Canada — There is no single solution to maximize the presence and potential of women in university research, concludes Expert Panel
Source: Council of Canadian Academies
An in-depth, authoritative assessment of women in university research has found that although there has been significant progress in the representation of women in the university research ranks, there are still gender equity challenges that must be overcome and the passage of time will not be enough to ensure parity.
A newly released report by the Council of Canadian Academies entitled, Strengthening Canada’s Research Capacity: The Gender Dimension provides an assessment of the the factors that influence university research careers of women. This assessment was requested by the Minister of Industry in the fall of 2010 after the notable absence of female candidates for the prestigious Canada Excellence Research Chairs program.
Canada — From Combat Stress to Operational Stress: The CF’s Mental Health Lessons from the “Decade of Darkn ess.”
Source: Canadian Military Journal
Today, the care provided for members of the Canadian Forces (CF) and veterans who experience mental health problems as a result of military service is arguably as good as it has ever been in our history. This enviable situation came about because of many improvements to the ways the Department of National Defence (DND) and Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) treat those with mental health problems, based upon lessons learned from the ‘Decade of Darkness’ – a time in the 1990s when the CF’s reputation in this area was at a historic low. The publication in 2000 of the findings of the Croatia Board of Inquiry (Croatia BOI) was the catalyst for many of these changes. It drew public attention to the shameful way Canada treated its wounded service personnel, suffering from both physical and mental wounds, in economically challenging times. Together, these changes resulted in a paradigm shift in how those suffering from mental health-related problems were dealt with by DND and VAC. The adoption by the CF of the term “Operational Stress Injury” (OSI), to encompass a wide range of mental health issues, and to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness, was symbolic of this paradigm shift, and it represents the progress made in addressing these issues.
However, the CF and veterans may be facing a new decade of darkness, as ominous economic circumstances and declining government support for the military have already reduced funding to all government programs, but especially defence – the government’s largest discretionary expenditure.5 This is to be expected, given the cyclical nature of public support for defence spending in Canada and that fact that, “Defence policy will receive, except in emergencies, what funds that are available and not funds white papers and rational strategies and commitments demand…” These cuts have already affected both serving members’ and veterans’ health programs. Furthermore, these cuts only address the current deficit in government spending, and it is widely recognized that, in the face of future efforts to reduce the national debt, current long-range defence spending plans are “unaffordable.”
Source: Parliamentary Library of Canda
Recent proposals by Canadian companies to build the Keystone XL Pipeline from Alberta to Texas, and the Northern Gateway Pipeline from Alberta to the British Columbia coast, have received a great deal of public attention. While certain individuals and groups have mounted a vigorous opposition to one or both pipeline projects, the Canadian government has publicly stated its support for both.
Ultimately, the decision whether to allow one or both of these projects to be carried out should strike an appropriate balance between economic, environmental and social interests raised in the course of the proposals’ regulatory review. In the spring of 2012, the government introduced changes to the Canadian regulatory review process in order to streamline and expedite the regulatory review of future pipeline proposals as well as those currently underway. This paper summarizes the new Canadian regulatory review process for pipelines, as well as the existing process in the United States, and discusses how these processes apply specifically to the Keystone XL Pipeline and the Northern Gateway Pipeline proposals.
North American Transportation Statistics: Almost 93 Million Personal Vehicles Entered the United States in 2011
North American Transportation Statistics: Almost 93 Million Personal Vehicles Entered the United States in 2011
Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics
Wednesday, November 14, 2012 – Almost 93 million personal vehicles entered the United States in 2011, 31.6 million from Canada, and 61.2 million from Mexico, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ (BTS). Additionally, 10.4 million trucks, 322 thousand buses, and 35 thousand trains entered the United States last year.
Source: National Research Council
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is responsible for securing and managing the nation’s borders. Over the past decade, DHS has dramatically stepped up its enforcement efforts at the U.S.-Mexico border, increasing the number of U.S. Border patrol (USBP) agents, expanding the deployment of technological assets, and implementing a variety of "consequence programs" intended to deter illegal immigration. During this same period, there has also been a sharp decline in the number of unauthorized migrants apprehended at the border.
