Council on Foreign Relations. April 2014.

As space systems increasingly perform and support critical operations, a variety of plausible near-term incidents in outer space could precipitate or exacerbate an international crisis. The most grave space contingencies—viewed from the perspective of U.S. interests and international stability—are likely to result from either intentional interference with space systems or the inadvertent effects of irresponsible state behavior in outer space. The threats to U.S. space assets are significant and growing, as potential adversaries continue to pursue and could soon acquire counterspace capabilities. The United States has strategic interests in preventing and mitigating dangerous space incidents, given its high reliance on satellites for a variety of national security missions and unparalleled global security commitments and responsibilities. Like other technology-driven global governance challenges, the longer the United States delays preventive and mitigating efforts, the less dominant its position will be in shaping rules of the road for space. [Note: contains copyrighted material] [PDF format, 8 pages].

Council on Foreign Relations. April 22, 2014.

In retrospect, the international compromise reached last week to calm tensions in eastern Ukraine seems like a vehicle for both sides to pursue their broader objectives, says CFR’s Stephen Sestanovich. For Russia, he says the Geneva agreement allowed political conditions in Ukraine to deteriorate, and highlighted Kiev’s weakness in the east. For the United States, it demonstrated Moscow’s bad faith and set the table for further sanctions. Sestanovich says the Kremlin is likely waiting to see how far things in Ukraine disintegrate from within before making its next moves. “It may be that this is a process of separatism that can go on for a couple of years,” he says. [Note: contains copyrighted material] [HTML format].

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Council on Foreign Relations. April 17, 2014.

The crisis in Ukraine has not thus far diverted international diplomatic efforts toward a lasting deal on Tehran’s controversial nuclear program, says Iran expert Barbara Slavin. “Despite some rhetorical threats by the chief Russian negotiator, there has been no indication that the Russians have tried to impede the talks,” she explains. Meanwhile, Slavin says the Obama administration’s refusal to grant Iran’s new UN ambassador a visa “is unfortunate, but not fatal” to the nuclear talks. [Note: contains copyrighted material] [HTML format].

Pew Research Internet Project. April 17, 2014.

The American public anticipates that the coming half-century will be a period of profound scientific change, as inventions that were once confined to the realm of science fiction come into common usage. Overall, most Americans anticipate that the technological developments of the coming half-century will have a net positive impact on society. Some 59% are optimistic that coming technological and scientific changes will make life in the future better, while 30% think these changes will lead to a future in which people are worse off than they are today. Many Americans pair their long-term optimism with high expectations for the inventions of the next half century. Fully eight in ten (81%) expect that within the next 50 years people needing new organs will have them custom grown in a lab, and half (51%) expect that computers will be able to create art that is indistinguishable from that produced by humans. [Note: contains copyrighted material]. [PDF format, 19 pages].

Economic Policy Institute. April 17, 2014.

May 17 is the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 decision that prohibited Southern states from segregating schools by race. The Brown decision annihilated the “separate but equal” rule, previously sanctioned by the Supreme Court in 1896, that permitted states and school districts to designate some schools “whites-only” and others “Negroes-only.” More important, by focusing the nation’s attention on subjugation of blacks, it helped fuel a wave of freedom rides, sit-ins, voter registration efforts, and other actions leading ultimately to civil rights legislation in the late 1950s and 1960s. But Brown was unsuccessful in its purported mission, to undo the school segregation that persists as a central feature of American public education today. The issue brief highlights key elements of the American education system that have evolved in the wake of Brown v. Board of Education. [Note: contains copyrighted material]. [PDF format, 8 pages].