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Daily Brief: Caribbean Braces for Maria, Second Hurricane in Two Weeks

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September 18, 2017

Daily News Brief

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TOP OF THE AGENDA

Caribbean Braces for Maria, Second Hurricane in Two Weeks

Residents evacuated from the islands of Barbuda and St. John after Maria became a Category 1 hurricane (WSJ) on Sunday afternoon, less than two weeks after Hurricane Irma caused thirty-seven deaths (BBC) and billions in damage in the Caribbean.

Forecasters expect that Maria, appearing to follow a similar path to Irma (Miami Herald), will be a major Category 4 hurricane (ABC) by the time it hits Puerto Rico on Tuesday, raising questions of vulnerabilities in the region. Maria is one of three storms currently building up over the Atlantic (CNN) and poses the greatest threat to the islands already battered by Irma. Analysts say it is too early to know what the storm's impact will be on the continental United States.

ANALYSIS

"Unlike Irma, Maria is a compact storm, with hurricane winds extending just fifteen miles from the center—Irma's reached eighty miles—and tropical storm force winds reaching 105 miles," Jenny Staletovich writes for the Miami Herald.

"Despite their proximity and similar experiences with the storm, the islands of the Caribbean are not equally ready for what comes next," Greg Scruggs writes for Americas Quarterly.

"First Harvey, then Irma, and the hurricane season isn't over. This is the year that repeated, dire predictions about the fiscal risks of climate change—its increasingly heavy burden on the federal budget—are coming true," Georgina Gustin writes for InsideClimate News. 

PACIFIC RIM

Japan's Abe Considers Snap Election

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may call a snap election (FT) in the fall to shore up his mandate, though elections are not due for another year. Abe's approval ratings have increased in the last two months amid rising tensions with North Korea and a cabinet reshuffle.

CFR's Sheila A. Smith looks at Abe's new cabinet.

INDONESIA: Twenty-two people were arrested after a mob broke into a Jakarta building where a legal aid society was hosting a public forum on a 1965 massacre of communists (AP). After nearly five decades of silence on the issue, Indonesia held a symposium last year on the massacre, in which half a million people died.

SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA

Wife of Ousted Pakistani PM Wins Election

Kulsoom Nawaz won the parliamentary seat (VOA) previously held by her husband, ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, in a Sunday election in central Lahore. The Supreme Court forced Sharif from office over corruption allegations (WSJ).

Kiran Nazish discusses Pakistan's handling of the leaks that led to Sharif's downfall in Foreign Affairs.

INDIA: Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the world's second-largest dam in Gujarat State (Reuters) on Sunday; the project had been beset by controversies since construction began in 1961 (The Hindu).

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Hamas Says Ready to Reconcile With Palestinian Authority

The Palestinian militant group Hamas announced that it is ready to accept conditions (FT) to reconcile with the West Bank-based ruling Fatah party after a decade of division. Hamas said it would dissolve its administrative commission ruling the Gaza Strip (Haaretz), hold elections, and begin direct talks with Fatah.

KUWAIT: Kuwait is expected to expel its North Korean ambassador (VOA) following new UN sanctions on Pyongyang over its nuclear program. Tens of thousands of North Koreans work in the Arab nation.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Dozens of Refugees Shot Dead in DRC

At least thirty-six refugees from Burundi were shot dead by security forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo during a protest over the detention of other refugees (NYT). One soldier was also killed and 117 people were injured in the altercation.

ETHIOPIA: The regional government in Oromia said on Sunday that fifty-five thousand ethnic Oromos have been displaced during a week of clashes (AP) in the country's Somali region.

EUROPE

UK Seeks to Stay in Europol

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said the United Kingdom will propose a new plan to maintain the country's membership (Guardian) in the European Union's law enforcement agency that would not be conditional on the result of Brexit negotiations.

EUROPE: Some 4,560 people in Europe die prematurely each year (AP) due to excess emissions from diesel vehicles, according to a new study from research institutions in Austria, Norway, and Sweden.

AMERICAS

Brazil's Odebrecht Quits Buenos Aires Metro Project

The Brazilian engineering firm Odebrecht has sold its 33 percent stake (Reuters) in a subway construction project in Argentina's capital. In July, Argentina's judiciary banned the firm, which has been at the center of a sprawling anticorruption investigation, from bidding on new projects.

This CFR Backgrounder looks at Brazil's corruption fallout.

UNITED STATES

Tillerson: U.S. Could Stay in Paris Climate Pact

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Sunday that the Trump administration is "willing to work with partners" to find terms to stay in the Paris Agreement on climate (VOA) that are fair to the United States.

The United States is considering closing its embassy in Havana (BBC), according to Tillerson, following a suspected sonic attack that left twenty diplomats with symptoms including mild brain damage, hearing loss, and nausea. Cuba denies any involvement in such an attack.

Michael J. Bustamante discusses President Trump's Cuba policy in Foreign Affairs

 
 
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