Human Rights in a Shifting Landscape: Recommendations for Congress

Human Rights in a Shifting Landscape: Recommendations for Congress. Center for Strategic & International Studies. Amy K. Lehr et al. September 9, 2019

Human Rights are part of the American DNA. Congress has long advocated for human rights to play an integral role in U.S. foreign policy, with significant success. However, rising authoritarianism and the gross human rights violations taking place around the world call for immediate and stronger U.S. leadership and Congressional action. To that end, the Human Rights Initiative of CSIS worked with CSIS scholars, who developed recommendations relevant to their expertise that identify how Congress can build on its past human rights leadership to meet today’s challenges. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 59 pages].

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Federal Election Commission: Membership and Policymaking Quorum, In Brief

Federal Election Commission: Membership and Policymaking Quorum, In Brief. Congressional Research Service. R. Sam Garrett.  Updated September 5, 2019

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) is the nation’s civil campaign finance regulator. The agency ensures that campaign fundraising and spending is publicly reported; that those regulated by the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) and by commission regulations comply and have access to guidance; and that publicly financed presidential campaigns receive funding.  As of August 31, 2019, the Federal Election Commission is operating without a policymaking quorum. FECA requires that at least four of six commissioners agree to undertake many of the agency’s key policymaking duties. As of August 31, 2019, three of six commissioners remain in office, after the fourth remaining commissioner resigned. Also as of this writing, one commission nomination is pending in the Senate.  This CRS report briefly explains the kinds of actions that FECA precludes when a quorum is not possible because fewer than four FEC members are in office. This episode marks the second quorum loss in the agency’s history—the first occurred for six months in 2008—leaving the commission unable to hold hearings, issue rules, and enforce campaign finance law and regulation. The agency remains open for business with remaining commissioners and regular staff, but new policy decisions and enforcement actions cannot be advanced or finalized.

[PDF format, 11 pages].

Impact of Climate Risk on the Energy System: Examining the Financial, Security, and Technology Dimensions

Impact of Climate Risk on the Energy System: Examining the Financial, Security, and Technology Dimensions. Council on Foreign Relations.   Amy Myers Jaffe et al. September 10, 2019.

Climate change poses risks to energy security, financial markets, and national security. Energy companies and local, state, and federal governments need to better prepare to face these challenges. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 87 pages]. 

Hostile Social Manipulation: Present Realities and Emerging Trends

Hostile Social Manipulation: Present Realities and Emerging Trends. RAND Corporation.  Michael J. Mazarr et al. September 4, 2019.

The role of information warfare in global strategic competition has become much more apparent in recent years. Today’s practitioners of what this report’s authors term hostile social manipulation employ targeted social media campaigns, sophisticated forgeries, cyberbullying and harassment of individuals, distribution of rumors and conspiracy theories, and other tools and approaches to cause damage to the target state. These emerging tools and techniques represent a potentially significant threat to U.S. and allied national interests. This report represents an effort to better define and understand the challenge by focusing on the activities of the two leading authors of such techniques — Russia and China. The authors conduct a detailed assessment of available evidence of Russian and Chinese social manipulation efforts, the doctrines and strategies behind such efforts, and evidence of their potential effectiveness. RAND analysts reviewed English-, Russian-, and Chinese-language sources; examined national security strategies and policies and military doctrines; surveyed existing public-source evidence of Russian and Chinese activities; and assessed multiple categories of evidence of effectiveness of Russian activities in Europe, including public opinion data, evidence on the trends in support of political parties and movements sympathetic to Russia, and data from national defense policies. The authors find a growing commitment to tools of social manipulation by leading U.S. competitors. The findings in this report are sufficient to suggest that the U.S. government should take several immediate steps, including developing a more formal and concrete framework for understanding the issue and funding additional research to understand the scope of the challenge. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 302 pages].

Employment, Education, and the Time Use of American Youth

Employment, Education, and the Time Use of American Youth. Brookings Institution. Lauren Bauer et al.  September 5, 2019

The labor force participation rate is a key measure of economic health. While the decline in prime-age workers’ labor force participation receives much attention from policymakers, it is far outpaced by the decline in participation among younger workers. In this analysis we show how changing employment and school enrollment patterns have contributed to declining labor force participation among youth, aged 16 to 24. Youth today are not disengaged; rather, declines in youth labor force participation primarily reflect a long-term but accelerating shift toward schooling and spending more time on education-related activities. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 26 pages].

Consumer Credit Reporting, Credit Bureaus, Credit Scoring, and Related Policy Issues

Consumer Credit Reporting, Credit Bureaus, Credit Scoring, and Related Policy Issues. Congressional Research Service.  Cheryl R. Cooper, Darryl E. Getter.  Updated July 26, 2019

The consumer data industry—generally referred to as credit reporting agencies or credit bureaus—collects and subsequently provides information to firms about the behavior of consumers when they participate in various financial transactions. Firms use consumer information to screen for consumer risks. For example, lenders rely upon credit reports and scores to determine the likelihood that prospective borrowers will repay their loans. Insured depository institutions (i.e., banks and credit unions) rely on consumer data service providers to determine whether to make available checking accounts or loans to individuals. Some insurance companies use consumer data to determine what insurance products to make available and to set policy premiums. Some payday lenders use data regarding the management of checking accounts and payment of telecommunications and utility bills to determine the likelihood of failure to repay small-dollar cash advances. Merchants rely on the consumer data industry to determine whether to approve payment by check or electronic payment card. Employers may use consumer data information to screen prospective employees to determine the likelihood of fraudulent behavior. In short, numerous firms rely upon consumer data to identify and evaluate potential risks a consumer may pose before entering into a financial relationship with that consumer.

[PDF format, 22 pages].

Inequality as a Multidimensional Process

Inequality as a Multidimensional Process. Daedalus: Journal. Summer 2019.

Rising inequality is one of our most pressing social concerns. And it is not simply that some are advantaged while others are not, but that structures of inequality are self-reinforcing and cumulative; they become durable. The societal arrangements that in the past have produced more equal economic outcomes and social opportunities – such as expanded mass education, access to social citizenship and its benefits, and wealth redistribution – have often been attenuated and supplanted by processes that are instead inequality-inducing. This issue of Dædalus draws on a wide range of expertise to better understand and examine how economic conditions are linked, across time and levels of analysis, to other social, psychological, political, and cultural processes that can either counteract or reinforce durable inequalities. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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