Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Future U.S. Role in the World

A July 12, 2017 CRS Report entitled U.S. Role in the World: Background and Issues for Congress by Ronald O-Rourke and Michael Moodie provides background information and issues for Congress to consider given statements and actions from the Trump Administration that may indicate a change in the role the U.S. plays in world affairs. The central policy issue for this report concerns "whether there should be a change in the U.S. role, and if so, what that change should be, including whether a given proposed change would be feasible or practical, and what consequences may result." The report addresses implications a change in the U.S. role would have for "congressional organization, capacity, and operations relating to foreign policy, national security, and international economic policy."

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Summer Recreation - Find a National Park

Looking for an outdoor getaway this summer? The U.S. National Park Service's "Find a Park" page features a map of the U.S. enabling you to click on a particular state and see where national parks are located in that state.  If downloading a map of a national park is taking too long, national park enthusiast and park ranger Matt Holly has collected park maps to streamline download. Holly started his site, http://npmaps.com/ , during the 2013 government shutdown, but has continued adding maps since then. Eventually he plans to have every National Park Service Map on his site.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2017

The Department of Defense (DOD) has released its "Annual Report on Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic of China" which addresses the "current and probable
future course of military-technological development of the People’s Liberation Army and the tenets and probable development of Chinese security strategy and military strategy, and of the military organizations and operational concepts supporting such development over the next 20 years." The report also addresses "United States-China engagement and cooperation on security matters during the period covered by the report, including through United States-China military-to-military contacts, and the United States strategy for such engagement and cooperation in the future."
Read an executive summary or the full report.


Congressional Budget Office Report on Repeal of the ACA (Obamacare)

On June 26, 2017 the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) released their report on the Senate's amendment to H.R. 1628, Better Care Reconciliation Act of  2017, designed to replace the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). The report indicates the senate version, if passed, would "reduce federal deficits by $321 billion over the coming decade and increase the number of people who are uninsured by 22 million in 2026 relative to current law." By 2026 for people under age 65 under the senate version, 49 million are projected to be without insurance compared with 28 million under the current law.  Although the CBO and the JCT state estimates cannot be made with certainty, they conclude "the amount of federal revenues collected and the amount of spending on Medicaid would almost surely both be lower than under current law" in addition to the number of underinsured people being greater than under the current law.

For more information, read a PDF of their report.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Legal Questions About President Trump's Withdrawal from the Paris Agreement

On June 9, 2017 the Congressional Research Service (CRS) published a "Legal Sidebar" report and analysis entitled President Trump's Withdrawal from the Paris Agreement Raises Legal Questions.
The questions are:
Pt. 1
  • Will the United States Follow the Multi-Year Process for Withdrawal in Article 28?
  • Can the United States Immediately Withdraw from the Paris Agreement?
  • To What Extent Does the Trump Administration Consider the Paris Agreement Binding Under International Law?
  • Will the United States Remain in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change?
Pt. 2
  • What is the United States’ Role in Future Climate Change Meetings Organized Under the Paris Agreement?
  • What are the Prospects for Legal Challenges to the Withdrawal?
  • What Legal Risks did the President Seek to Avoid by Announcing the Exit?
See the answers at https://fas.org/sgp/crs/row/withdrawal.pdf

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Trends in Nuclear Explosion Monitoring Research & Development

 National Laboratories (Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore, Naval Research, Pacific Northwest, and Sandia) released a report in June 2017 entitled Trends in Nuclear Explosion Monitoring Research & Development — A Physics Perspective LA-UR-17-21274. According to the abstract, the report "reviews the accessible literature, as it relates to nuclear explosion monitoring and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT, 1996), 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). Over 40 trends are addressed "exploring the value and benefit (of each) to the monitoring mission." The report also presents "key papers that advanced the science, and promising research and development for the future."

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

FBI Director Appointment and Tenure

Given that the firing of FBI Director James Comey is a hot topic in the news right now, condensed background information can be found in a new Congressional Research  Service (CRS) report that "provides an overview of the development of the process for appointing the FBI Director, briefly discusses the history of nominations to this position, and identifies related congressional hearing records and reports."  The May 10, 2017 report, FBI Director: Appointment and Tenure, by Henry B. Hogue, Specialist in American National Government, is available as a pdf.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Sea Level Rise Scenarios for the United States

In January 2017 NOAA published the technical report Global and Regional Sea Level Rise Scenarios for the United States. Key findings include:

  • For almost all future GMSL (global mean sea level) rise scenarios, RSL (relative sea level) rise is projected to be greater than the global average along the coasts of the U.S. Northeast and the western Gulf of Mexico.  
  • Under the Intermediate and Low GMSL rise scenarios, RSL is projected to be less than the global average along much of the Pacific Northwest and Alaska coasts 
  • Under the Intermediate-High, High and Extreme GMSL rise scenarios, RSL is projected to be higher than the global average along almost all U.S. coasts outside Alaska.
The report also mentions consequences of RSL rise that are already occurring such as increasing tidal-flood frequencies in coastal communities. Using as a definition of flood-frequency the elevation threshold of about 0.8 m (2.6 feet) above the highest tide with a local 20% annual chance of occurring, annual frequencies of damaging flooding with less than 14 inches of local RSL rise "will increase 25-fold by or about (±5 years) 2080, 2060, 2040 and 2030 under the Low, Intermediate-Low, Intermediate, and Intermediate High subset of scenarios, respectively."

See the full report at https://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/publications/techrpt83_Global_and_Regional_SLR_Scenarios_for_the_US_final.pdf

NOAA also has a new mapping tool to visualize community-level impacts from coastal flooding or sea level rise (up to 6 feet above average high tides). Try the new beta version.