ASP: In Case You Missed It…
01 June 2015
Fighting in Ukraine Eases, but Abuses Continue on Both Sides, U.N. Says
Nick Cumming-Bruce / New York Times
The United States has removed Cuba from its list of state sponsors of terrorism. The move eliminates a major obstacle toward restoring diplomatic ties. The change allows Cuba to conduct banking in the United States, among other activities. President Barack Obama announced a historic thaw with Cuba in December, but the US trade embargo against the country remains, and may only be ended by Congress.
69 killed in oil tanker explosion at Nigerian bus station
A runaway oil tanker truck exploded in a crowded bus station in southern Nigeria, setting ablaze a dozen buses carrying passengers and killing 69 people, the country’s Red Cross and police said Monday. Nigeria Red Cross Chairman Peter Emeka Kathy said about 30 other victims have been hospitalized with severe burns. He said the truck was traveling down a hill when the brakes failed and it plowed into the bus station at Onitsha before exploding.
South Korea fights to contain MERS outbreak, considers tough measures
Jack Kim / Reuters
South Korea struggled to contain an outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) on Monday as health authorities announced three more cases, bringing the number of infections to 18 in just over 10 days. Authorities are considering a ban on overseas travel for the nearly 700 people isolated for possible infection after a 44-year-old man broke a voluntary house quarantine last week and flew to Hong Kong and then traveled to mainland China.
American Competitiveness & Economic Diplomacy
Fed’s Fischer Sees No Current Threat to Financial Stability
Pedro Nicolaci Da Costa and Don Curren Wall Street Journal
The National Park Service, at the recommendation of the Federal Highway Administration, will close both curbside lanes and four feet of the adjoining sidewalk across the drawbridge of the Arlington Memorial Bridge prior to Friday morning’s rush hour, officials said Thursday. Officials also will post a 10-ton load limit across the entire length of the bridge, which effectively eliminates most bus traffic. Officials said the lane closures will remain in effect until emergency repairs are complete — likely six to nine months.
National Security & Strategy
Ashton Carter: US will play ‘pivotal’ role in Asia
US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter has said the US will continue to play a “pivotal” role in Asia in the future. In an exclusive interview in Vietnam, Mr Carter told the BBC the US could ensure “peace and prosperity”, the only way “everyone gets to rise and win”. He spoke amid new tensions over multi-nation claims in the South China Sea. The US has accused China of creating land that could be used as airstrips in the Spratly Islands. Beijing denies it is asserting itself militarily.
China to hold live-fire military drills at Myanmar border
Tom Mitchell and Michael Peel / Financial Times
China’s People’s Liberation Army will begin live-ammunition exercises close to the country’s border with Myanmar, the defense ministry announced on Monday, in a clear warning to its once close ally. Bombs from skirmishes between Myanmar’s military and the rebel Myanmar National Democratic Alliance have strayed across the border with China’s southwestern Yunnan province on at least two occasions this year, killing five Chinese villagers.
Vietnam, U.S. discuss land reclamation in South China Sea
David Aldexander / Reuters
U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter discussed his call for an end to island-building in the South China Sea in talks on Monday with his Vietnamese counterpart, who said Vietnam had not expanded its islands but had done work to prevent wave erosion. The response appeared to fall short of the immediate halt to land reclamation activity and further militarization of the islands that Carter sought in an initial appeal last week in Hawaii, and again at a security conference in Singapore.
Hamdi Alkhshali and Ashley Fantz / CNN
At least 34 Iraqi police officers were killed and at least 48 more wounded Monday when an ISIS fighter drove a tank rigged with explosives into a joint Iraqi security forces base about 28 kilometers (17 miles) southwest of Samarra, two security officials told CNN.
