IRAN: Secretary of State John Kerry flew overnight to Geneva to join talks among Western leaders and Iran. The United States has hinted it may ease sanctions in return for Iran standing down from its nuclear program, but at this hour there is no deal yet.
Shirin Ebadi, the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, criticized Iran’s human rights record and warned Western leaders that President Hassan Rouhani may have the reputation of a moderate reformer, but so far “we get bad signals” on human rights. Public executions have risen, she said, along with increasing reports of brutality against political prisoners.
Iranian-American pastor Saeed Abedini has been moved to a prison in Karaj, about an hour and a half outside of Tehran that’s reportedly more dangerous and a place “for political prisoners who are seen as a nuisance.” Writes his wife Naghmeh Abedini in a Facebook post this morning: “The prayer and fasting ended today. I am believing for a breakthrough.”
NIGERIA: Boko Haram violence is crippling Christianity in Borno state. We will be following hearings in Congress next week that include first-ever testimony from the sole survivor of a Boko Haram massacre a year ago in northern Nigeria.
PHILIPPINES: Super typhoon Haiyan made landfall today in the Philippines with winds exceeding 200 mph. The storm, the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane, is expected to cause catastrophic damage. NASA satellites are tracking Haiyan as it heads for Vietnam and we are already hearing from international relief groups (Food for the Hungry is just one) that are gearing up to help.
CHINA: China’s Communist Party leaders gather this weekend in the Third Plenum to formulate a broad direction for economic policy over the next decade. The Wall Street Journal has put together a graphic laying out the issues before party heads.
MARINES: Sunday the 238th birthday of the U.S. Marines—and it looks like they’re going after pirates in the Gulf of Guinea.
EAST ASIA: Six great Asian writers you didn’t read in class (HT: Micah Mattix).