Center for Strategic Communication

Key Reads


There have never been more displaced people across the world than now
Helen Regan / TIME
The total number of people forcibly displaced by war, conflict and persecution rose to a record 59.5 million at the end of 2014, the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) has said. The agency’s annual Global Trends Report: World at War, released Thursday, found forced displacement worldwide has reached unprecedented levels, with a record annual rise of 8.3 million more displaced people since 2013. Some 38.2 million of the total were internally displaced in their own countries.

MERS spreads to Thailand
Amy Sawitta Lefevre / Reuters

One of Thailand’s leading hospitals, known for treating medical tourists, said on Friday it had received the country’s first case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), as authorities said it had taken nearly four days to confirm the illness. Thailand said on Thursday a 75-year-old businessman from Oman, who had traveled to Bangkok for medical treatment for a heart condition, had tested positive for MERS.




American Competitiveness & Economic Diplomacy


Greek prime minister reaches out to Vladimir Putin for help in financial crisis
Mark Rice-Oxley / The Guardian

Alexis Tsipras, the Greek prime minister, has made a broad overture to Russia as he seeks a way out of his country’s debt and currency impasse, telling Vladimir Putin that Greece wants new partners to help it out of the crisis. In a speech delivered in front of Putin in Russia, Tsipras said Moscow was one of Greece’s most important partners, and dismissed critics who wondered why he was in St Petersburg and not in Brussels trying to secure an urgent deal with European creditors.



National Security & Strategy


Officials: Chinese had access to U.S. security clearance data for one year
Ellen Nakashima / Washington Post
The recently disclosed breach of the Office of Personnel Management’s security-clearance computer system took place a year ago, giving Chinese government intruders access to sensitive data for a year, according to new information. The considerable lag time between breach and discovery means that the adversary had more time to pull off a cyber-heist of consequence, said Stewart Baker, a former National Security Agency general counsel.

Surveillance court judge says no opposing view needed in ‘simple’ cases
Ellen Nakashima / Washington Post
The nation’s surveillance court this month faced for the first time the issue of whether the newly minted USA Freedom Act requires that a technical expert be appointed in a case involving a novel or significant issue, and ruled it doesn’t. Judge F. Dennis Saylor of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court said in a decision released Friday that no advocate is required to present an opposing view to the government’s if the legal conclusion is “obvious.”



Asymmetric Operations


State Department report: ISIS breaking new ground as new leader in terror groups

Elise Labbot / CNN

In the eyes of the State Department, ISIS is beating al Qaeda at being the world’s leading terrorist group. The “unprecedented” spread and brutality of ISIS, its strength in recruiting foreign fighters, messaging and its ability inspire lone wolf attacks have helped the group supplant al Qaeda as the leading global terrorist group, said the State Department’s annual terrorism report. The report says both are adapting their tactics in ways which are more brutal and harder to trace.

Iran Still Supports Terrorism, State Department Finds
Michael R Gordon and Eric Schmitt / New York Times
Iran continued its “terrorist-related” activity last year and also continued to provide broad military support to President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, the State Department said Friday in its annual report on terrorism. The State Department’s assessment suggests that neither the election of President Hassan Rouhani nor the prospect of a nuclear accord with the United States and its negotiating partners has had a moderating effect on Iran’s foreign policy in the Middle East.


Terror attacks, deaths up sharply in 2014 – U.S. State Department

Warren Strobel / Reuters

Terrorist attacks worldwide surged by more than a third and fatalities soared by 81 percent in 2014, a year that also saw Islamic State eclipse al Qaeda as the leading jihadist militant group, the U.S. State Department said on Friday. In its annual report on terrorism, the department also charts an unprecedented flow of foreign fighters to Syria, often lured by Islamic State’s use of social media and drawn from diverse social backgrounds.



Climate Security


Alaska’s glaciers are now losing 75 billion tons of ice every year

Chris Mooney / Washington Post

In a new study, scientists with the University of Alaska at Fairbanks and several other institutions report a staggering finding: Glaciers of the United States’ largest — and only Arctic — state, Alaska, have lost 75 gigatons (a gigaton is a billion metric tons) of ice per year from 1994 through 2013. For comparison, that’s roughly half of a recent estimate for ice loss for all of Antarctica (159 billion metric tons). It takes 360 gigatons of ice to lead to one millimeter of sea level rise, which implies that the Alaska region alone may have contributed several millimeters in the past few decades.

EPA seeks to cut in truck emissions in latest climate change push
Alex Guillen and Eric Wolff / Politico
The Obama administration unveiled its newest climate change rule on Friday, calling on makers of heavy-duty trucks to hike fuel efficiency by up to 24 percent as apart of its unprecedented wave of regulations to combat greenhouse gas pollution. The proposed rule comes ahead of EPA’s expected release this summer of landmark climate change rules for the nation’s fleet of power plants, and follows on the heels of the agency’s announcement that it plans to regulate emissions from airplanes, as well as a pact last year that President Barack Obama set with China to cap and cut the nations’ greenhouse gas pollution.





The UK is scrapping one of its most successful renewable energy subsidies
Cassie Werber / Quartz
But Britain’s Conservative government now says that new onshore wind projects will no longer be able to access the RO as of April 2016. It’s part of a move towards reforming the country’s entire electricity market, and is in line with European guidelines designed to wean the industry off support.


Qarar ships LNG cargo to Belgium
LNG World News
Belgium’s Zeebrugge terminal is scheduled to get a liquefied natural gas cargo from Qatar on July 4, according to port data. The cargo is being carried by the 217,000 cbm Al Huwaila, which departed from the port of Ras Laffan on Wednesday, the data shows.



Nuclear Security


Saudi Arabia, Russia sign nuclear power cooperation deal
Reem Shamseddine / Reuters

China’s foreign minister has urged that all parties involved in talks on Iran’s nuclear program make no new demands and that the legitimate concerns of the participants be respected, the Chinese government said late on Thursday. Iran, the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China reached a tentative framework for a nuclear pact on April 2 in Lausanne but several issues remain unresolved.


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