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Bio-Piracy or Prospering Together? Fuzzy Set and Qualitative Analysis of Herbal Patenting by Firms

April 23, 2014 Comments off

Bio-Piracy or Prospering Together? Fuzzy Set and Qualitative Analysis of Herbal Patenting by Firms (PDF)
Source: Harvard Business Working Papers

Since the 1990s, several western firms have filed patents based on medicinal herbs from emerging markets, evoking protests from local stakeholders against ‘bio-piracy’. We explore conditions under which firms and local stakeholders share rents from such patents. Our theoretical model builds on two distinct strategy literatures: firms appropriating rents from new technologies and firms managing stakeholders. We predict that a win-win outcome emerges when the patent strength is moderate and when local stakeholders form a coalition with larger national stakeholders to initiate litigation against the focal firm. We test our predictions using a two-pronged empirical strategy. Our empirical context relates to herbal patents from emerging markets and given that we have a small sample (N=17), we employ a fuzzy set QCA methodology. In addition, we develop four in-depth qualitative case studies to support our predictions.

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Country Analysis Brief: Turkey

April 23, 2014 Comments off

Country Analysis Brief: Turkey
Source: Energy Information Administration

Over the past three years, Turkey has experienced some of the fastest growth in energy demand of countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Unlike a number of other OECD countries in Europe, Turkey’s economy has avoided the prolonged stagnation that has characterized much of the continent for the past few years. The country’s energy use is still relatively low, although it is increasing at a fast pace. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), energy use will continue to grow at an annual growth rate of around 4.5% from 2015 to 2030, approximately doubling over the next decade. The IEA expects electricity demand growth to increase at an even faster pace.

Meeting this level of growth will require significant investment in the energy sector, much of which will come from the private sector. Although Turkey is planning large investments in natural gas and electricity infrastructure, the government seeks to reduce the country’s dependence on imported natural gas by diversifying its energy mix.

Job Tasks, Computer Use, and the Decreasing Part-Time Pay Penalty for Women in the UK

April 23, 2014 Comments off

Job Tasks, Computer Use, and the Decreasing Part-Time Pay Penalty for Women in the UK (PDF)
Source: Institute for the Study of Labor

Using data from the UK Skills Surveys, we show that the part-time pay penalty for female workers within low- and medium-skilled occupations decreased significantly over the period 1997-2006. The convergence in computer use between part-time and full-time workers within these occupations explains a large share of the decrease in the part-time pay penalty. However, the lower part-time pay penalty is also related to lower wage returns to reading and writing which are performed more intensively by full-time workers. Conversely, the increasing returns to influencing has increased the part-time pay penalty despite the convergence in the influencing task input between part-time and full-time workers. The relative changes in the input and prices of computer use and job tasks together explain more than 50 percent of the decrease in the part-time pay penalty.

Education Under Attack, 2014

April 22, 2014 Comments off

Education Under Attack, 2014
Source: Global Coalition to Protect Education From Attack

This global study charts the scale and nature of attacks on education; highlights their impact on education – including on students, teachers and facilities; and documents the ways that governments, local communities, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and UN agencies try to reduce the impact of such violence and prevent future attacks.

In doing so, it provides the most extensive documentation of attacks on education to date. Following earlier studies that UNESCO published in 2007 and 2010, it not only examines attacks on schools, as previous research has done, but also considers military use of education facilities and more closely examines attacks on higher education.

The study’s four main aims are to: better inform international and national efforts to prevent schools, universities, students, teachers, academics and other education staff from being attacked; encourage the investigation, prosecution and punishment of the perpetrators of attacks; share knowledge about effective responses; and help those who have been attacked to recover and rebuild their lives – as Malala is doing – by providing recommendations for action that the international community, governments and armed non-state groups should adopt and implement.

