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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
November 12, 2013
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Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: U.S. Sends Warships for Philippines Relief

A U.S. aircraft carrier set sail for the Philippines on Tuesday to help with relief efforts after a typhoon killed thousands this weekend, and should arrive along with four other Navy ships in three days (Reuters). Aid is coming in to Tacloban, the hardest hit city in the Philippines, but the scale of the destruction and the difficult logistics have hindered access, and most survivors have not yet received help (AP). The United Nations launched a $301 million fundraising effort and said more than eleven million people were affected by the storm, with almost 675,000 displaced (BBC).


"The horrific quality of infrastructure in the Philippines—even worse than countries in the region with similar levels of economic development—certainly has made these storms deadlier. Because the Philippines is one of the most unequal and corrupt countries in Asia, funds for housing projects, roads, and seawalls and other public monies routinely vanish into the pockets of political dynasties," writes CFR Senior Fellow Joshua Kurlantzick.

"After the tsunami, villages and towns across Asia abounded with tales of profligate and unnecessary donations. Some survivors reportedly received packages containing ski jackets, Viagra and, in Indonesia, some 75 tons of expired medications. Along this coast, many villages were similarly overwhelmed by an unanticipated windfall of fishing boats," Akash Kapur writes for Bloomberg.

"The scope of destruction is daunting, and there are worrisome signs that the international community faces an uphill struggle to mobilize for it. UNICEF said in a statement Monday that as many as 4 million children in the Philippines have been affected by Haiyan. In the same statement, it said a UNICEF warehouse in Copenhagen was sending supplies—water-purification tablets, soap, medical kits, tarps—for just 10,000 families," the Washington Post writes in an editorial.


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China's Communist Party Chart 'Deep Reform'

Nearly four hundred senior members of China's Communist Party approved a document at a plenary session that would establish a "state security committee" and a "deep reform leadership group," which will focus on the economy (SCMP).

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



Lack of U.S. Cooperation Halts Afghan Murder Investigation

Afghanistan's intelligence agency abandoned its investigation into the murder of civilians who were detained by U.S. soldiers ten years ago after the United States refused to provide access to three U.S. Green Berets suspected of involvement (Reuters).

PAKISTAN: Peace talks between Pakistan's Taliban and the government have been put on hold. Pakistan's interior minister told the National Assembly that the dialogue process cannot move forward unless the United States stops drone strikes in tribal areas (Dawn).



Last-Minute Meeting Stalled Iran Deal

Officials said a meeting between Secretary of State John Kerry and his French counterpart Laurent Fabius was a turning point in three days of intense negotiations in Geneva over Iran's nuclear program. Fabius was able to insert French demands that Iran stop work on a heavy-water nuclear reactor, which stalled an agreement with Iran (Guardian).

This CFR Backgrounder explains the dispute over Iran's nuclear program.

SYRIA: The Assad regime's effort to "cleanse" the town of Ariha, Idlib, from "terrorist gangs," as the Syrian military describes its operations, illuminates why Syria's civil war has caused a catastrophic humanitarian crisis, McClatchy reports.

This CFR Backgrounder explains the Syrian conflict and the global response to the war.



Donated Malaria Drugs Stolen in Africa

Organized criminal networks in Africa are stealing large quantities of malaria drugs donated from the United States and other countries, undermining a multibillion dollar aid effort to end one of Africa's deadliest diseases, which kills about 600,000 annually (WSJ).

ZIMBABWE: China has lent Zimbabwe $319 million to expand a hydroelectric power plant by 300 megawatts, highlighting Zimbabwe's "Look East" policy after it fell out with the West (Times Live).



Far-Right Riot in Poland During Independence Day March

Groups of masked Polish youth set fire to cars after a march commemorating the country's independence day turned violent for the third year in a row (al-Jazeera). The incident raises concerns about the growing popularity of far-right groups in Poland and elsewhere in Europe.

NORWAY: Norway's housing market, which was described as a bubble by Noble Laureate Robert Shiller in 2012, is deflating after regulators introduced measures to curb demand (Bloomberg).



Health Insurance Enrollment Short of Target

Fewer than 50,000 people have successfully enrolled in private insurance plans through the troubled federal health-care website, far short of the Obama administration's target of 500,000 enrollees for October (WSJ).

ARGENTINA: President Cristina Fernandez will return to work on November 18 after completing a month of convalescence following surgery to treat bleeding in her brain (MercoPress).



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