Spaceplanes on the high frontier (Malcolm Davis, The Strategist)

A transformation in military space capabilities is occurring hundreds of kilometres above the Earth’s surface as the US Air Force X-37B Space Plane logs over 500 days in orbit in its latest mission. The unmanned X-37B Space Plane is designed for long-endurance missions that are highly classified. It’s officially referred to as the ‘Orbital Test Vehicle’, and is described as a platform for testing ‘reusable spacecraft technologies for America’s future in space and operating experiments which can be returned to, and examined, on Earth.’ A total of four missions have been flown since April 2010, with the fourth in progress since 20th May 2015. It’s designed to be launched on an expendable Atlas V booster, and there are currently two operational X-37Bs in the USAF’s inventory.

10 things you need to know about passport cancellations (Jacinta Carroll, The Strategist)

Passport cancellations are one of the few tangible and public measures of how Australia’s going in the fight against terrorism. ASIO made the latest number of passport cancellations public last week, when it tabled its Annual Report to Parliament.

How will institutions adapt to accelerating change? (Jack Karsten, Brookings)

The last three decades have brought about a series of global changes from the fall of the Berlin Wall to the rise of ISIS. Increasingly, domestic and international forces interact to make local issues “go viral.” On October 17, Governance Studies Vice President Darrell West moderated a panel discussion of these and other ideas presented in his new book, Megachange: Economic Disruption, Political Upheaval, and Social Strife in the 21st Century. The book aims to put recent developments in a broader historical context, reaching beyond recent memory to find analogues to today’s events several centuries in the past. In his introduction of the event, West advocated for reforms that will make slow-moving institutions more resilient to rapid social and economic changes.

WATCH: ‘African voices on research, policy, and international development in sub-Saharan Africa’ (Francesco Obino, Christina Golubski, Brookings)

Too often there is a disconnect between the advice of research of scholars on the ground and the international actors and African policymakers themselves, despite their shared goals of positive impacts on social and economic development. The opportunities to leverage the interface and implicit synergies between these three groups of actors, each bringing different assets to development efforts, are multiple. Too often, however, their mandate and work overlap without being connected or coordinated, ultimately to the detriment of development outcomes.

Domestic risks to Africa’s growth: Navigating local content regulation and taxation (Amadou Sy, Mariama Sow, Brookings)

Sub-Saharan Africa is currently experiencing its slowest growth pace since 1994. The International Monetary Fund predicts that this year the continent will grow at a rate of 1.4 percent, down from 3.6 in 2015. Africa’s economic powerhouses—Nigeria and South Africa—are seeing their lowest growth rates in years. Nigeria is predicted to experience a 1.7 percent decrease, while South Africa’s growth rate will lie at 0.1 percent. The decline in Africa’s GDP growth is a reflection of the challenging global macroeconomic climate. Amid the slump in commodity prices, policymakers have urged African countries to diversify their economies and trigger structural transformation. In order to do so, African countries must attract foreign capital.

Energy and climate: Moving beyond symbolism (David Victor, Brookings)

Energy touches virtually every aspect of public policy. Dramatic revolutions in U.S. shale oil and gas supply over the last decade and their massive economic benefit have shown that energy production is a major contributor to job creation, investment, and economic growth. The electric power grid, which supplies nearly half of all the energy ultimately used in the country, is a prime target for terrorist attack; thus, policies surrounding the grid are a central element of homeland security strategy, since reliable electric power is essential to water supply, sewage treatment, traffic control, computer servers, national security infrastructure, and so much else in modern society. Energy is also central to foreign policy. Large revenues—especially from oil sales—often flow to overseas energy producers who can enrich malicious governments and non-state actors, giving them capabilities to harm U.S. interests. One of today’s greatest policy challenges—the threats of unchecked global warming—is an intrinsically foreign problem, as the buildup of greenhouse gases in the global atmosphere has arisen from how the whole planet has used and depended upon carbon-based fossil fuels.

Countering violent extremism in America: Policy recommendations for the next president (Robert L. McKenzie, Brookings)

Since 9/11, the U.S. government has spent well over $100 billion and mobilized thousands of employees to thwart jihadi terrorist plots in America and abroad.[1] Measured by American lives saved, the U.S. government has had extraordinary success using all elements of its national security toolbox to capture, arrest, and kill terrorists worldwide. Yet it is clear that kinetic operations alone will not solve the problem. The rise of the Islamic State has energized an estimated 27,000 jihadi foreign fighters from around the world to travel to Iraq and Syria, and recent attacks in Paris, Brussels, San Bernardino, Orlando, and Nice have demonstrated the organization’s reach and ability to both inspire and guide homegrown violent extremists across the globe.

WATCH: The power of the educated white female vote in election 2016 (William H. Frey, Brookings)

As we move closer to Election Day, it is becoming clear that college-educated white women will be a key voting bloc for Hillary Clinton, serving as a counterweight to Donald Trump’s support from working-class white men. This is evident in polls taken since mid-summer and could translate into a sizeable vote advantage for Clinton, according to simulations I conducted and depicted in our latest video of the Diversity Explosion: Election 2016 series.

Has a presidential election ever been as negative as this one? (Elaine Kamarck, Brookings)

Many Americans think the bloodbath between Trump and Clinton is unprecedented in American history, but the reality is that short term memories and a sugarcoating of our nation’s presidential history mask some contentious races for the White House.