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CRS — Conflict Minerals and Resource Extraction: Dodd-Frank, SEC Regulations, and Legal Challenges (April 2, 2015)

July 6, 2015 Comments off

Conflict Minerals and Resource Extraction: Dodd-Frank, SEC Regulations, and Legal Challenges (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Two sections of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Protection Act (Dodd-Frank) require that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC or Commission) issue regulations to make public the involvement of U.S. companies in conflict minerals and in resource extraction payments. Supporters of the Dodd-Frank conflict minerals statute and the SEC implementing rule believe that such disclosures could have an impact on the amount of violence involved with the mining of conflict minerals. Opponents of the statute and rule argue that they require disclosures that are arbitrary and capricious and that some of the required disclosures violate the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of speech. Supporters of the resource extraction statute and the SEC implementing rule believe that they are needed to achieve the goal of the transparency of payments made by resource extraction issuers to governments in order to foster reform and anticorruption and to improve the tax collection process. Opponents believe that they are arbitrary and capricious and violate the First Amendment. Legal challenges to the statutes and regulations have occurred, based primarily on administrative law and First Amendment grounds.

CRS — Ballistic Missile Defense in the Asia-Pacific Region: Cooperation and Opposition (April 3, 2015)

June 29, 2015 Comments off

Ballistic Missile Defense in the Asia-Pacific Region: Cooperation and Opposition (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The growing number and modernization of ballistic missiles in the Asia-Pacific region poses a security challenge for the United States and its allies and is thus a concern for many in Congress. The United States has made ballistic missile defense (BMD) a central component of protection for forward-deployed U.S. forces and extended deterrence for allied security. The configuration of sensors, command-and-control centers, and BMD assets in the region has slowly evolved with contributions from treaty allies, primarily Japan, Australia, and South Korea.

Observers believe that North Korea has an arsenal of hundreds of short-range ballistic missiles and likely dozens of medium-range Nodong missiles; the extended-range Nodongs are considered capable of reaching Japan and U.S. bases there. Longer-range North Korean missiles appear to be under development but remain unreliable, with only one successful test out of five in the past 15 years. The U.S. intelligence community has not yet concluded that North Korea can build nuclear warheads small enough to put on ballistic missiles, but there is significant debate among experts on this question.

EU Council Library Think Tank Review — June 2015

June 25, 2015 Comments off

EU Council Library Think Tank Review — June 2015 (PDF)
Source: General Secretariat of the Council of the EU (Central Library)

Among the immediate concerns, think tank papers reflected international and national events which took place in May: on the Eastern Partnership summit in Riga we gathered papers from Latvia, Hungary, Austria and Poland. Still on Poland, we noted the briefing on the presidential ballot, part of the regular Election Monitor published by the Fondation Robert Schuman. The release in May of the Commission’s package on Better Regulation also triggered commentary by Brussels-based think tanks (here for the state of play in a recent Council document).

Still in May, ILO published its employment and social outlook, which can be read in conjunction with the many publications we gathered on welfare, pensions and employment; while some of them surveyed policies or stakeholder opinions across Member States, others (like those from IAI and CEPS) set out possible schemes for a European Unemployment Insurance.

On a longer perspective, we found think tanks in Barcelona, Berlin, Brussels and elsewhere looking back at the European elections in 2014 and forward to 2019, with stances that range from ‘business as usual’ to seeing the EP as the possible driver of EU reform. Still on the European Parliament, we noted the analysis by votewatch.eu on the reform of copyright law, in the wake of recent proposals on the Digital Single Market.

Global Publics Back U.S. on Fighting ISIS, but Are Critical of Post-9/11 Torture

June 24, 2015 Comments off

Global Publics Back U.S. on Fighting ISIS, but Are Critical of Post-9/11 Torture
Source: Pew Research Center

The rise of ISIS has generated strong concerns in nations around the world, and a new Pew Research Center survey finds broad global support for American military efforts against the terrorist group. And unlike the Iraq War a decade ago, the current U.S. air campaign in Iraq and Syria is backed by majorities in America’s European allies and endorsed by publics in key Middle Eastern nations.

However, global publics mostly oppose another element of recent U.S. national security policy: the harsh interrogation methods used against suspected terrorists in the wake of 9/11 that many consider torture. A median of 50% across 40 nations surveyed say they oppose these practices, which were detailed in a widely publicized U.S. Senate report in December 2014. Only 35% believe they were justified. Americans disagree – nearly six-in-ten (58%) say they were justified.

Questions and answers on how the European Commission helps refugees

June 23, 2015 Comments off

Questions and answers on how the European Commission helps refugees
Source: European Commission

Refugees are among the most vulnerable in humanitarian crises. This is why the European Commission provides substantial resources to help them. The European Commission gave more than €854 million or some 70% of its annual humanitarian aid budget in 2014 to projects helping refugees and IDPs in 33 countries worldwide. The European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) invests heavily in assisting displaced people and is currently responding to crises such as: Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq, Afghan refugees in Iran and Pakistan, Somali refugees in Kenya and Yemen, Congolese refugees in the Great Lake region, Colombian refugees in Ecuador and Venezuela, Myanmar refugees in Thailand, Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and Sahrawi refugees.

Country Reports on Terrorism 2014

June 22, 2015 Comments off

Country Reports on Terrorism 2014
Source: U.S. Department of State
From briefing:

Today the State Department is issuing the Country Reports on Terrorism 2014, which fulfills an important congressional mandate and provides us also with an opportunity to review the state of terrorism worldwide and to find the nature and the scope of the terrorist threat. Doing so also allows us to assess our effectiveness and to best calibrate our strategy and our response.

Reviewing how involved and engaged countries are in the various aspects of their counterterrorism efforts, which comprises really the bulk of this report, helps us to make informed assessments about our priorities and where to place resources in our various capacity-building programs.

Millennials and U.S. Foreign Policy: The Next Generation’s Attitudes toward Foreign Policy and War (and Why They Matter)

June 22, 2015 Comments off

Millennials and U.S. Foreign Policy: The Next Generation’s Attitudes toward Foreign Policy and War (and Why They Matter)
Source: Cato Institute

First, Millennials perceive the world as significantly less threatening than their elders do, and they view foreign policies to deal with potential threats with much less urgency. Second, Millennials are more supportive of international cooperation than prior generations. Millennials, for example, are far more likely to see China as a partner than a rival and to believe that cooperation, rather than confrontation, with China is the appropriate strategy for the United States. Finally, thanks in particular to the impact of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Millennials are also far less supportive of the use of military force and may have internalized a permanent case of”Iraq Aversion.”

The rise of the Millennial Generation portends significant changes in public expectations and increased support for a more restrained grand strategy. There is no reason, however, to expect that U.S. grand strategy will become particularly coherent under Millennial leadership. Millennials, like every generation, reflect significant partisan splits over core issues. In the absence of a unifying security threat, these partisan divides ensure that U.S.foreign policy will feature as much debate and dissensus in the future as it does today.

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