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Category Archives: Defense

CRS – Democracy Promotion: An Objective of U.S. Foreign Assistance

Democracy Promotion: An Objective of U.S. Foreign Assistance, May 31, 2017. R44858.
“Promoting democratic institutions, processes, and values has long been a U.S. foreign policy objective, though the priority given to this objective has been inconsistent. World events, competing priorities, and political change within the United States all shape the attention and resources provided to democracy promotion efforts and influence whether such efforts focus on supporting fair elections abroad, strengthening civil society, promoting rule of law and human rights, or other aspects of democracy promotion. Proponents of democracy promotion often assert that such efforts are essential to global development and U.S. security because stable democracies tend to have better economic growth and stronger protection of human rights, and are less likely to go to war with one another. Critics contend that U.S. relations with foreign countries should focus exclusively on U.S. interests and stability in the world order. U.S. interest in global stability, regardless of the democratic nature of national political systems, could discourage U.S. support for democratic transitions—the implementation of which is uncertain and may lead to more, rather than less, instability. Funding for democracy promotion assistance is deeply integrated into U.S. foreign policy institutions. More than $2 billion annually has been allocated from foreign assistance funds over the past decade for democracy promotion activities managed by the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the National Endowment for Democracy, and other entities. Programs promoting good governance (characterized by participation, transparency, accountability, effectiveness, and equity), rule of law, and promotion of human rights have typically received the largest share of this funding in contrast to lower funding to promote electoral processes and political competition. In recent years, increasing restrictions imposed by some foreign governments on civil society organizations have resulted in an increased emphasis in democracy promotion assistance for strengthening civil society. Despite bipartisan support for the general concept of democracy promotion, policy debates in the 115th Congress continue to question the consistency, effectiveness, and appropriateness of such foreign assistance. With the Trump Administration indicating that democracy and human rights might not be a top foreign policy priority, advocates in Congress may be challenged to find common ground with the Administration on this issue. As part of its budget and oversight responsibilities, the 115th Congress may consider the impact of the Trump Administration’s requested FY2018 foreign assistance spending cuts on U.S. democracy promotion assistance, review the effectiveness of democracy promotion activities, evaluate the various channels available for democracy promotion, and consider where democracy promotion ranks among a wide range of foreign policy and budget priorities.”

Paper – Metadata: The Most Potent Weapon in This Cyber War

Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology – “Metadata, or “data about data,” is collected and recorded to describe data, identify trends, administer algorithmic solutions, and model potential scenarios. When one understands how to make sense of seemingly random metadata or how to pair the data with other exfiltrated data pools, there are limitless possibilities for social… Continue Reading

Foreign Direct Investment in the United States: An Economic Analysis

CRS report via FAS – Foreign Direct Investment in the United States: An Economic Analysis, James K. Jackson, Specialist in International Trade and Finance. June 29, 2017. “Foreign direct investment in the United States in 2015 increased by 83% over that recorded in 2014. (Note: The United States defines foreign direct investment as the ownership… Continue Reading

Largest nuclear arsenals in the world

(Stockholm, 3 July 2017) “The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) today launches its annual nuclear forces data, which highlights the current trends and developments in world nuclear arsenals. The data shows that while the overall number of nuclear weapons in the world continues to decline, all of the nuclear weapon-possessing states are in the… Continue Reading

DIA releases new report – Russia Military Power 2017

Steven Aftergood, Secrecy News: “The Defense Intelligence Agency yesterday launched a new series of unclassified publications on foreign military threats to the United States with a report on the Russian military. “The resurgence of Russia on the world stage — seizing the Crimean Peninsula, destabilizing eastern Ukraine, intervening on behalf of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad,… Continue Reading

GPO Issues Digital Release of Historical Congressional Record for the 1950s

“The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) partners with the Library of Congress to release the digital version of the bound Congressional Record from 1951-1960 on GPO’s govinfo (www.govinfo.gov). This release covers debates and proceedings of the 82nd thru the 86th Congresses. This era of Congress covers historical topics such as: The final two years of… Continue Reading

Personal electronic devices will be subject to additional screening on flights to US

Axios: “Additional screening will soon be required before personal electronic devices (PEDs) larger than cell phones can be carried on to U.S.-bound flights, senior Department of Homeland Security officials announced Wednesday. The TSA and the State Department will also be involved in implementation. The need for more security comes from the fact that terrorists continue to… Continue Reading

Implementation of Agreement between US and China on Science and Technology

U.S. Department of State Case No. F-2016-03522 Doc No. C06306089 Date: 05/11/2017 UNCLASSIFIED – Implementation of Agreement between the United States and China on Science and Technology Public Law 107-314. [via FAS] “Federal agencies continued to advance a range of U.S. objectives during the reporting period between January 1, 2014, and December 31, 2015. During… Continue Reading

Questions increase over determining extent of Russia election hacking

NPR – If Voting Machines Were Hacked, Would Anyone Know? – “As new reports emerge about Russian-backed attempts to hack state and local election systems [Link], U.S. officials are increasingly worried about how vulnerable American elections really are. While the officials say they see no evidence that any votes were tampered with, no one knows… Continue Reading

GAO – DoD Actions Needed to Address Five Key Mission Challenges

Department of Defense: Actions Needed to Address Five Key Mission Challenges, GAO-17-369: Published: Jun 13, 2017. Publicly Released: Jun 13, 2017. “The Department of Defense (DOD) faces five key challenges that significantly affect the department’s ability to accomplish its mission. These include the need to (1) rebalance forces and rebuild readiness; (2) mitigate threats to cyberspace… Continue Reading

Trends in Nuclear Explosion Monitoring Research & Development – A Physics Perspective

Secrecy News – Steven Aftergood: “This document… reviews the accessible literature for four research areas: source physics (understanding signal generation), signal propagation (accounting for changes through physical media), sensors (recording the signals), and signal analysis (processing the signal).” Source: Trends in Nuclear Explosion Monitoring Research & Development — A Physics Perspective, Los Alamos National Laboratory, LA-UR-17-21274,… Continue Reading

James Comey’s testimony to Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and Follow Up

Opening Statement – Former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation James Comey – Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, June 8, 2017. [Bloomberg Will Livestream James Comey’s Testimony on Twitter] From Comey’s testimony this morning: “There should be no fuzz on this whatsoever. The Russians interfered in our election during the 2016 cycle. They did… Continue Reading