FACT SHEET: Charting a New Course on Cuba
The Office of the Press Secretary / White House
Today, the United States is taking historic steps to chart a new course in our relations with Cuba and to further engage and empower the Cuban people. We are separated by 90 miles of water, but brought together through the relationships between the two million Cubans and Americans of Cuban descent that live in the United States, and the 11 million Cubans who share similar hopes for a more positive future for Cuba.
What Obama’s détente with Cuba teaches these hostile regimes is that hostage taking works. The unintended but foreseeable consequence of Obama’s new policy is there will be more victims like Alan Gross.
Detente Scrambles Political Calculus in Latin America
The Wall Street Journal
The Detente Between the U.S. and Cuba Has the Potential to Redraw Political and Economic Alliances Across the Hemisphere.
U.S. Companies Clamor to Do Business in New Cuban Market
Julie Creswell / The New York Times
Within hours of President Obama’s historic move to restore full diplomatic relations with Cuba, companies in the United States were already developing strategies to introduce their products and services to a market they have not been in for the better part of 50 years — if ever.
Iran has continued to meet commitments under an interim nuclear agreement with six world powers, a confidential U.N. agency report showed, though Tehran temporarily halted conversion work that makes higher-grade uranium less suitable for bombs.
In expanding offensives, Pakistan military kills at least 67 suspected militants
The Washington Post
A series of airstrikes and ground offensives killed at least 67 suspected militants in Pakistani’s northwestern tribal areas, officials said Friday in an apparent sign of intensified military action after this week’s Taliban school massacre.
Turkey could begin training and equipping moderate Syrian opposition fighters before March, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Friday.
Lebanon’s new drugs kingpin, Ali Nasri Shamas, shows off three tons of hashish and says business is flourishing in the shadow of the Syrian conflict.
America’s $28-Billion Failure in Pakistan
The U.S. has never convinced the Pakistanis to confront militants. Could that change after the Taliban’s school attack?
Statement by the President on the Ukraine Freedom Support Act
Office of Press Secretary / The White House
Today, I have signed H.R. 5859, the Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014, into law. Signing this legislation does not signal a change in the Administration’s sanctions policy, which we have carefully calibrated in accordance with developments on the ground and coordinated with our allies and partners. At this time, the Administration does not intend to impose sanctions under this law, but the Act gives the Administration additional authorities that could be utilized, if circumstances warranted.
Journalists fear freedom of speech will be curtailed as Kiev follows Moscow in stepping up the propaganda war.
Putin, Acknowledging Financial Turmoil, Assures the Nation It’s Temporary
The New York Times
A relaxed, at times jovial President Vladimir V. Putin brushed aside fears about Russian financial turmoil Thursday, holding court for reporters in a Moscow hotel and answering unscreened questions on topics ranging from his love life to the Ukraine crisis to the campaign against perceived “fifth columnists” in the state-controlled news media.
Russia Invites North Korea’s Kim To Moscow
Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty
Russian President Vladimir Putin has invited North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to visit Moscow next spring. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Kim had been formally invited to attend 70th-anniversary celebrations of the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has ordered his cabinet ministers to stop trading using the Russian rouble. Instead, the country – who is one of Russia’s closest allies – will trade only in dollars or euros, after Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted on Thursday his country may be on the verge of a two year recession.
A majority of people in Catalonia would vote to stay part of Spain, a poll by the regional government showed on Friday, the first in years to show a majority against independence.
Russia to Seek 10-Year Sentence for Putin Critic
The New York Times
Prosecutors on Friday said they would seek a 10-year prison sentence for Aleksei A. Navalny, Russia’s most prominent critic of President Vladimir V. Putin, on embezzlement charges that critics say are intended to crush the opposition.
After a massive hack, Sony Pictures decided to cancel the film “The Interview,” which depicts the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Could the cyber-attack have been carried out by North Korea?
The United States on Friday blamed North Korea for the devastating cyberattack against Sony Pictures, formally acknowledging the involvement of the Pyongyang government and saying the tools and infrastructure used in the attack were similar to previous activity from North Korea.
