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CA — The burden of premature opioid-related mortality

August 19, 2014 Comments off

The burden of premature opioid-related mortality
Source: Addiction

Background and Aims
The burden of premature mortality due to opioid-related death has not been fully characterized. We calculated temporal trends in the proportion of deaths attributable to opioids and estimated years of potential life lost (YLL) due to opioid-related mortality in Ontario, Canada.

Design
Cross-sectional study.

Setting
Ontario, Canada.

Participants
Individuals who died of opioid-related causes between January 1991 and December 2010.

Measurements
We used the Registered Persons Database and data abstracted from the Office of the Chief Coroner to measure annual rates of opioid-related mortality. The proportion of all deaths related to opioids was determined by age group in each of 1992, 2001 and 2010. The YLL due to opioid-related mortality were estimated, applying the life expectancy estimates for the Ontario population.

Findings
We reviewed 5935 opioid-related deaths in Ontario between 1991 and 2010. The overall rate of opioid-related mortality increased by 242% between 1991 (12.2 per 1 000 000 Ontarians) and 2010 (41.6 per 1 000 000 Ontarians; P < 0.0001). Similarly, the annual YLL due to premature opioid-related death increased threefold, from 7006 years (1.3 years per 1000 population) in 1992 to 21 927 years (3.3 years per 1000 population) in 2010. The proportion of deaths attributable to opioids increased significantly over time within each age group (P < 0.05). By 2010, nearly one of every eight deaths (12.1%) among individuals aged 25–34 years was opioid-related.

Conclusions
Rates of opioid-related deaths are increasing rapidly in Ontario, Canada, and are concentrated among the young, leading to a substantial burden of disease.

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In-work poverty in the EU

August 19, 2014 Comments off

In-work poverty in the EU
Source: European Parliamentary Research Service

Having a job yet still being unable to make a living: In-work poverty is a phenomenon that affected 9,1 percent of the working age EU population in 2012. The rate of those in work and at risk of poverty has been on the rise since 2005. It applies to those with an income below 60% of the national median. In the aftermath of the crisis, wage polarisation and an increase of part-time work have led to higher rates of in-work poverty in Europe. At the same time, nearly a quarter of the overall EU population is facing the risk of poverty or exclusion.

Employment does not always protect from poverty. Whether a person is becoming “working poor” is decided by working status and household income. Analysts often see a combination of low pay, high needs and weak ties to the labour market as root causes. In general the risk is higher for single households (sole earners, especially women with dependent children), young workers and temporarily employed people as well as those with low levels of education. Paradoxically, men face a higher risk than women, even though women are more often in part-time employment with a lower salary. Yet women are more often secondary earners, meaning that the household income does not depend only on them.

Baby Names in England and Wales, 2013

August 19, 2014 Comments off

Baby Names in England and Wales, 2013
Source: Office for National Statistics

Key Findings

  • Oliver and Amelia were the most popular first names given to babies born in England and Wales in 2013. Amelia has been in the top spot since 2011 while Oliver replaced Harry, the top name in 2011 and 2012.
  • In England, Amelia was the most popular name in all regions and Oliver was the most popular name in five out of the nine regions.
  • In Wales, Oliver was the most popular name, replacing Jacob, while Amelia has been the most popular name since 2012.
  • Oscar and George replaced Alfie and Riley in the top 10 most popular names, climbing from number 17 to 7 and number 12 to 10 respectively.
  • Poppy replaced Lily in the top 10 most popular names, climbing from number 13 to 7.

Left in the Dark: International Military Operations in Afghanistan

August 18, 2014 Comments off

Left in the Dark: International Military Operations in Afghanistan
Source: Amnesty International

Thousands of Afghan civilians have been killed since 2001 by international forces, and thousands more have been injured. This report examines the record of accountability for civilian deaths caused by international military operations in the five-year period from 2009 to 2013. In particular, it focuses on the performance of the US government in investigating possible war crimes and in prosecuting those suspected of criminal responsibility for such crimes. Its overall finding is that the record is poor.

Notes from the Field: Hospitalizations for Respiratory Disease Among Unaccompanied Children from Central America — Multiple States, June–July 2014

August 18, 2014 Comments off

Notes from the Field: Hospitalizations for Respiratory Disease Among Unaccompanied Children from Central America — Multiple States, June–July 2014
Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (CDC)

During October 2013–June 2014, approximately 54,000 unaccompanied children, mostly from the Central American countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, were identified attempting entry into the United States from Mexico, exceeding numbers reported in previous years (1). Once identified in the United States, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, an agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, processes the unaccompanied children and transfers them to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), an office of the Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. ORR cares for the children in shelters until they can be released to a sponsor, typically a parent or relative, who can care for the child while their immigration case is processed. In June 2014, in response to the increased number of unaccompanied children, U.S. Customs and Border Protection expanded operations to accommodate children at a processing center in Nogales, Arizona. ORR, together with the U.S. Department of Defense, opened additional large temporary shelters for the children at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas; U.S. Army Garrison Ft. Sill, Oklahoma; and Naval Base Ventura County, California.

