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August 29 2015

August 31, 2015




29 August 2015


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Sources: Congress Mulls Full-Year Continuing Resolution

By Joe Gould and Aaron Mehta 11:17 a.m. EDT August 23, 2015


WASHINGTON — With a Sept. 30 deadline looming, the Pentagon is coming to grips with the reality that it will be operating under the stop-gap spending measure known as a continuing resolution for the near future.

But sources warn that lawmakers are mulling the nearly unprecedented step of passing a yearlong continuing resolution (CR), which could throw carefully constructed acquisition and sustainment plans into chaos and leave industry gasping for new opportunities.

The defense world has become used to operating under continuing resolutions in recent years. Since 2009, CRs have been used every year, and in fiscal 2011, Congress passed seven, ultimately funding the government for six months — a special headache for Pentagon budgeteers — before a deal was reached.

The resolution funds the government at the previous year’s level. That typically results in the services being locked into the previous year’s production levels and hitting pause on new starts — a tricky situation when acquisition programs require long-lead purchases and the standing up of infrastructure, let alone the bending of metal.

A 2009 Government Accountability Office report that studied the negative impacts of continuing resolutions on federal agencies found they result in inefficiencies, including, “delays to certain activities, such as hiring, and repetitive work, including issuing multiple grants or contracts.”

Todd Harrison, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said an expanded CR would be “the absolute worst” for both the Pentagon and industry.

“It really creates havoc on programs, projects and activities in the Defense Department,” Harrison said.

Christine Wormuth, DoD undersecretary for policy, said at a public forum in July that while the department has adapted to past continuing resolutions, the prospect of a year-long CR, “would be pretty difficult.”

“Our services aren’t able to plan,” Wormuth said. “Like I said, we’re not able to start new programs. It’s very much not the outcome that we would like to see. We really would strongly prefer to find a longer term solution to sequestration than a CR.”


Former Defense Department Comptroller Bob Hale, now a Booz Allen Hamilton fellow, said that short-term CRs are doable for DoD, but, “a lousy way to run government,” and “exponentially more disruptive as they extend into the calendar year.

“For two or three months, DoD knows how to hold its breath,” Hale said. “Six months is highly disruptive; a classic CR for a year is a nightmare. I don’t think they will do it.”

Under a year-long continuing resolution, the Pentagon would wind up with $35 billion less than it requested, according to Hale. At 2015 levels, the Defense Department would have a base budget of $496 billion, $3 billion shy of the $499 billion sequestration budget cap, but $44 billion less than the president’s $534 billion budget request for 2016.

Still, 2015-level wartime overseas contingency operations (OCO) funding — which is exempt from sequestration — would be $64 billion, or $13 billion above the 2016 request for $51 billion.

The difference between operating under a long-term CR and a short-term one was articulated by Adm. Jon Greenert, the outgoing chief naval officer, in an exclusive interview with Defense News on Aug. 18.

“We’re assuming we will be under continuing resolution for at least the first quarter of this next fiscal year,” Greenert said of the Navy. “We’ve looked at our programs and said, ‘where do we have new starts, where do we have new projects’ and from the Navy perspective, we’re OK for the first quarter.

“But if we go into the second quarter and the third quarter and we’re deferring important projects — shipbuilding, aircraft building — all the procurement programs are affected by that,” he continued. “Then you get into the possibility of breaching multi-years, and you can just understand that cascading effect.

“So what we have to do is understand what are the consequences and when are those consequences? So for us, it’s about midway through the second quarter. So we would have to kind of gird our loins and decide how do we deal with this, how do we deal with the shipbuilders, and unfortunately we have been here before when we deal with sequestration.”


Out Clause

The Pentagon does have an option for certain projects — it can go through the Office of Management and Budget to Congress and ask for special dispensation on certain programs, so long as the Pentagon can find the funds elsewhere and win congressional approval for its reprogramming requests. And Harrison fully expects the Pentagon to try and take advantage of that.

“Even if they did a full year continuing resolution, I am 99 percent sure they would pass legislative language fixing the anomalies,” he said.

But that doesn’t mean doing so is easy. DoD would not have more money, but rather more authority to move money from other programs, a laborious process that would require unanimous consent from the relevant four congressional defense committees. Every offset could be politically fraught, and there is a legal ceiling on the amount of requests.

