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CRS — Cybersecurity and Information Sharing: Legal Challenges and Solutions (March 16, 2015)

March 26, 2015 Comments off

Cybersecurity and Information Sharing: Legal Challenges and Solutions (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Over the course of the last year, a host of cyberattacks has been perpetrated on a number of high profile American companies. The high profile cyberattacks of 2014 and early 2015 appear to be indicative of a broader trend: the frequency and ferocity of cyberattacks are increasing, posing grave threats to the national interests of the United States. While considerable debate exists with regard to the best strategies for protecting America’s various cyber-systems and promoting cybersecurity, one point of general agreement amongst cyber-analysts is the perceived need for enhanced and timely exchange of cyber-threat intelligence both within the private sector and between the private sector and the government. Nonetheless, there are many reasons why entities may opt to not participate in a cyber-information sharing scheme, including the potential liability that could result from sharing internal cyber-threat information with other private companies or the government. More broadly, the legal issues surrounding cybersecurity information sharing— whether it be with regard to sharing between two private companies or the dissemination of cyber-intelligence within the federal government—are complex and have few certain resolutions. In this vein, this report examines the various legal issues that arise with respect to the sharing of cybersecurity intelligence, with a special focus on two distinct concepts: (1) sharing of cyberinformation within the government’s possession and (2) sharing of cyber-information within the possession of the private sector.

Balancing Tourism against Terrorism: The Visa Waiver Program, CRS Insights (March 13, 2015)

March 26, 2015 Comments off

Balancing Tourism against Terrorism: The Visa Waiver Program, CRS Insights (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

In recent months, Congress has expressed concern that some foreign fighters might exploit the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) to enter the United States and commit acts of terrorism. The VWP allows eligible visitors from 38 European nations and a few prosperous Asia-Pacific countries (Figure 1) to enter the United States for short business or leisure stays without first obtaining a visa from a U.S. consulate abroad. Recent attacks by domestic terrorists in Europe and reports of European countries’ citizens fighting with armed groups in the Middle East have raised concerns that potential terrorists could travel to the United States with little scrutiny under the VWP.

Balancing national security interests against efforts to facilitate international travel through the VWP presents challenges to legislators. The United States has a large travel and tourism industry. In 2013, travel and tourism accounted for 2.6% of U.S. gross domestic product and directly employed nearly 5.4 million Americans. Foreign visitors in the United States account for a disproportionate amount of U.S. travel and tourism spending. International travelers spent about $215 billion in 2013 on passenger fares and travel-related goods and services, which makes tourism the United States’ single-largest services sector export.

CRS — Multiyear Procurement (MYP) and Block Buy Contracting in Defense Acquisition: Background and Issues for Congress (March 4, 2015)

March 25, 2015 Comments off

Multiyear Procurement (MYP) and Block Buy Contracting in Defense Acquisition: Background and Issues for Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Multiyear procurement (MYP) and block buy contracting (BBC) are special contracting mechanisms that Congress permits the Department of Defense (DOD) to use for a limited number of defense acquisition programs. Compared to the standard or default approach of annual contracting, MYP and BBC have the potential for reducing weapon procurement costs by several percent.

CRS — Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses (March 18, 2015)

March 25, 2015 Comments off

Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Since the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979, a priority of U.S. policy has been to reduce the perceived threat posed by Iran to a broad range of U.S. interests. In 2014, a common enemy emerged in the form of the Islamic State organization, reducing gaps in U.S. and Iranian interests, although the two countries have somewhat differing approaches over how to try to defeat the Islamic State.

See also: Iran Sanctions (March 9, 2015) (PDF)

CRS — International Drug Control Policy: Background and U.S. Responses (March 16, 2015)

March 25, 2015 Comments off

International Drug Control Policy: Background and U.S. Responses (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The global illegal drug trade represents a multi-dimensional challenge that has implications for U.S. national interests as well as the international community. Common illegal drugs trafficked internationally include cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine. According to the U.S. intelligence community, international drug trafficking can undermine political and regional stability and bolster the role and capabilities of transnational criminal organizations in the drug trade. Key regions of concern include Latin America and Afghanistan, which are focal points in U.S. efforts to combat the production and transit of cocaine and heroin, respectively. Drug use and addiction have the potential to negatively affect the social fabric of communities, hinder economic development, and place an additional burden on national public health infrastructures.

CRS — Energy Tax Incentives: Measuring Value Across Different Types of Energy Resources (March 19, 2015)

March 25, 2015 Comments off

Energy Tax Incentives: Measuring Value Across Different Types of Energy Resources (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The majority of energy produced in the United States is derived from fossil fuels. In recent years, however, revenue losses associated with tax incentives that benefit renewables have exceeded revenue losses associated with tax incentives benefitting fossil fuels. As Congress evaluates the tax code and various energy tax incentives, there has been interest in understanding how energy tax benefits under the current tax system are distributed across different domestic energy resources.

This report provides an analysis of the value of energy tax incentives relative to primary energy production levels. Relative to their share in overall energy production, renewables receive more federal financial support through the tax code than energy produced using fossil energy resources. Within the renewable energy sector, relative to the level of energy produced, biofuels receive the most tax-related financial support.

The report also summarizes the results of recently published studies by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) evaluating energy subsidies across various technologies.

Recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor, CRS Fact Sheet (March 19, 2015)

March 25, 2015 Comments off

Recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor, CRS Fact Sheet (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

This fact sheet lists names of recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest award for valor, awarded during the 113th Congress.

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