Trends in total apprehensions do not, however, by themselves speak to the effectiveness of DHS’s investments in immigration enforcement. In particular, to evaluate whether heightened enforcement efforts have contributed to reducing the flow of undocumented migrants, it is critical to estimate the number of border-crossing attempts during the same period for which apprehensions data are available. With these issues in mind, DHS charged the National Research Council (NRC) with providing guidance on the use of surveys and other methodologies to estimate the number of unauthorized crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border, preferably by geographic region and on a quarterly basis. Options for Estimating Illegal Entries at the U.S.-Mexico Border focuses on Mexican migrants since Mexican nationals account for the vast majority (around 90 percent) of attempted unauthorized border crossings across the U.S.-Mexico border.
Source: Library of Parliament — Canada
With some exceptions pertaining to specific issues or regions, cooperation in the North has not been a prominent goal of the international community until relatively recently. However, international cooperation began to evolve rapidly after then Soviet Secretary-General Mikhail Gorbachev delivered a speech in 1987 calling for “a genuine zone of peace and fruitful cooperation” among Arctic states.1 There is now a plethora of official bodies, both governmental and non-governmental, whose purpose is to manage various issues in the Arctic. Although none has any legal basis as established by, for instance, international treaty, these organizations have assumed an important role in the development of Arctic cooperation. This paper provides information, largely derived from Internet sites, about some of the more important of these organizations, with particular emphasis on the Arctic Council and some domestic Canadian examples.
Source: Library of Parliament — Canda
Although the Arctic is remote and sparsely populated, it is under threat from environmental stresses largely originating in distant regions. Three main interrelated issues regarding the Arctic environment are climate change, changes in biological diversity, and the accumulation of toxic substances. The effects of these changes are becoming increasingly evident in the North. In addition, the Arctic appears to be a harbinger of environmental change as well as a key determinant of that change, particularly changes in climate.
This paper briefly describes some of the environmental issues that affect the Far North1 and lists some of the efforts being made internationally and in Canada to protect the Arctic environment.
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)
Textiles are a major issue in the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations to establish a free-trade zone across the Pacific. Because the negotiating parties include Vietnam, a major apparel producer that now mainly sources yarns and fabrics from China and other Asian nations, the agreement has the potential to shift global trading patterns for textiles and demand for U.S. textile exports. Canada and Mexico, both significant regional textile markets for the United States, have also been accepted into the TPP talks.
U.S. textile manufacturers produce yarn, thread, and fabric for apparel, home furnishings, and for various industrial applications. In 2011, the U.S. textile industry generated $53 billion in shipments and directly employed about 238,000 Americans, accounting for 2% of all U.S. factory jobs. Approximately one-third of U.S. textile production is exported, with the bulk of the exports going to Western Hemisphere nations that are members of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) or the Central American-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR). Both free trade agreements provide that certain exports from member countries may enter the U.S. market duty-free only if they are made from textiles produced in the region. This has encouraged manufacturers in Mexico and Central America to use U.S.-made yarns and fabrics in apparel, home furnishings, and other products. Exports to the NAFTA and CAFTA-DR countries contributed to a U.S. trade surplus of $2.5 billion in yarns and fabrics in 2011.
The TPP has the potential to affect U.S. textile exporters in at least two ways. First, it could enable Asian apparel producers, principally Vietnam, to export clothing to the United States dutyfree. This would eliminate much of the advantage now enjoyed by Western Hemisphere apparel producers in the U.S. market and, because Vietnamese manufacturers make little use of U.S.- made textiles, could reduce demand for U.S. textile exports. Second, if the TPP were to allow Western Hemisphere apparel manufacturers to use yarn and fabric made anywhere in the TPP region and still enjoy preferential access to the U.S. market, an enlarged Vietnamese textile industry could, at some future time, compete with U.S. exporters in Mexico and Central America.
Textile industry trade groups have urged the United States to insist on a “yarn forward” rule, requiring that yarn production, fabric production, and cutting and sewing of the finished garment all occur within the TPP region for the garment to enter the United States duty-free. On the other side, retailers and apparel companies want to be able to import apparel from the lowest-cost producer, regardless of whether U.S. textiles are used; they urge that textiles and apparel be treated like other products in any TPP agreement. Members of Congress have voiced their support for both sides.
