Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Think Tank Quickies (#378)

  • During the last economic crisis, most major US think tanks took a 3 year hit.
  • Chinese Embassy in Canada attacks Macdonald-Laurier Institute. 
  • Amid pandemic, think tanks extend public reach. 
  • Think tanks need to take COVID-19 as an opportunity to evolve.
  • AOC: "If you'd like to learn more about how this austerity class of mostly dudes at vague, esteemed-seeming DC think tanks launder harmful policies..."
  • Think tanks including The Breakthrough Institute, New America, Niskanen Center, Sante Fe Institute, and Third Way jointly sponsor "Roadmap to Pandemic Resilience."
  • Hoover Institution fellow fuels "fake" news story about California herd immunity?
  • Pic: Waiting for think tanks who spent years obsessing over Russian propaganda to do a study on Chinese disinformation networks.
  • Chinese Embassy in Sweden enraged after Gunnar Hokmark, Chairman of Stockholm Free World Forum, wrote an article calling for China to apologize about COVID-19.
  • Politika: A think tank for young people; and one for those 18+.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Think Tank President Has COVID-19

In a May 23 tweet, Center for American Progress (CAP) President and CEO Neera Tanden said that she has the coronavirus.

Tanden is a former Clinton advisor as served in the Obama Administration.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Think Tank Warns Coronavirus Cutting Off US-China Back Channels

Here is more from Politico:

The global pandemic and a dramatic rise in U.S.-China tensions have further eroded the unofficial talks that have so often underpinned relations since the two sides restored diplomatic ties decades ago.
“The pandemic has cut off personal meetings. That is very bad,” said Wang Huiyao, director with the Centre for China and Globalisation, a Beijing-based think tank that includes former Chinese officials and prominent Chinese scholars. “Many messages can only be conveyed indirectly by spokespersons and media, which could compromise the effectiveness of the communication and easily lead to misunderstanding.”

Here is a link to the Center for China and Globalization (CCG), which was founded by Dr. Wang Huiyao and Dr. Miao Lu in 2008.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

New Think Tank to Take On Private Equity, Hedge Funds

Here is more from Politico:

A new conservative think-tank in Washington is launching its first campaign Wednesday with what could be a long-shot goal — persuading pro-business Republicans that they should cast a more skeptical eye on Wall Street’s private equity firms and hedge funds,” Bloomberg News’ Robert Schmidt and Sabrina Willmer report. “American Compass, the brainchild of former Mitt Romney campaign staffer Oren Cass, wants to re-direct Republican policies to support businesses that make things and contribute to the real economy.” The think tank, unsurprisingly, doesn’t plan to identify its donors. It has ties to Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Romney.

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch piece on American Compass.

Washington Post columnist Henry Olsen recently penned a piece on American Compass entitled "This New Think Tank Wants to Reform Conservatism.  Republicans Ignore it at Their Peril."

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Think Tank Quickies (#377)

  • Think tanks warn of coronavirus "budgetary gluttony" in states. 
  • Reimagining think tanks in times of pandemic.
  • RUSI report: UK spies will need artificial intelligence.
  • UK data think tanks clash over the use of contact-tracing apps.
  • How the coronavirus affected the 2020 intern class at Brookings.
  • Chiraag Bains of Demos named as co-chair of Joe Biden's "unity task force."
  • Anthony Ruggiero, formerly a scholar at FDD, playing a role in US's coronavirus response. 
  • Danish think tank says the US ambassador banned a Trump critic (Stanely Sloan of Atlantic Council) from an event.
  • Over 265 fake local news sites in 65+ countries managed by Indian stakeholders with ties to large network of think tanks.
  • Tucker Carlson: "There are no libertarians outside of think tanks."