On July 10, 2014, CDC was informed by the California Department of Public Health and ORR about four unaccompanied male children aged 14–16 years with respiratory illnesses at Naval Base Ventura County, three of whom were hospitalized with pneumonia. Among the three patients with pneumonia, two were bacteremic with Streptococcus pneumoniae, ultimately determined to be serotype 5, one of whom also had laboratory-confirmed influenza B virus by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The fourth patient, without pneumonia, had PCR-confirmed influenza A(H1N1)pdm09. Pneumococcal bacteremia is uncommon among U.S. adolescents, particularly serotype 5, with only three such cases identified in the past 10 years by CDC (2). In addition, influenza activity in the United States is typically lowest in the middle of summer, and Ventura County had no reports of an unusual increase in influenza activity in the community at the time. ORR asked CDC to investigate the scope of this apparent outbreak and implement measures to interrupt transmission.

During July 6–19, 2014, CDC was informed of other clusters of hospitalized children with respiratory disease, increasing the total to 16 cases. The cases were from Naval Base Ventura County (eight cases), Ft. Sill (three), Lackland Air Force Base (two), a standard ORR shelter near Houston, Texas (two), and the Nogales processing center (one). Cases were in persons aged 14–17 years. Diagnoses included laboratory-confirmed pneumococcal pneumonia with laboratory-confirmed influenza (three cases) and without laboratory-confirmed influenza (four cases), influenza pneumonia (one case), and pneumonia with no identified etiology (eight cases). Five patients experienced septic shock requiring intensive care. No case was fatal. All six cases for which pneumococcal isolates were available were identified as serotype 5, a serotype included in 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) (Prevnar-13, Pfizer). Of the 16 patients identified in this cluster, 11 were tested for influenza viruses; four (36%) were positive (two for influenza A[H1N1]pdm09, one for influenza B, and one for influenza A by rapid test).

Because of the concern that unaccompanied children were at increased risk for influenza and pneumococcal pneumonia in this outbreak setting and the clinically important interaction between influenza and pneumococcal infections (3), CDC recommended that all children residing in temporary or standard ORR shelters receive influenza vaccine and PCV13 in addition to routinely recommended vaccines. Approximately 2,000 children in four affected shelters were vaccinated during July 18–30 with PCV13 and with Food and Drug Administration–approved extended expiration date–specific lots of 2013–14 seasonal influenza vaccine, which includes influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 and influenza B viruses. The shelters reported no serious adverse events.

Coordinating Immigrant Integration in Germany: Mainstreaming at the federal and local levels

August 18, 2014 Comments off

Coordinating Immigrant Integration in Germany: Mainstreaming at the federal and local levels
Source: Migration Policy Institute

In contrast to other European countries, the idea of “mainstreaming” immigrant integration policy—the practice of reaching people with a migration background through social programming and policies that address the needs of the general population—has not caught on among policymakers in Germany. Although characterized by fragmented policies scattered across many levels of government with little vertical coordination, integration policy in Germany has made many strides over the past decade. Still, civil-society organizations and employees in public services continue to call for a shift away from policymaking that targets specific groups, and toward measures directed at society, or young people, as a whole.

This report explores the history and recent trends of integration policy in Germany, focusing on the past 15 years, when immigrant integration became an important issue. Aside from matters of nationality, freedom of movement, and passports, which are the exclusive domain of the federal government, and matters of education, which are up to the Länder (state-level governments) to decide, integration has consisted of a tangled web of overlapping and unclear legislative jurisdiction. Integration policy, which cuts across areas such as education, labor, and urban development, also suffers from a lack of horizontal coordination across various governmental departments and across states.

The report also examines various integration measures taken by the federal, Länder, and local governments as well as civil-society actors, including those that have attempted to reach the general population and those targeted at specific groups. Young people have been a particular focus of many projects, in a country where one-fourth of the estimated 15.6 million people with an immigrant background are under the age of 25.

