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ISIS, Homelessness, India's Election: RAND Weekly Recap

June 7, 2019

This week, we discuss the link between teens' lack of sleep and risky sexual behavior; a program that's helping people experiencing chronic homelessness; the options for dealing with ISIS detainees in Syria; Modi's reelection in India; the U.S. response to North Korea's latest missile tests; and ethics in scientific research.

A tired teenager in his bed, photo by epicurean/Getty Images

Photo by epicurean/Getty Images

Sleep-Deprived Teens May Be More Likely to Engage in Risky Sexual Behaviors

Teenagers who don't get enough sleep may be at greater risk of engaging in unsafe sexual behaviors, such as not using condoms or having sex under the influence. That's according to a new RAND study, which adds to a growing body of research about the potential role of poor sleep and adolescent risk-taking.

Lead author Wendy Troxel recommends steps that could help teens get the sleep their bodies need. Parents and kids should find a middle ground that allows for some weekend “catch-up sleep,” while maintaining some consistency in sleep-wake patterns, she says. And school districts could help by delaying school start times.

A homeless man in southern California, photo by ArtyAlison/Getty Images

Photo by ArtyAlison/Getty Images

Local Effort Reduces Homelessness and Use of City Services

Officials announced this week that the number of people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles County has increased by about 12 percent compared with the previous year. But a new RAND report offers some positive news, albeit on a smaller scale. A Santa Monica-based program successfully provided a small group of people experiencing chronic homelessness with housing. It also reduced their use of public services, which offset spending on the program by 17 to 43 percent.

A member of the Syrian Democratic Forces escorts a blindfolded civilian detainee suspected to be a member of Islamic State militants in Raqqa, October 12, 2017, photo by Issam Abdallah/Reuters

A member of the Syrian Democratic Forces escorts a blindfolded civilian detainee suspected to be a member of ISIS, Raqqa, Syria, October 12, 2017

Photo by Issam Abdallah/Reuters

ISIS Detainees: No Easy Answer

Thousands of ISIS foreign fighters and their family members are being held in Syria. What are the options for dealing with them? RAND's Brian Michael Jenkins, who has outlined eight potential paths, says there is no obvious solution. In fact, some of the preferred options may not be achievable. But one thing is clear, he says: “Those now detained must not be allowed to become the next generation of terrorists by failing to reintegrate them or remove them from society.”

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses supporters after election results are announced in New Delhi, May 23, 2019, photo by Adnan Abidi/Reuters

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses supporters after election results are announced in New Delhi, May 23, 2019

Photo by Adnan Abidi/Reuters

Modi Wins Big with Nationalist Message

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently won reelection in a landslide. Recognizing his weak position on economic and social issues, he shifted his campaign to a nationalist plank, says RAND's Rafiq Dossani. Modi argued that only he can protect India from terrorism originating from Pakistan and homegrown threats from Kashmir. In other words, the electorate was persuaded “to buy into Modi's vision over its own woes,” says Dossani. Ironically, now that Modi can turn his attention to governance, the economy is likely to be his first priority.

Missiles being launched during a military drill in North Korea, May 10, 2019, photo by KCNA/Reuters

Missiles being launched during a military drill in North Korea, May 10, 2019

Photo by KCNA/Reuters

Downplaying North Korea's Missile Tests Is Risky

After North Korea's short-range ballistic missile test last month, President Trump said he did not view the launch as a violation of U.N. resolutions. Downplaying the tests might be a way for Washington to continue its diplomatic efforts with Pyongyang, says RAND's Naoko Aoki. But it could also give Kim Jong Un time to perfect a new missile, or allow him to begin testing missiles with a longer range. If that happens, it risks ending U.S.–North Korea talks altogether, she says.

An illustration of a human's moral compass, image by Trifonov_Evgeniy/Getty Images

Image by Trifonov_Evgeniy/Getty Images

Ethics in Scientific Research

How do ethics vary across scientific disciplines, countries, and cultures? What new ethical challenges will emerging fields such as artificial intelligence and CRISPR introduce? And what can be done to improve ethics in scientific research? A new RAND report explores these questions and more. Notably, it finds 10 ethical principles that are common across scientific disciplines. The study also outlines steps to inform the creation of new codes of ethics, new ways to enforce those codes, and actions to encourage adoption across international borders.

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