World News Brief, Friday October 17

Economy dominates final US presidential debate; candidates promise to end dependence on Middle East oil; Nikkei down 11 percent; new corruption charge rock Thai PM; US drones drop missiles in Pakistan; and more

Top of the Agenda: Last U.S. Presidential Debate

U.S. presidential candidates Sens. Barack Obama (D-IL) and John McCain (R-AZ) held their final pre-election debate last night. The debate was dominated by the economy and domestic issues with the candidates again highlighting differences on trade and energy policy (WashPost).

Here is a recap of what was said on issues relating to foreign policy:

ENERGY: McCain said he thinks the United States can, "for all intents and purposes, eliminate our dependence on Middle Eastern oil and Venezuelan oil," but said Canadian oil imports are "fine." He said he expects to be able to eliminate imports of oil from "places in the world that harm our national security" within seven to ten years. He also said nuclear energy is safe, adding, "we've sailed Navy ships around the world for 60 years with nuclear power plants on them. We can store and reprocess spent nuclear fuel."

Obama said he thinks the United States will be able to end its dependence on oil from the Middle East and Venezuela within ten years. He said the United States needs to expand domestic oil production. He also said it is "absolutely critical that we develop a high fuel efficient car that's built not in Japan and not in South Korea, but built here in the United States of America."

TRADE: McCain warned that a unilateral renegotiation of NAFTA would give Canada an opportunity to begin selling oil to China. Obama said NAFTA needs to include enforceable labor and environmental protections. He also criticized the U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement, saying it unfairly favors South Korean auto exports.

COLOMBIA: McCain said the pending free trade agreement with Colombia would create jobs in the United States and called the deal "a no-brainer." Obama criticized the agreement, saying labor leaders in Colombia are consistently targeted for assassination. "[W]e have to stand for human rights and we have to make sure that violence isn't being perpetrated against workers who are just trying to organize for their rights," he said.

For full election coverage and an in-depth look at the candidates' positions on various foreign policy concerns, please see's Campaign 2008 website.



Pacific Rim: Shares Plummet

Asian shares nose-dived today. Japan's Nikkei index fell by more than 11 percent (BBC), and shares in Hong Kong and South Korea also took a heavy hit.

South Korea: The Korea Times reports the financial crisis has hit the South Korean currency, the won, harder than any other major international currency against the U.S. dollar.

Thailand: The Bangkok Post reports on new corruption charges that threaten to force the new prime minister to resign.



EU leaders push financial reform on second day of summit.

US attacks in Pakistan target Taliban leader Mehsud.

This is an excerpt of the Daily News Brief. The full version is available on