Backgrounders

Current political and economic issues succinctly explained.

State Sponsors: Cuba

The U.S. State Department continues to list Cuba as a state sponsor of terror, though most experts say the country no longer poses a threat to U.S. national security.

See more in State Sponsors of Terrorism; Cuba

Iran's Nuclear Program

Author: Greg Bruno

Iran's nuclear program is believed to have steadily progressed, despite sharply increased concerns over its intentions and sanctions over its lack of transparency.

See more in Iran; Proliferation

The Stimulus Report Card

Author: Roya Wolverson

The Obama administration says its 2009 stimulus package saved jobs and boosted growth, but Republicans and some economists worry it dampened consumer and business spending and added to long-term debt.

See more in Monetary Policy; United States

Alternative Views on Climate Change

Author: Toni Johnson

Debating global warming policy has moved to the top of agendas worldwide, but some skeptics still question whether action is necessary or possible.

See more in Climate Change

Renewing America

Renewing America

Outsourcing Jobs and Taxes

Author: Roya Wolverson

Outsourcing remains a contentious political issue as lawmakers, analysts, and business leaders debate its effect on U.S. job creation and the role of corporate tax policy in shipping jobs overseas, explains this Backgrounder.

See more in United States; Labor; Tax Policy

Russia's Energy Disputes

Author: Lionel Beehner

Buoyed by high oil prices, Russia finds itself embroiled in a number of disputes with foreign firms looking to tap its underdeveloped oil fields and with its neighbors that grew used to subsidized gas.

See more in Russian Federation; Oil; Natural Gas

Global Uranium Supply and Demand

Author: Toni Johnson

Interest in nuclear power is increasing, but securing adequate uranium supplies for nuclear fuel faces challenges ranging from a flagging mining sector to fears of nuclear weapons proliferation.

See more in United States; Nuclear Energy

Copenhagen's Many Agendas

Author: Toni Johnson

The UN conference on climate change that begins December 7 in Copenhagen is supposed to produce new targets for emissions reductions, but experts say major countries are at odds on the ultimate goal of a new framework. This backgrounder looks at some of their positions.

See more in Environmental Policy; Climate Change

Iran's Ballistic Missile Program

Author: Greg Bruno

Despite concerns over Iran's nuclear program, the Obama administration has assessed that Tehran is years from a developing a long-range missile capable of delivering a nuclear weapon. But past Iranian secrecy and testing bombast have led some experts to remain skeptical of Tehran's capabilities and ambitions.

See more in Weapons of Mass Destruction; Iran

Understanding Myanmar

Author: Jayshree Bajoria

Myanmar has undergone significant political change since the 2007 Saffron revolution leading to a boom in international investment, but it still faces considerable economic and human rights hurdles.

See more in Burma/Myanmar; Human Rights

National Missile Defense: A Status Report

Author: Greg Bruno

The United States has pursued missile defense technologies for six decades, with mixed results. Changes under the Obama administration, including adjustments to planned defenses in Europe, could portend a new direction.

See more in United States; Missile Defense