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Countering Others’ Insurgencies: Understanding U.S. Small-Footprint Interventions in Local Context

June 12, 2014 Comments off

Countering Others’ Insurgencies: Understanding U.S. Small-Footprint Interventions in Local Context
Source: RAND Corporation

This study examines the counterinsurgency strategies and practices adopted by threatened regimes and the conditions under which U.S. “small-footprint” partnerships are likely to help these governments succeed. The report’s findings are derived from a mixed-method research design incorporating both quantitative and qualitative analysis. Simple statistical analyses are applied to a dataset of counterinsurgencies that have terminated since the end of the Cold War (72 in all), and more in-depth analyses are provided of two recent cases of U.S. partnerships with counterinsurgent regimes, in the Philippines and Pakistan. The quantitative analysis finds that the cases of small-footprint U.S. operations that are commonly touted as “success stories” all occurred in countries approximating a best-case scenario. Such a verdict is not meant to deny the importance of U.S. assistance; rather, it is meant to highlight that similar U.S. policies with less promising partner nations should not be expected to produce anywhere near the same levels of success. The majority of insurgencies have taken place in worst-case conditions, and in these environments, counterinsurgent regimes are typically unsuccessful in their efforts to end rebellion, and they often employ violence indiscriminately. The case studies of the Philippines and Pakistan largely reinforce the findings of the quantitative analysis. They also highlight the challenges the United States faces in attempting to influence partner regimes to fight counterinsurgencies in the manner that the United States would prefer. The study concludes with policy recommendations for managing troubled partnerships.

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CRS — The Republic of the Philippines and U.S. Interests–2014

April 29, 2014 Comments off

The Republic of the Philippines and U.S. Interests–2014 (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The United States and the Republic of the Philippines maintain close ties stemming from the U.S. colonial period (1898-1946), the bilateral security alliance bound by the Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951, and common strategic and economic interests. In the past decade, the Philippines has been one of the largest recipients of U.S. foreign assistance in Southeast Asia, including both military and development aid. Many observers say that U.S. public and private support to the Philippines following Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), which struck the central part of the country on November 8, 2013, bolstered the already strong bilateral relationship.

Asia — Energizing Green Cities: Solutions to Meet Demand and Spark Economic Growth

March 21, 2014 Comments off

Energizing Green Cities: Solutions to Meet Demand and Spark Economic Growth
Source: World Bank

Cities in Southeast Asia (SEA) are growing twice as fast as the rest of the world and by 2030, it is expected that 70 percent of SEA population will live in cities. Worldwide, cities account for around two-thirds of global energy demand and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. While cities have always been the engines of economic growth, now they also hold the key to a sustainable development in SEA. Given their size and dynamic growth, SEA cities today have a unique opportunity to also become global engines of green growth by choosing energy-efficient solutions for their infrastructure needs.

Improving energy efficiency isn’t just good for the environment; it’s good for economic growth, says a World Bank report, “Energizing Green Cities in Southeast Asia – Applying Sustainable Urban Energy and Emissions Planning.” According to the report, there is a clear correlation between investments in energy efficient solutions in infrastructure and economic growth, based on a study of three cities – Da Nang in Vietnam, Surabaya in Indonesia and Cebu City in the Philippines. By improving energy efficiency and reducing GHG emissions, cities not only help the global environment, but they also support local economic development through productivity gains, reduced pollution, and more efficient use of resources.

CRS — Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda): U.S. and International Response to Philippines Disaster (updated)

March 3, 2014 Comments off

Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda): U.S. and International Response to Philippines Disaster (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Center)

This report examines the impact of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), which struck the central Philippines on November 8, 2013, and the U.S. and international response. Haiyan was one of the strongest typhoons to strike land on record. Over a 16 hour period, the “super typhoon,” with a force equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane and sustained winds of up to 195 mph, directly swept through six provinces in the central Philippines. The disaster quickly created a humanitarian crisis. In some of the hardest hit areas, particularly in coastal communities in Leyte province and the southern tip of Eastern Samar, the storm knocked out power, telecommunications, and water supplies. The humanitarian relief operation was initially hampered by a number of significant obstacles, including a general lack of transportation, extremely limited communications systems, damaged infrastructure, and seriously disrupted government services. Despite the physical and logistical challenges, regular relief activities reportedly reached most of the worst-stricken areas within two weeks of the storm.

