Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

IRC Sofia wishes all its readers a Merry Christmas and a very happy, healthy, safe and prosperous 2015!

The Future of Privacy

The Future of Privacy. Pew Research Internet Project. Lee Rainie and Janna Anderson. December 18, 2014.

Will governments and corporations expand current tracking policies? Or will innovators create new ways for individuals to control personal information? Experts are divided on whether a secure and balanced privacy-rights infrastructure will be in place by 2025. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Political Polarization & Media Habits

Political Polarization & Media Habits. Pew Research Journalism Project. Amy Mitchell et al. October 21, 2014.

When it comes to getting news about politics and government, liberals and conservatives inhabit different worlds. There is little overlap in the news sources they turn to and trust. And whether discussing politics online or with friends, they are more likely than others to interact with like-minded individuals, according to a new Pew Research Center study. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Evaluating institutional responses to climate change in different contexts

Evaluating institutional responses to climate change in different contexts. International Institute for Environment and Development. Neha Rai, Erin Nash. December 2014.

Because climate change affects vulnerability, the way in which a country manages its climate risks is inextricably entwined with its ability to achieve development. This briefing explores the way in which the Tracking Adaptation and Measuring Development (TAMD) framework uses simple techniques such as scorecards and baselines to help countries evaluate how well its institutions are managing climate risk at all levels, and how ready they are to address emerging risks. TAMD can be adapted and applied to different contexts and scales, to identify where countries need to target additional institutional support to help them achieve climate-resilient development. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 4 pages, 560.85 KB].

Preventing the Introduction and Spread of Ebola in the United States: Frequently Asked Questions

Preventing the Introduction and Spread of Ebola in the United States: Frequently Asked Questions. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Sarah A. Lister. December 5, 2014.

Throughout 2014, an outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) has outpaced the efforts of health workers trying to contain it in three West African countries: Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. (These are often referred to as “affected countries” or “countries with widespread transmission.” In mid-November, 2014, Ebola transmission also occurred for the second time in neighboring Mali. The extent of spread in Mali remains to be seen.) EVD cases have been imported to other countries, including the United States, where two nurses were infected while caring for a patient who had traveled from Liberia.

Members of Congress and the public have considered ways to prevent the entry and spread of EVD in the United States. Official recommendations have seemed to conflict at times. In part this reflects the evolution of officials’ understanding of this new threat and the scientific and technical aspects of its control. In addition, under the nation’s federalist governance structure, the federal and state governments are empowered to take measures to control communicable diseases, and have addressed some aspects of the Ebola threat in varied ways. In the United States and abroad, public concern about the spread of Ebola also may have shaped policymakers’ decisions as well.

This CRS report answers common legal and policy questions about the potential introduction and spread of EVD in the United States.

[PDF format, 20 pages, 330.13 KB].

What Is the Impact of the CIA Report?

What Is the Impact of the CIA Report? Council on Foreign Relations. Karen J. Greenberg et al. December 12, 2014

The long-awaited Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA’s controversial detention and interrogation program has placed U.S. counterterrorism practices after 9/11 under renewed scrutiny. As the public debates and comes to terms with the findings, three experts, Karen J. Greenberg, Jack Devine, and Magnus Ranstorp, remark on the significance of the report and the legacy of these programs at home and abroad. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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What is the Current State of the Economic Recovery?

What is the Current State of the Economic Recovery? Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. CRS Insights. Craig K. Elwell. December 1, 2014.

The U.S. economy’s recovery from the 2007-2009 recession has been steady but historically slow. From the recession’s end in mid-2009 through the third quarter of 2014, as measured by real GDP growth (i.e., gross domestic product adjusted for inflation), the economy’s average annual rate of growth has been about 2.2%, compared to the 4.5% pace typical of previous post-WWII recoveries. After a temporary setback in the first quarter of 2014, growth rebounded above the recovery’s slow average pace over the next two quarters with gains of 4.2% and 3.9%, respectively.

[PDF format, 2 pages, 56.82 KB].