Latest Articles

Zoonotic Diseases

posted Sep 20, 2020, 3:41 PM by Sarah Glazer   [ updated Sep 20, 2020, 3:49 PM ]

The pandemic circling the globe is only the latest instance of a disease that jumped from animals to humans, known as a zoonotic disease. COVID-19 likely came from a bat; AIDS, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Ebola, West Nile and Lyme disease also originated in animals. Zoonotic disease outbreaks have been occurring more often since the 1940s as an expanding human population pushes deeper into forests for hunting, agriculture, mining and housing. Demand for exotic meat also brings live wildlife to food markets, where they can transmit viruses to other animals and humans. How to prevent the next pandemic is a matter of vigorous debate: Some scientists are pushing for more research into animal viruses, while others stress stopping human activities, such as deforestation, that can spur contagion. Conservation groups urge a ban on the wildlife trade, but critics say that will only encourage a black market. Some researchers and environmentalists say preserving wilderness and biological diversity is key to preventing more outbreaks.

Global Migration

posted Sep 20, 2020, 3:35 PM by Sarah Glazer   [ updated Sep 20, 2020, 3:48 PM ]

The world is witnessing the highest numbers of migrants on record, nearly 272 million in 2019, more than triple the number in 1970. Advocates of immigration restrictions say migrants steal jobs and sometimes abuse a system designed to provide asylum for the truly persecuted. But human rights advocates say nations are shirking their responsibility to provide refuge to those experiencing persecution and violence. Citing a broken system in which asylum-seekers sometimes disappear into the United States, the Trump administration is limiting those who can seek asylum. It also is taking aggressive steps to end what President Trump calls a “very serious crisis” at the U.S.-Mexico border. Migrant advocacy groups say Trump has manufactured a crisis, and statistics show illegal immigration from Mexico is in a long-term decline. Governments often seek to stem migration by providing aid to improve the economies of origin countries. Experts say the solution is not so simple, because it takes at least a generation before rising income encourages people to remain at home.

Manipulating Human Genes

posted Sep 20, 2020, 3:30 PM by Sarah Glazer   [ updated Sep 20, 2020, 3:45 PM ]

Recent news from China announcing the births of the first genetically modified babies has shocked scientists worldwide and intensified a long-simmering debate about whether genetic changes that are passed down to succeeding generations of humans — so-called germline editing — should be permissible. Some predict a dystopian future with a superior human species boasting “designer” traits such as exceptionally high IQ or extraordinary athletic ability — most likely available only to wealthy parents who can afford the technology. But many prominent scientists argue that making changes at the embryonic stage may be the only hope for certain parents carrying a genetic disease to bear a healthy child. Twenty-nine countries, including the United States, forbid the use of germline editing to produce genetically modified children. Some activists and ethicists want a permanent worldwide ban on genetic manipulation of human embryos, while others say germline research should proceed carefully. Still others have called for a moratorium during which the issue can be thoroughly debated and rules established.

The Presidency

posted Sep 20, 2020, 3:20 PM by Sarah Glazer   [ updated Sep 20, 2020, 3:48 PM ]

President Trump's governance style has heightened long-standing concerns that presidents have been asserting more power, through executive orders and other means, than the Constitution intended. For instance, no president has asked Congress for a declaration of war since World War II even though the Constitution reserves war-making power to the legislative branch. Some historians date the growth of presidential control to the New Deal-era expansion of the federal government, and others to the end of the Cold War and a decline of foreign policy expertise in Congress. Critics of Trump, pointing to his mounting executive orders and criticism of the justice system, worry that the American system of checks and balances could be in peril. Others see Trump's overturning of standing policies as the inevitable result of rising presidential power under both Republicans and Democrats. Trump's supporters say he is doing exactly what he was elected to do: disrupt Washington's traditions. Whether future presidents will follow Trump's example remains an open question. 
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CQ Researcher The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

posted Sep 5, 2018, 9:15 AM by Sarah Glazer

The long-sought goal of an Arab-Israeli peace settlement is looking more distant than ever. President Trump's decision in December to formally recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and relocate the U.S. Embassy there infuriated Palestinian leaders while heartening conservative Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Trump defends his decision as a recognition of reality and vows to work toward a settlement in the region. But Jerusalem is hallowed ground for both Arabs and Israelis, and critics say Trump has moved so far in Israel's favor that the United States can no longer be a neutral broker between the two sides. Both Netanyahu, under investigation for alleged corruption, and aging Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, widely accused of stifling Arab democratic rights, have uncertain political futures. Frustrated with the dimming outlook for peace, a growing number of young Palestinians favor armed struggle.