The TPP seems likely to have less impact on those segments of the U.S. textile industry that do not supply apparel manufacturing. U.S. manufacturers of household and technical textiles appear to be internationally competitive, and it is not evident that lower-wage countries would have comparative advantage in these highly capital-intensive sectors.
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.
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)
The United States and Mexico have a close and complex bilateral relationship as neighbors and partners under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Although security issues have recently dominated the U.S. relationship with Mexico, analysts predict that bilateral relations may shift towards economic matters once President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto takes office. Peña Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) defeated leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Josefina Vázquez Mota of the conservative National Action Party (PAN) in Mexico’s July 1, 2012, presidential election. As a result, the PRI, which controlled Mexico from 1929 to 2000, will retake the presidency on December 1, 2012. Some analysts have raised concerns regarding the PRI’s corrupt past and impending return to power, but President-elect Peña Nieto has pledged to govern democratically and to forge cross-party alliances.
The outgoing PAN government of Felipe Calderón has pursued an aggressive anticrime strategy and increased security cooperation with the United States. These efforts have helped Mexico arrest or kill record numbers of drug kingpins, but more than 55,000 people have died as a result of organized crime-related violence since December 2006. Mexico’s ongoing security challenges have overshadowed some of the Calderón government’s achievements, including its successful economic stewardship during the global financial crisis and expansion of healthcare coverage.
In recent years, U.S. policy towards Mexico has been framed by security cooperation under the Mérida Initiative. Congress has provided more than $1.9 billion in Mérida aid since FY2008 to support Mexico’s efforts against drug trafficking and organized crime. Whereas U.S. assistance initially focused on training and equipping Mexican counterdrug forces, it now prioritizes strengthening the rule of law. Along the border, U.S. policymakers have sought to balance security and commercial concerns. The U.S. and Mexican governments resolved a longstanding trade dispute in 2011 involving NAFTA trucking provisions and have sought to improve competitiveness through regulatory cooperation. Bilateral trade surpassed $460 billion in 2011.The February 2012 signing of a Trans-Boundary Hydrocarbons Agreement for managing oil resources in the Gulf of Mexico could create new opportunities for energy cooperation.
The 112th Congress has maintained an active interest in Mexico. The Obama Administration asked for $269.5 million in assistance for Mexico in its FY2013 budget request. The Senate and House Appropriations Committees’ versions of the FY2013 foreign aid measure, S. 3241 and H.R. 5857, each recommend increases in aid to Mexico, with human rights conditions similar to P.L. 112-74. Congress has held oversight hearings, issued reports, and introduced legislation on how to bolster the Mérida Initiative and on related U.S. domestic efforts to combat gun trafficking, money laundering, and drug demand. A Senate-passed bill, S. 1612, would increase penalties for transnational drug trafficking. Violence in northern Mexico has kept border security on the agenda, with P.L. 112-93 increasing penalties for aviation smuggling, and P.L. 112-127 tightening sentencing guidelines for building border tunnels. Another bill that recently passed both chambers, H.R. 915, provides statutory authority for the bilateral Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST) program. A House-Mexico: Issues for Congress Congressional Research Service passed measure, H.R. 1299 would require a new border security strategy, while another, H.R. 6368, would require a study on cross-border violence.
Mexico’s recent accession to negotiations for a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement is likely to generate congressional interest. Congressional action may be required in order for the Trans-boundary Hydrocarbons Agreement to take effect. And, as Mexico’s political transition approaches, Congress is likely to monitor the policy positions taken by the incoming Peña Nieto administration.
Also see: CRS Report R42548, Mexico’s 2012 Elections, by Clare Ribando Seelke; CRS Report R41349, U.S.-Mexican Security Cooperation: The Mérida Initiative and Beyond , by Clare Ribando Seelke and Kristin M. Finklea; and CRS Report RL32934, U.S.-Mexico Economic Relations: Trends, Issues, and Implications, by M. Angeles Villarreal.
