What Are We Reading

posted by William Chodkowski on December 19, 2012 at 11:30 am

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Contractors fear sequester’s impact

Darren Samuelsohn/Politico

Some of the biggest names in defense contracting aren’t just making a stink over what sequestration does to the Pentagon. Players like Lockheed Martin, Boeing and General Dynamics have billions of dollars at stake in contracts with other government agencies also subject to across-the-board cuts, including at NASA and the Transportation and Homeland Security departments.

Climate change already playing out in West, report says

Amy Joi O’Donoghue/Deseret News

A new report says the effects of climate change are already being felt in bug-infested forests of the Intermountain West, in reduced flows of the Colorado River basin and in the amount of snow that falls in the Rocky Mountains. The key will be how state and federal governments are responding and what land and natural resource conservation strategies can be embraced or expanded to counter the impacts.

Three more polio workers shot in Pakistan; eight dead in 48 hours

Jibran Ahmad/Reuters

Three workers in a polio eradication campaign were shot in Pakistan on Wednesday, and two of them were killed, the latest in an unprecedented string of attacks that has partially halted the U.N.-backed campaign. The government was caught off guard by the violence, saying they had not expected attacks in areas far from Taliban strongholds. Many Islamists, including Taliban militants, have long opposed the campaign. Some say it aims to sterilize Muslims, while one militant commander said the campaign could not continue unless attacks by U.S. drone aircraft stopped.

Foreign Service needs support

Thomas Boyatt, Ronald Neumann, and Abelardo Valdez/The Hill

The American Academy of Diplomacy’s recently released report makes it clear that the diplomacy and development functions still suffer from shortages of personnel and adequacy of training. Ten percent of overseas positions are unfilled and 30 percent of language designated positions are not filled with officers with the necessary skills. The report details how to overcome these shortages to meet the unprecedented challenges we now confront.

Making Intelligence Relevant for the Missions of the 21st Century

James Howcroft /Small Wars Journal

Each step of the intelligence process in dealing with asymmetric threats and stabilization operations must be adapted to meet the evolving needs of commanders, decision makers, soldiers and civilian partners on the ground.  In this era of declining defense budgets, what lessons should intelligence professionals be incorporating into training and educational programs to make success more likely during the next deployment to a fragile or failed state?

South Korea election: Park Geun-hye defeats Moon Jae-in

BBC News Asia

Park Geun-hye has claimed victory as South Korea’s first female president following the concession of Moon Jae-in in presidential elections.  Ms. Park has pledged to increase dialogue with Pyongyang.

Crime crackdown created more drug cartels: top Mexican official

Lisbeth Diaz/Reuters

The fracturing of Mexico’s criminal establishment in the government-led crackdown on drug traffickers created between 60 and 80 new cartels, the nation’s attorney general said on Tuesday, far more than were active six years ago. Murillo also estimated about 70,000 people died in drug-related violence under President Calderon’s administration, with roughly 9,000 bodies unidentified.

Chinese, Vietnamese wind towers get new tariffs

Alex Guillen/Politico

The Commerce Department set tariffs as high as 105.4 percent on utility-scale wind towers imported from China and Vietnam in the penultimate step to finalizing duties in the ongoing trade spat over green energy. The biggest change was the minimum anti-dumping tariff in China, which more than doubled.

House, Senate agree on sweeping defense bill

Joyce Tsai/Stars and Stripes

After ironing out differences in the House and Senate’s competing versions of the bill, congressional negotiators have set the stage for a final vote this week on the National Defense Authorization Act, a sweeping $632 billion defense bill, which will provide for modest troop pay increases and Tricare fee hikes.

Defense bill preserves military biofuels program

Zack Colman/The Hill

The House-Senate deal on defense legislation omits a GOP-backed plan to thwart military purchases of biofuels. “There is no limiting language in there. It looks favorable at this point and I commend the administration for the hard line it took,” Michael McAdams, president of the Advanced Biofuels Association, told The Hill regarding the NDAA on Tuesday.

What’s Redd and will it help tackle climate change?

Grantham Research Institute and Duncan Clark/The Guardian

Scientists have recognised the value of protecting forests in tackling climate change. In response, policymakers have developed a family of policies – collectively known as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (Redd) – to provide a financial incentive to governments, agribusinesses and communities to maintain rather than reduce forest cover.

UBS fined $1.5 billion in growing Libor scandal

Katharina Bart and Tom Miles/Reuters

“Swiss bank UBS admitted fraud and accepted a $1.5 billion fine on Wednesday for it role in manipulating global benchmark interest rates.”  The Libor rate is used to price a significant portion of loans given worldwide.

Mali Leader Acknowledges Extremists Not Foreigners

AP/New York Times

Mali’s president says an Islamist group carrying out public executions and amputations in the country’s north is mostly made up of Malians and not foreign fighters. The comments mark the first time Mali’s leader has acknowledged that the Ansar Dine militants who took control of the north are not foreign citizens.

Sudan, South Sudan to discuss rebel support next month

Alexander Dziadosz/Reuters

Sudan and South Sudan will tackle the sensitive issue of support for rebel groups for the first time when they resume security talks next month, Sudan’s defense minister said on Wednesday. The former civil war foes have been at loggerheads over their contested border and other issues since South Sudan seceded last year under a 2005 peace deal.

Germany to Propose Renewable-Energy Subsidy Changes in March

Stefan Nicola/Bloomberg

Germany, Europe’s biggest power market, plans to propose changes to its clean-energy subsidy system to reduce the cost of building wind farms and solar parks as it shutters nuclear reactors. The so-called EEG clean-energy law must be modified to ensure renewables can compete and their expansion is aligned with power-line construction, top ministers said today.

ASP Reports

 

The Dams of the Himalayas: Strategic Challenges in a Rapidly Changing Region

Andrew Holland

The government of China controls the headwaters of all the area’s major rivers, except the Ganges. Collecting and using the water flows in massive dams can affect the water security of downstream neighbors. The Brahmaputra is the region’s only major river that is shared by the region’s two great powers, India and China. Basin management in this region will test their bilateral relationship. Read this report to find out more.

On Our Flashpoint Blog

 

Ellen Tauscher on Missile Defense and Strategic Stability

Aaron Hesse

Ellen Tauscher, former Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, recently spoke at the American Security Project on missile defense, the US-Russia relationship, and strategic stability. She stated we have “a lot to be optimistic about” in regards to the opportunity we now have to move forward with Russia.

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