North Korea may have received assistance from Iran, Russia and China before it launched a devastating cyber-attack on the Sony Pictures film studio, it is claimed.
U.S. Approves Sale of Ships to Taiwan
The Wall Street Journal
The U.S. approved the sale to Taiwan of four used warships, drawing a swift rebuke from China, which called the move damaging to Chinese security interests.
Japan and the United States on Friday extended by six months a deadline to revise guidelines for their security cooperation in order to give Tokyo a more prominent military role in East Asia.
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program has selected Japan and Australia to provide heavy airframe and engine maintenance in the Pacific, the Joint Program Office announced Wednesday.
Japan’s annual core consumer inflation probably slowed for a fourth straight month in November, mirroring a slide in oil prices, a Reuters poll showed, underscoring a tough task for the Bank of Japan to achieve its 2 percent inflation target.
China Offers Enhanced Cooperation as Russia Struggles
China offered enhanced economic ties with Russia at a regional summit this week as its northern neighbor struggled to contain a currency crisis.
China data revision lifts GDP by $308bn
The Financial Times
China’s economy was 3.4 per cent bigger last year than previously reported, government statisticians said on Friday, pushing the world’s largest economy even further ahead of the US on officially recognised figures.
Oil bounced higher on Friday as selling pressure from a six-month price rout eased for a second time this week on short-covering, helped by fresh buying in U.S. crude before the expiry of the front-month contract.
How low can it go — and how long will it last? The 50 percent slump in oil prices raises both those questions and while nobody can confidently answer the first question (I will try to in a moment), the second is pretty easy.
The UK’s oil industry is in “crisis” as prices drop, a senior industry leader has told the BBC.
Natural Gas Futures Drop to Lowest Point in Over a Year
The Wall Street Journal
Natural gas futures fell to their lowest price in over a year on Friday in the wake of data showing the U.S. is beginning to develop a surplus of the fuel thanks to soaring domestic production.
A landmark contract signed earlier this year that will see Russian gas supplied to China is profitable because of incentives provided by the governments of both countries, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday, dismissing concerns over its economic viability.
2014 Pipeline Maps
Interfax Natural Gas Daily
Crisis mode: Russia (allegedly) moved into eastern Ukraine, which led to Crimea’s controversial accession, which in turn caused widespread alarm about Europe’s energy security as it heads into winter. Russia shut off its gas exports to Ukraine on 16 June and resumed deliveries on 9 December, after Kiev made an advance payment.
Israel announced in December a major offshore natural gas discovery off its own coast, according to The Washington Free Beacon. This is Israel’s third natural gas field discovery since 2009.
New York State won’t allow the use of hydraulic fracturing to drill for natural gas after a state review found too many “red flags” raised by the controversial technique, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday.
The Obama administration proposed guidelines that require agencies to consider climate change in reviewing of government actions, the latest of a string of environmental directives after Democrats lost control of Congress.
Europe’s Record Heat Tied Directly to Climate Change
As 2014 comes to a close, Europe is virtually certain to lock in its hottest year in more than 500 years, and according to research by three independent teams of climate scientists, the record can be closely attributed to climate change.
Study: Climate change affecting fish movement
Asbury Park Press
According to a study being conducted by Rutgers University, climate change seems to be pushing several species of fish and crustaceans northward along the east and west coasts of North America. The movement could have serious effects on birds, marine mammals and those who depend on fishing for food and income.
Japan Puts Two More Reactors on Uncertain Restart Path
The Wall Street Journal
Japan’s nuclear regulator gave safety clearance to two more reactors Wednesday, raising the prospect that Japan could have four units back online next year to help power the nation’s economy.
Uranium Rallies as Asia Warms to Nuclear Energy
The Wall Street Journal
Uranium prices are defying the broad commodities selloff that has battered oil and gas as Asia’s biggest economies increase their reliance on nuclear energy and move away from coal-fired plants.