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the United States: Drivers of U.S. Economic Competitiveness

April 22, 2014 Comments off

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the United States: Drivers of U.S. Economic Competitiveness
Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration

This paper studies the impact of FDI on the U.S. economy, the strengths and attractiveness of the United States as a destination for FDI, and the competitiveness of the United States with respect to investment trends by geography and industry sector.

FDI is a key source of capital, job creation, innovation, and cross-border trade. In the United States, FDI has continued to flourish because firms worldwide recognize the United States as an innovative and stable market and the world’s largest economy. Moreover, the United States upholds its longstanding open investment policy, recognizing that the free movement of capital across borders is at the heart of today’s global economy.

CRS — Security Assistance Reform: “Section 1206″ Background and Issues for Congress

April 22, 2014 Comments off

Security Assistance Reform: “Section 1206″ Background and Issues for Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Section 1206 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2006, as amended and regularly extended, provides the Secretary of Defense with authority to train and equip foreign military forces for two specified purposes—counterterrorism and stability operations—and foreign security forces for counterterrorism operations. Section 1206 authority now extends through FY2017.

CRS — U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel

April 22, 2014 Comments off

U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

This report provides an overview of U.S. foreign assistance to Israel. It includes a review of past aid programs, data on annual assistance, and an analysis of current issues. For general information on Israel, see CRS Report RL33476, Israel: Background and U.S. Relations, by Jim Zanotti.

CRS — What Is the Farm Bill? (updated)

April 22, 2014 Comments off

What Is the Farm Bill? (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The farm bill is an omnibus, multi-year piece of authorizing legislation that governs an array of agricultural and food programs. Titles in the most recent farm bill encompassed farm commodity price and income supports, farm credit, trade, agricultural conservation, research, rural development, bioenergy, foreign food aid, and domestic nutrition assistance. Although agricultural policies sometimes are created and changed by freestanding legislation or as part of other major laws, the farm bill provides a predictable opportunity for policy makers to comprehensively and periodically address agricultural and food issues. The farm bill is renewed about every five years.

Poverty and Crime: Evidence from Rainfall and Trade Shocks in India

April 21, 2014 Comments off

Poverty and Crime: Evidence from Rainfall and Trade Shocks in India
Source: Harvard Business School Working Papers

Does poverty lead to crime? We shed light on this question using two independent and exogenous shocks to household income in rural India: the dramatic reduction in import tariffs in the early 1990s and rainfall variations. We find that trade shocks, previously shown to raise relative poverty, also increased the incidence of violent crimes and property crimes. The relationship between trade shocks and crime is similar to the observed relationship between rainfall shocks and crime. Our results thus identify a causal effect of poverty on crime. They also lend credence to a large literature on the effects of weather shocks on crime and conflict, which has usually assumed that the income channel is the most relevant one.

UN Interventions: The Role of Geography

April 21, 2014 Comments off

UN Interventions: The Role of Geography (PDF)
Source: Institute for the Study of Labor

This paper argues that UN military interventions are geographically biased. For every 1,000 kilometers of distance from the three Western permanent UNSC members (France, UK, US), the probability of a UN military intervention decreases by 4 percent. We are able to rule out several alternative explanations for the distance finding, such as differences by continent, colonial origin, bilateral trade relationships, foreign aid flows, political regime forms, or the characteristics of the Cold War. We do not observe this geographical bias for non-military interventions and find evidence that practical considerations could be important factors for UNSC decisions to intervene militarily.

Fueling a New Order? The New Geopolitical and Security Consequences of Energy

April 21, 2014 Comments off

Fueling a New Order? The New Geopolitical and Security Consequences of Energy
Source: Brookings Institution

The paper Fueling a New Order? The New Geopolitical and Security Consequences of Energy examines impacts of the major transformation in international energy markets that has begun. The United States is poised to overtake Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world’s largest oil producer and, combined with new developments in natural gas, is on track to become the dominant player in global energy markets. Meanwhile, China is in place to surpass the United States in its scale of oil imports, and has already edged out the U.S. in carbon emissions.