Countering Others’ Insurgencies: Understanding U.S. Small-Footprint Interventions in Local Context

February 28, 2014 Comments off

Countering Others’ Insurgencies: Understanding U.S. Small-Footprint Interventions in Local Context
Source: RAND Corporation

This study examines the counterinsurgency strategies and practices adopted by threatened regimes and the conditions under which U.S. “small-footprint” partnerships are likely to help these governments succeed. The report’s findings are derived from a mixed-method research design incorporating both quantitative and qualitative analysis. Simple statistical analyses are applied to a dataset of counterinsurgencies that have terminated since the end of the Cold War (72 in all), and more in-depth analyses are provided of two recent cases of U.S. partnerships with counterinsurgent regimes, in the Philippines and Pakistan. The quantitative analysis finds that the cases of small-footprint U.S. operations that are commonly touted as “success stories” all occurred in countries approximating a best-case scenario. Such a verdict is not meant to deny the importance of U.S. assistance; rather, it is meant to highlight that similar U.S. policies with less promising partner nations should not be expected to produce anywhere near the same levels of success. The majority of insurgencies have taken place in worst-case conditions, and in these environments, counterinsurgent regimes are typically unsuccessful in their efforts to end rebellion, and they often employ violence indiscriminately. The case studies of the Philippines and Pakistan largely reinforce the findings of the quantitative analysis. They also highlight the challenges the United States faces in attempting to influence partner regimes to fight counterinsurgencies in the manner that the United States would prefer. The study concludes with policy recommendations for managing troubled partnerships.

Neighborhood Danger, Parental Monitoring, Harsh Parenting, and Child Aggression in Nine Countries

January 23, 2014 Comments off

Neighborhood Danger, Parental Monitoring, Harsh Parenting, and Child Aggression in Nine Countries (PDF)
Source: Societies

Exposure to neighborhood danger during childhood has negative effects that permeate multiple dimensions of childhood. The current study examined whether mothers’, fathers’, and children’s perceptions of neighborhood danger are related to child aggression, whether parental monitoring moderates this relation, and whether harsh parenting mediates this relation. Interviews were conducted with a sample of 1293 children (age M = 10.68, SD = 0.66; 51% girls) and their mothers (n = 1282) and fathers (n = 1075) in nine countries (China, Colombia, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, the Philippines, Sweden, Thailand, and the United States). Perceptions of greater neighborhood danger were associated with more child aggression in all nine countries according to mothers’ and fathers’ reports and in five of the nine countries according to children’s reports. Parental monitoring did not moderate the relation between perception of neighborhood danger and child aggression. The mediating role of harsh parenting was inconsistent across countries and reporters. Implications for further research are discussed, and include examination of more specific aspects of parental monitoring as well as more objective measures of neighborhood danger.

CRS — Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda): U.S. and International Response to Philippines Disaster

December 6, 2013 Comments off

Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda): U.S. and International Response to Philippines Disaster (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

This report examines the impact of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), which struck the central Philippines on November 8, 2013, and the U.S. and international response. Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) was one of the strongest typhoons (cyclones) to strike land on record. Over a 16 hour period, the “super typhoon,” with a force equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane and sustained winds of up to 195 mph, directly swept through six provinces and affected over 10% of the nation’s population of 105 million people. The areas damaged by the typhoon were some of the poorest parts of the Philippines.

Congressional concerns related to the storm and its aftermath include the immediate U.S. and international humanitarian response, the impact on the U.S. foreign aid budget, the long-term U.S. foreign aid strategy for the Philippines, and how the U.S. response to the disaster may impact the U.S.-Philippines relationship as well as regional geopolitical dynamics.

The disaster quickly created a humanitarian crisis. In some of the hardest hit areas, particularly in coastal communities in Leyte province and the southern tip of Eastern Samar, the storm knocked out power, telecommunications, and water supplies. Between 65% and 90% of structures were heavily damaged or destroyed. Two weeks after the typhoon, the Philippine government reported that an estimated 13.7 million people had been affected, with more than 3.43 million displaced (of which roughly 240,800 were housed in 1,096 evacuation centers). The government also reported that 792,000 people were evacuated in advance of the disaster. On November 25, an estimated 5,000 deaths were associated with the typhoon and more than 1,600 people were thought to be missing. All these numbers remain fluid and subject to revision.

