ASP: In Case You Missed It…
22 May 2015
The new shape of fusion
Daniel Clery / Science mag
ITER, the international fusion reactor being built in France, will stand 10 stories tall, weigh three times as much as the Eiffel Tower, and cost its seven international partners $18 billion or more. The result of decades of planning, ITER will not produce fusion energy until 2027 at the earliest. And it will be decades before an ITER-like plant pumps electricity into the grid. Surely there is a quicker and cheaper route to fusion energy.
Report: China demanded U.S. plane leave island airspace
Jane Onyanga-Omara / USA Today
China said it is entitled to monitor the airspace and seas around artificial islands in the South China Sea after a reported exchange between its navy and a U.S. surveillance plane, the Associated Press reported Thursday. CNN reported that on Wednesday its journalists, who had been allowed to join the flight, heard a Chinese navy dispatcher make eight demands that a U.S. P8-A Poseidon surveillance aircraft leave the area as it flew over Fiery Cross Reef.
US, Cuba close another round of talks with no announcement of restoring embassies
Bradley Klapper / Associated Press
Five months after Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro announced their intention to improve ties, the former foes on Friday completed a fourth round of negotiations without ironing out enough of the differences that have accumulated over a half-century of estrangement to restore diplomatic relations.
Islamic State “seizes key Syria-Iraq border crossing”
Islamic State militants have seized the last Syrian government-controlled border crossing between Syria and Iraq, a Syria monitoring group says.
US officials: Iran enters Iraqi fight for key oil refinery
Robert Burns / Associated Press
Iran has entered the fight to retake a major Iraqi oil refinery from Islamic State militants, contributing small numbers of troops, including some operating artillery and other heavy weapons in support of advancing Iraqi ground forces, U.S. defense officials said Friday.
American Competitiveness & Economic Diplomacy
Yellen: US rates could go up “at some point this year”
The chair of the US Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen, said she expects the central bank to begin raising interest rates “at some point this year”. She said delaying the long-awaited move would pose risks to the economy.
EU agrees 1.8bn-euro loan to cash-strapped Ukraine
The EU has agreed a €1.8bn (£1.3bn; $2bn) loan to Ukraine – described as a landmark deal for a non-EU member. The agreement was signed at an EU summit in Riga, Latvia, with the leaders of six post-Soviet nations.
National Security & Strategy
Cameron to meet Merkel, Juncker and Hollande for EU talks
David Cameron will meet key players in Europe for face-to-face talks next week as he tries to build momentum behind his efforts to renegotiate the UK’s relationship with the European Union. The prime minister will host European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at Chequers on Monday.
Wary of Russia, Europe now tiptoes when it comes to expansion
Michael Birnbaum / Washington Post
Fearful of provoking Russia, E.U. leaders who gathered Thursday in this old-world Baltic capital have dialed back their ambitions about how closely to partner with countries that were part of the Soviet Union. Former communist countries used to line up to join the European Union, considering it their ticket to prosperity. But the door to E.U. membership that was open before the Ukrainian crisis has slammed shut, despite once-grand aims to lure countries such as Moldova and Georgia toward a European path of development.
U.S. Navy releases video of South China Sea aerial surveillance
Dan Lamothe / Washington Post
The Navy has released video that shows how closely the Pentagon is tracking China’s military expansion in the region, one day after news emerged that the Chinese navy repeatedly warned a U.S. surveillance plane to leave a contested area of the South China Sea.
Farc suspends truce after Colombia army attack
Colombia’s Farc leftist rebel group has suspended a unilateral ceasefire after 26 of its fighters were killed in a government air and ground offensive. The ceasefire had been in place since December 2014.
Saudi-led coalition steps up air strikes in Yemen
Saudi-led warplanes extended air strikes on Iranian-backed Houthi militia in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Friday, residents in the area said. They told Reuters that the strikes focused on the presidential compound district in Sanaa, which the Shia Muslim rebels seized in September, and Houthi military sites in mountainous areas on the outskirts of the city.
Suicide Bomber Targets Shiite Worshippers in Saudi Arabia
A suicide bomber targeted a mosque in eastern Saudi Arabia as worshippers were commemorating the 7th century birth of a revered Shiite figure on Friday, an activist and witnesses in the area said.
Iraq Deputy PM Appeals for More Help
Iraq’s deputy prime minister is appealing for greater international help in fighting the Islamic State group, saying its recent takeover of the key city of Ramadi was a “big disaster” and that the country’s own forces could not adequately fight back.
Yet another Antarctic ice mass is becoming destabilized, scientists report
Chris Mooney / Washington Post
The troubling news continues this week for the Antarctic peninsula region, which juts out from the icy continent. Last week, scientists documented threats to the Larsen C and the remainder of the Larsen B ice shelf (most of which collapsed in 2002). The remnant of Larsen B, NASA researchers said, may not last past 2020. And as for Larsen C, the Scotland-sized ice shelf could also be at potentially “imminent risk” due to a rift across its mass that is growing in size (though it appears more stable than the remainder of Larsen B).
Saudi Arabia’s solar-for-oil plan is a ray of hope
Damian Carrington / Guardian
Talk by the world’s biggest oil exporter of giving up fossil fuels and embracing solar and wind energy adds momentum towards a global climate change deal. So what to make of the statement by Saudi Arabia’s oil minister that the world’s biggest oil exporter could stop using fossil fuels as soon as 2040 and become a “global power” in solar and wind energy?
Isis claims it could buy its first nuclear weapon from Pakistan within 12 months
Heather Saul / Independent UK
Isis has used the latest issue of its propaganda magazine Dabiq to suggest the group is expanding so rapidly it could buy its first nuclear weapon within a year.
On Our Flashpoint Blog
The Prospects of Reform in Sudan
John Bugnacki / Daniel Wagner
In spite of declarations to pursue reform following South Sudan’s secession from Sudan in 2011, the political landscape in Sudan has remained bleak, with the government of Omar al-Bashir continuing to repress the country’s marginalized populations. In response, there have been increasing levels of armed conflict and protest activity against the regime, and both international and domestic organizations are calling for Bashir to be brought to justice for his crimes against the Sudanese people.
Senator Gary Hart on What’s Wrong with Foreign Policy in a Time Magazine
In an online article out today and in this week’s TIME Magazine issue, foreign affairs columnist Ian Bremmer looked at “the drift that has afflicted U.S. foreign policy, and the desperate need for a new direction,” just as he does in his new book Superpower: Three Choices for America’s Role in the World..
Briefing Note- Turkey as a Rising Donor State
Information of the growth of Turkey’s increasing role as a donor state in terms of refugee assistance and aid.
U.S. – Cuban Relations on the Edge of Formalization
Cuban and American officials are scheduled to meet in Washington today for the fifth, and hopefully final, round of talks ahead of restoring full diplomatic relations between the two countries. This marks the closest to completing the process since U.S-Cuba relations ceased in January 1961 under President Eisenhower.
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.