The 2016 Olympic Games: Health, Security, Environmental, and Doping Issues

The 2016 Olympic Games: Health, Security, Environmental, and Doping Issues. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. L. Elaine Halchin and John W. Rollins. July 28, 2016.

The 2016 Olympic Games will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 5–21, 2016, and will be followed by the Paralympic Games, September 7–18, 2016. Notably, these are the first games to be hosted by a South American city. Reportedly, 10,500 athletes from 206 countries will participate in the Olympics, including 555 athletes from the United States. Most Olympic events will take place in and around Rio de Janeiro. In addition to Rio de Janeiro, soccer matches will be held in the cities of Belo Horizonte, Brasília, Manaus, São Paulo, and Salvador. Host countries and cities often have to deal with a variety of questions or issues, which is also true for Brazil and Rio de Janeiro. The list of issues or potential problems that might have implications for athletes, team personnel, and spectators participating in or attending the 2016 Rio Games includes the Zika virus, public safety threats, security concerns, and environmental conditions.

[PDF format, 38 pages, 1.24 MB].

Improving Education for Migrant-Background Students: A Transatlantic Comparison of School Funding

Improving Education for Migrant-Background Students: A Transatlantic Comparison of School Funding. Migration Policy Institute. Julie Sugarman et al. June 2016.

The report focuses on four countries, Canada, France, Germany, and the United States, shedding light on supplementary funding mechanisms targeted to migrant-background students, and some of the key challenges and strategies decisionmakers are wrestling with as they attempt to ensure that additional resources are used effectively. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Zika Virus in the United States and Mexico

Zika Virus in the United States and Mexico. Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. Jennifer R. Herricks and Kirstin R. W. Matthews. March 4, 2016.

The Zika outbreak serves as a reminder that global health and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) can affect local health. The issue brief argues that continued investments in global health and the study of emerging pathogens could yield better tools to fight infectious diseases long before they become a problem in the developed world. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 6 pages, 1.05 MB].

The US and Russia Face to Face as Ice Curtain

The US and Russia Face to Face as Ice Curtain. YaleGlobal. Humphrey Hawksley. November 5, 2015.

The U.S. defense budget for 2014 is more than double that of Russia and China’s combined. Measuring naval strength is trickier as comparisons of hulls or personnel matter less than surveillance and sophisticated weaponry and vessels like ice-cutters. As climate change melts sea ice, countries eye the Arctic for natural resources and trade routes, reassessing naval positions. Journalist Humphrey Hawksley writes about the Ice Curtain between the United States and Russia, one of three symbolic frontiers of the Cold War with just 88 kilometers separating each mainland: “Russia is bolstering its military presence there while reminding that its maritime boundary with the United States remains in dispute. For its part, the United States has stayed quiet.” The border between two rivals is described as non-hostile. Alaskans and Russians struggle with budgets too dependent on oil, yet are hopeful that melting sea ice means more development, infrastructure and trade for their remote settings. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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Biofuel Use in International Markets: The Importance of Trade

Biofuel Use in International Markets: The Importance of Trade. Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. Jayson Beckman. September 3, 2015.

The study examines the main factors affecting the demand and supply of biofuels; shifts in biofuel production, consumption, and policy; and trends in biofuel trade, focusing on the United States, Brazil, and the EU. It also offers insight into potential future changes for U.S. biofuel markets.

http://www.ers.usda.gov/media/1895311/eib144_summary.pdf Summary [PDF format, 2 pages, 169 KB].

http://www.ers.usda.gov/media/1895316/eib144.pdf Full Text [PDF format, 38 pages, 2.61 MB].

In-Country Processing in Central America: A Piece of the Puzzle

In-Country Processing in Central America: A Piece of the Puzzle. Migration Policy Institute. Faye Hipsman and Doris Meisner. August 2015.

The in-country refugee processing program launched in Central America by the Obama administration in December 2014 as a response to rising unaccompanied child migration may provide a legal, safe alternative to undertaking dangerous, unauthorized journeys to the United States, albeit a limited one. The report examines the Central American Minors Refugee/Parole Program, as well as the history and track record of prior U.S. in-country processing programs. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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How Much Rainforest Is In That Chocolate Bar?

How Much Rainforest Is In That Chocolate Bar? World Resources Institute. Nancy Harris. August 2015.

The technical note looks at the carbon emissions resulting from deforestation for a specific cacao plantation in Peru and the potential carbon footprint of chocolate sourced from that area. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

[PDF format, 10 pages, 722 KB].

Cuba: Transforming a Revolution

Cuba: Transforming a Revolution. YaleGlobal. Patricia Alejandro. July 23, 2015.

The United States and Cuba are reopening their respective embassies and preparing for more exchanges in diplomacy and trade. “Cubans and Americans are equally curious about exploring the other side since December when President Barack Obama and Raúl Castro made the surprise announcement on restoration of full diplomatic relations between the two countries,” writes Patricia Alejandro. “Both sides concede the process will be gradual, yet changes in leadership that paved the way for rapprochement are inevitable – Obama leaves office in January 2017, and Castro, now 84, announced intentions to retire in 2018.” The Cuban-American community could help boost ties between the two countries. The Cuban government is wary about foreign investment, and the United States will press for improved human rights. Cubans are eager for an end to the U.S. embargo, along with new electronics, cars and internet service, while US tourists are nostalgic for the Cuba of the early 20th century. Economic imbalances and challenges to normalize relations are many, but there’s likely no going back. [Note: contains copyrighted material].

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The New Russian Engagement with Latin America: Strategic Position, Commerce, and Dreams of the Past

The New Russian Engagement with Latin America: Strategic Position, Commerce, and Dreams of the Past. Strategic Studies Institute. R. Evan Ellis. June 17, 2015.

Although overshadowed by China, Russia’s re-engagement with Latin America and the Caribbean, which includes military deployments, arms sales, and the negotiation of base access agreements, impacts the regional security environment and potentially challenges U.S. national security. The monograph provides one of the first broad, in depth analyses of Russian engagement in the region, including an examination of its political and economic, as well as military activities, with an examination of implications for the U.S. and recommendation for U.S. policymakers.

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Barriers Along the U.S. Borders: Key Authorities and Requirements

Barriers Along the U.S. Borders: Key Authorities and Requirements. Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress. Michael John Garcia. April 8, 2015.

Securing the borders is an issue of perennial concern to Congress. Federal law authorizes the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to construct barriers along the U.S. borders to deter illegal crossings. DHS is also required to construct reinforced fencing along at least 700 miles of the land border with Mexico (a border that stretches 1,933 miles), though Congress has not provided a deadline for its completion. At this time, fence construction has largely been halted, though DHS still needs to deploy fencing along nearly 50 additional miles of the southwest border to satisfy the 700-mile requirement.

[PDF format, 45 pages, 527.05 KB].