New Approaches to Migration Management in Mexico and Central America (PDF)
Source: Migration Policy Institute
Migration has emerged as a critical policy issue for Mexico and Central America during the past three decades. This report traces the history of migration and transmigration trends and policy in Mexico and Central America, and examines Mexico’s sweeping 2011 immigration law and implementation challenges.
Country Analysis Brief: Mexico
Source: Energy Information Administration
Mexico is one of the ten largest oil producers in the world, the third-largest in the Western Hemisphere, and an important partner in the U.S. energy trade. However, the amount of oil produced in Mexico has steadily decreased since 2004 due to natural production declines from Cantarell and other large offshore fields, though the rate of their decline has abated in recent months. The onus on arresting or reversing production declines falls squarely on the shoulders of Petroleós Mexicanos (PEMEX), the state-owned oil company, due to constitutional limits on foreign involvement in the exploration, production, and ownership of the nation’s hydrocarbon resources. Nonetheless, recently enacted and potential reforms could liberalize the sector and promote greater foreign investment.
Oil is a crucial component of Mexico’s economy. The oil sector generated 16 percent of the country’s export earnings in 2011, according to Mexico’s central bank, a proportion that has declined over time. More significantly, earnings from the oil industry (including taxes and direct payments from PEMEX) accounted for 34 percent of total government revenues in 2011. Declines in oil production have a direct impact upon the country’s economic output and the government’s fiscal health, particularly as refined product consumption and import needs grow.
Mexico’s total energy consumption in 2010 consisted mostly of oil (56 percent), followed by natural gas (29 percent). Natural gas is increasingly replacing oil as a feedstock in power generation. However, Mexico is a net importer of natural gas, so higher levels of natural gas consumption will likely depend upon more imports from either the United States or via liquefied natural gas (LNG) from other countries. All other fuel types contribute relatively small amounts to Mexico’s overall energy mix. Most of Mexico’s non-hydro renewables consumption is attributable to traditional biomass, the use of which is important in rural areas albeit difficult to quantify accurately, but the country also has noteworthy geothermal and wind energy sectors.
Source: Candian Centre for Policy Alternatives
This primer on child care in Ontario, co-authored by child care expert Martha Friendly and CCPA Ontario Director Trish Hennessy, makes the case for the government to take leadership and commit to public, non-profit, affordable, regulated child care.
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Inspector General
During the course of our review we received information about other ATF firearms trafficking investigations that raised questions about how those investigations were conducted. This report describes one of them, Operation Wide Receiver. We plan to issue a separate report on at least one other ATF investigation that involves an individual suspected of transporting grenade components into Mexico, converting them into live grenades, and then supplying them to drug cartels. The OIG also is completing its investigation of an allegation that one or more Department employees provided to a member of the media a copy of a May 2010 undercover operation proposal drafted by one of the ATF agents who publicly testified about his concerns with the conduct of Operation Fast and Furious. Additionally, we are reviewing allegations that two ATF agents who publicly testified about their concerns regarding Operation Fast and Furious were reassigned to positions within ATF that could have subjected them to retaliation. We also will continue to review information that has been provided to us to determine whether other reports are warranted on additional topics related to Operation Fast and Furious, such as information sharing among ATF, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the FBI regarding key figures in parallel investigations.
Source: Energy Information Administration
Canada is a net exporter of most energy commodities and is an especially significant producer of conventional and unconventional oil, natural gas, and hydroelectricity. It stands out as the largest foreign supplier of energy to the United States, its southern neighbor and one of the world’s largest consumers of energy. Just as the United States depends on Canada for much of its energy needs, so is Canada profoundly dependent on the United States as an export market. However, economic and political considerations are leading Canada to consider ways to diversify its trading partners, especially by expanding ties with emerging markets in Asia.
Canada’s large territory is endowed with an exceptionally rich and varied set of natural resources, which enables it to rank among the five largest energy producers in the world. It produced an estimated 18.2 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) of primary energy in 2009, relative to 13.0 quadrillion Btu of primary energy consumed. Its economy is relatively energy-intensive when compared to other industrialized countries, and is largely fueled by petroleum for transportation purposes, natural gas, and hydroelectricity.