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.
Regional Analysis Brief: South China Sea
Source: Energy Information Administration
The East China Sea is a semi-closed sea bordered by the Yellow Sea to the north, the South China Sea and Taiwan to the South, Japan’s Ryukyu and Kyushu islands to the East and the Chinese mainland to the West. Evidence pointing to potentially abundant oil and natural gas deposits has made the sea a source of contention between Japan and China, the two largest energy consumers in Asia.
The sea has a total area of approximately 482,000 square miles, consisting mostly of the continental shelf and the Xihu/Okinawa (Chinese name/Japanese name) trough, a back-arc basin formed about 300 miles southeast of Shanghai between the two countries. The disputed eight Daioyu/Senkaku (Chinese/Japanese name) islands lie to the northeast of Taiwan, with the largest of them two miles long and less than a mile wide. Though barren, the islands are important for strategic and political reasons, as ownership can be used to bolster claims to the surrounding sea and its resources under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. To date, China and Japan have not resolved their ownership dispute, preventing wide-scale exploration and development of East China Sea hydrocarbons.
Hidden Dragon, Crouching Lion: How China’s Advance in Africa is Underestimated and Africa’s Potential Underappreciated
Source: Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College
The explosive growth of China’s economic interests in Africa—bilateral trade rocketed from $1 billion in 1990 to $150 billion in 2011—may be the most important trend in the continent’s foreign relations since the end of the Cold War. In 2010, China surpassed the United States as Africa’s top trading partner; its quest to build a strategic partnership with Africa on own its terms through tied aid, trade, and development finance is also part of Beijing’s broader aspirations to surpass the United States as the world’s preeminent superpower. Africa and other emerging economies have become attractive partners for China not only for natural resources, but as growing markets. Africa’s rapid growth since 2000 has not just occurred because of higher commodity prices, but more importantly due to other factors including improved governance, economic reforms, and an expanding labor force. China’s rapid and successful expansion in Africa is due to multiple factors, including economic diplomacy that is clearly superior to that of the United States. China’s “no strings attached” approach to development, however, risks undoing decades of Western efforts to promote good governance. Consequently, this monograph examines China’s oil diplomacy, equity investments in strategic minerals, and food policy toward Africa. The official U.S. rhetoric is that China’s rise in Africa should not be seen as a zero-sum game, but areas where real U.S.-China cooperation can help Africa remain elusive, mainly because of Beijing’s hyper-mistrust of Washington. The United States could help itself, and Africa, by improving its own economic diplomacy and adequately funding its own soft-power efforts.
Country Analysis Brief: Kazakhstan
Source: Energy Information Administration
With total liquids production estimated at 1.6 million barrels per day (bbl/d) in 2012, Kazakhstan is a major producer; however, key to its continued growth in liquids production will be the development of its giant Tengiz, Karachaganak, and Kashagan fields. Furthermore, development of additional export capacity will be necessary for production growth.
Rising natural gas production over the last decade has transformed Kazakhstan from a net gas importer to a country that as of 2011 was self-sufficient. Natural gas development has lagged oil due to the lack of domestic gas pipeline infrastructure linking the western producing region with the eastern industrial region, as well as the lack of export pipelines.
Kazakhstan is land-locked and lies a great distance from international oil markets. The lack of access to a seaport makes the country dependent mainly on pipelines to transport its hydrocarbons to world markets. It is also a transit state for pipeline exports from Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Neighbors China and Russia are key economic partners, providing sources of export demand and government project financing.
