Today, around 21,000 children died around the world. This daily tragedy, from poverty and other preventable causes, rarely makes headline news.

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Ebola Outbreak in West Africa

Posted Saturday, September 27, 2014.

An overview of the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa that has been described by the World Health Organization as the largest, most severe and most complex outbreak in the history of the disease.

The epidemic began at the end of 2013, in Guinea. From there it spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Senegal. Many of the affected countries face enormous challenges in stopping its spread and providing care for all patients.

Thousands of people have died and many are at risk as the fatality rate from this virus is very high. As the crisis worsens, as well as the enormous health challenges involved, the social and economic consequences may set these countries back, reversing some gains a number of these countries have made in recent years.

Read “Ebola Outbreak in West Africa” to learn more.

Foreign Aid for Development Assistance

Last updated Sunday, September 28, 2014.

In 1970, the world’s rich countries agreed to give 0.7% of their gross national income as official international development aid, annually.

Since that time, billions have certainly been given each year, but rarely have the rich nations actually met their promised target.

For example, the US is often the largest donor in dollar terms, but ranks amongst the lowest in terms of meeting the stated 0.7% target.

Net ODA in dollars and percent of GNI

Furthermore, aid has often come with a price of its own for the developing nations. Common criticisms, for many years, of foreign aid, have included the following:

  • Aid is often wasted on conditions that the recipient must use overpriced goods and services from donor countries
  • Most aid does not actually go to the poorest who would need it the most
  • Aid amounts are dwarfed by rich country protectionism that denies market access for poor country products while rich nations use aid as a lever to open poor country markets to their products
  • Large projects or massive grand strategies often fail to help the vulnerable; money can often be embezzled away.

This article explores who has benefited most from this aid, the recipients or the donors.

Read “Foreign Aid for Development Assistance” to learn more.

Nature and Animal Conservation

Last updated Sunday, January 19, 2014.

Preserving species and their habitats is important for ecosystems to self-sustain themselves.

Yet, the pressures to destroy habitat for logging, illegal hunting, and other challenges are making conservation a struggle.

Read “Nature and Animal Conservation” to learn more.

Tobacco

Last updated Sunday, January 05, 2014.

It is well known that tobacco smoking kills millions. But it also exacerbates poverty, contributes to world hunger by diverting prime land away from food production, damages the environment and reduces economic productivity. Second hand smoking also affects other people’s lives.

Despite many attempts to prevent it, a global tobacco control treaty became international law in 2005.

However, challenges still remain as tobacco companies try to hit back, for example, by targeting developing nations, increasing advertising at children and women, attempting to undermine global treaties and influence trade talks, etc.

Read “Tobacco” to learn more.

COP19—Warsaw Climate Conference

Posted Monday, December 02, 2013.

An overview of the Climate Change Conference (also known as COP 19), held in Warsaw, Poland in November 2013.

Predictably and sadly, the same issues have resurfaced: West stalling on doing anything, lack of funding, disagreement on priorities, etc.

This page is an overview of the Warsaw Climate conference.

Read “COP19—Warsaw Climate Conference” to learn more.

Climate Change and Global Warming Introduction

Last updated Monday, November 11, 2013.

The climate is changing. The earth is warming up, and there is now overwhelming scientific consensus that it is happening, and human-induced. With global warming on the increase and species and their habitats on the decrease, chances for ecosystems to adapt naturally are diminishing.

Many are agreed that climate change may be one of the greatest threats facing the planet. Recent years show increasing temperatures in various regions, and/or increasing extremities in weather patterns.

This section looks at what causes climate change, what the impacts are and where scientific consensus currently is.

Read “Climate Change and Global Warming Introduction” to learn more.

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Poverty Facts and Stats

Last updated Monday, January 07, 2013.

Most of humanity lives on just a few dollars a day. Whether you live in the wealthiest nations in the world or the poorest, you will see high levels of inequality.

The poorest people will also have less access to health, education and other services. Problems of hunger, malnutrition and disease afflict the poorest in society. The poorest are also typically marginalized from society and have little representation or voice in public and political debates, making it even harder to escape poverty.

By contrast, the wealthier you are, the more likely you are to benefit from economic or political policies. The amount the world spends on military, financial bailouts and other areas that benefit the wealthy, compared to the amount spent to address the daily crisis of poverty and related problems are often staggering.

Some facts and figures on poverty presented in this page are eye-openers, to say the least.

Read “Poverty Facts and Stats” to learn more.

Global Financial Crisis

Last updated Sunday, March 24, 2013.