CRS — Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms: Economic, Program, and Policy Issues (August 4, 2014)

August 15, 2014 Comments off

Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms: Economic, Program, and Policy Issues (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) programs were authorized by Congress in the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 to help workers and firms adjust to import competition and dislocation caused by trade liberalization. Trade liberalization, which is widely held to increase the economic welfare of all trade partners, can also cause adjustment problems for import-competing firms and workers. TAA has long been justified on grounds that TAA may be the least disruptive option for offsetting policy-driven trade liberalization. The TAA programs for workers, firms, and farmers represent an alternative to policies that would restrict imports, and so provides assistance while bolstering freer trade and diminishing prospects for potentially costly tension (retaliation) among trade partners.

CRS — Iraq Crisis and U.S. Policy (August 8, 2014)

August 15, 2014 Comments off

Iraq Crisis and U.S. Policy (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The offensive in northern and central Iraq led by the Sunni Islamist insurgent and terrorist group the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL/ISIS) has raised significant concerns for the United States and precipitated new U.S. military action in Iraq. U.S. concerns include a possible breakup of Iraq’s political and territorial order; the establishment of a potential base for terrorist attacks in the region or even against the U.S. homeland; the potential for a humanitarian catastrophe; and direct threats to the approximately 5,000 U.S. personnel in Iraq.

The crisis has raised several questions for U.S. policy because it represents the apparent unraveling of a seemingly stable and secure Iraq that was in place when U.S. combat troops departed Iraq at the end of 2011. The Islamic State offensive into Kurdish-controlled territory in early August has caused the United States to become reengaged militarily in Iraq. The Administration has said its intervention will remain limited and will not result in a deployment of U.S. ground troops back into Iraq. The Administration also has engaged in humanitarian air drops to members of minority communities in northern Iraq that fled the IS onslaught.

AU — National security: a quick guide to key Internet links

August 15, 2014 Comments off

National security: a quick guide to key Internet links
Source: Parliamentary Library of Australia

This Quick Guide provides key Internet links to websites with information on national security arrangements and issues. Australian Government agencies and websites provides information on what governments are doing to protect Australia’s national security, outlines relevant legislation and the roles of federal and state and territory agencies in countering terrorism, and provides links to key Australian Government publications relating to national security. It also has a list of organisations identified as terrorist organisations under the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) and associated regulations, with links to statements of reasons and the Australian Government’s listing protocol.

The Islamic Caliphate and Australia

August 15, 2014 Comments off

The Islamic Caliphate and Australia
Source: Parliamentary Library of Australia

In June 2014, the Islamic State (IS) declared an Islamic Caliphate spanning the area from Syria’s Aleppo governorate in the west, to Iraq’s province of Diyala in the east. The area under IS control now covers up to one third of Iraq, including the city of Mosul, which previously had a strong Christian community, but who have now mostly been forced to flee. The IS was formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS), and previously operated as a front organisation for Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) until Al-Qaeda broke ties with the group early this year. Although the group has been proscribed by Australia since 2005, it was only listed under the name Islamic State on 12 July 2014. Iraq’s national army and police force put up little resistance to the insurgents, and are reported to have abandoned their weapons and fled. However, Iraqi-Kurdistan in the far north-east tip of the country remains intact, and its military, the peshmerger, have secured Kirkuk, an oil rich city that the Kurds have previously laid claim to, but which is not recognised as part of Iraqi-Kurdistan.

The Human-Capital Needs of Tech City, London

August 15, 2014 Comments off

The Human-Capital Needs of Tech City, London
Source: Migration Policy Institute

Cities are important sites of entrepreneurship and innovation, especially for the tech industry, and skilled migrants can play critical roles in economic development in high-tech clusters such as London’s Tech City (also known as Silicon Roundabout). In the United Kingdom, an undersupply of skilled native-born developers encourages recruiters to look afield, but visa restrictions make hiring the right workers difficult. Evidence that firms are having trouble making the most of immigration point to a number of areas for policy action, as this report outlines.

A raft of policies were introduced to grow the Tech City cluster, but while the United Kingdom is reforming policies to attract and retain skilled migrant workers and migrant entrepreneurs, getting the design of these programs right has proved especially difficult. Policymakers’ control over cluster development is limited: policies that seek to map clusters and maximize their growth rarely deliver expected benefits. However, policies that are not cluster specific—such as human-capital interventions aimed at improving the international supply of workers through migration or the local supply of workers through skills training—are likely to have indirect effects that help clusters grow.

This report analyzes the importance of human capital to the development of Tech City and sets this discussion in a broader framework linking cities, digital sectors, and highly skilled immigration.

The report is part of a series from MPI’s Transatlantic Council on Migration focused on how policymakers at all levels can work together to help cities and regions get more out of immigration. The reports were commissioned for the Council’s eleventh plenary meeting, “Cities and Regions: Reaping Migration’s Local Dividends.”

