposing arguments get no hearing," writes Roger Cohen in the New York Times.


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Chinese Court Upholds Bo Xilai Life Sentence

A Chinese court rejected the appeal of former Chongqing Communist Party leader Bo Xilai and upheld his life sentence for bribery, embezzlement, and abuse of power (AFP). He was removed from office amid a scandal in which his wife was convicted of a British businessman's murder.

This CFR Backgrounder explains China's ruling party's origins and the challenges it faces.

CHINA: Multiple Chinese aviation customers have committed to buying two hundred Boeing 737 Max airplanes, valued at $20.7 billion (Reuters).



India Alleges Pakistan Shelling Along Kashmir Border

Pakistani troops fired mortars, rockets, and automatic rifles on border posts and civilian areas in disputed Kashmir, according to Indian officials (Hindu). There were no deaths or injuries linked to the shelling and shooting.

MYANMAR: Violence against the Muslim minority in Myanmar is threatening the country's political and economic reforms as it emerges from military rule, according to a report that will be presented to the UN on Friday (Deutsche Welle).



Saudi Women Campaign for Right to Drive

Saudi women plan to get behind the wheel in protest on Saturday (AP). The move will test recent cautious reforms made by the kingdom, the only country with such a prohibition.

CFR's Isobel Coleman explains Saudi Arabia's slow-motion reform and expansion of women's rights in this blog post.

SYRIA: Some five million Syrians who are refugees within their own country are struggling to find food and shelter as winter closes in (NYT). More than twice as many Syrians are displaced within their own country as are refugees abroad.

This CFR Backgrounder explains the conflict in Syria and the global response.



UN, France Launch Major Operation in Mali

French, Malian, and UN forces launched a major offensive in the north of the country to prevent the resurgence of militant Islamist organizations (France24). After the jihadists were ousted in January, attacks against government and international forces have picked up in recent months.

ETHIOPIA: The Ethiopian government has temporarily banned its citizens from traveling abroad to look for work, saying it intended to safeguard citizens from harm in human trafficking (BBC).



UK Growth Accelerates

The British economy grew at its fastest rate in more than three years in the third quarter, with gross domestic product rising 0.8 percent and at an annual rate of 1.5 percent, slightly above IMF predictions (Bloomberg).



Obama Softens Tone on Immigration Reform

After months of insisting that the House should take up the Senate's comprehensive immigration bill, President Barack Obama said he might consider proposals for smaller bills, as long as they provide a path to citizenship for the estimated eleven million people in the U.S. without legal status (LAT).

ARGENTINA: Argentines aged sixteen and seventeen will be able to vote for the first time in Sunday's midterm elections, but their impact will marginal as few registered to vote (MercoPress).



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