Today’s Headlines

January 20, 2012 By Mac Stoddard

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Who’s in the News

Dr. James N. Miller to be tapped for top Pentagon job (Laura Rozen, The Envoy)

Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy’s principal deputy Dr. James N. Miller will be nominated to succeed her when she departs from the #3 job at the Pentagon in February, multiple defense sources tell Yahoo News.  Flournoy, who has held the top civilian policy job at the Defense Department and been a key Obama administration national security player representing the department in the inter-agency NSC deputies committee meetings, is slated to step down from the job on February 3rd.  Miller, her top aide, was sworn in as her principal deputy in April 2009 after Senate confirmation.

Smart Power

A Boost for the World’s Poorest Schools (Tina Rosenberg, New York Times)

The influx of new students in many places has overwhelmed school systems that were already barely functioning. Poor countries devote their education budgets disproportionately to universities, because urban, middle-class students and their families have political clout.  Neglect of primary schools in rural areas and urban slums is epic.  Save the Children’s response was to create Literacy Boost, a program that is now in schools in 12 countries and is expanding to another six this year. It works with the existing national curriculum, in any language and culture.   It holds monthly workshops with teachers to train them in effective teaching methods, works with villagers to create out-of-the-classroom support for reading in families and communities, and carries out rigorous assessments.

Politics/Foreign Policy

Pentagon budget feels pinch already (David Rogers, Politico)

Overseas war funding will continue to fall under President Barack Obama’s new 2013 budget, and last summer’s debt agreement appears to be driving faster-than-expected cuts in core Pentagon appropriations.  The final numbers won’t be made public until the president’s budget rolls out next month, and some adjustments could still be made. But it’s now expected that Obama will request about $82.5 billion for the Pentagon for overseas contingencies and war operations — down from the nearly $115 billion in so-called OCO funds provided for the current fiscal year.  The base Pentagon budget, including military construction funds, would come down to about $523.8 billion, or roughly $8.5 billion below 2012 appropriations for the same accounts.

Afghanistan Closes Hundreds of NGO’s (Frud Bezhan, Radio Free Europe)

A top Afghan official says hundreds of local and foreign NGOs have been shut down for violating the law.  Economy Minister Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal told RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan that 600 Afghan and 195 foreign NGOs were closed on January 18 because they failed to send biannual reports to the Economy Ministry detailing their activities, progress, and budgets, which is required by law.  “These NGOs either didn’t send us their work reports or committed other violations,” he said. “If NGOs don’t send us their reports every six months and if we continue not to receive them for two years, these NGOs are considered to be inactive.”

Bush’s CIA Director: We determined attacking Iran was a bad idea (Josh Rogin, The Cable)

President George W. Bush’s administration concluded that a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities would be a bad idea — and would only make it harder to prevent Iran from going nuclear in the future, former CIA and National Security Agency (NSA) chief Gen. Michael Hayden said Thursday.   “When we talked about this in the government, the consensus was that [attacking Iran] would guarantee that which we are trying to prevent — an Iran that will spare nothing to build a nuclear weapon and that would build it in secret,” Hayden stated.  He also said that efforts to slow down the nuclear program, through mostly clandestine measures and encouraging internal dissent, is the better course of action.