Islamic State Advances Further Into Syria’s Aleppo Province
Raja Abdulrahim / Wall Street Journal
Fierce battles raged between Islamic State and rebel fighters in Syria’s Aleppo province on Monday, the day after the militant group seized villages close to the Turkish border and came within miles of the main highway connecting Syria’s largest city to Turkey. Fighting sprawled along a 35-mile front line as rebels worked to stop the advance of the extremist militant group, which is now just 7 miles from the main supply route for aid and weapons coming from Turkey.
Continued warming of the Earth’s oceans over the next century could trigger disruptions to marine life on a scale not seen in the last 3 million years, scientists warn in a study released Monday. The changes could include extinctions of some of the ocean’s keystone species as well as a widespread influx of “invasive” animals and plants that migrate to new territory because of changing environmental conditions, the report says.
The subtle – but real- relationship between global warming and extreme weather events
Chris Mooney / Washington Post
It’s a particularly pressing question of late, following not only catastrophic floods in Texas and Oklahoma, but also a historic heatwave in India that has killed over 2,000 people so far, and President Obama’s recent trip to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, where he explicitly invoked the idea that global warming will make these storms worse (which also drew criticism). As the Nye case indicates, there is still a lot of pushback whenever anyone dares to link climate change to extreme weather events. But we don’t have to be afraid to talk about this relationship. We merely have to be scrupulously accurate in doing so, and let scientists lead the way.
EPA proposes a biofuels compromise – and makes nobody happy
Chris Mooney / Washington Post
The agency will reduce required volumes, but still keep them high enough to breach the so-called “blend wall.” The embattled Environmental Protection Agency on Friday released new proposed rules for the volume of biofuels to be blended into the nation’s fuels through 2016, in an effort to put itself back on schedule after numerous missed deadlines but still failing to please business interests on both sides affected by the rule.
French Minister Laurent Fabius Wary on Iran Nuclear Deal
Matthew Dalton / Wall Street Journal
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said a possible nuclear deal with Iran risks sparking a nuclear arms race in the Middle East unless the agreement grants international inspectors access to Iranian military sites and other secret facilities. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Fabius insisted the ability to inspect such sites be part of a final agreement with Iran to ensure Tehran doesn’t covertly try to build a nuclear weapon.
On Our Flashpoint Blog
On May 27th, the German Marshall Fund hosted an event in Washington, DC discussing energy security and its effects on American-European ties. Senator Richard Lugar, Senior Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marshall Fund introduced the talk. He harkened back to the Russian-induced European energy crises of 2005 and 2009, and the challenges faced then, in part due to a lack of focus on the part of the State Department towards global energy security. Senator Lugar emphasized that Europe is now more aware of the risks of dependence on Russian energy, has taken steps to reduce the risks through interconnectivity and alternate sources of energy, and that America too is more focused on energy security.
ASP Supports Cuba’s Removal from State Sponsors of Terrorism List
American Security Project
This morning, the United States officially removed Cuba from the state sponsors of terrorism list. This represents a crucial step in moving forward on a establishing a more effective Cuba policy. It was also an appropriate measure, as Cuba’s presence on the list has long been considered questionable, and threatened to dilute the meaning and effectiveness of that list.
Why Burundi’s Election Crisis Matters to the United States and the World
Burundi is currently undergoing an electoral crisis whose outcome is vitally important for the United States, African countries, and the world as a whole. This article explains the current crisis, its meaning within the context of American foreign policy, and what the U.S. can do to resolve the conflict.
In a post for DipNote, the State Department’s Official Blog, Ambassador Daniel Sepulvedaoutlined how the US plans to help Cuba usher in the Digital Age.
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.
New York City Event – The American Fusion Project: Scientific Breakthroughs
As a part of New York’s annual “Energy Week,” the American Security Project, in conjunction with FTI Strategic Communications, is proud to sponsor a lunch on new developments in fusion energy research. It will take place at FTI’s Wall Street Plaza office, 88 Pine Street, 32nd Floor, New York City, NY on Tuesday, June 16 at 12:30pm.