“It would be very chaotic, unpredictable and very challenging for DoD to do this. It would be a lot of difficult last-minute decisions, and it would also be unprecedented,” Harrison said. “There has never been a full-year continuing resolution as far as I can see. Other parts of government have had continuing resolutions, and DoD has had shorter continuing resolutions, but never has DoD had a full-year continuing resolution.”


As in past years, DoD is providing input to the Office of Management and Budget in the event Congress considers a CR.

“The Hill staff always told me that if we really did it for a year, they would look more carefully at our anomaly list, and I think they would allow a number of them, but let’s hope we don’t get there,” Hale said.

Greenert confirmed the services are already beginning to lay out for what they will try and receive relief. Asked whether the Navy was preparing its request list for Congress, Greenert said, “we have.” And while he did not specify what is on that list, he indicated long-term planning is driving at least some of those requests.

“For example, we would say, ‘listen, we need an exemption in order to lay in the next contract for a ship or something.’ For example, the aircraft carrier. I go back to 2013 — we needed to start the decommission of the Enterprise, start the overhaul of the Lincoln, and get the JFK and Ford both going under contract.

“So we were giving birth, we were extending one and putting another one to rest, all at the same time,” he continued. “These are important measures the Congress understands the consequence of. Things like that, we’ll have a conversation about.”

The Air Force, in particular, could be hit hard by a long-term CR. The service is nearing a contract award on its next-generation Long Range Strike-Bomber program, ramping up procurement of the F-35A joint strike fighter, and has begun the process of selecting its T-X trainer replacement design. It is also in the midst of making decisions on its future space architecture, which require long-lead times and research funding that could go absent under a CR.

Sources indicate that both the Air Force One recapitalization and the T-X would likely be delayed under a CR, while Harrison suggested the bomber program could be pushed back as well. A CR could also delay negotiations on the F-35 low-rate initial production lot 10.


Hope for a Deal?

It is still technically possible Congress can work something out in the month before the end of the fiscal year, but no one seems to think that will happen.

When Congress resumes Sept. 8, it will have to tackle a National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that is near finalized, hung up in a conference committee on military pay issues, a measure to keep open Guantanamo Bay, and certain prohibitions against torture. Meanwhile, a defense appropriations bill has passed the House, while its counterpart is stalled in the Senate.

The nuclear deal with Iran is expected to dominate September, but the next priority is expected to be a short-term continuing resolution to buy time to resolve the NDAA, the major annual defense policy bill, and appropriations legislation.

The sticking point is the approach by Republicans, who want to keep defense and non-defense spending at the level of sequestration budget caps but give the Defense Department the extra money it is requesting through the emergency wartime OCO account.

The White House and top Democrats oppose that move and insist that any increase in defense spending be matched on the non-defense side. President Barack Obama has pledged to veto any bill that does not address the OCO issue.

“Republicans are having none of that, and we’re at the same stand-off we’ve been at for awhile,” Harrison said. “It remains uncertain how it gets resolved.”

The best case scenario would be a deal to raise budget caps, as with the 2013 deal that eased sequestration for 2014 and 2015. Yet Democrats and Republicans remain at an impasse.


“Who is negotiating that deal right now for the Republicans and the Democrats? It’s just not happening yet,” Harrison said.

Others are more optimistic. According to Mackenzie Eaglen, of the American Enterprise Institute, there is near universal desire for a deal. The question is whether Obama and Democrats in Congress will accept a deal that is not equal in its treatment of defense and non-defense discretionary spending, but still increases non-defense discretionary spending.

“Leadership has yet to designate anyone to begin work on what that deal would look like, but defense hawks are presenting their own ideas and the leaders are receptive,” Eaglen said.

Hale speculated there would be a short-term CR followed by a deal, possibly a continuing resolution with appropriations legislation inserted, as occurred in 2013.

“Because of all the problems we’re discussing, I’d be surprised if they went for a classic CR for a year,” Hale said.

Greenert is also hopeful that something will be worked out.

“The Hill discussion we have, there is some optimism, if you will, and perhaps pragmatism, that it shouldn’t go longer than one quarter, and then we will have a reconciliation of one sort or another to keep us out of a continuing resolution into the next year,” he said.

