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Daily Brief: Trump Visits Puerto Rico Amid Hurricane Relief Efforts

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October 3, 2017

Daily News Brief

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Trump Visits Puerto Rico Amid Hurricane Relief Efforts

U.S. President Donald J. Trump will visit Puerto Rico on Tuesday, two weeks after the U.S. territory was devastated by Hurricane Maria in September.

Trump will meet with Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rossello (VOA), who said on Monday that water service has been restored for about half of the island's residents and that he hopes a quarter of residents will have electricity by the end of the month. More than ten thousand relief workers are now stationed across the island (BBC), according to the federal government. Some Puerto Rican officials, including San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, had criticized the Trump administration's response following the storm. Trump will also meet with U.S. Virgin Islands Governor Kenneth Mapp.


"The U.S. government might best view this as a situation where we should apply doctrines of stabilization and peacekeeping within our own country. We have found the necessary military muscle to do so in Iraq and Afghanistan, each with about ten times the population and each seven to eight times further away from the U.S. mainland," Michael O'Hanlon writes for USA Today.

"While Trump had political allies at his side in Texas and Florida—where Governors Greg Abbott and Rick Scott have been energetic supporters—he's working alongside Democratic politicians who are for the most part strangers in Puerto Rico," Matthew Nussbaum writes for Politico.

"Puerto Rico's humanitarian crisis is likely to quickly turn into a budget crisis," writes CFR's Brad W. Setser. 


Over Forty Firearms Found in Las Vegas Shooter's Hotel Room, Home

Police reported that Stephen Paddock, the 64-year-old retiree who carried out a massacre at a Las Vegas concert on Sunday, had twenty-three guns in his hotel room (WaPo) and devices that convert semiautomatic weapons (AP) into automatic ones; investigators found nineteen more firearms in his home. The shooting killed fifty-nine people and injured more than five hundred.

This CFR Backgrounder looks at gun policy around the globe.

President Trump hosted Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who leads a military junta that came to power in a 2014 coup (VOA), at the White House on Monday. Trump described the visit as a "great honor" (Channel News Asia).


Church Offers Protection to Dissenting Police in Philippines

The president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines said the church will protect police officers (NYT) seeking to testify about President Rodrigo Duterte's crackdown on illegal drugs, saying officers had approached the church to speak about participating in "extrajudicial killings and summary executions."

JAPAN: Japan accepted three asylum seekers among 8,561 applicants (Reuters) in the first half of 2017, the government said Tuesday. Human Rights Watch has described the country's record on asylum seekers as "abysmal." 


Militants Attack Paramilitary Camp in Kashmir

At least three people were killed, including two assailants, after militants attacked a paramilitary camp outside the city of Srinagar (Al Jazeera) in India-controlled Kashmir early Tuesday. The Islamist militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad claimed responsibility for the attack (BBC).

PAKISTAN: Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was reelected as president of his ruling party (RFE/RL) on Tuesday despite being forced from office in July when the Supreme Court ruled he concealed financial assets. 


Rights Group: Jordan Deports Hundreds of Refugees

In the first five months of 2017, Jordan deported at least four hundred Syrian refugees each month (Al Jazeera), including large families, according to a new report from Human Rights Watch. A government spokesman said Monday that refugees' returns are voluntary (Jordan Times).

SYRIA: Twin suicide bombings targeting a police station in the capital of Damascus killed at least sixteen people (VOA) on Monday. The city has rarely seen such attacks during the country's six-year civil war. 


Demonstrators in Kenya Protest Against Election Officials

Police in cities across Kenya fired tear gas at demonstrators calling for the removal of election officials (VOA) who oversaw August's botched presidential vote. One man was reported dead (DW) after a teargas canister exploded next to him.

CFR's John Campbell writes that Kenya's presidential candidates are failing the country ahead of an election rerun.

MADAGASCAR: Some two dozen people have died (AP) over the past month in an outbreak of plague, prompting the government to ban public gatherings (Guardian) in the capital of Antananarivo. 


EU Calls Catalan Referendum Illegal

The European Commission said Monday that an independence referendum in Spain's Catalonia region on Sunday was illegal and that it trusts Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to manage unrest in the region (WSJ) with the "full respect" of Spain's constitution and of citizens' rights.

Omar G. Encarnacion writes in Foreign Affairs that Catalan independence won't happen anytime soon.

RUSSIA: Opposition politician Alexei Navalny, a prominent critic of President Vladimir Putin, was sentenced Monday to twenty days in prison for repeatedly violating rules on public demonstrations (NYT).


Reports: U.S. to Press Cuba to Reduce U.S. Staff

The United States may ask or order the Cuban government (VOA) to reduce its diplomatic staff in the country, according to media reports citing U.S. administration officials. The reports come a week after the United States cut its staff in Cuba by more than half after mysterious attacks in which twenty-one U.S. diplomats there suffered injuries.

This CFR panel discussed the economy, human rights, and political future of Cuba.

ECUADOR: President Lenin Moreno said on Monday he will seek to amend the constitution to prevented unlimited presidential reelection (Reuters) through a referendum, a move that could block his former ally and predecessor Rafael Correa from returning to office.

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