Thursday, October 9, 2014

In The News: New Airstrikes Against ISIS, Ebola Could Trigger Huge Migration Into U.S., China Currency Push Takes Aim At Dollar

Ebola Could Trigger Huge Migration Into The U.S.

If Ebola reaches South America, the U.S. border will be swamped by a huge wave of terrified migrants, says a top military commander.
“If it breaks out, it’s literally, ‘Katie bar the door,’ and there will be mass migration into the United States,” Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly, chief of U.S. Southern Command, said Tuesday at a speech in Washington, D.C.
“They will run away from Ebola, or if they suspect they are infected, they will try to get to the United States for treatment,” he said at National Defense University.
Liberians and other Africans are already trying to get into the United States via Mexico and other Latin American countries, he said.
In a recent visit to Costa Rica and Nicaragua, Kelly met Africans trying to cross the border. On one street, a group of men “were waiting in line to pass into Nicaragua and then on their way north,” he said.
“The embassy person walked over and asked who they were and they told him they were from Liberia and they had been on the road about a week. … They met up with the [smuggling] network in Trinidad and now they were on their way to the United States — illegally, of course,” Kelly said.
If not blocked by U.S. border guards, the men “could have made it to New York City and still be within the incubation period for Ebola.”
Kelly was also pessimistic that the deadly disease can be contained within Africa. ”By the end of the year, there’s supposed to be 1.4 million people infected with Ebola and 62 percent of them dying. … That’s horrific and there is no way we can keep Ebola [contained] in West Africa.”

Protests over democracy in Hong Kong may be preoccupying the Chinese leadership, but a subject of still greater international importance is being played out this week behind closed doors in Washington. China is bidding to enter the heart of global finance by establishing its currency, the renminbi, as part of an ubiquitous monetary unit used in official transactions around the world.

The issue of whether the Chinese should be part of the International Monetary Fund's Special Drawing Right, the composite reserve currency used in official financing, is highly technocratic, but the political questions at stake go to the core of world money and power – and will be discussed, in the background, at the annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank in Washington this week.

The decision on a new SDR structure, to be made in the next 15 months, will influence how China and its currency can play a bigger part in driving world trade, investment and capital flows. The renminbi could eventually challenge the dollar and its pivotal position in world money — which is why the U.S. government and Federal Reserve are examining this with intense interest.

Beijing would prefer the question of recalculating the composition of the SDR, which comes up for review in 2015, to follow market developments, reflecting a big increase in demand for renminbi financing from private banks, central banks, traders, corporations and asset managers.

A Kurdish official and an activist group say the US-led coalition is pounding positions of the Islamic State group in the Syrian border town of Kobani in some of the most intense airstrikes so far.

But the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says that despite airstrikes overnight and into Thursday morning, the Islamic State fighters captured a police station in the east of the town and now control a third of Kobani.

Idriss Nassan, an official with the town’s Kurdish government, says the station was taken but that it was later destroyed in a strike.
He said the Kurdish fighters managed to regain several other town areas on Thursday.

The Islamic State group’s onslaught on Kobani, which started in mid-September, has forced some 200,000 people to flee the area.
Overnight Wednesday-Thursday, an Australian jet fighter made the country’s first airstrike against an Islamic State target in Iraq since the Australian government committed its air force to combat missions, defense officials said on Thursday.

Following Monday’s mysterious blast at a suspected Iranian nuclear facility east of Tehran, satellite imagery obtained by Israel’s Channel 2 and Israel Defense magazine Wednesday claimed to show extensive damage at the site.

Images of the facility taken Tuesday, a day after the reported explosion which killed at least two people at the secretive Parchin plant, showed that several buildings at the location sustained heavy damage and some even collapsed, Channel 2 reported.

The photos “clearly show damage consistent with an attack against bunkers in a central locality within the military research complex at the Parchin military compound,” Israel Defense wrote.

The images were taken by the French satellite Pleiades the morning following the blast, the source of which remains unknown.

The BBC, citing a report from the semi-official Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA), reported on Monday that the incident happened in an “explosive materials production unit” at the site south-east of the capital Tehran.
According to ISNA, the blast was so powerful it shattered windows up to 12 kilometers away and the glare from the explosion lit up the night sky.
Several arms facilities and military bases are located east of the Iranian capital, including Parchin. UN nuclear inspectors have been seeking to visit the site to answer concerns about Iran’s atomic program.
The base lies at the center of allegations of past Iranian research into sophisticated explosives that can be used to detonate a nuclear warhead.

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