Is Geography Destiny? A Primer on North American Relations

Is Geography Destiny? A Primer on North American Relations. Wilson Center. February 2014.

At a time when nearly all of the key issues facing North America are being understood and addressed either independently by the United States, Canada and Mexico, or within the dual-bilateral framework of U.S.-Mexico and U.S.-Canada relations, the report attempts to view these challenges and opportunities through a trilateral lens. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 73 pages, 3.13 MB].

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Liberty, Equality, Connectivity: Transatlantic Cybersecurity Norms

Liberty, Equality, Connectivity: Transatlantic Cybersecurity Norms. Center for Strategic & International Studies. James Andrew Lewis. February 25, 2014.

According to Lewis, Europe and the United States have a collective interest in the promotion of a stable international order based on the rule of law, open and equitable arrangements for trade, and a commitment to democratic government and individual rights. These interests face renewed challenges in a complex global political environment.[Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 15 pages, 292.7 KB].

Higher Education Earnings Premium: Value, Variation, and Trends

Higher Education Earnings Premium: Value, Variation, and Trends. Urban Institute. Sandy Baum. February 24, 2014.

Postsecondary education leads to significant financial benefits for most students, and average earnings premiums have grown over time. However, there is considerable variation in outcomes across individuals, types of credentials, occupations, and geographical locations. The brief discusses some of the different ways the financial benefits of higher education can be measured and documents the high average payoff to college degrees. It emphasizes the importance of recognizing that this high payoff does not eliminate disappointing outcomes for some individuals, while highlighting the fact that focusing on recent college graduates leads to under-estimation of the returns. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 14 pages, 694.5 MB].

The Debt Limit Since 2011

The Debt Limit Since 2011. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. D. Andrew Austin. February 18, 2014.

Total federal debt can increase in two ways. First, through debt increases when the government sells debt to the public to finance budget deficits and acquire the financial resources needed to meet its obligations. This increases debt held by the public. Second, through debt increases when the federal government issues debt to certain government accounts, such as the Social Security, Medicare, and Transportation trust funds, in exchange for their reported surpluses. This increases debt held by government accounts. The sum of debt held by the public and debt held by government accounts is the total federal debt. Surpluses reduce debt held by the public, while deficits raise it.

[PDF format, 23 pages, 417.67 KB].

Visa Waiver Program

Visa Waiver Program. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Alison Siskin. February 12, 2014.

The visa waiver program (VWP) allows nationals from certain countries to enter the United States as temporary visitors (nonimmigrants) for business or pleasure without first obtaining a visa from a U.S. consulate abroad. Temporary visitors for business or pleasure from non-VWP countries must obtain a visa from Department of State (DOS) officers at a consular post abroad before coming to the United States. Concerns have been raised about the ability of terrorists to enter the United States under the VWP, because the VWP bypasses the first step by which foreign visitors are screened for admissibility to enter the United States. Nonetheless, there is interest in the VWP as a mechanism to promote tourism and commerce. In addition to increasing tourism, the inclusion of countries in the VWP may help foster positive relations between the United States and those countries, facilitate information sharing, and ease consular office workloads abroad. As of January 2014, 37 countries participate in the VWP.

[PDF format, 25 pages, 382.6 KB].

Building a 21st Century Infrastructure

Building a 21st Century Infrastructure. Center for American Progress. Kevin DeGood. February 12, 2014.

According to the report, to address metropolitan congestion, there’s need to adopt performance management, increase competition for federal funds, and reform transportation governance. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 53 pages, 2.43 MB].

An Expensive Diversion: Abu Dhabi’s Renewables Investments in the Context of its Natural Gas Shortage

An Expensive Diversion: Abu Dhabi’s Renewables Investments in the Context of its Natural Gas Shortage. Rice University’s Baker Institute. Jim Krane. February 13, 2014.

In 2009, Abu Dhabi launched a drive into renewable energy that was trumpeted by the global media as evidence that an old-line petro-state had embraced the global low-carbon agenda. Examined closely, however, the kudos may have been premature, says the author. Abu Dhabi’s expensive renewables venture will neither allow the emirate to forgo construction of conventional generation, nor will it provide more than token reduction in carbon emissions growth. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 31 pages, 975.34 KB].