Following a period of economic boom, a financial bubble — global in scope — burst, even causing some of the world’s largest financial institutions have collapsed. With the resulting recession, many governments of the wealthiest nations in the world have resorted to extensive bail-out and rescue packages for the remaining large banks and financial institutions while imposing harsh austerity measures on themselves.

Some of the bail-outs have also led to charges of hypocrisy due to the apparent socializing of the costs while privatizing the profits. Furthermore, the institutions being rescued are typically the ones got the world into this trouble in the first place. For smaller businesses and poorer people, such options for bail out and rescue are rarely available when they find themselves in crisis.

Plummeting stock markets at one point wiped out 33% of the value of companies, $14.5 trillion. Taxpayers bailed out their banks and financial institutions with large amounts of money. US taxpayers alone have spent some $9.7 trillion in bailout packages and plans. The UK and other European countries have also spent some $2 trillion on rescues and bailout packages. More is expected. Much more.

Such numbers, made quickly available, are enough to wipe many individual’s mortgages, or clear out third world debt many times over. Even the high military spending figures are dwarfed by the bailout plans to date.

Taxpayers are paying for some of the largests costs in history

This problem could have been averted (in theory) as people had been pointing to these issues for decades. However, during boom, very few want to hear such pessimism. Does this crisis spell an end to the careless forms of banking and finance and will it herald a better economic age, or are we just doomed to keep forgetting history and repeat these mistakes in the future? Signs are not encouraging as rich nations are resisting meaningful reform…

Read “Global Financial Crisis” to learn more.

Causes of Poverty

Last updated Sunday, September 28, 2014.

Poverty is the state for the majority of the world’s people and nations. Why is this? Is it enough to blame poor people for their own predicament? Have they been lazy, made poor decisions, and been solely responsible for their plight? What about their governments? Have they pursued policies that actually harm successful development? Such causes of poverty and inequality are no doubt real. But deeper and more global causes of poverty are often less discussed.

Read “Causes of Poverty” to learn more.

Climate Change and Global Warming

Last updated Sunday, January 19, 2014.

The climate is changing. The earth is warming up, and there is now overwhelming scientific consensus that it is happening, and human-induced. With global warming on the increase and species and their habitats on the decrease, chances for ecosystems to adapt naturally are diminishing. Many are agreed that climate change may be one of the greatest threats facing the planet. Recent years show increasing temperatures in various regions, and/or increasing extremities in weather patterns.

This section explores some of the effects of climate change. It also attempts to provide insights into what governments, companies, international institutions, and other organizations are attempting to do about this issue, as well as the challenges they face. Some of the major conferences in recent years are also discussed.

Read “Climate Change and Global Warming” to learn more.

Environmental Issues

Last updated Sunday, January 19, 2014.

Environmental issues are also a major global issue. Humans depend on a sustainable and healthy environment, and yet we have damaged the environment in numerous ways. This section introduces other issues including biodiversity, climate change, animal and nature conservation, population, genetically modified food, sustainable development, and more.

Read “Environmental Issues” to learn more.

Racism

Last updated Sunday, August 08, 2010.

Racism is the belief that characteristics and abilities can be attributed to people simply on the basis of their race and that some racial groups are superior to others. Racism and discrimination have been used as powerful weapons encouraging fear or hatred of others in times of conflict and war, and even during economic downturns. This article explores racism from around the world.

Read “Racism” to learn more.

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Topical Issues

Global Financial Crisis

Last updated Sunday, March 24, 2013.

Following a period of economic boom, a financial bubble — global in scope — burst, even causing some of the world’s largest financial institutions have collapsed. With the resulting recession, many governments of the wealthiest nations in the world have resorted to extensive bail-out and rescue packages for the remaining large banks and financial institutions while imposing harsh austerity measures on themselves.

Some of the bail-outs have also led to charges of hypocrisy due to the apparent socializing of the costs while privatizing the profits. Furthermore, the institutions being rescued are typically the ones got the world into this trouble in the first place. For smaller businesses and poorer people, such options for bail out and rescue are rarely available when they find themselves in crisis.

Plummeting stock markets at one point wiped out 33% of the value of companies, $14.5 trillion. Taxpayers bailed out their banks and financial institutions with large amounts of money. US taxpayers alone have spent some $9.7 trillion in bailout packages and plans. The UK and other European countries have also spent some $2 trillion on rescues and bailout packages. More is expected. Much more.

Such numbers, made quickly available, are enough to wipe many individual’s mortgages, or clear out third world debt many times over. Even the high military spending figures are dwarfed by the bailout plans to date.