Stepping Stone, Stopping Point, or Slippery Slope? Negotiating the Next Iran Deal

April 21, 2014 Comments off

Stepping Stone, Stopping Point, or Slippery Slope? Negotiating the Next Iran Deal
Source: Harvard Business School Working Papers

The November 2013 “interim” nuclear deal between Iran and the “P5 1” — the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany — raises challenging questions. Will the initial deal function as a stepping stone toward a more comprehensive deal? Or will it drift into becoming a stopping point that leaves Iran dangerously close to nuclear weapons capability with the sanctions regime in decline? Or will it devolve to a slippery slope that would end up requiring a painful choice for key players between either acquiescing in a nuclear-capable Iran or attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities? With the Iran and the P5 1 each splintered into contending factions, a successful stepping stone strategy requires converting enough “persuadable skeptics” on each side to forge a “winning coalition” on behalf of the a more comprehensive nuclear deal. This supportive group must be strong enough to overcome the potent “blocking coalition” that will oppose virtually any larger, next-stage agreement. The best chance for the interim accord to become a stepping stone to a more valuable deal calls for a two-prong negotiating strategy with both value-enhancing and cost-imposing elements. The first prong of this strategy should strive to craft the most valuable possible next deal that credibly offers Iran a range of benefits, not limited to sanctions relief, that are greater and much more salient than those available from the interim agreement. The second prong should significantly worsen the consequences of failing to reach the next nuclear deal by a strong public U.S. Presidential commitment to sign a bill, prenegotiated with the Congress and P5 1 allies, imposing enhanced sanctions if negotiations toward an acceptable, but relatively narrow, agreement denying Iran an “exercisable nuclear option” do not succeed by the reasonable but firm deadline no later than twelve months from the start of the interim talks.

Global Consumer Technology Trends: Cross Market Briefing

April 21, 2014 Comments off

Global Consumer Technology Trends: Cross Market Briefing (PDF)
Source: Consumer Electronics Association

Consumer electronics (CE) and technologies are popular with consumers across the globe. Fueled by Internet infra-structure and the proliferation of mobile connected devices (especially smartphones and tablets), people around the world are more connected than ever. As such, increased connectivity has significant implications for policymakers, businesses and citizens alike. The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) recently conducted consumer research in 13 markets on four continents representing approximately 29% of the world’s population (approximately 2.1 billion people) and 49% of the world’s GDP (approximately $35.4 trillion) to understand both current trends and the future outlook of consumer technologies. The survey was conducted online and all results are based on online adult consumers. Internet access varies by nation and is often driven by a nation’s wealth and infrastructure development. Household Internet penetration is highest (in the 90% range) in several Nordic countries (Norway, Sweden and Denmark) and in the U.K. (85%) and Finland (84%). However, less than half of Russian (46%) and Chinese (23%) households have Internet access, likely due to poor infrastructure and lower household incomes.

Offshore Tax Havens Cost Average Taxpayer $1,259 a Year, Small Businesses $3,923

April 18, 2014 Comments off

Offshore Tax Havens Cost Average Taxpayer $1,259 a Year, Small Businesses $3,923
Source: U.S. Public Interest Research Group

As hardworking Americans file their taxes today, it’s a good time to be reminded that ordinary taxpayers pick up the tab for special interest loopholes in our tax laws. A new U.S. PIRG report released today revealed that the average American taxpayer in 2013 would have to shoulder an extra $1,259 in state and federal taxes to make up for the revenue lost due to the use of offshore tax havens by corporations and wealthy individuals.

Every year, corporations and wealthy individuals avoid paying an estimated $184 billion in state and federal income taxes by using complicated accounting tricks to shift their profits to offshore tax havens. Of that $184 billion, $110 billion is avoided specifically by corporations.

