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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
March 31, 2014

Top of the Agenda

UN Report Details New Threats of Climate Change

A new United Nations report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change raised the threat (NYT) of global warming, warning of sweeping consequences to the environment and livelihood. The thirty-two-volume report, a three-year joint effort by hundreds of scientists, noted that a warmer world was posing a threat to global food stocks, pushing up food prices and triggering "hotspots of hunger" among the world's poor (Guardian). Its effects also include melting sea ice and a thawing Arctic, the killing of coral reefs in the oceans, and weather-related disasters. The report, released Monday, was the most authoritative so far from the UN climate panel, although disagreement has already surfaced (FT) among two of the report's scientists.


"Contrarians have tried to spin the conclusions of the report to incorrectly argue that it would be cheaper to try and adapt to climate change and pay the costs of climate damages. In reality the report says no such thing," writes Dana Nuccitelli for the Guardian.

"In climate science, the real debate has never been between 'deniers' and the rest, but between 'lukewarmers,' who think man-made climate change is real but fairly harmless, and those who think the future is alarming," writes Matt Ridley for the Wall Street Journal.

"The melting of Arctic sea ice to record lows in recent years has prompted many nations, principally those with Arctic Ocean coastlines—the United States, Canada, Russia, Norway, and Denmark (Greenland)—to reassess their commitments and interests in the icy reaches atop the globe," says this CFR Infoguide on the Arctic.


Pacific Rim

Koreas Exchange Fire

North Korea fired more than 100 artillery rounds (Yonhap) into South Korean waters as part of a drill on Monday, prompting Seoul to respond with artillery fire and a stern diplomatic warning. South Korean residents of border islands Baengnyeong and Yeonpyeong were also evacuated.

Bruce Bechtol discusses North Korea's other weapons in this CFR blog post.


South and Central Asia

Musharraf Charged With Treason

Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's former president, pleaded not guilty (Dawn) on Monday to five counts of treason, for which he could face the death penalty if convicted. The charges stem from his suspension of the constitution and imposition of emergency rule in 2007.

AFGHANISTAN: Taliban gunmen abducted a provincial council candidate (AP) and seven members of his entourage in northern Afghanistan, marking the latest tension in the lead-up to Saturday's national elections.


Middle East

Palestinians Killed in Clash With Israel

The United States, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority held meetings in a last-minute attempt (Haaretz) to reach an agreement that would prevent the collapse of the peace talks. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the talks on Sunday as "verging on a crisis."

EGYPT: Egypt announced it will hold its presidential election (al-Jazeera) on May 26 and 27. Retired army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who toppled Mohammed Morsi, is expected to win the vote.

This CFR Backgrounder sheds light on the country's Muslim Brotherhood.



Nigeria Jailbreak Kills More Than Twenty

Twenty-one people died in an attempt to escape from jail at the headquarters of Nigeria's secret police in the capital of Abuja, where local media say many of the police detainees are suspected members of Islamist group Boko Haram (Vanguard).

AFRICA: The European Union made a plea (The Herald) to African governments yesterday not to boycott next week's EU-Africa Summit in Brussels. An arm of the African Union had called for African leaders not to attend the summit, saying the EU violated an AU resolution by determining the composition of Africa's delegation.



Kerry Meets Lavrov

U.S. secretary of state John Kerry told Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov on Sunday that progress in the Ukraine crisis depended on a Russian troop pullback (Reuters) from Ukraine's borders. The two met in Paris to hammer out the framework of a deal to reduce tensions over Russia's annexation of Crimea.

Former ambassador John Beyrle discusses the West's breaking point with Russia in this new interview.

FRANCE: President Fran├žois Hollande will consider a cabinet reshuffle (France24) after his Socialist party took a significant hit in local elections, which gave the far-right National Front headway in a record number of towns.



Armed Militias Storm Venezuela Protests

Two died when masked pro-government militias attempted to dismantle a protestor barricade (AP) in La Isabelica, which has been a center of unrest since nationwide protests broke out last month. Similar shootings across Venezuela have claimed at least seven lives since the antigovernment protests began.

BRAZIL: A poll showed that support for President Dilma Rousseff has faltered (MercoPress) ahead of October's presidential election, although she remains a favorite to win a second term.



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