Country-of-Origin Labeling for Foods and the WTO Trade Dispute on Meat Labeling

Country-of-Origin Labeling for Foods and the WTO Trade Dispute on Meat Labeling. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Remy Jurenas and Joel L. Greene. April 22, 2013.

Most retail food stores are now required to inform consumers about the country of origin of fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, shellfish, peanuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, ginseng, and ground and muscle cuts of beef, pork, lamb, chicken, and goat. The rules are required by the 2002 farm bill (P.L. 107-171) as amended by the 2008 farm bill (P.L. 110-246).  Other U.S. laws have required such labeling, but only for imported food products already pre-packaged for consumers. The final rule to implement country-of-origin labeling (COOL) took effect on March 16, 2009. Less than one year after the COOL rules took effect, Canada and Mexico challenged them in the World Trade Organization (WTO), arguing that COOL has a trade-distorting impact by reducing the value and number of cattle and hogs shipped to the U.S. market, thus violating WTO trade commitments agreed to by the United States.
[PDF format, 46 pages, 575.88 KB].

US and Iranian Strategic Competition: Sanctions, Energy, Arms Control, and Regime Change. Center for Stragetic & International Studies.

US and Iranian Strategic Competition: Sanctions, Energy, Arms Control, and Regime Change. Center for Stragetic & International Studies. Anthony H. Cordesman et al. April 23, 2013.

As the crisis over Iran’s nuclear program continues without resolution, the U.S. and EU have implemented new rounds of increasingly expansive and rigorous sanctions. Iran’s economy is reportedly suffering from high inflation, a devalued currency, unemployment, and high food costs. Sanctions have begun to also whittle away at Iran’s ability to sell its oil and repatriate earnings from the sales it has been able to complete. [Note: contains copyrighted material].
[PDF format, 183 pages, 2.96 MB].

The New Foreign Policy Frontier: U.S. Interests and Actors in the Arctic

The New Foreign Policy Frontier: U.S. Interests and Actors in the Arctic. Center for Strategic & International Studies. Heather A. Conley. April 22, 2013.

Since World War II, the Arctic has been a region of geostrategic importance to the United States. As unprecedented environmental transformation occurs in the Arctic, this region will increase in significance. Crafting U.S. policy toward the Arctic, however, is a complex and challenging undertaking. The author says that it is now time for the Obama administration to enhance U.S. Arctic policy by updating and prioritizing National Security Presidential Directive 66/Homeland Security Presidential Directive 25 (NSPD-66/HSPD-25), improving interagency cooperation, enhancing U.S. international and public diplomacy related to the Arctic, and increasing the focus of senior U.S. officials. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 102 pages, 2.97 MB].

Is Tourism the Most Destructive Enterprise?

Is Tourism the Most Destructive Enterprise? YaleGlobal. Elizabeth Becker. April 23, 2013.

Travel has grown exponentially since the 1960s, and tourism employs more people than any other industry. As political developments have opened borders, as new technologies in aviation and communications provide new access, few destinations go unexplored, suggests Becker. She explains that any human endeavor can be transformed into a travel package, religious pilgrimages, medical tourism, education and more. Yet, travel without protections adds stress to the most popular destinations. “Every traveler has a story about a favorite spot transformed by tourists who leave chaos and waste in their wake and government officials who prefer to count short-term benefits of allowing chock-a-block hotels over the long-term costs of environmental degradation.” Those who love travel most, including the hosts who earn a living and the travelers, have a responsibility to prevent destruction of cultural, historic and environmental treasures. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Cybersecurity: Selected Legal Issues

Cybersecurity: Selected Legal Issues. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Edward C. Liu et al. April 17, 2013.

The federal government’s role in protecting U.S. citizens and critical infrastructure from cyber attacks has been the subject of recent congressional interest. Critical infrastructure commonly refers to those entities that are so vital that their incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating impact on national security, economic security, or the public health and safety. This report discusses selected legal issues that frequently arise in the context of recent legislation to address vulnerabilities of critical infrastructure to cyber threats, efforts to protect government networks from cyber threats, and proposals to facilitate and encourage sharing of cyber threat information among private sector and government entities. This report also discusses the degree to which federal law may preempt state law.