The ongoing humanitarian relief operation is being led by the Philippine government. The United Nations, along with other partners, including the United States, is supporting the current on-theground response for humanitarian assistance. Apart from U.N. agencies, those responding to the crisis include international organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), Private Voluntary Agencies (PVOs), and bilateral and multilateral donors. On November 12, 2013, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs appealed for $301 million in the Haiyan Action Plan to provide life-saving assistance and early recovery support. On November 22, the Plan increased to $348 million, based on assessments completed as partners gained better access to affected areas. As of November 22, U.S. funding for the humanitarian response included nearly $52 million to support activities through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Department of Defense (DOD) humanitarian relief operations.

Destruction, Disinvestment, and Death: Economic and Human Losses Following Environmental Disaster

November 21, 2013 Comments off

Destruction, Disinvestment, and Death: Economic and Human Losses Following Environmental Disaster
Source: Social Science Research Network

The immediate physical damages caused by environmental disasters are conspicuous and often the focus of media and government attention. In contrast, the nature and magnitude of post-disaster losses remain largely unknown because they are not easily observable. Here we exploit annual variation in the incidence of typhoons (West-Pacific hurricanes) to identify post-disaster losses within Filipino households. We find that unearned income and excess infant mortality in the year after typhoon exposure outnumber immediate damages and death tolls roughly 15-to-1. Typhoons destroy durable assets and depress incomes, leading to broad expenditure reductions achieved in part through disinvestments in health and human capital. Infant mortality mirrors these economic responses, and additional findings — that only female infants are at risk, that sibling competition elevates risk, and that infants conceived after a typhoon are also at risk — indicate that this excess mortality results from household decisions made while coping with post-disaster economic conditions. We estimate that these post-typhoon “economic deaths” constitute 13% of the overall infant mortality rate in the Philippines. Taken together, these results indicate that economic and human losses due to environmental disaster may be an order of magnitude larger than previously thought and that adaptive decision-making may amplify, rather than dampen, disasters’ social cost.

Connecting people for development: Why public access ICTs matter

July 17, 2013 Comments off

Connecting people for development: Why public access ICTs matter
Source: Technology and Social Change Group, University of Washington Information School

Libraries, telecenters, and cybercafés play a critical role in extending the benefits of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to a diverse range of people worldwide. However, their ability to contribute to development agendas has come into question in recent times. The Global Impact Study was designed to address this debate by generating evidence about the scale, character, and impacts of public access ICTs in eight countries: Bangladesh, Botswana, Brazil, Chile, Ghana, Lithuania, the Philippines, and South Africa. This report summarizes the study’s key findings, situating public access in the context of national development, discussing some disputed issues, and providing recommendations for policymakers, public access practitioners and researchers. The results show that a central impact of public access is the promotion of digital inclusion through technology access, information access, and development of ICT skills. Both users and non-users report positive impacts in various social and economic areas of their lives.

Filipino Immigrants in the United States

July 17, 2013 Comments off

Filipino Immigrants in the United States
Source: Migration Policy Institute

Over the past 50 years, the share of immigrants from the Philippines in the United States has grown modestly from just over 1 percent of the overall US foreign-born population in 1960 to more than 4 percent in 2011. Filipinos now represent the fourth largest immigrant group in the United States by country of origin behind Mexico, China, and India.

As a group, immigrants from the Philippines are better educated, more likely to have strong English language skills, more likely to be naturalized citizens, less likely to enter the United States as refugees or asylum seekers, and less likely to live below the federal poverty line than the overall foreign-born population. Working Filipino-born men and women are more likely to be employed in the healthcare sector than foreign-born workers overall. Yet despite some differences, Filipinos mirrored trends in the overall foreign-born population in terms of age and arrival period.