New GAO Reports and Testimonies
Source: Government Accountability Office
1. Airport Noise Grants: FAA Needs to Better Ensure Project Eligibility and Improve Strategic Goal and Performance Measures. GAO-12-890, September 12.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648149.pdf
2. Asset Forfeiture Programs: Justice and Treasury Should Determine Costs and Benefits of Potential Consolidation. GAO-12-972, September 12.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648097.pdf
4. Bureau of Prisons: Growing Inmate Crowding Negatively Affects Inmates, Staff, and Infrastructure. GAO-12-743, September 12.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648124.pdf
5. Critical Infrastructure: DHS Needs to Refocus Its Efforts to Lead the Government Facilities Sector. GAO-12-852, August 20.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/600/593580.pdf
6. Department of Homeland Security: Oversight and Coordination of Research and Development Should Be Strengthened. GAO-12-837, September 12.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648153.pdf
7. Federal Disaster Assistance: Improved Criteria Needed to Assess a Jurisdiction’s Capability to Respond and Recover on Its Own. GAO-12-838, September 12.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648163.pdf
8. Iraq and Afghanistan: Agencies Are Taking Steps to Improve Data on Contracting but Need to Standardize Reporting. GAO-12-977R, September 12.
9. Military Training: DOD Met Annual Reporting Requirements and Improved Its Sustainable Ranges Report. GAO-12-879R, September 12.
10. Millennium Challenge Corporation: Results of Transportation Infrastructure Projects in Seven Countries. GAO-12-631, September 12.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648093.pdf
11. Nonproliferation: Agencies Could Improve Information Sharing and End-Use Monitoring on Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Exports. GAO-12-536, July 30.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/600/593132.pdf
1. Modernizing the Nuclear Security Enterprise: Observations on the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Oversight of Safety, Security, and Project Management, by Mark Gaffigan, managing director, natural resources and environment, before the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, House Committee on Energy and Commerce. GAO-12-912T, September 12.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/600/592773.pdf
2. Next Generation Air Transportation System: FAA Faces Implementation Challenges, by Gerald L. Dillingham, Ph.D., director, physical infrastructure issues, before the Subcommittee on Aviation, House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. GAO-12-1011T, September 12.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648121.pdf
3. Operational Contract Support: Sustained DOD Leadership Needed to Better Prepare for Future Contingencies, by Timothy J. DiNapoli, acting director, acquisition and sourcing management, before the House Committee on Armed Services. GAO-12-1026T, September 12.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/650/648106.pdf
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)
Country Analysis Brief: China
Source> Energy Information Administration
China is the world’s most populous country and has a rapidly growing economy, which has driven the country’s high overall energy demand and the quest for securing energy resources. According to the International Monetary Fund, China’s real gross domestic product (GDP) grew at an estimated 9.2 percent in 2011 and 7.8 percent in the first half of 2012, after registering an average growth rate of 10 percent between 2000 and 2011. Economic growth continues to slow in 2012 as the global financial crises unfolds, industrial production and exports decrease, and the government attempts to curb economic inflation and excessive investment in some markets. China mitigated the 2008 global financial crisis with a massive $586 billion (4 trillion yuan) stimulus package spread over two years. The recent global downturn in 2012 has spurred China’s government to begin incremental monetary easing measures and consider a second smaller fiscal stimulus package.
China is the world’s second largest oil consumer behind the United States, and the largest global energy consumer, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). The country was a net oil exporter until the early 1990s and became the world’s second largest net importer of oil in 2009. China’s oil consumption growth accounted for half of the world’s oil consumption growth in 2011. Natural gas usage in China has also increased rapidly in recent years, and China has looked to raise natural gas imports via pipeline and liquefied natural gas (LNG). China is also the world’s largest top coal producer and consumer and accounted for about half of the global coal consumption, an important factor in world energy-related CO2 emissions.
Coal supplied the vast majority (70 percent) of China’s total energy consumption of 90 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) in 2009. Oil is the second-largest source, accounting for 19 percent of the country’s total energy consumption. While China has made an effort to diversify its energy supplies, hydroelectric sources (6 percent), natural gas (4 percent), nuclear power (1 percent), and other renewables (0.3 percent) account for relatively small shares of China’s energy consumption mix. The Chinese government set a target to raise non-fossil fuel energy consumption to 11.4 percent of the energy mix by 2015 as part of its new 12th Five Year Plan. EIA projects coal’s share of the total energy mix to fall to 59 percent by 2035 due to anticipated higher energy efficiencies and China’s goal to reduce its carbon intensity (carbon emissions per unit of GDP). However, absolute coal consumption is expected to double over this period, reflecting the large growth in total energy consumption.