Although the president has threatened a veto of the NDAA over the OCO issue, Harrison said it’s unlikely Obama would expend the political capital necessary to secure the veto, since the NDAA governs policy and not appropriations, and because Obama will need that capital to focus on whipping support for the Iran deal.

Further complicating matters for the president, Republican leadership is planning to move the NDAA concurrently with the Iran deal legislation, according to Eaglen.

“This is partly to make a point if the president vetoes both, and also because the bill [NDAA] should be done by then,” she said.

So in the meantime, all parties involved are readying for a CR. And despite concerns for the Pentagon and industry, the sense on the Hill is that doing so might not be the worst case scenario.

“It won’t be as much, but it will not be cataclysmic,” said one congressional staffer. “We would manage everything by reprogramming … It’s not a nightmare, it’s inconvenient.”


US Air Force: 50 New Starts at Risk Under CR

By ​Aaron Mehta 9:39 p.m. EDT August 24, 2015


WASHINGTON — Around 50 new start programs for the US Air Force are at risk if the Pentagon is forced to operate under a continuing resolution, the service’s top officials warned Monday.

Secretary Deborah Lee James and Gen. Mark Welsh, Air Force chief of staff, warned that a long-term continuing resolution would severely hamstring the service at a time when it is attempting to simultaneously recapitalize multiple fleets and maintain training and end strength among airmen.

The continuing resolution, or CR, has been used as a short-term budget measure to fund the government at the previous year’s funding levels when a budget agreement cannot be reached. Under a year-long continuing resolution, the Pentagon would wind up with $35 billion less than it requested, according to an analysis by former Pentagon Comptroller Bob Hale.

The use of a CR for the first quarter of a new budget year has become commonplace in recent years, but sources tell Defense News that Congress is mulling a full-year CR, which would place dramatic tensions on the Pentagon. In particular, the CR does not allow new start programs unless the service can reach a waiver agreement, a complicated process.

James said the service is estimating “a rough order of magnitude there may be as many as 50 programs … that would fall under a category for new starts, which could not be done under a full-year CR.”

Some of those programs would be small scale, she noted, but a CR would undoubtedly impact such programs as the service’s new T-X trainer or JSTARS fleet.

“A full-year CR would provide for our Air Force, really our military, even less money than the sequestration budget would provide,” James explained. “So all around that would be a bad deal and we have to get the full-up appropriation and the full-up authorization passed at roughly the president’s budget level.”

It will also impact existing programs that are ramping up, Welsh noted.

“We do have quantity increases scheduled in ’16 in aircraft procurement, like the KC-46, F-35, C-130 multiyear program, and a few other things,” he said. “Those would go away under a year-long CR. The quantity increases would not be allowable. There is a big impact.”

Asked whether the Air Force would consider personnel reductions in the face of a CR, James said the goal is to avoid such an impact. However, she did not flatly rule out such a move.

“We would be significantly down in terms of our dollars … so everything would have to be looked at,” James said.

One program that would not suffer under a CR? The service’s next-generation bomber, the Long Range Strike-Bomber program.

James explained that because the LRSB has already had some work done — much of it in the “black” budget — it would not count as a new start, and hence would not be halted by a CR.



Chuck Schumer’s No-Fly-Zone Rule for Drones Won’t Work

August 24, 2015 By Patrick Tucker

U.S. lawmakers and the military worry about small consumer drones running afoul of planes and emergency crews. But there may be no simple fix.

Small consumer drones have become the plague that Moses missed. So far this year, 650 drones have been spotted by airline pilots. That’s on pace to quadruple last year’s total, which is troubling because if a pilot can see your drone in the air, it’s close enough to worry about. In July, a wildfire in California consumed 20 vehicles on a highway north of Los Angeles when consumer drones interfered with firefighters for the fifth time that month. And testing jet engines against consumer drones has proven to be a challenge.

To answer this growing problem, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., last week proposed an amendment that would require consumer drone manufacturers to build software-controlled no-go zones — so-called geofences — into their aircraft. The idea is to let software keep them away from airliners, emergency crews and the like. “This technology works and will effectively ‘fence off’ drones from sensitive areas like airports,” Schumer said in a press release. Two recent hacker demonstrations show that’s somewhat wishful thinking.

