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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The Future of Internet Governance, and More from CRS

Noteworthy new reports from the Congressional Research Service that Congress has withheld from public distribution include the following. The Future of Internet Governance: Should the U.S. Relinquish Its Authority Over ICANN?, May 5, 2015 Iran’s Foreign Policy, May 5, 2015 Money for Something: Music Licensing in the 21st Century, May 7, 2015 Current Debates over Exchange Rates: Overview and Issues for Congress, May 7, 2015 Immigration Detainers: Legal Issues, May 7, 2015 U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: […]

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FAS Roundup: May 4, 2015

From the Blogs CIA Reviews “Operational Files” Exemptions from FOIA: The CIA Information Act of 1984 authorizes the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency to designate certain Agency records as “operational files.” Doing so makes them exempt not only from disclosure, but even from search and review under the Freedom of Information Act. The 1984 Act also requires the Agency to perform a “decennial review” at least every ten years in order to determine whether any […]

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Nuclear Cooperation Agreements and Nonproliferation

President Obama this week transmitted to Congress the text of a proposed agreement with the People’s Republic of China concerning cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Known as “123 agreements” based on section 123 of the Atomic Energy Act, such accords are intended to regulate international traffic in nuclear materials and technology. The agreements generally provide for physical safeguards on subject materials, require consent for transfers of materials or technology to third countries, […]

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FAS Roundup: April 20, 2015

From the Blogs No Fly List: Govt Offers New Redress Procedures: The government will no longer refuse to confirm or deny that persons who are prevented from boarding commercial aircraft have been placed on the “No Fly List,” and such persons will have new opportunities to challenge the denial of boarding, the Department of Justice announced in a court filing. Until now, the Government refused to acknowledge whether or not an individual traveler had been placed on the […]

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Islamic State Financing, and More from CRS

Noteworthy new and updated reports from the Congressional Research Service that have been withheld from public distribution include the following. Islamic State Financing and U.S. Policy Approaches, April 10, 2015 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force: Issues Concerning Its Continued Application, April 14, 2015 The War Powers Resolution: Concepts and Practice, April 3, 2015 Iran: Efforts to Achieve a Nuclear Accord, April 9, 2015 Science and Technology Issues in the 114th Congress, April 7, […]

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FAS Roundup: April 13, 2015

From the Blogs Intelligence Oversight in the 113th Congress: A new report from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence describes oversight activities in the 113th Congress from January 2013 to January 2015. Highlights of the report include: over-control of classified information continues to hamper information sharing- even in the intelligence community, efforts to enlist the resources of the Government Accountability Office to strengthen intel oversight are continuing and details on the three-volume, still-classified CIA torture […]

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FAS Roundup: April 6, 2015

From the Blogs New START Treaty Count: Russia Dips Below U.S. Again: According to the latest data released by the State Department, Russian deployed strategic warheads counted by the New START Treaty once again slipped below the U.S. force level. Russia deployed 1,582 warheads on 515 strategic launchers and the United States deployed 1,597 warheads on 785 launchers. Russia and the United States are slowly – very slowly – reducing their deployed forces to meet the […]

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