Dependent Children Usually Resident in England and Wales with a Parental Second Address, 2011

August 15, 2014 Comments off

Dependent Children Usually Resident in England and Wales with a Parental Second Address, 2011
Source: Office for National Statistics

Dependent children who shared their time between two different parental addresses were analysed for the usually resident population in England and Wales using 2011 Census data. Analysis includes the age and sex profiles of these children in 2011, as well as their geographical distribution and location of their usual residence and parental second address.

Motor Vehicle Census, Australia, 31 Jan 2014

August 14, 2014 Comments off

Motor Vehicle Census, Australia, 31 Jan 2014
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics

This publication presents statistics relating to vehicles which were registered at 31 January 2014 with a motor vehicle registration authority. Motor vehicle registration statistics reflect the information as recorded in registration documents.

Statistics are provided on vehicle types comprising passenger vehicles, campervans, light commercial vehicles, trucks, buses and motor cycles. Vehicle characteristic information includes make of vehicle, year of manufacture, type of fuel that the vehicle was registered as using, and Gross Vehicle Mass or Gross Combination Mass for trucks. The size of the motor vehicle fleet is also compared with the estimated resident population.

McKinsey on Sustainability & Resource Productivity — Issue 2, Summer 2014

August 14, 2014 Comments off

McKinsey on Sustainability & Resource Productivity — Issue 2, Summer 2014
Source: McKinsey & Company

Articles in this issue

McKinsey on Sustainability & Resource Productivity—Introduction
In this second issue of McKinsey on Sustainability & Resource Productivity, we seek to establish the value of sustainability and to demonstrate how these opportunities can (and are) being captured in a range of industries.

Profits with purpose: How organizing for sustainability can benefit the bottom line
Becoming a sustainability leader requires big changes, but the effort is worth it—in both environmental and economic terms.

The human factor: Amassing troops for the ’resource revolution‘
Companies on the front lines of the resource revolution need to implement creative talent-management strategies.

Riding the resource wave: How extractive companies can succeed in the new resource era
With economic and social expectations rising in resource-rich countries, extractive companies must rethink how they do business.

Brave new world: Myths and realities of clean technologies
Don’t be fooled by high-profile setbacks. The cleantech sector is gaining steam—with less and less regulatory assistance.

Unconventional wisdom: Fracturing enters a new era
Faced with change on a scale not seen in decades, companies must alter their business plans to accommodate unconventionals or else risk irrelevance.

The disruptive potential of solar power
As costs fall, the importance of solar power to senior executives is rising.

Bioenergy in Europe: A new beginning—or the end of the road?
Bioenergy faces challenges in Europe, but there is reason to believe it can make a comeback.

Global Investor Confidence in US Soars for Third Straight Year, According to 2014 Global Venture Capital Confidence Survey

August 14, 2014 Comments off

Global Investor Confidence in US Soars for Third Straight Year, According to 2014 Global Venture Capital Confidence Survey
Source: Deloitte

Global investor confidence in the United States significantly increased for the third year in a row, driven by a combination of favorable capital markets, abundant investment opportunities in innovative companies and a strong investor climate, according to the 2014 Global Venture Capital Confidence Survey from Deloitte and the National Venture Capital Association. Moreover, global investor confidence also increased in the United Kingdom, Israel and Canada, but continued to decline in Brazil, China and India, according to the survey.

CRS — Securing U.S. Diplomatic Facilities and Personnel Abroad: Background and Policy Issues (July 30, 2014)

August 14, 2014 Comments off

Securing U.S. Diplomatic Facilities and Personnel Abroad: Background and Policy Issues (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Center)

The United States maintains about 285 diplomatic facilities worldwide. Attacks on such facilities, and on U.S. diplomatic personnel, are not infrequent. The deaths of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other U.S. personnel in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012, along with attacks that week on U.S. embassies in Egypt, Sudan, Tunisia, and Yemen, drew renewed attention to the challenges facing U.S. diplomats abroad, as well as to the difficulty in balancing concerns for their security against the outreach required of their mission. Congress plays a key role in shaping the response to these challenges, such as by providing resources for diplomatic security and examining security breaches overseas.

The inability to provide perfect security, especially against the evident threat of mob violence, has focused particular scrutiny on the deployment of diplomatic personnel in high-threat environments. The Department of State currently maintains a presence in locations faced with security conditions that previously would likely have led State to evacuate personnel and close the post.

