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CRS — Proposed Train and Equip Authorities for Syria: In Brief (September 16, 2014)

October 1, 2014 Comments off

Proposed Train and Equip Authorities for Syria: In Brief (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Center)

The President’s requests for authority and funding for the Department of Defense to provide overt assistance, including possible military training and weapons, to vetted members of the Syrian opposition and other vetted Syrians for select purposes are the subject of close congressional consideration. This report introduces these proposals and the analysis and table below explore similarities and differences among some of these proposals.

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CRS — Unaccompanied Alien Children: Demographics in Brief (September 24, 2014)

October 1, 2014 Comments off

Unaccompanied Alien Children: Demographics in Brief (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The number of children coming to the United States who are not accompanied by parents or legal guardians and who lack proper immigration documents has raised complex and competing sets of humanitarian concerns and immigration control issues. This report focuses on the demographics of unaccompanied alien children while they are in removal proceedings. Overwhelmingly, the children are coming from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. The median age of unaccompanied children has decreased from 17 years in FY2011 to 16 years during the first seven months of FY2014. A greater share of males than females are represented among this population. However, females have steadily increased in total numbers and as a percentage of the flow since FY2011. The median age of females has dropped from 17 years in FY2011—the year that was the median age across all groups of children—to 15 years in the first seven months of FY2014.

Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Needs to Provide Better Accountability and Transparency Over Direct Contributions

October 1, 2014 Comments off

Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Needs to Provide Better Accountability and Transparency Over Direct Contributions
Source: U.S. Department of Defense, Office of Inspector General

Objective

Our objective was to determine whether the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s (GIRoA) Ministries of Defense (MoD) and Interior (MoI) have controls in place to ensure a transparent and accountable fiscal process for the direct funding provided for the sustainment of the Afghan National Security Force (ANSF).

Findings

GIRoA lacked the basic controls to provide reasonable assurance that it appropriately spent $3.3 billion of ASFF direct contributions. These controls are key aspects of a transparent and accountable fiscal process. Specifically,

  • Ministry of Finance (MoF) could not provide a current cash balance for direct contributions or account for currency gains of at least $110.4 million made on Afghanistan Security Forces Fund (ASFF) direct contributions.
  • MoF could not provide support for $17.4 million and MoI could not support $9.9 million withheld from ANSF salaries.
  • MoD and MoI controls over the payroll process were not adequate.
  • MoI processed $40 million in payroll payments that appeared improper.
  • MoD and MoI incorrectly charged $82.7 million of ASFF direct contribution funds.
  • This occurred because GIRoA did not develop the ministerial capability and capacity tomanage and oversee ASFF direct contributions and Combined Security Transition Command–Afghanistan (CSTC-A) had not held GIRoA accountable for not implementing controls and improper handling of ASFF direct contribution funds.

As a result, CSTC-A could not verify that GIRoA used ASFF direct contributions properly or for their intended purposes. In addition, the $13 billion in additional direct contributions DoD plans to provide to the ANSF between FY 2015 and FY 2019 may be subject to wasteful spending and abuse.

The “Khorasan Group” in Syria, CRS Insights (September 24, 2014)

October 1, 2014 Comments off

The “Khorasan Group” in Syria, CRS Insights (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

On September 22, U.S. military forces launched strikes against Syria-based terrorists referred to by U.S. officials as the “Khorasan Group,” whose members President Obama has described as “seasoned Al Qaeda operatives in Syria.” According to Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes, the group “includes some former al Qaeda operatives, core al Qaeda operatives from Afghanistan and Pakistan [a region historically known as Khorasan] who made their way to Syria.” Rhodes added that the Administration views the Khorasan Group as “an extension of the threat posed by al Qaeda and their associated forces. These are individuals who have their origin, their history serving in al Qaeda.” Other U.S. officials and independent observers report that the group’s members may hold leadership roles in the Al Qaeda-affiliated Syrian insurgent organization known as Jabhat al Nusra (the Support Front), which the United States has designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). Former CIA Deputy Director Mike Morell has described the “Khorasan Group” as “the external operations arm” of Jabhat al Nusra, saying its members “came from Pakistan” and “focus on attacks in the West.” Despite this reported affiliation, some observers believe the approximately 50 to 100 members of the “Khorasan Group” focus primarily on planning international terrorist acts, rather than aiding Jabhat al Nusra’s efforts to topple the Asad regime.

The Subjective Well-Being Political Paradox: Happy Welfare States and Unhappy Liberals

October 1, 2014 Comments off

The Subjective Well-Being Political Paradox: Happy Welfare States and Unhappy Liberals (PDF)
Source: Journal of Applied Psychology

Political scientists traditionally have analyzed the effect of politics on subjective well-being (SWB) at the collective level, finding that more liberal countries report greater SWB. Conversely, psychologists have focused primarily on SWB at the individual level and shown that being more conservative corresponds in greater SWB. We integrate the theoretical foundations of these 2 literatures (e.g., livability and system justification theories) to compare and contrast the effects of country- and individual-level political orientation on SWB simultaneously. Using a panel of 16 West European countries representative of 1,134,384 individuals from 1970 to 2002, we demonstrated this SWB political paradox: More liberal countries and more conservative individuals had higher levels of SWB. More important, we explored measurement as a moderator of the political orientation–SWB relationship to shed some light on why this paradox exists. When orientation is measured in terms of enacted values (i.e., what the government actually does), liberalism corresponds in higher SWB, but when politics is measured in terms of espoused values (i.e., what individuals believe), greater conservatism coincided in higher SWB.

New From the GAO

October 1, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Report
Source: Government Accountability Office

Natural Gas: Federal Approval Process for Liquefied Natural Gas Exports. GAO-14-762, September 26.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-762
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/666176.pdf

Police-reported cybercrime in Canada, 2012

October 1, 2014 Comments off

Police-reported cybercrime in Canada, 2012
Source: Statistics Canada

The Internet is an increasingly integral part of the daily lives of Canadians. According to results from the Canadian Internet Use Survey, 83% of Canadians aged 16 and over accessed the Internet for personal use in 2012. A majority of Internet users in Canada did their banking online (72%), visited social networking sites (67%), and ordered goods and services online (56%). The total dollar value of orders placed online by Canadians reached $18.9 billion in 2012 (Statistics Canada 2013).

The rapid growth in Internet use has allowed for the emergence of new criminal opportunities (Nuth 2008). Criminal offences involving a computer or the Internet as either the target of a crime or as an instrument used to commit a crime are collectively known as cybercrime (see Text box 1). Frauds, identity theft, extortion, criminal harassment, certain sexual offences, and offences related to child pornography are among the criminal violations that can be committed over the Internet using a computer, tablet, or smart phone.

Using data from the 2012 Incident-based Uniform Crime Reporting Survey (UCR2.2), this Juristat article examines police-reported cybercrime in Canada. Analysis is presented on the number of cybercrimes reported by police services covering 80% of the population of Canada, as well as the characteristics of incidents, victims, and persons accused of cyber-related violations. These findings are supplemented with self-reported data on cyber-bullying, based on results from the 2009 General Social Survey (GSS) on Victimization.

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