IRC Sofia wishes all its readers a Merry Christmas and a very happy, healthy, safe and prosperous 2015!
The Future of Privacy. Pew Research Internet Project. Lee Rainie and Janna Anderson. December 18, 2014.
Will governments and corporations expand current tracking policies? Or will innovators create new ways for individuals to control personal information? Experts are divided on whether a secure and balanced privacy-rights infrastructure will be in place by 2025. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
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Political Polarization & Media Habits. Pew Research Journalism Project. Amy Mitchell et al. October 21, 2014.
When it comes to getting news about politics and government, liberals and conservatives inhabit different worlds. There is little overlap in the news sources they turn to and trust. And whether discussing politics online or with friends, they are more likely than others to interact with like-minded individuals, according to a new Pew Research Center study. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
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Evaluating institutional responses to climate change in different contexts. International Institute for Environment and Development. Neha Rai, Erin Nash. December 2014.
Because climate change affects vulnerability, the way in which a country manages its climate risks is inextricably entwined with its ability to achieve development. This briefing explores the way in which the Tracking Adaptation and Measuring Development (TAMD) framework uses simple techniques such as scorecards and baselines to help countries evaluate how well its institutions are managing climate risk at all levels, and how ready they are to address emerging risks. TAMD can be adapted and applied to different contexts and scales, to identify where countries need to target additional institutional support to help them achieve climate-resilient development. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
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Preventing the Introduction and Spread of Ebola in the United States: Frequently Asked Questions. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Sarah A. Lister. December 5, 2014.
Throughout 2014, an outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) has outpaced the efforts of health workers trying to contain it in three West African countries: Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. (These are often referred to as “affected countries” or “countries with widespread transmission.” In mid-November, 2014, Ebola transmission also occurred for the second time in neighboring Mali. The extent of spread in Mali remains to be seen.) EVD cases have been imported to other countries, including the United States, where two nurses were infected while caring for a patient who had traveled from Liberia.
Members of Congress and the public have considered ways to prevent the entry and spread of EVD in the United States. Official recommendations have seemed to conflict at times. In part this reflects the evolution of officials’ understanding of this new threat and the scientific and technical aspects of its control. In addition, under the nation’s federalist governance structure, the federal and state governments are empowered to take measures to control communicable diseases, and have addressed some aspects of the Ebola threat in varied ways. In the United States and abroad, public concern about the spread of Ebola also may have shaped policymakers’ decisions as well.
This CRS report answers common legal and policy questions about the potential introduction and spread of EVD in the United States.
[PDF format, 20 pages, 330.13 KB].
What Is the Impact of the CIA Report? Council on Foreign Relations. Karen J. Greenberg et al. December 12, 2014
The long-awaited Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA’s controversial detention and interrogation program has placed U.S. counterterrorism practices after 9/11 under renewed scrutiny. As the public debates and comes to terms with the findings, three experts, Karen J. Greenberg, Jack Devine, and Magnus Ranstorp, remark on the significance of the report and the legacy of these programs at home and abroad. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
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What is the Current State of the Economic Recovery? Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. CRS Insights. Craig K. Elwell. December 1, 2014.
The U.S. economy’s recovery from the 2007-2009 recession has been steady but historically slow. From the recession’s end in mid-2009 through the third quarter of 2014, as measured by real GDP growth (i.e., gross domestic product adjusted for inflation), the economy’s average annual rate of growth has been about 2.2%, compared to the 4.5% pace typical of previous post-WWII recoveries. After a temporary setback in the first quarter of 2014, growth rebounded above the recovery’s slow average pace over the next two quarters with gains of 4.2% and 3.9%, respectively.
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U.S.-EU Cooperation Against Terrorism. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Kristin Archick. December 1, 2014
The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States and the subsequent revelation of Al Qaeda cells in Europe gave new momentum to European Union (EU) initiatives to combat terrorism and improve police, judicial, and intelligence cooperation among its member states. Other deadly incidents in Europe, such as the Madrid and London bombings in 2004 and 2005 respectively, injected further urgency into strengthening EU counterterrorism capabilities and reducing barriers among national law enforcement authorities so that information could be meaningfully shared and suspects apprehended expeditiously. Among other steps, the EU has established a common definition of terrorism and a common list of terrorist groups, an EU arrest warrant, enhanced tools to stem terrorist financing, and new measures to strengthen external EU border controls and improve transport security. Over the years, the EU has also encouraged
member states to devote resources to countering radicalization and terrorist recruitment, issues that have been receiving renewed attention in light of growing European concerns about the possible threats posed by European fighters returning from the conflicts in Syria and Iraq.
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The Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force’s Infrastructure Resilience Guidelines: An Initial Assessment of Implementation by Federal Agencies. RAND Corporation. Melissa Finucaneet al. December 9, 2014.
In October 2012, Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast of the United States, devastating communities across the region. This disaster motivated the federal government to examine how it might improve community and infrastructure resilience so that communities are better prepared for existing and future threats, including those exacerbated by climate change. To ensure that federal agencies incorporate key principles of resilience into their formulation, evaluation, and prioritization of infrastructure investments related to Sandy rebuilding, the Presidential Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force developed its Infrastructure Resilience Guidelines in the spring and summer of 2013. On behalf of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Interagency Policy Committee’s Subcommittee on Recovery and Mitigation, the RAND Corporation conducted an initial assessment of federal agencies’ implementation of the guidelines. The main goal of this study was to identify the lessons learned from the opportunities and challenges encountered when implementing the guidelines. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
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Profiling the Islamic State. Brookings Institution. Charles Lister. November 2014.
Intense turmoil in Syria and Iraq has created socio-political vacuums in which jihadi groups have been able to thrive. The Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) had proven to be the strongest and most dynamic of these groups, seizing large swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq. Shortly after routing Iraqi forces and conquering Mosul in June 2014, ISIS boldly announced the establishment of a caliphate and renamed itself the Islamic State (IS). How did IS become such a powerful force? What are its goals and characteristics? What are the best options for containing and defeating the group?
In a new Brookings Doha Center Analysis Paper, Charles Lister traces IS’s roots from Jordan to Afghanistan, and finally to Iraq and Syria. He describes its evolution from a small terrorist group into a bureaucratic organization that currently controls thousands of square miles and is attempting to govern millions of people. Lister assesses the group’s capabilities, explains its various tactics, and identifies its likely trajectory.
According to Lister, the key to undermining IS’s long-term sustainability is to address the socio-political failures of Syria and Iraq. Accordingly, he warns that effectively countering IS will be a long process that must be led by local actors. Specifically, Lister argues that local actors, regional states, and the international community should work to counter IS’s financial strength, neutralize its military mobility, target its leadership, and restrict its use of social media for recruitment and information operations.[Note: contains copyrighted material].
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