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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
November 6, 2013
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Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: Germany Summons UK Ambassador Over Spying Row

Germany's foreign minister called in Britain's ambassador after reports indicated that the British embassy in Berlin was being used as secret listening post, the latest fallout from the leaks of former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden (Independent). Revelations about the scale of U.S. spying are undermining Washington's effort to keep the Internet loosely governed, rather than fall under the authority of governments and the United Nations, which is preferred by China and Russia (Reuters). Meanwhile, Brazil's justice minister defended his country's spying on foreign diplomats operating in the country, and said the scope of surveillance differs from the United States' practice of mining emails and phone calls (BBC).


"Even after West Germany's economic recovery and its rise to NATO membership, the United States and Britain excluded it from the 'SIGINT' inner circle. The potential benefits of including the Bonn government were outweighed by the risks of Soviet and East German infiltration. West German governments gave the NSA access to U.S.-occupied German territory, anyway," Charles Lane writes in the Washington Post.

"The US clearly wants to maintain a strong counter-terrorism capability. But protecting the role and reputation of US communications companies—and their place in a seamless worldwide web—is a crucial economic goal. As the controversy over the NSA continues, the risk that the US faces is that the unfettered power of the agency will ultimately damage America's internet companies—the symbol of US technology leadership," the Financial Times writes in an editorial.

"It has been a full year since federal agents snooped through the private emails of my husband and me, setting in motion a series of events that ultimately led to the resignations of Central Intelligence Agency Director David Petraeus and Gen. John Allen, the commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan. The anniversary is a somber reminder of the unintended consequences and harsh realities that can result from unrestrained government probing into Americans' personal communications," Jill Kelley writes in the Wall Street Journal.


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China Blast Hits Communist Party Office

Explosions that killed at least one person outside a provincial office of the Communist Party in northern China were caused by self-made bombs (Xinhua), according to local police. Last week a car ploughed through a crowd in Tiananmen Square in what was described as a terrorist attack.

INDONESIA: Gross domestic product grew less than 6 percent in the third quarter in Indonesia as the economy grapples with a depreciated currency and elevated inflation (Bloomberg).



Tajik President Poised to Win Another Term

Voters in Tajikistan are expected to give President Imomali Rakhmon another seven-year term. Rakhmon, who has been in office for more than twenty years, hasn't competed in a single election that has been recognized by the EU and United States as free and fair (al-Jazeera).

MALDIVES: After two failed attempts, the three candidates for president in the Maldives have agreed on a voters' register and are expected to hold an election on Saturday (Hindu).



U.S. Skeptical Over Syria Chemical Weapons Declaration

The United States is reviewing the Syrian government's chemical weapons declaration with skepticism "born of years of dealing with this regime," said U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power (AFP). A U.S. intelligence official said Syria may hold on to part of its stockpile.

CFR's President Emeritus Leslie Gelb explains his plan for peace in Syria in this interview.

ISRAEL: Avigdor Liberman, Israel's former foreign minister, was acquitted of fraud charges, and is likely to be reappointed to the open post of foreign minister (NYT).



Former Mozambique Rebels Reject Talks

Renamo, Mozambique's largest opposition party and a former rebel group, has rejected an invitation by the country's president for talks after the home and offices of Renamo's leader were raided by government soldiers (AllAfrica).

GAMBIA: A Gambian TV talk show host who fled to the United States after being charged with sedition said she would never return to her country while the current government is in power (BBC).



General Strike Brings Greece to a Halt

Workers held a general strike in Greece to protest austerity measures imposed by the European Commission, European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund. The lenders, known as the troika, were in Athens to review Greece's performance under the bailout (Reuters).

This CFR Backgrounder explains the economic crisis in the eurozone.



Lower Gas Prices Gives Consumers a Lift

Gasoline prices seem to be headed below $3 a gallon for the first time in nearly three years, boosting consumer confidence even as job and wage growth remain slow (BostonGlobe). Energy analysts expect prices to drop as new drilling techniques open up more oil reserves.

This CFR Backgrounder explains the shale gas boom and hydraulic fracturing.

GUATEMALA: The trial of former Guatemalan ruler Efrain Rios Montt will resume in 2015 after an earlier conviction for the massacre of thousands of Maya was overturned by the constitutional court (WaPo).



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