This article reports on a wide range of characteristics of Filipino immigrants residing in the United States, including the population’s size, geographic distribution, admission categories, and demographic and socioeconomic characteristics. Data are from the US Census Bureau’s 2011 American Community Survey (ACS), the 2000 Decennial Census (as well as earlier censuses), and the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of Immigration Statistics (OIS).

CRS — Maritime Territorial and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) Disputes Involving China: Issues for Congress

November 21, 2012 Comments off

Maritime Territorial and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) Disputes Involving China: Issues for Congress (PDF)

Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

This report presents policy and oversight issues for Congress arising from (1) maritime territorial disputes involving China in the South China Sea (SCS) and East China Sea (ECS) and (2) an additional dispute over whether China has a right under international law to regulate U.S. and other foreign military activities in its 200-nautical-mile maritime Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

China is a party to multiple maritime territorial disputes in the SCS and ECS, including, in particular, disputes over the Paracel Islands, Spratly Islands, and Scarborough Shoal in the SCS, and the Senkaku Islands in the ECS. Maritime territorial disputes involving China in the SCS and ECS date back many years, and have periodically led to incidents and periods of increased tension. The disputes have again intensified in the past few years, leading to numerous confrontations and incidents, and heightened tensions between China and other countries in the region, particularly Japan, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

In addition to maritime territorial disputes in the SCS and ECS, China is involved in a dispute, particularly with the United States, over whether China has a right under international law to regulate the activities of foreign military forces operating within China’s EEZ. The dispute appears to be at the heart of multiple incidents between Chinese and U.S. ships and aircraft in international waters and airspace in 2001, 2002, and 2009.

The issue of whether China has a right under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to regulate foreign military activities in its EEZ is related to, but ultimately separate from, the issue of maritime territorial disputes in the SCS and ECS. The two issues are related because China can claim EEZs from inhabitable islands over which it has sovereignty, so accepting China’s claims to islands in the SCS or ECS could permit China to expand the EEZ zone within which China claims a right to regulate foreign military activities.

The EEZ issue is ultimately separate from the territorial disputes issue because even if all the territorial disputes in the SCS and ECS were resolved, and none of China’s claims in the SCS and ECS were accepted, China could continue to apply its concept of its EEZ rights to the EEZ that it unequivocally derives from its mainland coast—and it is in this unequivocal Chinese EEZ that most of the past U.S.-Chinese incidents at sea have occurred.

Current Tobacco Use and Secondhand Smoke Exposure Among Women of Reproductive Age — 14 Countries, 2008–2010

November 2, 2012 Comments off

Current Tobacco Use and Secondhand Smoke Exposure Among Women of Reproductive Age — 14 Countries, 2008–2010

Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (CDC)

Tobacco use and secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure in reproductive-aged women can cause adverse reproductive health outcomes, such as pregnancy complications, fetal growth restriction, preterm delivery, stillbirths, and infant death (1–3). Data on tobacco use and SHS exposure among reproductive-aged women in low- and middle-income countries are scarce. To examine current tobacco use and SHS exposure in women aged 15–49 years, data were analyzed from the 2008–2010 Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) from 14 low- and middle-income countries: Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Mexico, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay, and Vietnam. The results of this analysis indicated that, among reproductive-aged women, current tobacco smoking ranged from 0.4% in Egypt to 30.8% in Russia, current smokeless tobacco use was <1% in most countries, but common in Bangladesh (20.1%) and India (14.9%), and SHS exposure at home was common in all countries, ranging from 17.8% in Mexico to 72.3% in Vietnam. High tobacco smoking prevalence in some countries suggests that strategies promoting cessation should be a priority, whereas low prevalence in other countries suggests that strategies should focus on preventing smoking initiation. Promoting cessation and preventing initiation among both men and women would help to reduce the exposure of reproductive-aged women to SHS.

Strengthening Pre-Departure Orientation Programmes in Indonesia, Nepal and the Philippines

September 28, 2012 Comments off

Strengthening Pre-Departure Orientation Programmes in Indonesia, Nepal and the Philippines (PDF)

Source: Migration Policy Institute

With overseas employment a more permanent feature of the development strategies of a number of Asian states, predeparture orientation programs have emerged as an important tool for the protection of migrant workers. This brief examines the strengths, limitations, and areas for improvement of this intervention, based on findings from field research conducted in Indonesia, Nepal, and the Philippines.