Friday, May 15, 2020

Hackers Target WHO by Posing as Think Tank

Here is more from Bloomberg:

The messages began arriving in World Health Organization employees’ inboxes in early April, seemingly innocuous emails about the coronavirus from news organizations and researchers.
But a close examination revealed that they contained malicious links, and some security experts have traced the emails to a hacking group in Iran believed to be sponsored by the government.
The hacking effort, which began on April 3, was an attempt to steal passwords and possibly install malware on WHO computers, according to three people familiar with the matter, who requested anonymity because they aren’t authorized to talk to the news media. The incident was one of several suspected state-sponsored hacks targeting WHO officials in recent weeks, the people said.
Two of the messages sent to the WHO, which were reviewed by Bloomberg News, were designed to look like coronavirus newsletters from the British Broadcasting Corporation. A third message was tailored to look like an interview request from the American Foreign Policy Council, a conservative think tank based in Washington. It encouraged recipients to click on what looked to be a shortened Google link, which diverted to a malicious domain.
The email sent to the WHO impersonating the American Foreign Policy Council purported to be from Ilan Berman, the think tank’s senior vice president. The message had the subject “AFPC Online Interview” and contained a link to what the email claimed were interview questions. But the link diverted to a malicious domain, probably intended to steal passwords and two-factor authentication codes for WHO employee email accounts, according to Zaidenberg.

In the past few years, foreign governments and others have been attempting very sophisticated cyber attacks that involve impersonating think tanks and their scholars.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Aspen Institute Returns $8 million Loan After Being Shamed

Here is more from the Washington Post: 

The Aspen Institute think tank announced it would return $8 million in federal small-business funds after a Thursday meeting of its board of trustees.
The decision marked an about-face for the nonprofit organization, which had argued Wednesday that the funds were necessary to keep its 430-person staff on payroll despite a $115 million endowment and several billionaires among its trustees.
The decision comes one day after The Washington Post revealed the institute had received the loan. The D.C.-based group joins a series of public companies, the Los Angeles Lakers and other larger employers that applied and received money from the Small Business Administration fund, only to later give it back.
The group’s many conferences and forums, the bread-and-butter of its operations, have been canceled. A 98-room conference center it owns in Aspen is closed and forecasting substantial losses. Overall, the D.C.-based nonprofit organization is projecting a loss of between $14 million and $17 million for 2020.
In defending the initial decision to keep the loan Wednesday, Aspen said it had already received board approval to tap into its endowment for $7.5 million but that about 80 percent of its endowment funds were restricted and could not be used for operating purposes.
Aspen had an endowment of more than $115 million at the end of 2018, according to its most recently available tax filing. Its board includes former Disney Chairman Michael Eisner and Chairman James S. Crown, a member of one of America’s wealthiest families.

Here is the original WaPo piece about the Aspen Institute receiving the $8 million loan.

Think Tank Watch is aware of other large think tanks that have received Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loans, and it is likely that many will be pressured to return those funds once that news becomes public.

The libertarian Cato Institute is one of the few think tanks that has promised not to take bailout money.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Chinese Think Tank Report: China Faces Tiananmen-like Global Backlash Over Virus

Here is more from Reuters:

An internal Chinese report warns that Beijing faces a rising wave of hostility in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak that could tip relations with the United States into confrontation, people familiar with the paper told Reuters. 
The report, presented early last month by the Ministry of State Security to top Beijing leaders including President Xi Jinping, concluded that global anti-China sentiment is at its highest since the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, the sources said.
As a result, Beijing faces a wave of anti-China sentiment led by the United States in the aftermath of the pandemic and needs to be prepared in a worst-case scenario for armed confrontation between the two global powers, according to people familiar with the report’s content, who declined to be identified given the sensitivity of the matter.
The report was drawn up by the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), a think tank affiliated with the Ministry of State Security, China’s top intelligence body.
CICIR, an influential think tank that until 1980 was within the Ministry of State Security and advises the Chinese government on foreign and security policy, did not reply to a request for comment. 

In related US coronavirus news, the Washington Post notes that Kevin Hassett, a former scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), led an internal White House team to build an economic model to guide response to the pandemic.

Friday, May 8, 2020

New Heritage Foundation Document Being Used to Reopen US Economy?

Here is more from Politico:
A blueprint released by The Heritage Foundation’s National Coronavirus Recovery Commission caught the attention of White House aides with its 47 suggestions for reopening the economy. Those include the White House not enforcing regulations for small businesses and making permanent some of the regulatory tweaks the federal government made during Covid-19 at the FDA, Department of Health and Human Services or the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Heritage Foundation has been one of the most influential think tanks during the Trump Administration.