Taxpayers are paying for some of the largests costs in history

This problem could have been averted (in theory) as people had been pointing to these issues for decades. However, during boom, very few want to hear such pessimism. Does this crisis spell an end to the careless forms of banking and finance and will it herald a better economic age, or are we just doomed to keep forgetting history and repeat these mistakes in the future? Signs are not encouraging as rich nations are resisting meaningful reform…

Read “Global Financial Crisis” to learn more.

Climate Change and Global Warming

Last updated Sunday, January 19, 2014.

The climate is changing. The earth is warming up, and there is now overwhelming scientific consensus that it is happening, and human-induced. With global warming on the increase and species and their habitats on the decrease, chances for ecosystems to adapt naturally are diminishing. Many are agreed that climate change may be one of the greatest threats facing the planet. Recent years show increasing temperatures in various regions, and/or increasing extremities in weather patterns.

This section explores some of the effects of climate change. It also attempts to provide insights into what governments, companies, international institutions, and other organizations are attempting to do about this issue, as well as the challenges they face. Some of the major conferences in recent years are also discussed.

Read “Climate Change and Global Warming” to learn more.

Food and Agriculture Issues

Last updated Sunday, September 28, 2014.

Food and agriculture goes to the heart of our civilizations. Religions, cultures and even modern civilization have food and agriculture at their core. For an issue that goes to the heart of humanity it also has its ugly side.

This issue explores topics ranging from the global food crisis of 2008, to issues of food aid, world hunger, food dumping and wasteful agriculture such as growing tobacco, sugar, beef, and more.

Read “Food and Agriculture Issues” to learn more.

Foreign Aid for Development Assistance

Last updated Sunday, September 28, 2014.

In 1970, the world’s rich countries agreed to give 0.7% of their gross national income as official international development aid, annually.

Since that time, billions have certainly been given each year, but rarely have the rich nations actually met their promised target.

For example, the US is often the largest donor in dollar terms, but ranks amongst the lowest in terms of meeting the stated 0.7% target.

Net ODA in dollars and percent of GNI

Furthermore, aid has often come with a price of its own for the developing nations. Common criticisms, for many years, of foreign aid, have included the following:

  • Aid is often wasted on conditions that the recipient must use overpriced goods and services from donor countries
  • Most aid does not actually go to the poorest who would need it the most
  • Aid amounts are dwarfed by rich country protectionism that denies market access for poor country products while rich nations use aid as a lever to open poor country markets to their products
  • Large projects or massive grand strategies often fail to help the vulnerable; money can often be embezzled away.

This article explores who has benefited most from this aid, the recipients or the donors.

Read “Foreign Aid for Development Assistance” to learn more.

Tax Avoidance and Tax Havens; Undermining Democracy

Last updated Monday, January 07, 2013.

Through tax havens, transfer pricing and many other policies — both legal and illegal — billions of dollars of tax are avoided. The much-needed money would helped developing (and developed) countries provide important social services for their populations.

Some tax avoidance, regardless of how morally objectionable it may be to some people, is perfectly legal, and the global super elite are able to hide away trillions of dollars, resulting in massive losses of tax revenues for cash-strapped governments who then burden ordinary citizens further with austerity measures during economic crisis, for example. Yet these super elite are often very influential in politics and business. In effect, they are able to undermine democracy and capitalism at the same time.

As the global financial crisis has affected many countries, tackling tax avoidance would help target those more likely to have contributed to the problem while avoid many unnecessary austerity measures that hit the poorest so hard. But despite rhetoric stating otherwise, it does not seem to high on the agenda of many governments as you might think.

Read “Tax Avoidance and Tax Havens; Undermining Democracy” to learn more.

World Military Spending

Last updated Sunday, June 30, 2013.

World military spending had reduced since the Cold War ended, but a few nations such as the US retain high level spending.

In recent years, global military expenditure has increased again and is now comparable to Cold War levels. Recent data shows global spending at over $1.7 trillion. 2012 saw the first dip in spending — only slightly —since 1998, in an otherwise rising trend.

After a decline following the end of the Cold War, recent years have seen military spending increase

The highest military spender is the US accounting for almost two-fifths of the world’s spending, more than the rest of the G7 (most economically advanced countries) combined, and more than all its potential enemies, combined.

Read “World Military Spending” to learn more.

More issues

“If a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting in accordance to his instincts, he will accept it even on the slightest evidence.” — Bertrand Russell, Roads to Freedom