China’s Stock Market Volatility, and More from CRS

Noteworthy new and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service that Congress has withheld from online public distribution include the following. China’s Recent Stock Market Volatility: What Are the Implications?, CRS Insights, July 20, 2015 Can Military Servicemembers Carry Firearms for Personal Protection on Duty?, CRS Insights, July 17, 2015 Department of Defense Contractor and Troop Levels in Iraq and Afghanistan: 2007-2014, July 22, 2015 Microbeads: An Emerging Water Quality Issue, CRS Insights, July 20, […]

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Crowd-Sourcing the Treaty Verification Problem

Verification of international treaties and arms control agreements such as the pending Iran nuclear deal has traditionally relied upon formal inspections backed by clandestine intelligence collection. But today, the widespread availability of sensors of many types complemented by social media creates the possibility of crowd-sourcing the verification task using open source data. “Never before has so much information and analysis been so widely and openly available. The opportunities for addressing future [treaty] monitoring challenges include […]

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The Dark Web, and More from CRS

A new report from the Congressional Research Service introduces the “Dark Web” and its implications for law enforcement and security. “The Dark Web is a general term that describes hidden Internet sites that users cannot access without using special software. Users access the Dark Web with the expectation of being able to share information and/or files with little risk of detection,” the CRS report said. “This report illuminates information on the various layers of the […]

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Iran Nuclear Deal: What’s Next?

By Muhammad Umar, On July 14, 2015, after more than a decade of negotiations to ensure Iran only use its nuclear program for peaceful purposes, Iran and the P5+1 (US, UK, Russia, China, France + Germany) have finally agreed on a nuclear deal aimed at preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Iran has essentially agreed to freeze their nuclear program for a period of ten years, as in there will be no new nuclear projects or […]

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Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, and More from CRS

New and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service include the following. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative: Lessons Learned and Issues for Congress, updated July 2, 2015 Acquisition Reform in House- and Senate-Passed Versions of the FY2016 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 1735), July 2, 2015 Iran’s Foreign Policy, updated June 30, 2015 Iran: Efforts to Achieve a Nuclear Accord, updated July 1, 2015 Puerto Rico’s Current Fiscal Challenges: In Brief, June 30, 2015 Burma’s […]

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Criminal Justice Reform, and More from CRS

“The number of people incarcerated in the United States has increased dramatically over the past three decades,” a new report from the Congressional Research Service observes, from around 419,000 inmates in 1983 to about 1.5 million inmates in 2013. “The incarceration rate increased from 179 per 100,000 people in 1983 to 478 per 100,000 in 2013,” generating mounting concerns about the economic, social and other consequences of the criminal justice system. At this point, CRS […]

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Nuclear Weapons Policy, and More from CRS

New and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service on nuclear weapons policy and other issues of topical interest include the following. Russian Compliance with the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty: Background and Issues for Congress, updated June 2, 2015 (See also the 2015 State Department compliance report released June 5, and reported in the New York Times on June 6.) Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty: Background and Current Developments, updated June 2, 2015 Arms Control and Nonproliferation: A Catalog […]

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Mind the Empathy Gap

Here is some news from recent research in neuroscience that, I think, is relevant for FAS’s mission to prevent global catastrophes. Psychologists Dacher Keltner of the University of California, Berkeley, and Jonathan Haidt of New York University, have argued that feelings of awe can motivate people to work cooperatively to improve the collective good.1)D. Keltner, and J. Haidt, “Approaching awe, a moral, spiritual, and aesthetic emotion,” Cognition and Emotion, 17 (2003), 297-314.Awe can be induced through transcendent activities such as celebrations, dance, musical festivals, and religious gatherings. Prof. Keltner and Prof. Paul Piff of the University of California, Irvine, recently wrote in an opinion article for the New York Times that “awe might help shift our focus from our narrow self-interest to the interests of the group to which we belong.”2)Paul Piff and Dacher Keltner, “Why Do We Experience Awe?” New York Times, May 22, 2015. They report that a forthcoming peer reviewed article […]

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Tracking Federal Funds, and More from CRS

“Finding data on federal grants and contracts awarded to states and congressional districts, local governments, nonprofit organizations, contractors, and other eligible entities may present challenges,” a new report from the Congressional Research Service observes. The various tools that are available to help meet those challenges are cataloged and described by CRS in Tracking Federal Funds: USAspending.gov and Other Data Sources, May 13, 2015. Other noteworthy new and updated CRS reports include the following. Highly Pathogenic […]

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FAS Roundup: May 18, 2015

From the Blogs House Renews Ban on CRS Publication of Its Reports: The Congressional Research Service (CRS) will continue to be barred from releasing its reports to the public, the House Appropriations Committee said in its report on legislative branch appropriations for the coming year. Because Congress prohibits CRS from publishing its own reports, most CRS reports are only available to the public from non-governmental organizations that take the initiative to gather and publish them. Many […]

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