India is offering to set up an insurance pool to indemnify global nuclear suppliers against liability in the case of a nuclear accident, in a bid to unblock billions of dollars in trade held up by concerns over exposure to risk.
ASP is looking for current or recently graduated students interested in hands-on public policy experience for full- and part-time internships. Interns will support ASP researchers and staff in multiple areas including communications, development, programming and research.
On Our Flashpoint Blog
Key Quotes on the U.S.-Cuba Relations
Our shift in policy towards Cuba comes at a moment of renewed leadership in the Americas. – President Barack Obama
Combating Cyber Terrorism – The Need for a United Front
On Monday, November 24th the employees of Sony came to work to discover that terabytes of data from their corporate database had been hacked. Ten of thousands of files were stolen, including: emails, unpublished movies, employee social security numbers, salaries, and movie pitches. All of this data was copied, removed from Sony’s servers, and posted online for the public to access. This incident could have serious implications, not only in how Sony manages their data and servers, but on US national security as well.
Mr. Paul Hamill, Director of Strategy and Communications for ASP, was recently interviewed in a news segment by Fox 5 News DC. The piece discusses the cyber-attack against Sony and the possible threats against our national security.
Alan Gross Press Conference Held at ASP Office
On Wednesday, ASP’s office served as the location of the press conference held by Alan Gross upon his release from imprisonment in Cuba. ASP was asked by Gilbert LLP, the law firm representing Gross, to use its office space for the conference.
Hamill: U.S. Needs to Rethink its Space Business
In a recent article in National Defense Magazine about the U.S. Air Force’s challenges of efficiently developing and deploying space technology, ASP Director of Strategy and Communications Paul W. Hamill urged the military to rethink its decades old business model.
ASP’s BGen Stephen Cheney in: “Hackers Issue New Threats Against Theaters Showing ‘The Interview’ Film”
Brigadier General Stephen A. Cheney, USMC (Ret.), CEO of the American Security Project, was recently interviewed in a news segment by Fox 5 News DC.
The Year(s) Ahead in Public Diplomacy
Forget the year ahead. Successful public diplomacy planning for 2015 must take into account 2016, 2017, 2018, and the decades to come.
Disaster Risk and Climate Change: The Frog in the Boiling Pot
Join ASP and special guest, Mr. Dante Disparte, for a discussion on disaster risk management in the wake of climate change.
U.S. – Russia Relations – New ISAB Report
BGen Stephen A. Cheney USMC (Ret.)
After over a year’s worth of work by a very distinguished board, you’ll find a report that doesn’t whitewash anything – be it Putin, Ukraine, or nuclear weapons.
GCC starting to create regional security
This week saw the Gulf Cooperation Council (the GCC) take major security and political steps together.
January 15 @ 12:30PM – 1:30PM
Location: American Security Project, 1100 New York Ave. NW – 7th Floor – West Tower, Washington DC, 20005
Join ASP on January 15, 2015 as we welcome Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs Charles H. Rivkin for Economic Diplomacy: How Economic Ties Can Strengthen National Security.
Deputy Under Secretary of Defense John Conger: DoD Efforts on Climate Adaptation
January 21 @10:00AM – 11:30AM
Join ASP on Wednesday, January 21 as Deputy Under Secretary of Defense John Conger discusses the Department of Defense’s Climate Adaptation Roadmap, its implications, and how the military is planning for climate change.
Conference – Energy Security in the Caribbean: Unique Challenges
February 04 @ 12:00 pm 05:00 pm
Location: ASP Conference Facilities, 7th Floor West Tower, 1100 New York Ave NW, Washington DC
Energy insecurity and availability are challenges that countries around the world face, but few places in the world face challenges like the islands of the Caribbean. A diverse mix, ranging from different political frameworks, from small, isolated islands, like Anguilla, to large, multi ethnic islands, like Hispaniola. On islands with few resources, all energy must be imported. Because of the lack of scale, costs for infrastructure are often much higher than for mainland, continental states.