What is a geofence? It’s manufacturer-created software that prevents a drone from flying within certain GPS coordinates. Some drones already come with it; after an intoxicated GSA employee crashed a friend’s DJI Phantom on the White House lawn in January, DJI issued a mandatory upgrade to its software: a geofence that prevents the popular toys from flying within 25 kilometers of the White House and other sensitive sites.

Schumer’s bill proceeds from the notion that such measures can keep drones out of trouble. But while geofences may help keep the average hobbyist away from the White House, hackers have already shown they can rip holes in them.

Earlier this month, researchers at the DEF CON hacker conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, demonstrated that the Phantom’s geofencing was easily manipulated in a variety of ways. Cybersecurity researcher Michael Robinson showed that the DJI Phantom III’s geofence draws upon a database that contained some 10,914 entries as of July 24. Each entry contains a country, city, a timestamp, and, more importantly, the latitude and the longitude of the no-fly zones, according to Robinson’s research.

“I very easily downloaded the database and started just changing entries, which I found very interesting,” he said.

By tweaking the data, Robinson was able to make his Phantom ignore the manufacturer-set no-fly zones.

He said he also used a garage-made GPS spoofer to disrupt the geofence. He reported that the spoofer broke the drone’s return-home feature and compromised the videofeed, which he described as suddenly “squirrely.”

Two other researchers, Lin Huang and Qing Yang with the Qihoo 360 Internet security company out of China, also reported being able to disrupt a Phantom’s geofence by spoofing the drone’s GPS remotely, via software-defined radio. This is far more troubling because they didn’t need to have physical access to the machine, just be within range. But such results are harder to verify by independent U.S. researchers because GPS spoofing is very, very illegal.

Perhaps more damning, the hackers demonstrated these tricks on products that the makers had actually undertaken some effort to secure. Phantoms use secure radio and GPS for guidance rather than the less secure WiFi or Telnet.

Defense One reached out to DJI Phantom for comment and has not heard back.

What does Robinson think of legislative efforts like Schumer’s? “With respect to policymakers, I would like to see policymakers get informed,” he said.

If the government can’t ward off drones using manufacturer-based geofences, what then? Don’t look to traditional military-grade air-defense systems, which are built to spot far larger and faster intruders. On April 15, a 61-year-old man named Doug Hughes took off from Gettysburg, Penn., in a homemade gyrocopter and flew through three no-fly zones to the steps of U.S. Capitol.  “Identifying low- altitude and slow- speed aerial vehicles from other objects is a technical and operational challenge,” Navy Adm. William Gortney, commander of U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, later told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Still, the FAA, the Department of Homeland Security, and the military are giving it their best shot. On Sunday, NORAD staged an exercise near Washington, D.C., to test its ability to detect and intercept drones.

Last year, the military held the 10th edition of its Black Dart exercise, which focuses specifically on anti-drone defense. In recent Black Dart games, the military has focused more attention on so-called Group 1 drones: consumer quadrcopters and others under 20 pounds, like the one that crashed on the White House lawn, or the one that landed on the roof of the Japanese Prime Minister’s residence carrying a small amount of radioactive material back in April.

“How do you differentiate between a 10-year-old kid who just doesn’t know any better and is flying something from a hobby shop and somebody who’s flying that identical something from a hobby shop but has nefarious intent?” said Air Force Maj. Scott Gregg. “You can’t tell that with a radar or an infrared sensor.”

Even if it’s possible to detect small drones like the DJI Phantom or the popular (and very hackable) Parrot BeBop as they move into sensitive areas, a bigger problem is taking them down in a way that doesn’t interfere with GPS or other electronic signaling.

The defense industry wants in to the growing market of detecting and downing those diabolical drones. Scientific Research Corporation, or SRC, is marketing a set of systems they call “Counter UAS Technology.” Aimed at consumer-sized UAVs, it uses radar and electromagnetic frequencies to down drones around a protected facility. “You’re going to be looking at acoustic sensors for very close. You’re going to be looking for electromagnetic warfare capabilities,” said Tom Wilson, SRC’s vice president of product accounts, who declined to get more specific about the system’s workings.

A company called Drone Shield also sells several acoustic sensors meant to detect drones near airports. But detecting and signal jamming are very different, and the later presents serious legal hurdles. Drone Shield will sell you “a legal, safe, and reliable” drone net gun.

