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Lessons from 13 Years of War Point to a Better U.S. Strategy

March 31, 2015 Comments off

Lessons from 13 Years of War Point to a Better U.S. Strategy
Source: RAND Corporation

The rise of irregular threats and the decline of national budgets have posed an acute dilemma for those crafting U.S. global strategy. More than ever, U.S. civilian and defense leaders are being called on to find ways to achieve satisfactory outcomes to multiple simultaneous conflicts at an acceptable cost.

In particular, U.S. land forces face the need to become more agile in adapting their strategy as circumstances warrant and more capable of working with all manner of partners. The growing role of special operations forces (SOF) represents an important potential advantage in this regard, but future threats call for a broader array of options for the application of joint, interagency, intergovernmental, and multinational power. Future U.S. land operations will likely require not just a greater use of SOF but also improved interaction with conventional forces.

The performance of the past 13 years also suggests a need to remedy the nation’s strategic deficiencies at the levels of policy and strategy. Moving forward, war and statecraft should be viewed along the same spectrum, with the exercise of national power understood as a marriage of force and diplomacy — a marriage that wields the various elements of national power in a coordinated, seamless manner.

UK — Technical Issues in Charity Law

March 31, 2015 Comments off

Technical Issues in Charity Law
Source: Law Commission of England

This project originated from our Eleventh Programme of Law Reform. Part of the project is a review of the procedures by which charities governed by Royal Charter and by Act of Parliament amend their governing documents. The remainder of the project comprises certain issues arising out of the review of the Charities Act 2006 conducted by Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts regarding:

  • the procedures by which charities change their purposes and the administrative provisions of their governing documents;
  • the application of property cy-près, including the application cy-près of the proceeds of fundraising appeals;
  • the regulation of the acquisition, disposal and mortgage of land by charities;
  • the remuneration of a trustee of a charity for the supply of goods to the charity;
  • the power to award an equitable allowance to a trustee who has obtained an unauthorised profit;
  • the power for trustees to make ex gratia payments out of the funds of the charity;
  • the transfer of assets and liabilities on incorporation and merger, and gifts made by will to charities that have merged;
  • the availability of property held on charitable trust in the insolvency of a trustee;
  • the power of the Charity Commission to require a charity to change its name, and to refuse to register a charity unless it changes its name;
  • the power for the Charity Commission to determine the identity of the trustees of a charity; and
  • certain powers of the Charity Tribunal.

The Russian economy: Will Russia ever catch up?

March 31, 2015 Comments off

The Russian economy: Will Russia ever catch up?
Source: European Parliament Think Tank

Over the past 25 years, Russia has undergone dramatic economic changes, with the difficult reforms and catastrophic economic collapse of the 1990s, the boom years of the new century, the global economic crisis and the current downturn. Despite all these developments, many of the structural economic challenges faced by Russia remain unchanged since Soviet times. Bountiful natural resources have helped to fuel growth, but at the cost of an unhealthy dependency, as the current situation so clearly illustrates. This problem is acknowledged by the Russian government, which under Dmitri Medvedev’s presidency in particular, declared its intentions to diversify and modernise the economy. However, the continued flow of gas and oil money has removed the incentive to undertake serious economic reforms, and these have faltered as a result. Many of Russia’s structural problems are inherited from Soviet and even Tsarist times. Large swathes of the economy remain under state control, and there are numerous barriers to both domestic and international competition. Businesses struggle with red tape and ubiquitous corruption. Despite Medvedev’s stated objective of developing an ‘intelligent economy’, and the country’s traditional strengths in research, development, innovation and education, Russia continues to underperform in these areas. Over the past few years, the Russian government has simplified bureaucratic procedures, launched a high-profile anti-corruption campaign, privatised state-owned companies, overhauled the education system and invested in innovation. However, such initiatives have brought measurable improvements in only a few areas. Aggravated by these structural issues, falling oil prices and economic sanctions have led to a rapid deterioration in the economic situation. The rouble has lost half its value, inflation has shot up, formerly sound public finances look increasingly shaky, and the economy is forecast to tip into recession in 2015. How quickly Russia recovers from its current difficulties will depend on whether or not oil prices pick up and sanctions are eased. Regardless of these, however, structural problems are likely to continue hampering the process of economic modernisation for the foreseeable future.

CA — Employment Insurance Financing

March 30, 2015 Comments off

Employment Insurance Financing
Source: Library of Parliament

Employment Insurance (EI) is one of the largest programs administered by the federal government, with expenditures of $19 billion in 2013–2014, most of it ($15 billion) as benefits paid to workers who are unemployed for a variety of reasons.

The way this program is financed has changed frequently over the years. The following analysis is therefore divided into three parts:

  • a summary of the current situation, with some components dating back to 2009;
  • a brief overview of the changes expected to the program in the coming years; and
  • a review of financing developments prior to 2009 to provide context.

Asylum applications in industrialized world soar to almost 900,000 in 2014

March 30, 2015 Comments off

Asylum applications in industrialized world soar to almost 900,000 in 2014
Source: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

The UN refugee agency reported on Thursday that the wars in Syria and Iraq, as well as armed conflicts, human rights violations and deteriorating security and humanitarian conditions in other countries, pushed the number of asylum applications in industrialized countries to a 22-year high last year.

The Asylum Trends 2014 report puts the estimated number of new asylum applications lodged in industrialized countries throughout the year at 866,000, a 45 per cent increase from 2013, when 596,600 claims were registered. The 2014 figure is the highest since 1992, at the beginning of the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

More than 52,000 Canadians left the country for medical care in 2014

March 30, 2015 Comments off

More than 52,000 Canadians left the country for medical care in 2014
Source: Fraser Institute

Large numbers of Canadians continue to venture abroad to seek medical care, according to a new study released today by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank.

The study, Leaving Canada for Medical Care, 2015, estimates 52,513 Canadians left the country to receive non-emergency medical treatment in 2014, an increase of 26 per cent compared to the previous year.

The study draws upon data from the Fraser Institute’s annual Waiting Your Turn study – a national survey of physicians across Canada in 12 major medical specialties. In the 2014 survey, physicians specializing in internal medicine procedures — such as colonoscopies, gastroscopies and angiographies — reported the highest number of patients leaving Canada for treatment (6,559). Meanwhile, neurosurgeons reported the highest proportion of patients (2.6 per cent) who travelled abroad for medical care.

UK — Adult autism strategy statutory guidance published

March 30, 2015 Comments off

Adult autism strategy statutory guidance published
Source: Department of Health

The statutory guidance updates original guidance issued under the Autism Act 2009 and the subsequent adult autism strategy. It accounts for progress and updates to the strategy made since 2010, and recent legislation like the Care Act 2014 and the Children and Families Act 2014.

The guidance sets out requirements for local authorities and NHS organisations. It reminds them to work together and with partners, for example, in the criminal justice system or helping people with autism into employment. It provides clarity about what they have to do to meet the needs of adults with autism, including preventative support and safeguarding.

The guidance demonstrates the government’s commitment to people with autism, their families and carers, and explains what support they should expect from local authorities and NHS organisations.

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