"The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Can the U.S. still be a neutral broker for peace?" CQ Researcher, April 13, 2018

CQ Researcher Stolen Antiquities

posted Sep 5, 2018, 9:11 AM by Sarah Glazer

Reports that the Islamist group ISIS may be funding terrorism by selling looted artifacts from war-torn Iraq and Syria have spurred calls for a new crackdown on the illicit antiquities trade. The United States has banned antiquities imports from Iraq and Syria, and the European Union is considering requiring proof that antiquities entering Europe were legally exported from their home countries, as Germany did last year. Archaeologists favor tougher documentation requirements, but antiquities dealers say such rules are impossible to meet and could destroy the legitimate market. Meanwhile, efforts to have ancient objects returned to their country of origin continue to spark controversy. For years Greece has demanded that Britain relinquish sculptures taken from the Parthenon in the 19th century. In the United States, some archaeologists complain that a 1990 law requiring museums and federal agencies to return skeletal remains of Native Americans to tribes for reburial prevents scientific study of North America's earliest inhabitants.

"Stolen Antiquities: Can governments curb trafficking in ancient artifacts?" CQ Researcher,  Nov. 10, 2017

CQ Researcher Universal Basic Income

posted Sep 5, 2018, 9:07 AM by Sarah Glazer

The prospect of automation replacing workers has helped to revive an old idea: a government check covering basic expenses paid to everyone. Silicon Valley proponents say a guaranteed income — or universal basic income (UBI) — could be crucial in a future with less work to go around. The idea has won enthusiasts among libertarian conservatives who see it as a less bureaucratic alternative to welfare, and liberals who say it could combat inequality and wage stagnation. But UBI supporters on the right and left differ over whether to pay for it by diverting money spent on existing welfare programs or raising taxes. Others dismiss the idea outright, saying it would bust the budget and breed laziness. Still, trial efforts are underway in California, Finland and Canada to investigate whether free cash encourages idleness or, alternatively, boosts education and health — benefits found in 1970s-era American and Canadian experiments and among Alaskans and Native Americans sharing community wealth.

"Universal Basic Income: Would cash payments relieve job losses due to automation?" CQ Researcher, Sept. 8, 2017

CQ Researcher Anti-Semitism

posted Sep 5, 2018, 9:02 AM by Sarah Glazer

In the run-up to the presidential election and afterward, the United States has experienced disturbing outbreaks of anti-Semitism, including a spate of incidents on more than 100 college campuses, where white supremacists have been distributing anti-Semitic fliers and openly recruiting adherents. Some human rights and Jewish activists say President Trump has emboldened right-wing hostility toward Jews, but others say such charges are unjustified. Defining anti-Semitism is controversial. Members of Congress and state legislators want to codify a definition that would include opposition to Israel's existence. But pro-Palestinian and civil liberties groups say that would violate free-speech rights. A similar debate is playing out in Europe, where some countries have seen a rise in deadly attacks on Jews in recent years, often by radicalized Muslims, such as the 2015 terrorist attack on a kosher grocery in Paris. Paradoxically, growing anti-Muslim attitudes in countries experiencing an influx of refugees have also spurred more prejudice against Jews — the target of history's longest hatred.

"Anti-Semitism: Is hostility toward Jews on the rise worldwide?" CQ Researcher, May 12, 2017

CQ Researcher Women in Prison

posted Sep 5, 2018, 8:56 AM by Sarah Glazer

The number of women in state and federal prisons has surged since 1978 by nearly 800 percent — twice the growth rate for men. Mandatory sentences for drug offenses enacted during the 1980s and 1990s have hit women particularly hard, many experts say. But some prosecutors and Republicans dispute the claim that the so-called war on drugs has disproportionately hurt women. They say mandatory sentencing has reduced crime, helped break up drug rings and ended sentencing disparities. Reformers hope states' recent efforts to reduce prison populations and spend more on drug treatment will help women. But they say women still remain an afterthought in the penal system. For example, reformers say courts and prisons rarely recognize women's responsibility as mothers or the factors underlying their participation in crime, such as domestic abuse. The justice system, women's advocates say, needs to think creatively about how to help female prisoners. Meanwhile, in the juvenile system, girls often receive harsher punishments than boys who commit similar offenses.

"Women in Prison: Should they be treated differently from men?" CQ Researcher, March 3, 2017

CQ Researcher Decriminalizing Prostitution

posted Sep 5, 2018, 8:46 AM by Sarah Glazer   [ updated Sep 5, 2018, 9:17 AM ]

Amnesty International has spurred a global debate on prostitution with a controversial proposal to decriminalize the sex trade worldwide. The human-rights organization argues that lifting bans on prostitution would make life safer for prostitutes. But critics say decriminalization would increase global sex trafficking and put many women at greater risk. Policies on prostitution are shifting throughout Europe and the United States. In response to concerns about trafficking and health risks, the German and Dutch governments have proposed tightening existing regulations that have legalized prostitution. New Zealand, on the other hand, has fully decriminalized the sex trade along the lines supported by Amnesty. Sweden has adopted what is known as the “Nordic model,” in which only the buyers of sex are prosecuted. Seattle and 10 other U.S. cities are copying Sweden, hoping to stop prostitution altogether by eliminating demand for commercial sex. But critics, arguing that no way exists to halt the world's “oldest profession,” say the Nordic approach simply drives the sex trade further underground.

"Decriminalizing Prostitution: Should buying and selling sex be legal?" CQ Researcher, April 15, 2016

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