CRS — NATO: Response to the Crisis in Ukraine and Security Concerns in Central and Eastern Europe (July 31, 2014)

August 14, 2014 Comments off

NATO: Response to the Crisis in Ukraine and Security Concerns in Central and Eastern Europe (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. Department of State Foreign Press Center)

Russia’s actions in Ukraine and its alleged role in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 have caused observers and policy makers on both sides of the Atlantic, including Members of Congress, to reassess the role of the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in upholding European security. The security concerns of NATO’s Central and Eastern European member states and non-NATO member states such as Moldova and Ukraine are of particular concern.

NATO has strongly condemned Russian actions in Ukraine and has taken steps aimed both at reassuring allies and partners in Central and Eastern Europe and at deterring further Russian aggression. These include demonstrations of support for Ukraine and its territorial integrity; actions to demonstrate NATO’s commitment to defending Central and Eastern European allies; and measures aimed at rebuking Russia. NATO members have said they will continue to conduct previously planned military exercises in Ukraine and elsewhere in the region.

The United States has been a key driver of the NATO response and has taken additional military measures intended to reassure its allies and partners in Central and Eastern Europe. These include the deployment of U.S. fighter jets and 600 paratroopers to Poland and the Baltic states, and U.S. naval vessels to the Black and Baltic Seas. In June, the Obama Administration requested congressional approval for $925 million in the Department of Defense’s FY2015 Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) budget to fund a proposed European Reassurance Initiative (ERI). Among other things, the ERI would enable augmented U.S. troop rotations and military infrastructure in Central and Eastern Europe. The United States has supplied the Ukrainian government with some nonlethal military assistance, but has thus far ruled out providing lethal military aid.

CRS — Cuba: U.S. Policy and Issues for the 113th Congress (July 31, 2014)

August 14, 2014 Comments off

Cuba: U.S. Policy and Issues for the 113th Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Center)

Cuba remains a one-party communist state with a poor record on human rights. The country’s political succession in 2006 from the long-ruling Fidel Castro to his brother Raúl was characterized by a remarkable degree of stability. In February 2013, Castro was reappointed to a second five-year term as president (until 2018, when he would be 86 years old), and selected 52- year old former Education Minister Miguel Díaz-Canel as his First Vice President, making him the official successor in the event that Castro cannot serve out his term. Raúl Castro has implemented a number of gradual economic policy changes over the past several years, including an expansion of self-employment. A party congress held in April 2011 laid out numerous economic goals that, if implemented, could significantly alter Cuba’s state-dominated economic model. Few observers, however, expect the government to ease its tight control over the political system. While the government reduced the number of political prisoners in 2010-2011, the number increased in 2012; moreover, short-term detentions and harassment have increased significantly over the past several years.

CRS — Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations (August 1, 2014)

August 14, 2014 Comments off

Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Center)

Several Turkish domestic and foreign policy issues have significant relevance for U.S. interests, and Congress plays an active role in shaping and overseeing U.S. relations with Turkey. This report provides background information on Turkey and discusses possible policy options for Members of Congress and the Obama Administration. U.S. relations with Turkey—a longtime North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) ally—have evolved over time. Turkey’s economic dynamism and geopolitical importance have increased its influence regionally and globally. Although Turkey still depends on the United States and other NATO allies for political and strategic support, its increased economic and military self-reliance since the Cold War allows Turkey relatively greater opportunity for an assertive role in foreign policy. Greater Turkish independence of action and continuing political transformation appear to have been mutually reinforcing—with both led for more than a decade by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP). However, it remains unclear how Turkey might reconcile majoritarian views favoring Turkish nationalism and Sunni Muslim values with secular governance and protection of individual freedoms and minority rights, including with regard to Turkey’s Kurdish citizens.

CRS — “Womenomics” in Japan: In Brief (August 1, 2014)

August 14, 2014 Comments off

“Womenomics” in Japan: In Brief (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Center)

Confronted with decades of economic stagnation, strict immigration controls, and a rapidly aging population, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has launched an ambitious plan—widely known as “Abenomics”—to restart Japan’s economy. The program has three main components: a large fiscal stimulus that was injected into the economy in early 2013; expansionary monetary policy that also began in 2013 and continues today; and a series of planned structural economic reforms, many of which have yet to be announced or implemented, that ostensibly will boost Japan’s productivity.

One of Abe’s planned structural reforms is a strategy to persuade more Japanese women to join the workforce, to remain in the workforce after they have children, and to advance higher on the career ladder. Japan’s gender gap is one of the largest among high-income countries, and some economists have argued for many years that narrowing this gap is a potential source of economic growth for Japan as well as a way to help offset the long-term demographic problems facing the country. Although some are optimistic that Abe’s government will be able to drive progress in the participation and advancement of women in Japan’s workforce, other observers believe that elements of Japanese culture, including office customs and traditional beliefs regarding gender roles, pose challenges for the success of the policy.

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