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Fact Sheet: Charting a New Course on Cuba

December 19, 2014 Comments off

Charting a New Course on Cuba
Source: U.S. Department of State

Today, the United States is taking historic steps to chart a new course in our relations with Cuba and to further engage and empower the Cuban people. We are separated by 90 miles of water, but brought together through the relationships between the two million Cubans and Americans of Cuban descent that live in the United States, and the 11 million Cubans who share similar hopes for a more positive future for Cuba.

It is clear that decades of U.S. isolation of Cuba have failed to accomplish our enduring objective of promoting the emergence of a democratic, prosperous, and stable Cuba. At times, longstanding U.S. policy towards Cuba has isolated the United States from regional and international partners, constrained our ability to influence outcomes throughout the Western Hemisphere, and impaired the use of the full range of tools available to the United States to promote positive change in Cuba. Though this policy has been rooted in the best of intentions, it has had little effect – today, as in 1961, Cuba is governed by the Castros and the Communist party.

We cannot keep doing the same thing and expect a different result. It does not serve America’s interests, or the Cuban people, to try to push Cuba toward collapse. We know from hard-learned experience that it is better to encourage and support reform than to impose policies that will render a country a failed state. With our actions today, we are calling on Cuba to unleash the potential of 11 million Cubans by ending unnecessary restrictions on their political, social, and economic activities. In that spirit, we should not allow U.S. sanctions to add to the burden of Cuban citizens we seek to help.

See also: Announcement of Cuba Policy Changes (John Kerry, Secretary of State)
See also: Briefing on Changes in U.S. Policy Toward Cuba (Roberta S. Jacobson, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs)

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Value of connectivity: Facebook and Deloitte look at the economic and social benefits of expanding internet access

December 19, 2014 Comments off

Value of connectivity: Facebook and Deloitte look at the economic and social benefits of expanding internet access
Source: Deloitte and Facebook

Extending the opportunities that the internet can bring is critical to accelerating economic and social growth in developing economies, while enabling the transition from a resource-based to a knowledge-based economy.

Facebook has launched a global partnership, Internet.org, with the goal of making internet access available and affordable to all. They have commissioned Deloitte to examine the ways in which extending access can change economies and societies in developing countries and what benefits this would generate on a number of economic and social dimensions.

The findings suggest that if developing countries could bridge the gap in internet penetration to reach levels developed economies enjoy today, they would experience large increases in GDP growth and productivity and improvements in health conditions and education opportunities. This provides a clear potential to reduce poverty and promote long run economic and social development. The study finds that extending internet access in Africa, Latin America, India and South and East Asia to levels seen in developed countries today would deliver numerous benefits:

  • Long run productivity could be enhanced by as much as 25% in these developing economies.
  • The resulting economic activity could generate $2.2 trillion in additional GDP, a 72% increase in the GDP growth rate, and more than 140 million new jobs.
  • Personal incomes would increase by up to $600 per person a year, thus lifting 160 million people out of extreme poverty.
  • Evidence on the link between health literacy and mortality rates suggests that internet access could save 2.5 million people and 250,000 children.
  • 2.5 million HIV/AIDS patients could increase their life expectancy thanks to better monitoring and adherence to treatment.
    Another 640 million children may be able to access the internet and the wealth of information it makes available while they study.

A snapshot of industry in Europe

December 19, 2014 Comments off

A snapshot of industry in Europe
Source: European Parliamentary Research Service

This document draws on the recently published study How can European Industry contribute to Growth and Foster European Competitiveness?, aiming to complement it by presenting an overview of specific indicators that further illustrate the current situation of Europe’s industry.

Beginning with a snapshot of the distribution of employment by sector and the contribution of industry to the gross value added in the EU’s regions, it then goes on to chart medium- term developments in labour productivity and in industrial output across Member States. It looks at how manufacturing sectors with different technology levels have been affected during the crisis years. An analysis of the major manufacturing sectors follows, comparing performance in terms of turnover, employment and investment. It concludes with a picture of the exports of manufactured goods from Member States, both within the EU and with the rest of the world.

A ‘Freer’ Flow of Skilled Labour within ASEAN: Aspirations, Opportunities, and Challenges in 2015 and Beyond

December 19, 2014 Comments off

A ‘Freer’ Flow of Skilled Labour within ASEAN: Aspirations, Opportunities, and Challenges in 2015 and Beyond
Source: Migration Policy Institute

Countries’ competitiveness, productivity, and growth depend largely on their ability to acquire and use new knowledge and constantly upgrade the skills of their workforces. Many countries do not, however, have the educational systems necessary to cultivate the kind of workforces they need, and in developing countries it is common for the most highly skilled workers to emigrate for job opportunities abroad.