Does Cosleeping Contribute to Lower Testosterone Levels in Fathers? Evidence from the Philippines

September 7, 2012 Comments off

Does Cosleeping Contribute to Lower Testosterone Levels in Fathers? Evidence from the Philippines
Source: PLoS ONE

Because cross-species evidence suggests that high testosterone (T) may interfere with paternal investment, the relationships between men’s transition to parenting and changes in their T are of growing interest. Studies of human males suggest that fathers who provide childcare often have lower T than uninvolved fathers, but no studies to date have evaluated how nighttime sleep proximity between fathers and their offspring may affect T. Using data collected in 2005 and 2009 from a sample of men (n = 362; age 26.0 ± 0.3 years in 2009) residing in metropolitan Cebu, Philippines, we evaluated fathers’ T based on whether they slept on the same surface as their children (same surface cosleepers), slept on a different surface but in the same room (roomsharers), or slept separately from their children (solitary sleepers). A large majority (92%) of fathers in this sample reported practicing same surface cosleeping. Compared to fathers who slept solitarily, same surface cosleeping fathers had significantly lower evening (PM) T and also showed a greater diurnal decline in T from waking to evening (both p<0.05). Among men who were not fathers at baseline (2005), fathers who were cosleepers at follow-up (2009) experienced a significantly greater longitudinal decline in PM T over the 4.5-year study period (p0.2). These results are consistent with previous findings indicating that daytime father-child interaction contributes to lower T among fathers. Our findings specifically suggest that close sleep proximity between fathers and their offspring results in greater longitudinal decreases in T as men transition to fatherhood and lower PM T overall compared to solitary sleeping fathers.

See: Fathers Who Sleep Closer to Children Have Lower Testosterone Levels (Science Daily)

Salient Features of Vietnamese and Filipina Brides of American Citizens: Findings Based on the Micro Data of Recent American Community Surveys

September 5, 2012 Comments off

Salient Features of Vietnamese and Filipina Brides of American Citizens: Findings Based on the Micro Data of Recent American Community Surveys (PDF)

Source:  Journal of Population Studies
This paper studies the educational, employment, and income status of Vietnamese and Filipina brides of American citizens, based on the merged micro data of the 2005, 2006, and 2007 American Community Surveys. We found that the Vietnamese brides tended to be much less educated than the Filipina brides. This difference, together with the fact that the former tended to be much weaker in English language ability than the latter, contributed than did the Filipina brides, and (2) the finding that the economic niche of the employed Vietnamese brides (in the salon sector) tended to yield substantially lower wages than did the economic niche of the employed Filipina brides (in the medical service sector). Since better-educated brides had a better chance to get married to better-educated husbands, we naturally found that the husbands of the Vietnamese brides tended to be less educated than the husbands of the Filipina brides. However, the gap in educational attainment between the two groups of husbands was substantially smaller than the corresponding gap between the two groups of the brides. Underlying this gender difference was the fact that in addition to educational status, beauty and pleasant personality were also important criteria for selecting wives, and the possibility that beauty and pleasant personality were not positively correlated with educational status. With respect to household income, the gap between the two groups of brides was not large, partly because of the strong tendency of the Vietnamese brides toward hypergamy. A nice finding was that both Filipina and Vietnamese wives of American citizens were at rather low risk of being in poverty. The rather negative images of foreign brides in higher-income Asian countries conveyed by many ethnographic studies have been countered by our more sanguine finding about the Vietnamese and Filipina brides in the United States. With respect to the idea that women in lower-income countries tend to accept hypogamy at the personal level in order to achieve hypergamy at the societal level, it was moderately supported by the Filipina cases but largely negated by the Vietnamese cases.

