This week, we discuss Americans' financial vulnerability; what scientific evidence says about gun policies; Hezbollah's activities in Venezuela; how teachers use data; security at the U.S. southern border; and how Iran's foreign policy has changed since the Islamic Revolution.
With one partial U.S. government shutdown ended and the possibility of another looming, stories of hardship suffered by unpaid federal employees have taken center stage. But financial vulnerability isn't only a problem for government workers, says RAND's Krishna Kumar. In fact, a staggering 78 percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. What policy solutions might be available to help them?
It's been one year since the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, an event that once again thrust gun policy into the national conversation. What does science tell us about the effects of gun policies? Last year, RAND released findings from one of the largest studies ever conducted on the topic. Our goal is to establish a shared set of facts that will improve the discussion and support the development of fair, effective gun policies.
Hezbollah is entrenched in Venezuela, with a vast infrastructure for drug trafficking, money laundering, and smuggling. Could this change under a government headed by opposition leader Juan Guaidó? According to RAND's Colin Clarke, Guaidó would likely be more active in opposing the Iran-linked terrorist group. But given more pressing needs in Venezuela, Hezbollah could be lower on his list of priorities than the Trump administration would like.
Teachers regularly use student data to help inform instruction. But access to this data isn't consistent. And educators often don't have the preparation or skills needed to interpret and use the information. RAND researchers recently surveyed teachers all across the country to determine what student data they can access—and what supports are in place to help them make the most of it in the classroom.
As Congress closes in on a bipartisan deal on border security, RAND's Blas Nuñez-Neto has been taking a measured look at the issue. There may be parts of the border where barriers make sense, he says. But elsewhere, barriers would be less effective or would present serious challenges. There are also other investments lawmakers could consider. For example, barriers won't affect migrants who actively seek asylum. But expanding the number of immigration judges would help process asylum claims faster.
This week marks 40 years since the Islamic Revolution. According to RAND's Ariane Tabatabai, Iran hasn't departed from its revolutionary roots. But Tehran's foreign policy today is largely shaped by security considerations—not ideology. This means that the United States isn't likely to change Iran's behavior, she says.
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