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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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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