Offshore Outsourcing of Administrative Functions by State Medicaid Agencies

April 18, 2014 Comments off

Offshore Outsourcing of Administrative Functions by State Medicaid Agencies
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General

WHY WE DID THIS STUDY
Outsourcing occurs when State Medicaid agencies enter into agreements with contractors to perform administrative functions. Outsourcing can occur inside the United States (domestic outsourcing) or outside (offshore outsourcing) and can be direct (when a Medicaid agency contracts with an offshore contractor) or indirect (when a Medicaid agency’s contractor subcontracts to an offshore contractor). There are no Federal regulations that prohibit the offshore outsourcing of Medicaid administrative functions. However, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires covered entities to have business associate agreements (BAAs) to protect personal health information (PHI).

HOW WE DID THIS STUDY
We conducted a survey of 56 Medicaid agencies, including those of the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories. We asked Medicaid agencies (1) whether they had any policies, Executive Orders, State laws, or contract requirements (collectively, “requirements”) addressing the outsourcing of administrative functions offshore and (2) whether they directly or indirectly outsourced administrative functions offshore. For Medicaid agencies with outsourcing requirements, we asked whether these requirements address PHI and whether the Medicaid agencies monitor contractors’ compliance with the requirements. We reviewed the Medicaid agencies’ requirements and BAAs. For the Medicaid agencies that outsource offshore, we asked what types of administrative functions are outsourced offshore.

WHAT WE FOUND
Only 15 of 56 Medicaid agencies have some form of State-specific requirement that addresses the outsourcing of administrative functions offshore. The remaining 41 Medicaid agencies reported no offshore outsourcing requirements and do not outsource administrative functions offshore. Among the 15 Medicaid agencies with requirements, 4 Medicaid agencies prohibit the outsourcing of administrative functions offshore and 11 Medicaid agencies allow it. The 11 Medicaid agencies that allow offshore outsourcing of administrative functions each maintain BAAs with contractors, which is a requirement under HIPAA. Among other things, BAAs are intended to safeguard PHI. These 11 Medicaid agencies do not have additional State requirements that specifically address safeguarding PHI. Seven of the eleven Medicaid agencies reported outsourcing offshore through subcontractors, but none reported sending PHI offshore. If Medicaid agencies engage in offshore outsourcing of administrative functions that involve PHI, it could present potential vulnerabilities. For example, Medicaid agencies or domestic contractors that send PHI offshore may have limited means of enforcing provisions of BAAs that are intended to safeguard PHI. Although some countries may have privacy protections greater than those in the United States, other countries may have limited or no privacy protections.

Mapping the European ICT Poles of Excellence: The Atlas of ICT Activity in Europe

April 18, 2014 Comments off

Mapping the European ICT Poles of Excellence: The Atlas of ICT Activity in Europe
Source: European Commission

The EIPE Atlas presents the results of the empirical mapping of ICT activity in Europe and the ranking of the top European NUTS 3 regions based on their performance in EIPE Composite Indicator (EIPE CI), together with the ranks for the individual 42 indicators which contributed to the building of the EIPE composite indicators. The report offers a snapshot of the performance of regions that are identified as the main locations of ICT activity in Europe. It is meant to provide a comprehensive picture of how ICT activity is distributed across Europe and where its main locations are. This information is expected to give a better overview of the European ICT landscape, activity and actors in each location and to reveal their strengths and weaknesses.

UNODC — Global Study on Homicide 2013 (released 4/10/14)

April 18, 2014 Comments off

Global Study on Homicide 2013
Source: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
From press release (PDF):

Almost half a million people (437,000) across the world lost their lives in 2012 as a result of intentional homicide, according to a new study by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Launching the Global Study on Homicide 2013 in London today, Jean-Luc Lemahieu, Director for Policy Analysis and Public Affairs, said: “Too many lives are being tragically cut short, too many families and communities left shattered. There is an urgent need to understand how violent crime is plaguing countries around the world, particularly affecting young men but also taking a heavy toll on women.”