In the end, the best defense against small drones may lie somewhere between relying on manufacturer software updates — ineffective — and shooting them down — dangerous and uncouth. SRC’s Wilson said, “Our system is designed to operate without interfering with non-threat systems.”

Failing that: net gun, anyone?


Defense Department gives contractors new rules for reporting cyber incidents

By Andrew Blake – The Washington Times – Thursday, August 27, 2015


Defense contractors are now required to notify the Pentagon of any cyberattacks or data breaches within 72 hours of discovery, as new rules are rolled out to mitigate future hacks against the military and its clients.

The interim rule published Wednesday in the Federal Register outlines new procedures for contractors to follow in the event of what the Department of Defense calls “cyber incidents,” or actions that result in a compromise or an actual or potentially adverse effect on an information system.

 Effective immediately, contractors whose cloud services host unclassified material are required to alert the department within 72 hours of any such incidents and then prepare to hand the Pentagon digital evidence involving the attack.

“This rule is intended to streamline the reporting process for [Defense Department] contractors and minimize duplicative reporting processes,” said the Pentagon, which is accepting comments for 60 days before finalizing the policy.

Along with the completion of an incident report, contractors must also “preserve and protect images of all known affected information systems” for at least 90 days to be supplied to investigators along with any isolated malware that might be to blame.

According to the Pentagon, upwards of 10,000 contractors who store data on the cloud are covered under the rule. In a report published this week by security firm CloudLock, meanwhile, researchers concluded that roughly one percent of users are responsible for around 75 percent of the security risks faced by entities who operate on the cloud.

“Cyber attacks today target your users — not your infrastructure. As technology leaders wake up to this new reality, security programs are being reengineered to focus where true risk lies: with the user,” CloudLock CEO and co-founder Gil Zimmermann said upon release of the report this week. “The best defense is to know what typical user behavior looks like — and, more importantly, what it doesn’t.”

In spring 2011, hackers targeted major defense contractors Lockheed Martin and L-3 Communications. That summer, hacktivists aligned with the Anonymous movement posted files stolen from the computer of an employee of Virginia-based contractor ManTech who held a government security clearance,

Weeks later, hackers leaked thousands of credentials purported to have been stolen from the servers of Booz Allen Hamilton — the same government client that once employed Edward Snowden, the former intelligence analyst blamed for one of the biggest national security breaches of all time.


Carter: After Joint Chiefs Breach, Defense Needs Stronger Network Security

By Kevin Baron

Defense One

August 27, 2015


NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nevada – On his way to Silicon Valley, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said a recent intrusion into a Joint Chiefs of Staff computer network shows the military does not have the cyber defenses it needs. Now he wants help.  

“That is evidence that we’re not doing as good as we need to do in job one in cyber, which is defending our own networks,” Carter said of the Joint Chiefs breach after receiving classified briefings during an Air Force exercise in cyber and space defenses. “Our military is empowered by and also dependent upon networks for its effective operations. So, we have to be good, and I would say we have to be better at network defense than we are now.” The compromised Joint Chiefs unclassified email server went back online earlier this month. 

Carter said his desire to increase the military’s computer defenses is one reason he is heading to Silicon Valley on Friday to recruit outside help.

“I’m trying there and elsewhere…to encourage interest in our nation and a back-and-forth of people,” he said, “so that our people have the benefit of getting to know the technology, the culture, and the business practices and so forth of the commercial sector, and we draw the commercial sector into the great mission of helping us protect the nation.” His trip closely follows Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work’s recent visit to the Pentagon’s new office, called the Defense Innovation Unit-Experimental, or DIUx, at Mountain View, Calif. Work brought along the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer, Under Secretary of Defense Frank Kendall. 

On the way to California, Carter also responded to reports that a military inspector general had informed Congress it was looking into allegations that intelligence officers were softening their assessments of the U.S. success against the Islamic State, or ISIS, due to political pressure. Carter said he could not comment on the specific report, but that he expects full candor from intelligence, military and diplomatic officers.

“I myself have tried to be very candid throughout about my own assessments of the counter-ISIL campaign,” Carter said. “I also expect candor on the part of everybody else. That’s the only way that we can know what we’re doing, how we’re doing, and win.”

