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Can the President Bar Foreign Travelers from Ebola-Stricken Countries from Entering the United States?, CRS Legal Sidebar (October 23, 2014)

October 31, 2014 Comments off

Can the President Bar Foreign Travelers from Ebola-Stricken Countries from Entering the United States?, CRS Legal Sidebar (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The recent outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa has prompted concern over the risk that foreign travelers may carry the virus to the United States — a concern that has grown since an infected Liberian national who traveled to the United States infected two nurses who cared for him at a Dallas hospital. On Monday, October 21, the Department of Homeland Security announced new screening procedures at U.S. ports of entry for travelers from Ebola-stricken countries in West Africa. Several Members of Congress have gone further and suggested a blanket ban on the admission into the United States of foreign nationals who reside in or have recently traveled to Ebola-stricken countries – a suggestion that the Obama Administration has thus far opposed. Although it has never been used for such purposes, section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) seems to confer the President with authority to bar foreign travelers from Ebolastricken countries from entering the United States, if he deems such a restriction necessary to protect U.S. interests, regardless of whether there is a reason to believe that a particular traveler is infected with the Ebola virus.

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CRS — Instances of Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad, 1798-2014 (September 15, 2014)

October 29, 2014 Comments off

Instances of Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad, 1798-2014 (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via U.S. State Department Foreign Press Center)

This report lists hundreds of instances in which the United States has used its Armed Forces abroad in situations of military conflict or potential conflict or for other than normal peacetime purposes. It was compiled in part from various older lists and is intended primarily to provide a rough survey of past U.S. military ventures abroad, without reference to the magnitude of the given instance noted. The listing often contains references, especially from 1980 forward, to continuing military deployments, especially U.S. military participation in multinational operations associated with NATO or the United Nations. Most of these post-1980 instances are summaries based on presidential reports to Congress related to the War Powers Resolution. A comprehensive commentary regarding any of the instances listed is not undertaken here.

CRS — The U.S. Wine Industry and Selected Trade Issues with the European Union (July 24, 2014)

October 28, 2014 Comments off

The U.S. Wine Industry and Selected Trade Issues with the European Union (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

Global wine production totaled roughly 27 billion liters in 2012. The European Union (EU) dominates world production, accounting for nearly 60% of all wine produced each year. France, Italy, and Spain are among the principal EU wine-producing countries. The United States is the world’s second-largest wine-producing region, accounting for 10% of global production. The value of world trade in wine totaled more than $21 billion in 2013. The EU accounted for nearly 60% of the world’s export market for wine, valued at $12 billion in 2013. Other exporting nations include Australia, Chile, the United States, New Zealand, Argentina, and South Africa.

The United States is a major exporter of wine with about 7% of global exports in 2013. The U.S. wine industry has identified a range of international barriers to trade that may be limiting U.S. wine exports abroad. These include import tariffs; foreign wine producer subsidies and support; preferential market access, such as free trade agreements between the EU and other countries; incompatible foreign wine composition standards; and a range of miscellaneous non-tariff barriers, such as state or provincial government monopolies, import licensing and customs clearance requirements, and wine labeling regulations. An annual report compiled by the U.S. wine industry also highlights a range of concerns in several countries, including concerns regarding trade with several EU countries and other countries worldwide.

CRS — Revision of the Nutrition Facts Label: Proposed Rules (September 23, 2014)

October 28, 2014 Comments off

Revision of the Nutrition Facts Label: Proposed Rules (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

High rates of obesity and chronic diseases have prompted federal, state, and local initiatives such as exercise promotion, nutrition education, and food labeling. Nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese, suggesting that consumers need to be more aware of their calorie intake. Labeling of the nutritional content of foods has been recommended by researchers and policy makers as a tool to address the obesity epidemic.

National survey data indicate that the frequency of food label use among consumers has increased in the past decade; however, despite widespread use, certain elements of the Nutrition Facts label are outdated and confusing to consumers. Consumer research highlights the importance of salient and easy-to-understand nutrition information. The purpose of the Nutrition Facts label as a public health tool is to provide consumers with nutrition information that may help them make more informed food choices. Mandating declaration of certain nutrition information on the label may also prompt food manufacturers to reformulate products to make them healthier and more attractive to consumers. Increasing awareness about the nutritional content of various foods may promote healthier eating behaviors among consumers, resulting in lower calorie intake and, over time, decreasing rates of overweight and obesity.

CRS Memorandum — Memorandum: IRS Final Rule on Treatment of Expenditures for Repair/Maintenance of Depreciable Assets

October 28, 2014 Comments off

Memorandum: IRS Final Rule on Treatment of Expenditures for Repair/Maintenance of Depreciable Assets (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

In response to your request, this memorandum discusses the key elements of the final repair regulations (T.D. 9636) that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued on September 19, 2013. Release of the regulations marked the completion of a nine-year journey that began in 2004 when the IRS published a notice of intent for proposed rule-making on the capitalization of expenses related to tangible property under Section 263(a). There were several significant developments along the way. The IRS issued proposed regulations on the tax treatment of those expenses in August 2006, revised those regulations in March 2008, and issued temporary regulations in December 2011. Let me know if you have any questions.

To varying degrees, all business use materials and supplies and incur expenses for the acquisition, production, repair, maintenance, or improvement of tangible depreciable property. One significant challenge they face n accounting for those expenses for tax purposes lies in having a clear understanding of the rules for determining when the expenses can be deducted as an ordinary and necessary business expense and when they must be capitalized and depreciated.

CRS — Heritage Areas: Background, Proposals, and Current Issues (September 8, 2014)

October 28, 2014 Comments off

Heritage Areas: Background, Proposals, and Current Issues (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

Over 30 years, Congress has established 49 national heritage areas (NHAs) to commemorate, conserve, and promote areas that include important natural, scenic, historic, cultural, and recreational resources. NHAs are partnerships among the National Park Service (NPS), states, and local communities, where the NPS supports state and local conservation through federal recognition, seed money, and technical assistance. NHAs are not part of the National Park System, where lands are federally owned and managed. Rather, lands within heritage areas typically remain in state, local, or private ownership or a combination thereof. Heritage areas have been supported as protecting lands and traditions and promoting tourism and community revitalization, but opposed as potentially burdensome, costly, or leading to federal control over nonfederal lands. This report focuses on heritage areas designated by Congress (not other entities) and related issues and legislation.

CRS — Chemical Facility Security: Issues and Options for the 113th Congress (September 16, 2014)

October 28, 2014 Comments off

Chemical Facility Security: Issues and Options for the 113th Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has statutory authority to regulate chemical facilities for security purposes. The 113th Congress extended this authority through October 4, 2014. Congressional policy makers have debated the scope and details of reauthorization and continue to consider establishing an authority with longer duration. Some Members of Congress support an extension, either short- or long-term, of the existing authority. Other Members call for revision and more extensive codification of chemical facility security regulatory provisions. Questions regarding the current law’s effectiveness in reducing chemical facility risk and the sufficiency of federal chemical facility security efforts exacerbate the tension between continuing current policies and changing the statutory authority.

See also: Implementation of Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS): Issues for Congress (September 15, 2014) (PDF)

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