World News Brief, Friday October 17

Obama clears schedule to oversee US response to ebola; China, South Korea and Japan hold cybersecurity talks; US marine charged with murdering transgender Filipino woman; Indian PM announces labour reforms; Colombian farmers sue BP for alleged land degradation; and more

Top of the Agenda

Obama Promises Vigilance on Ebola

President Barack Obama cleared his schedule Wednesday night and Thursday to oversee the government's response (NYT) to the Ebola cases in the United States. House Speaker John Boehner called on the president to impose a ban on travel to the United States from countries where Ebola is spreading rapidly in West Africa. Health officials said on Wednesday that the second health worker to contract Ebola in Dallas took a flight (WaPo) shortly before she was diagnosed, despite having reported a fever. Meanwhile, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Protection will be questioned at a congressional hearing Thursday.


"Our response to pandemics—whether SARS, avian influenza, MERS, or Ebola—has become predictable. First, there is the panic. Then, as the pandemic ebbs, we forget. We can't afford to do either. This epidemic won't be over soon, but that is even more reason to focus on what works," writes Michael Specter in the New Yorker.

"Hubris is the greatest danger in wealthy countries — a sort of smug assumption that advanced technologies and emergency-preparedness plans guarantee that Ebola and other germs will not spread. It was hubris that led the World Health Assembly in 2013 to cut the WHO's outbreak-response budget in favor of more programs to treat cancer and heart disease. And it is hubris that causes politicians to routinely slash public health budgets every time the microbes seem under control, only to cry out in desperation when a new epidemic appears," writes CFR's Laurie Garrett.

"Maybe the Obama White House isn't wild about the potential implications for immigration politics of giving ground on a quarantine or travel ban … but the potential implications of a hundred Ebola cases spread across five cities are so, so much worse that the political-ideological incentive cuts, if anything, in favor of overreacting," writes Ross Douthat in the New York Times.



China, South Korea, and Japan to Hold Cybersecurity Talks

Officials from China, South Korea, and Japan will meet next Tuesday in Beijing to hold the first trilateral talks on cybersecurity (Yonhap). The meeting will take place after Japan requested the redaction (Kyodo News) of part of a UN report on the country's wartime brothels, a long-standing source of tension from Japan's colonial legacy.

PHILIPPINES: Police filed charges against a U.S. marine (Philippine Daily Inquirer) on Thursday for the murder of a transgender Filipino woman. Filipino officials called on U.S. cooperation in the investigation, citing that failure to do so could produce "repercussions" on the Enhanced Defense and Cooperation Agreement.


Indian PM announces labour reforms

Colombian farmers sue BP for alleged land degradation

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