“We, starting with the president, but all of us need the most candid information and the most accurate information in order to make the kind of decisions that will lead most rapidly to victory. I expect that of everyone in the department. ”

Carter earlier presided over the change of command of U.S. Transportation Command, or TRANSCOM, one of the military’s nine combatant commands, at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois. Air Force Gen. Darren McDew assumed command of the post that runs the military’s global logistical supply lines. He succeeded Gen. Paul Selva, who recently became vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Carter continued to Nellis Air Force Base on the edge of Las Vegas, where the U.S. Air Force is hosting the year’s fourth Red Flag fighter jet exercise. Involving more than 100 aircraft, Red Flag trains fighter pilots, especially, in simulated air-to-air operations that replicate the first phases of new conflicts against other nation states. The current exercise hosted crews from Israel, Jordan and Singapore. The flight line at Nellis held a healthy mix of F-15E Eagles and F-22 Raptors, which are being sent forward into Europe as Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to aggravate the conflict in the Ukraine, as well as a few F-35s. The F-35s did not participate in Red Flag, according to a base official.

At all of his stops, Carter is using his trip to promote his so-called “Force of the Future” effort to focus military leaders on reshaping the Defense Department to be better positioned for modern threats, especially in cyber security.

After focusing on the Air Force, Carter is scheduled to watch Marines practice amphibious landings Thursday at Camp Pendleton, in California.


Rasmussen Reports    

What They Told Us: Reviewing Last Week’s Key Polls

Bottom of Form

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The election is still well over a year away, but presidential politics are already in full play.

Rasmussen Reports’ latest look at the Democratic presidential race finds that the 2016 nomination remains Hillary Clinton’s to lose. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has surged significantly, but Clinton still leads him by a two-to-one margin.

However, one-in-four Democrats (24%) – and 46% of all voters – think Clinton should suspend her campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination until all of the legal questions about her use of a private e-mail server as secretary of State are resolved.

Politically, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is Bernie Sanders with charisma. With Clinton’s growing legal troubles, do Democrats think Warren should reconsider and jump into the presidential race?

Vice President Joe Biden met with Warren last weekend as he mulls over a challenge to Clinton. Democrats weren’t overly enthusiastic about a Biden run earlier this month.

Donald Trump made headlines over the past several days with a political rally in an Alabama football stadium and his televised confrontation with Univision activist/commentator Jorge Ramos. Rasmussen Reports’ latest Trump Change survey shows belief that Trump will be the next Republican presidential nominee inching up among both GOP voters and voters in general.

Trump continues to lead the Republican presidential hopefuls, helped in large part by his tough talk on illegal immigration. Most voters in general – and the vast majority of Republicans – agree with Trump that the United States should build a wall along the Mexican border to help stop illegal immigration and that the United States should deport all illegal immigrants who have been convicted of a felony in this country.

Republican voters consider the Hispanic vote important to their presidential chances next year but aren’t overly concerned that a hard line on illegal immigration will hurt them with those voters.

Trump during the first pre-primary debate reiterated a point he’s made throughout his campaign that “the big problem this country has is being politically correct.” Most Americans strongly agree.

Sixty-two percent (62%) of voters think most school textbooks put political correctness ahead of accuracy. 

This helps explain why just 21% think U.S. public schools provide students with a world-class education. This past week, we asked Americans if different school start times and a change in the amount of homework would make a difference. 

We’re still keeping regular tabs on the national health care law, too. Voters are less satisfied with the health care they personally receive and remain pessimistic that Obamacare will make the system any better.

President Obama’s daily job approval ratings aren’t getting any better either. 

Voters were right earlier this month when they predicted China’s economic crisis will likely cause major economic problems in the United States. It’s been a bumpy week for the stock market.

Most voters have long considered China a major threat to the United States – in more ways than one.

In other surveys last week:

Just 27% of voters think the country is headed in the right direction.

Gas prices have hit recent lows in many parts of the country, but do most Americans expect that to last?

— Two women made history last week by being the first of their gender to graduate from the U.S. Army Ranger School, but are voters ready for women in elite combat-fighting units?

— A judge this week sentenced Aurora, Colorado theater shooter James Holmes to life in prison. Holmes is fortunate Americans in general weren’t his judge and jury.

— It’s been 10 years since Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, and the president and other politicians commemorated the event with visits to the Crescent City.  As recently as last year, 50% of Louisiana voters told Rasmussen Reports that their state has not yet fully recovered from the Category 3 hurricane. 


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