Remarkably ambitious in its audacity and scope, NATO’s irregular warfare and nation-building mission in Afghanistan has struggled to meet its nonmilitary objectives by most tangible measures. Put directly, the Alliance and its partners have fallen short of achieving the results needed to create a stable, secure, democratic, and self-sustaining Afghan nation, a particularly daunting proposition given Afghanistan’s history and culture, the region’s contemporary circumstances, and the fact that no such country has existed there before. Furthermore, given the central nature of U.S. contributions to this NATO mission, these shortfalls also serve as an indicator of a serious American problem as well. Specifically, inconsistencies and a lack of coherence in the U.S. Government’s strategic planning processes and products, as well as fundamental flaws in the U.S. Government’s structures and systems for coordinating and integrating the efforts of its various agencies, are largely responsible for this adverse and dangerous situation. This book explores these strategic and interagency shortfalls, while proposing potential reforms that would enable the United States to achieve the strategic coherence and genuine unity of effort that will be needed in an era of constrained resources and emerging new threats.
Source: Brookings Institution
When it comes to Japan’s defense, the Japanese political system and the Japan Self-Defense Force independently decide the national policies as they are ultimately responsible for the country’s safety and security. However, due to the crucial nature of the U.S.-Japan alliance to Japan’s overall security, it is impractical not to take into account American thinking. As a result, it is important to better understand where and how American thinking on Japanese security is influenced.
The scope of this research goes beyond the official statements of the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. government. The author sought to explore the role that experts and think tanks play in American discourse and opinion of Japanese security. This included extensive research of American media reports on Japanese security issues as well as interviews of key American experts and opinion leaders on Japan, mostly located in and around Washington, DC.
This project is therefore unique and novel in its approach to this key topic in Japan and the U.S. A number of Japanese reports have been published in the past about American experts’ views towards Japan, yet few incorporate both a survey of media and interviews with key current figures or focus exclusively on Japanese defense. Moreover, such viewpoints and thoughts are always changing; therefore, it is meaningful to spot the current status at such a crucial time of change, both in the U.S. and Japan, not to mention the wider Asia-Pacific region.
India’s and Pakistan’s Strategies in Afghanistan: Implications for the United States and the Region
Source: RAND Corporation
India and Pakistan have very different visions for Afghanistan, and they seek to advance highly disparate interests through their respective engagements in the country. Pakistan views Afghanistan primarily as an environment in which to pursue its rivalry with India. India pursues domestic priorities (such as reining in anti-Indian terrorism, accessing Central Asian energy resources, and increasing trade) that require Afghanistan to experience stability and economic growth. Thus, whereas Pakistan seeks to fashion an Afghan state that would detract from regional security, India would enhance Afghanistan’s stability, security, economic growth, and regional integration. Afghanistan would welcome greater involvement from India, though it will need to accommodate the interests of multiple other external powers as well. India has a range of options for engaging Afghanistan, from continuing current activities to increasing economic and commercial ties, deploying forces to protect Indian facilities, continuing or expanding training for Afghan forces, or deploying combat troops for counterterrorism and counterinsurgency missions. To avoid antagonizing Pakistan, India is likely to increase economic and commercial engagement while maintaining, or perhaps augmenting, military training, though it will continue to conduct such training inside India. Increased Indian engagement in Afghanistan, particularly enhanced Indian assistance to Afghan security forces, will advance long-term U.S. objectives in central and south Asia. As the United States prepares to withdraw its combat forces from Afghanistan in 2014, it should therefore encourage India to fill the potential vacuum by adopting an increasingly assertive political, economic, and security strategy that includes increased security assistance.