Adult Awareness of Tobacco Advertising, Promotion, and Sponsorship — 14 Countries

May 28, 2012 Comments off

Adult Awareness of Tobacco Advertising, Promotion, and Sponsorship — 14 Countries
Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (CDC)

According to the 2012 Report of the U.S. Surgeon General, exposure to tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship (TAPS) is associated with the initiation and continuation of smoking among young persons. The World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) requires countries to prohibit all forms of TAPS (2); the United States signed the agreement in 2004, but the action has not yet been ratified. Many countries have adopted partial bans covering direct advertising in traditional media channels; however, few countries have adopted comprehensive bans on all types of direct and indirect marketing. To assess progress toward elimination of TAPS and the level of awareness of TAPS among persons aged ≥15 years, CDC used data from the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) collected in 14 countries during 2008–2010. Awareness of any TAPS ranged from 12.4% in Turkey to 70.4% in the Philippines. In the four countries where awareness of TAPs was ≤15%, three of the countries had comprehensive bans covering all nine channels assessed by GATS, and the fourth country banned seven of the nine channels. In 12 countries, more persons were aware of advertising in stores than advertising via any other channel. Reducing exposure to TAPS is important to prevent initiation of tobacco use by youths and young adults and to help smokers quit.

CRS — Guam: U.S. Defense Deployments

April 3, 2012 Comments off

Guam: U.S. Defense Deployments
Source: Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Since 2000, the U.S. military has been building up forward-deployed forces on the westernmost U.S. territory of Guam to increase U.S. presence, deterrence, and power projection for potential responses to crises and disasters, counterterrorism, and contingencies in support of South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan, or elsewhere in Asia. Since 2006, three joint exercises based at Guam called “Valiant Shield” have boosted U.S. military readiness in the Asian-Pacific region. The defense buildup on Guam has been moderate. China still has concerns about Guam’s buildup, suspecting it to be directed against China. There has been concern that China and North Korea could target Guam with missiles. Still, Guam’s role increased in engaging with China’s military.

In 2006, the United States and Japan agreed on a Realignment Roadmap to strengthen their alliance, including a buildup on Guam to cost $10.3 billion, with Japan contributing 60%. Goals were to start the related construction on Guam by 2010 and to complete relocation of about 8,000 marines from Okinawa to Guam by 2014. In Tokyo on February 17, 2009, the Secretary of State signed the bilateral “Agreement Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of Japan Concerning the Implementation of the Relocation of the III Marine Expeditionary Force Personnel and Their Dependents From Okinawa to Guam” that reaffirmed the “Roadmap” of May 1, 2006. The two governments agreed that of the estimated $10.27 billion cost of the facilities and infrastructure development for the relocation, Japan will provide $6.09 billion, including up to $2.8 billion in direct cash contributions (in FY2008 dollars). The United States committed to fund $3.18 billion plus $1 billion for a road for a total of $4.18 billion.

However, completion of the marines’ relocation by 2014 would be unlikely, and the original realignment actually would have involved more than moving 8,000 marines to Guam. In September 2009, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) became the ruling party. This political change raised uncertainty as Japan sought to re-negotiate the agreement, even while the United States sought its implementation. The dispute over the location on Okinawa of the Futenma Replacement Facility (FRF) to replace the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma raised implications for the relocation of marines from Okinawa to Guam. Then, North Korea’s attack on South Korea’s naval ship Cheonan in March 2010, and China’s deployment of its Navy near Okinawa and confrontation with Japan’s forces in April, catalyzed Japan to resolve the dispute in favor of stronger deterrence in alliance with the United States. On May 28, the Secretaries of Defense and State and their counterparts in Japan issued a “2+2” Joint Statement, in which they reaffirmed the 2006 Roadmap and the 2009 Agreement. In September 2010, the Navy and Army issued a Record of Decision that deferred some decisions for Guam. Nonetheless, despite the dispute over the FRF, Japan has budgeted for direct contributions and loans for the marines’ relocation to Guam.

By 2011, some Members urged attention to concerns that included Japan’s impasse, expanded costs, and the delay in the realignment even as the U.S military presence and readiness remain critical. On May 11, 2011, Senators Carl Levin, John McCain, and Jim Webb called for a review of plans to restructure military forces in South Korea, Japan, and Guam. Meanwhile, President Obama issued in January 2012 a new strategy of rebalancing priorities more to the Pacific. Finally, on February 8, the United States and Japan agreed to “adjust” the Roadmap and separate the move of marines from the plan for the FRF, in order to make progress separately. According to news reports, of 8,000 marines to transfer from Okinawa, only 4,700 could move to Guam. Legislation includes the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY2012, P.L. 112-81. Updated as warranted, this CRS Report discusses major developments and policy issues related to the defense buildup.