Over the past decade, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a political and economic organization of ten countries in Southeast Asia, began to tackle these issues directly. In 2007, ASEAN Member States agreed to fast-track the creation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by 2015, which is meant to transform the region into a single market and production base characterized by, among other things, a free flow of skilled labor. In response to the mounting evidence that migrants in the region lack the skills recognition required to put their knowledge and training to use in destination countries, ASEAN Member States are taking steps toward better qualifications recognition to prevent the resulting waste of human capital.

Reforms to Help Meet the Growing Demand for Long-Term Care Services

December 18, 2014 Comments off

Reforms to Help Meet the Growing Demand for Long-Term Care Services
Source: Center for American Progress

Long-term care is a growing challenge in many countries, but this issue brief focuses specifically on Germany and the United States.

About 12 million elderly or disabled Americans rely on long-term care to help them with tasks ranging from eating and bathing to housekeeping and cooking.

The need for long-term care can arise at any age—about 40 percent of people who need this care are under age 65—but the doubling of the elderly population over the coming decades means a substantial increase in the number of people who will need long-term care. The first of the Baby Boom generation reached the traditional retirement age of 65 three years ago, and each day for the next 18 years, about 8,000 more Americans will reach that milestone. As dramatic as these numbers may seem, the U.S. population is aging at a slower pace than other industrialized nations: By 2050, 1 in 5 American residents will be ages 65 and older, as opposed to fewer than 1 in 7 today. Germany, on the other hand, is a particularly fast-aging society: Today, 1 in 5 German residents are already ages 65 and older, and almost 1 in 3 will be those ages by 2050. At the same time, the German workforce is shrinking, and its overall population is projected to decline by 13 percent by 2050.

And thanks to public health improvements and medical breakthroughs, millions of seniors in industrialized nations—including in the United States and Germany—are, on average, living longer and are healthier and more active during their retirement years. But the increased longevity of the senior population also means that millions more people are likely to need long-term care, especially as more seniors age into their 80s and beyond, when the rates of dementia and other cognitive and physical conditions increase. In addition, these conditions require more comprehensive, costly care. For instance, the rate of dementia is less than 1 percent for people under 65 years old, but it rapidly increases to more than 40 percent for those over 85 years old. By 2050, the annual number of new cases of Alzheimer’s is projected to more than double.

Together, these demographic changes have placed enormous pressure on the United States’ inadequate mechanisms for financing long-term supports and services. Policymakers should consider comprehensive changes that will enhance how we pay for these services, balancing public and private insurance with family and friend caregiving. Germany—with its even greater demographic challenges—has taken precisely this approach and therefore provides an illustrative example for the United States.

U.S. Census Bureau: 2012 Manufacturing and International Trade Report (Released December 18, 2014)

December 18, 2014 Comments off

2012 Manufacturing and International Trade Report
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

This new annual report from the U.S. Census Bureau will, for the first time, provide a comprehensive comparison between detailed manufacturing product class data and associated import and export data. The data are published on a North American Industry Classification System basis from the 2012 Economic Census Industry Series, presented with official U.S. export and import merchandise trade statistics. Future reports will also incorporate statistics from the Annual Survey of Manufactures.

CBO — Updated Death and Injury Rates of U.S. Military Personnel During the Conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan: Working Paper 2014-08

December 18, 2014 Comments off

Updated Death and Injury Rates of U.S. Military Personnel During the Conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan: Working Paper 2014-08
Source: Congressional Budget Office

In Operation Iraqi Freedom, which ended on August 31, 2010, some 3,482 hostile deaths occurred among U.S. military personnel and 31,947 people were wounded in action (WIA). More than 1,800 hostile deaths occurred during Operation Enduring Freedom (in Afghanistan and surrounding countries) through November 2014; about 20,000 more people were wounded in action.

In the Iraq conflict, a larger proportion of wounded personnel survived their wounds than was the case during the Vietnam War, but the increased survival rates are not as high as some studies have asserted. Prior to the surge in troop levels that began in early 2007, the survival rate was 90.4 percent in Iraq—compared with 86.5 percent in Vietnam.

Amputation rates are difficult to measure consistently, but I estimate that 2.6 percent of all WIA and 9.0 percent of medically-evacuated WIA from the Iraq and Afghanistan theaters combined resulted in the major loss of a limb.

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