Ensuring Canadian Access to Oil Markets in the Asia-Pacific Region
Source: Fraser Institute
This report provides a comprehensive overview of the outlook for Alberta crude oil and bitumen production and an assessment of the economic attractiveness and feasibility of exporting oil to countries in the Asia-Pacific region instead of solely to markets in the United States. It also describes the extent of the new oil pipeline infrastructure that would be needed to allow oil exports to Asia-Pacific region under two scenarios: 1. no increase in oil sands bitumen production capacity from a base-case forecast; and 2. bitumen production capacity increased from that in the base case to supply Asian markets after 2026. The likely gross employment and overall economic (GDP) benefits from construction and operation of the required facilities are also discussed.
The report also examines unnecessary regulatory and other barriers that are inhibiting the development of the pipelines and port facilities required to ship crude oil, raw bitumen and synthetic crude oil (i.e., upgraded bitumen) to the west coast and on to oil refineries in Japan, Korea, China, India and other countries in Asia that are increasingly becoming dependent on oil imports.
New GAO Reports and Testimony
Source: Government Accountability Office
1. Federal Buildings Fund: Improved Transparency and Long-term Plan Needed to Clarify Capital Funding Priorities. GAO-12-646, July 12.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/600/592378.pdf
2. Medicaid: Providers in Three States with Unpaid Federal Taxes Received Over $6 Billion in Medicaid Reimbursements. GAO-12-857, July 27.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/600/593096.pdf
3. Ownership by Minority, Female, and Disadvantaged Firms in the Pipeline Industry. GAO-12-896R, August 2.
4. Federal Fleets: Overall Increase in Number of Vehicles Masks That Some Agencies Decreased Their Fleets. GAO-12-780, August 2.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/600/593248.pdf
5. Cancellation of the Army’s Autonomous Navigation System. GAO-12-851R, August 2.
6. Iraq and Afghanistan: State and DOD Should Ensure Interagency Acquisitions Are Effectively Managed and Comply with Fiscal Law. GAO-12-750, August 2.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/600/593262.pdf
7. Secure Communities: Criminal Alien Removals Increased, but Technology Planning Improvements Needed. GAO-12-708, July 13.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/600/592416.pdf
1. Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Program: Vulnerability to Fraud and Abuse Remains, by Richard J. Hillman, managing director, forensic audits and investigative service, before the Subcommittees on Economic Opportunity and Oversight and Investigations, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. GAO-12-967T, August 2.
Rainmakers: Why Bad Weather Means Good Productivity (PDF)
Source: Harvard Business School Working Paper
People believe that weather conditions influence their everyday work life, but to date, little is known about how weather affects individual productivity. Most people believe that bad weather conditions reduce productivity. In this research, we predict and find just the opposite. Drawing on cognitive psychology research, we propose that bad weather increases individual productivity by eliminating potential cognitive distractions resulting from good weather. When the weather is bad, individuals may focus more on their work rather than thinking about activities they could engage in outside of work. We tested our hypotheses using both field and lab data. First, we use field data on employees’ productivity from a mid-size bank in Japan, which we then match with daily weather data to investigate the effect of bad weather conditions (in terms of precipitation, visibility, and temperature) on productivity. Second, we use a laboratory experiment to examine the psychological mechanism explaining the relationship between bad weather and increased productivity. Our findings support our proposed model and suggest that worker productivity is higher on bad rather than good weather days. We discuss the implications of our findings for workers and managers.
New GAO Testimonies
Source: Government Accountability Office
1. Federal Protective Service: Preliminary Results on Efforts to Assess Facility Risks and Oversee Contract Guards, by Mark L. Goldstein, director, physical infrastructure, before the Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies, House Committee on Homeland Security. GAO-12-943T, July 24.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/600/592884.pdf
2. Student and Exchange Visitor Program: DHS Needs to Take Actions to Strengthen Monitoring of Schools, by Rebecca Gambler, acting director, homeland security and justice, before the Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees, and Border Security, Senate Committee on the Judiciary. GAO-12-895T, July 24.
3. Afghanistan Security: Long-standing Challenges May Affect Progress and Sustainment of Afghan National Security Forces, by Charles Michael Johnson Jr., director, international affairs and trade, and Sharon L. Pickup, director, defense capabilities and management, before the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, House Armed Services Committee. GAO-12-951T, July 24.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/600/592914.pdf