Running in Circles: Progress and Challenges in Regulating Recruitment of Filipino and Sri Lankan Labor Migrants to Jordan

July 29, 2011 Comments off

Running in Circles: Progress and Challenges in Regulating Recruitment of Filipino and Sri Lankan Labor Migrants to Jordan (PDF)
Source: Migration Policy Institute

Labor migration from the Philippines and Sri Lanka to Jordan has filled a growing share of unskilled and semi-skilled jobs in recent years, with private recruitment agencies playing an important role in facilitating and driving labor migration. But despite a comprehensive set of laws and guidelines to control migration systems in these countries, workers remain vulnerable to abuse and exploitation at the hands of recruitment agents. Excessive placement fees, violations of contractual terms and conditions, underpayment or nonpayment of wages, poor working or living conditions, confiscation of passports, and even physical abuse highlight the significant gaps in these countries’ migration protection systems. This report identifies problem areas and recommends ways to strengthen system management.

High Rates of Contraceptive Discontinuation Highlight Need for Stronger Family Planning Services in Developing World

June 29, 2011 Comments off

High Rates of Contraceptive Discontinuation Highlight Need for Stronger Family Planning Services in Developing World
Source: Guttmacher Institute

In six diverse developing countries, more than four in 10 women discontinue use of their method within one year, according to a study by Sian Curtis of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, et al., published in the June issue of International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health. Data from 1999–2003 Demographic and Health Surveys from Bangladesh, the Dominican Republic, Kazakhstan, Kenya, the Philippines and Zimbabwe indicate that contraceptive discontinuation rates ranged from 20% in Zimbabwe to 48% in Bangladesh and the Dominican Republic. In every country, with the exception of Kazakhstan, the top three reasons for discontinuation were the desire to get pregnant, contraceptive failure and side effects.

To explore how fertility desires contribute to stopping contraceptive use, the researchers examined women’s attitudes toward pregnancies following discontinuation for reasons other than a desire to have a child. The proportion of births reported as intended following contraceptive failure ranged from 16% in Bangladesh to 54% in Kazakhstan, while the proportion of such births following discontinuation because of side effects ranged from 37% in Kenya to 51% in Kazakhstan.

Because relatively high proportions of births were reported as intended following contraceptive failure or discontinuation for reasons other than wanting to get pregnant (for example, side effects), Curtis et al. suggest that ambivalent fertility desires are an important factor in contraceptive discontinuation. In addition, older age, having fewer than five living children, and longer durations between contraceptive discontinuation and pregnancy were associated with reporting births as intended.

In all countries except Kazakhstan, 71–84% of women who became pregnant while using a contraceptive method and 56–63% of women who gave birth after discontinuing use because of side effects reported the birth as unintended. According to the researchers, increasing the proportion of couples adopting a contraceptive method who continue to use it successfully or switch to another method is a critical element in preventing unwanted births and reducing the need for induced abortions. Curtis et al. conclude that reducing unintended pregnancy will require identifying women who strongly want to avoid a pregnancy and finding ways to help them maintain contraceptive use.

+ Full Paper (PDF)

State Department Travel Warning — Philippines — June 14, 2011

June 19, 2011 Comments off

State Department Travel Warning — Philippines — June 14, 2011
Source: U.S. Department of State (Bureau of Consular Affairs)

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of terrorist activity in the Philippines, particularly in the Sulu Archipelago and on the island of Mindanao. Terrorist attacks could be indiscriminate and could occur in other areas, to include Manila. Targeted sites may be public gathering places including, but not limited to, airports, shopping malls, conference centers, and other public venues. This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning dated November 2, 2010, and updates specific regions of concern and reflects continuing threats due to terrorist and insurgent activities.

Travelers should exercise extreme caution if traveling to Mindanao or the Sulu Archipelago. Regional terrorist groups have carried out bombings resulting in injuries and death. Sporadic clashes have occurred between lawless groups and the Philippine Armed Forces throughout Mindanao, particularly in rural areas. U.S. Government employees must seek special permission to travel to Mindanao or the Sulu Archipelago.

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