[PDF format, 31 pages, 371.00 KB].

Teenage Pregnancy Prevention: Statistics and Programs

Teenage Pregnancy Prevention: Statistics and Programs. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Carmen Solomon-Fears. April 15, 2013.

In 2011, U.S. teen births accounted for 8.4% of all births and 18.4% of all nonmarital births. The birth rate for U.S. teenagers (ages 15 through 19) increased in 2006 and 2007 after a steady decline since 1991. However, in 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 the teen birth rate dropped below the 2006 teen birth rate, reversing the two-year upward trend. Although the birth rate for U.S. teens has dropped in 18 of the past 20 years, it remains higher than the teen birth rate of most industrialized nations. Preventing teen pregnancy is generally considered a priority among policymakers and the public because of its high economic, social, and health costs for teen parents and their families.

[PDF format, 23 pages, 330.33 KB].

“Hollowing Out” in U.S. Manufacturing: Analysis and Issues for Congress

“Hollowing Out” in U.S. Manufacturing: Analysis and Issues for Congress. Congressional Research Services, Library of Congress. Marc Levinson. April 15, 2013.

The health of the U.S. manufacturing sector has been a long-standing concern of Congress. Although Congress has established a wide variety of tax preferences, direct subsidies, import restraints, and other federal programs with the goal of retaining or recapturing manufacturing jobs, only a small proportion of U.S. workers is now employed in factories. Meanwhile, U.S. factories have stepped up production of goods that require high technological sophistication but relatively little direct labor. Labor productivity in manufacturing, as measured by government data, has grown rapidly, suggesting that the manufacturing sector as a whole remains healthy. In the context of national security, the fact that U.S. manufacturers of vital products are critically dependent upon inputs from abroad is frequently a subject of concern. International comparisons indicate that the United States is in no way unique in its dependence on foreign inputs to manufacturing. Although the output of U.S. factories contains a large proportion of foreign value added, many other countries appear to be even more dependent upon foreign value added than is the United States, at least with respect to goods traded in international markets.

[PDF format, 17 pages, 364.33 KB].

Global Information Technology Report 2013: Growth and Jobs in a Hyper Connected World

Global Information Technology Report 2013: Growth and Jobs in a Hyper Connected World. World Economic Forum. April 10, 2013.

The report shows that Finland has toppled Sweden from the top spot in a ranking of economies that are best placed to benefit from new information and communication technologies (ICTs). Singapore came in second and Sweden third in the 2013 Networked Readiness Index. It also shows that digitization has a measurable effect on economic growth and job creation. In emerging markets, a comprehensive digital boost could help lift over half a billion people out of poverty over the next decade. New technologies have already transformed sectors from healthcare to farming, case studies in the report show.

[PDF format, 409 pages, 7.0 MB].

International Climate Change Financing: The Green Climate Fund (GCF)

International Climate Change Financing: The Green Climate Fund (GCF). Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Richard K. Lattanzio. April 16, 2013.

Over the past several decades, the United States has delivered financial and technical assistance for climate change activities in the developing world through a variety of bilateral and multilateral programs. The United States and other industrialized countries committed to such assistance through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC, Treaty Number: 102-38, 1992), the Copenhagen Accord (2009), and the UNFCCC Cancun Agreements (2010), wherein the higher-income countries pledged jointly up to $30 billion of “fast start” climate financing for lower-income countries for the period 2010-2012, and a goal of mobilizing jointly $100 billion annually by 2020. The Cancun Agreements also proposed that the pledged funds are to be new, additional to previous flows, adequate, predictable, and sustained, and are to come from a wide variety of sources, both public and private, bilateral and multilateral, including alternative sources of finance.

[PDF format, 16 pages, 297.08 KB].

The Class of 2013: Young Graduates Still Face Dim Job Prospects

The Class of 2013: Young Graduates Still Face Dim Job Prospects. Economic Policy Institute. Heidi Shierholz et al. April 10, 2013.

Though there has been some improvement over the last year, job prospects for young graduates remain dim. Thus, the Class of 2013 will be the fifth consecutive graduating class to enter the labor market during a period of profound weakness. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 31 pages, 356.7 KB].