President Obama’s Speech to the Coast Guard Cadets: Climate Change is a Threat to National Security
Andrew Holland / American Security Project
On May 20, 2015, President Obama gave the commencement speech for the 2015 graduating class of the Coast Guard academy. In his speech, the President explained how climate change will impact the careers of the graduating officers: “You are part of the first generation of officers to begin your service in a world where the effects of climate change are so clearly upon us. Climate change will shape how every one of our services plan, operate, train, equip, and protect their infrastructure, today and for the long-term.”
Obama: Climate change poses risk to U.S. military, national security
Roberta Rampton / Reuters
Rising seas, thawing permafrost and longer wildfires caused by warmer global temperatures threaten U.S. military bases and will change the way the U.S. armed services defend the country, President Barack Obama is set to say on Wednesday. In his commencement address at the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, the White House said Obama will underscore the risks to national security posed by climate change, one of his top priorities for action in his remaining 19 months in office.
Bin Laden bent on spectacular US attack until the end: files
Dan De Luce / AFP
Hunkered down in his Pakistani compound, Osama bin Laden pleaded with his followers to stay focused on attacking the United States instead of being dragged into Muslim infighting. Documents declassified on Wednesday shed new light on the mindset of Al-Qaeda’s founder, his debates over tactics, his anxiety over Western spying and his fixation with the group’s media image.
American Competitiveness & Economic Diplomacy
White House Threatens to Veto Trade Bill Over Currency Measure
William Mauldin / Wall Street Journal
The White House on Tuesday threatened to veto a crucial trade bill if it contains legislation with binding punishments for currency manipulation, the main point of contention between President Barack Obama and congressional critics of his trade policy.
Euro’s Plunge Reignites Calls for Parity on ECB Bond-Buying Plan
Anooja Debnath and Andrea Wong / Bloomberg
The European Central Bank’s pledge to front-load its bond buying has given hope to euro bears frustrated by the currency’s sharpest rally in almost five years. In less than three days, the euro has tumbled 3 percent versus the dollar, erasing a third of its gains since mid-March. The cost of protecting against further declines using options jumped by the most in four months after ECB Executive Board member Benoit Coeure said on Monday that the central bank will bring forward some of its monthly bond purchases before an anticipated summer lull.
National Security & Strategy
The Oil-Export Ban Harms National Security
Leon E. Panetta and Stephen J. Hadley / Wall Street Journal
The United States faces a startling array of global security threats, demanding national resolve and the resolve of our closest allies in Europe and Asia. Iran’s moves to become a regional hegemon, Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, and conflicts driven by Islamic terrorism throughout the Middle East and North Africa are a few of the challenges calling for steadfast commitment to American democratic principles and military readiness. The pathway to achieving U.S. goals also can be economic—as simple as ensuring that allies and friends have access to secure supplies of energy.
Bill to Limit NSA Surveillance Will Get Senate Vote
Laura Barron-Lopez and Jessica Schulberg / Huffington Post
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that he will give in to pressure and bring legislation to the floor that would limit the National Security Agency’s surveillance on Americans, as allowed under the Patriot Act. McConnell, who has floated a bill to extend the NSA’s existing authority to collect bulk metadata from Americans’ phone calls until 2020, has come under increasing pressure from a handful of Republicans to allow the Senate to take up the House bill. Adding to the momentum for reform is a recent appellate court decision that found that NSA program was not authorized under the Patriot Act.
Albania Says Could Block Macedonia’s NATO Bid
Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama warned on Wednesday that his country could block Macedonia’s bid to join NATO unless it improves its record on respecting the rights of the country’s ethnic Albanian minority.
NATO meets Russians in Brussels, urges Ukraine withdrawal
John-Thor Dahlburg / AP
Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and Russia’s foreign minister met Tuesday for the first time in three months, and Stoltenberg said he restated the “very strong NATO position” against Moscow’s annexation of Crimea and its support for rebels in eastern Ukraine.
Islamic State ‘Seizes Part of Syria’s Palmyra’
Islamic State fighters have seized the northern part of the ancient World Heritage-listed city of Palmyra in Syria, a monitoring group has said. Militants seized part of the town of Tadmur located on a strategic east-west route next to Palmyra on Saturday but had been pushed back from the ruins.
ISIS Learns Lessons from U.S. Raid
Mariam Karouny / Al Arabiya
A U.S. Special Forces raid against an Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) leader in Syria caught the jihadist group off guard, killing not only the declared target, but also two other important figures, militant sources in Syria said. They (Sources) said the ultra-hardline group had absorbed the shock, but promised that any culprits would be discovered. ISIS was also considering tightening its recruitment procedures to try to root out moles and was considering forming a specialist unit to counter such attacks in future.
ISIS’ Child Soldiers: What will happen to the ‘cubs of the caliphate’?