Globally, some 80 per cent of homicide victims a nd 95 per cent of perpetrato rs are men. Almost 15 per cent of all homicides stem from domestic violence (63,600). However, the overwhelming majority – almost 70 per cent – of domestic violence fatalities are women (43,600). “Home can be the most dangerous place for a woman,” said Mr . Lemahieu. “It is particularly heart-breaking when those who should be protecting their loved ones are the very people responsible for their murder.”

Over half of all homicide victims are under 30 years of age, with children under the age of 15 accounting for just over 8 per cent of all homicides (36,000), the Study highlighted.

Foreign Agriculture Service — Guide to the Foreign Service Officer Selection Process

April 17, 2014 Comments off

Guide to the Foreign Service Officer Selection Process (PDF)
Source: USDA Foreign Agricultural Service

The United States Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) is one of the U.S. Government’s four Foreign Affairs Agencies under the Foreign Service Act of 1980. Chartered in 1953, FAS is a small agency with a global mission and presence. FAS is responsible for a broad range of programs, activities and tasks designed to carry out the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s statutory responsibility to promote U.S. agricultural interests overseas. The core mission of FAS is to facilitate trade and international cooperation, which are critical to the vitality of the U.S. agricultural sector. Staff includes about 850 people stationed in Washington, about 160 Foreign Agricultural Affairs Officers, and 350 locally employed staff overseas. Foreign Service officers represent the interests and needs of American agriculture at U.S. diplomatic missions abroad.

If you are interested in a Foreign Service career at FAS, there is plenty of opportunity, but entry is a competitive process that takes place only once every 12-24 months depending on the needs of the service.

CRS — Brazil: Political and Economic Situation and U.S. Relations

April 17, 2014 Comments off

Brazil: Political and Economic Situation and U.S. Relations (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

The United States has traditionally enjoyed cooperative relations with Brazil, which is the seventh-largest economy in the world and is recognized by the Obama Administration’s National Security Strategy as an emerging center of influence. Administration officials have often highlighted Brazil’s status as a multicultural democracy, referring to the country as a natural partner that shares values and goals with the United States. Bilateral ties have been strained from time to time, however, as the countries’ occasionally divergent national interests and independent foreign policies have led to disagreements. U.S.-Brazilian relations have been particularly strained over the past year as a result of alleged National Security Agency (NSA) activities inside Brazil. Nevertheless, the countries continue to engage on issues such as trade, energy, security, racial equality, and the environment.

CRS — Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) and Related Non-Tariff Barriers to Agricultural Trade

April 17, 2014 Comments off

Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) and Related Non-Tariff Barriers to Agricultural Trade (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

Sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures are the laws, rules, standards, and procedures that governments employ to protect humans, animals, and plants from diseases, pests, toxins, and other contaminants. Examples include meat and poultry processing standards to reduce pathogens, residue limits for pesticides in foods, and regulation of agricultural biotechnology. Technical barriers to trade (TBT) cover technical regulations, product standards, environmental regulations, and voluntary procedures relating to human health and animal welfare. Examples include trademarks and patents, labeling and packaging requirements, certification and inspection procedures, product specifications, and marketing of biotechnology. SPS and TBT measures both comprise a group of widely divergent standards and standards-based measures that countries use to regulate markets, protect their consumers, and preserve natural resources.

According to the World Trade Organization (WTO), SPS and TBT measures have become more prominent concerns for agricultural exporters and policy makers, as tariff-related barriers to trade have been reduced by various multilateral, regional, and bilateral negotiations and trade agreements. The concerns include whether SPS and TBT measures might be used to unfairly discriminate against imported products or create unnecessary obstacles to trade in agricultural, food, and other traded goods. Notable U.S. trade disputes involving SPS and TBT measures have included a European Union (EU) ban on U.S. meats treated with growth-promoting hormones and also certain pathogen reduction treatments, and an EU moratorium on approvals of biotechnology products, among other types of trade concerns with other countries. Foreign countries have also objected to various U.S. trade measures.

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