Joshua Berlinger / CNN
The Sunni extremists of ISIS appear to be brainwashing an entire generation to create an army of impressionable young soldiers. They lure or kidnap children and then train them to fight. They force some children to give blood to injured fighters or to spy for them, and make others whip prisoners, human rights groups say.
Is ISIS running out of money?
ISIS militants are having to work harder to finance their war in Syria and Iraq as low oil prices and Western military action choke off a key source of income. Oil revenue helped fund ISIS’ rapid land grab in both countries, but the sharp fall in prices late last year, and the discounts the terrorist group has to offer buyers, are cutting into that stream of cash.
Gov. Jerry Brown Signs Climate Pact with Other States, Foreign Provinces
Jessica Calefati and Paul Rogers / Contra Costa Times
Hoping to build momentum for a stronger international climate change deal in December, Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday signed an agreement between California and 11 other U.S. states and foreign provinces to sharply limit emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050.
India Plans New Rules to Clean Up Coal-Fired Power Plants
R. Jai Krishna / Wall Street Journal
India is planning to implement a new set of rules aimed at slashing emissions from its coal-fired power plants. The South Asian nation’s Ministry for Environment and Forests has a new set of guidelines requiring power companies to reduce sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and other emissions up to 80% in the next two to three years.
21,000-gallon Santa Barbra Oil Spill Coats Beaches with Tar
Matt Hamilton and Javier Panzar / Los Angeles Times
A ruptured pipeline near Santa Barbara leaked an estimated 21,000 gallons of crude oil Tuesday, some of which flowed into the ocean and left a thick coat of black tar along the county’s pristine shores, authorities said. It’s unclear what caused the break in the pipeline.
North Korea says it can miniaturize nuclear weapons
Kim Hjelmgaard / USA Today
North Korea claimed Wednesday that it has developed the technology to miniaturize nuclear weapons, the rogue nation’s state-run Korean Central News Agency reported.
On Our Flashpoint Blog
Round Table: Making the Most of U.S. and Foreign Investment in Egypt
American Security Project hosted a round table of delegates from the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt to discuss the current state and projected future of U.S. and foreign investment in Egypt. With a population of over 90 million people, Egypt boasts more than a large consumer base. Egypt represents the nexus of the Middle East, Africa, and the Mediterranean, opening Egypt’s market would also increase the visibility of these markets to the European and Asian markets to further develop interdependence throughout the global market.
ASP Board Members and Staff Visit Princeton Plasma Physics Lab
American Security Project
On Monday, May 18, members of ASP’s Board, including former Governor of New Jersey and Administrator of the EPA Christine Todd Whitman, American Security Project Board President and President of McLarty Associates Nelson Cunningham, and senior national security experts Vice Admiral Lee Gunn, USN (Ret.), Brigadier General Stephen Cheney, USMC (Ret.), and Senior Fellow Andrew Holland visited Princeton Plasma Physics Lab(PPPL) to discuss fusion as an integral component of our energy security.
Beating the Terrorist Brand – The Need for a Political Offensive
Brand strength is not just important to modern day terrorists and rebels; it is entirely pivotal to their current success, but it can also be used to bring about their downfall. To be more effective, we need to have a coherent approach to destroy their brand and influence, and generate our own new, better political vision.
Vicente Mayor: Energy challenges mean the US must strengthen its Arctic engagement
American Security Project
Due to the impending depletion of US fossil fuel resources according to the EIA and the International Energy Agency, and the uncertainty over whether alternative energies can commercially expand at the pace fossils decline, a net energy shortfall could face us in coming decades. According to a report by the National Petroleum Council, Arctic exploration, if pursued now could coincide with expected declines in the lower 48 states in America, extending US energy security well into the 2030s and 2040s.
Fusion Energy Discussed at Nuclear Hearing
On Wednesday May 13th the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology’s Subcommittee on Energy held a hearing on “Nuclear Energy Innovation and the National Labs.” The focus of the hearing was the government’s role in coordinating and funding national labs advancement of nuclear energy technology. Fusion research was featured, with Nathan Gilliland of General Fusion discussing advances in fusion. Members of the committee expressed great interest in fusion’s potential role in U.S. energy security.
ASP Recently Published
Critical Issues Facing Russia and the Former Soviet Union: Governance and Corruption
American Security Project
When it comes to Russia and the other post-Soviet states, corruption is the subject of constant academic, policy, and popular debate. According to many, persistent corruption is the major factor undermining post-Soviet states from achieving broad-based political, economic, and social development along liberal-democratic lines.
Environmental Threats to Louisiana’s Future: Climate Change
American Security Project
As one of the centers of energy production, transit, and storage, Louisiana is a hub for the whole country. This ensures that any problems in Louisiana are transferred throughout the country by energy price volatility and uncertainty.
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