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

Latest World News

World

  1. The Rise of One-Person Households

    Wednesday, February 22, 2017

    UNITED NATIONS, Feb 22 (IPS) - A significant global demographic change having far-reaching consequences yet receiving scant attention is the rise of one-person households.

  2. Shrinking and Darkening, the Plight of Kashmir's Dying Lakes

    Wednesday, February 22, 2017

    SRINAGAR, Feb 22 (IPS) - Mudasir Ahmad says that two decades ago, his father made a prophecy that the lake would vanish after the fish in its waters started dying. Three years ago, he found dead fish floating on the surface, making him worried about its fate.

  3. Trump Marks the End of a Cycle

    Tuesday, February 21, 2017

    ROME, Feb 21 (IPS) - Let us stop debating what newly-elected US President Trump is doing or might do and look at him in terms of historical importance. Put simply, Trump marks the end of an American cycle!

  4. South Sudan Declares Famine, Other Countries May Follow Warns UNICEF

    Tuesday, February 21, 2017

    UNITED NATIONS, Feb 21 (IPS) - South Sudan Monday became the first country to declare famine since 2012, as UNICEF warned that 1.4 million children are at risk of dying from starvation with famine also imminent in Nigeria, Somalia, and Yemen.

  5. Tax Evasion Lessons From Panama

    Tuesday, February 21, 2017

    KUALA LAMPUR, Feb 21 (IPS) - Unlike Wikileaks and other exposes, the Panama revelations were carefully managed, if not edited, quite selective, and hence targeted, at least initially. Most observers attribute this to the political agendas of its main sponsors. Nevertheless, the revelations have highlighted some problems associated with illicit financial flows, as well as tax evasion and avoidance, including the role of enabling governments, legislation, legal and accounting firms as well as shell companies.

  6. Humanitarian Crisis, Result of Decades of Globalization with No Concern for Social Justice

    Tuesday, February 21, 2017

    GENEVA, Feb 21 (IPS) - The distressing images of desperate people making the treacherous journey across the Mediterranean Sea and the Balkans to escape armed conflict, social tensions, discrimination and poverty harm the preconditions to achieve social harmony.

  7. Red Tape Snarls Nepal’s Ambitious Poverty-Alleviation Plans

    Tuesday, February 21, 2017

    KATHMANDU, Feb 21 (IPS) - Juna Bhujel of Sindupalchowk District, 85 kilometres northeast of Nepal's capital Kathmandu, lost her daughter-in-law in the Apr. 25, 2015 earthquake. Fortunately, she managed to rescue her two-year-old grandson, who was trapped between her mother's body and the rubble.

  8. Palestinian Rejection Underscores Limits of UN Chief’s Powers

    Monday, February 20, 2017

    UNITED NATIONS, Feb 20 (IPS) - Pointing out an example of the hierarchy of political power at the United Nations, a former Nigerian ambassador once told a group of reporters of an encounter at an international gathering in Africa when he ran into one of his friends who had returned from a visit to New York.

  9. Confusion over U.S. Travel Ban Grounds Foreign Correspondents

    Monday, February 20, 2017

    NEW YORK, Feb 20 (IPS) - New restrictions on immigrants and refugees coming to the United States are also posing challenges for foreign correspondents covering news in the United States. Some have had to indefinitely postpone plans to report on conflicts in the Middle East while others have found an unfriendly reminder of their past treatment as journalists in less free countries.

  10. Aging, Depression and Disease in South Africa

    Monday, February 20, 2017

    Canberra, Philadelphia and Manchester, Feb 20 (IPS) - Old age is often characterised by poor health due to isolation, morbidities and disabilities in carrying out activities of daily living (DADLs) leading to depression.

  11. More stories…

Economy

  1. Tax Evasion Lessons From Panama

    Tuesday, February 21, 2017

    KUALA LAMPUR, Feb 21 (IPS) - Unlike Wikileaks and other exposes, the Panama revelations were carefully managed, if not edited, quite selective, and hence targeted, at least initially. Most observers attribute this to the political agendas of its main sponsors. Nevertheless, the revelations have highlighted some problems associated with illicit financial flows, as well as tax evasion and avoidance, including the role of enabling governments, legislation, legal and accounting firms as well as shell companies.

  2. Alternative Mining Indaba Makes Its Voice Heard

    Saturday, February 18, 2017

    CAPE TOWN, South Africa, Feb 18 (IPS) - "Comrades, we have arrived. This cherry is eight years awaited. We have made it to this place," Bishop Jo Seoka told the crowd, pausing to allow for the whistles and cheers.

  3. Expansion of Renewable Energies in Mexico Has Victims

    Friday, February 17, 2017

    KIMBILÁ, Mexico, Feb 17 (IPS) - The growing number of wind and solar power projects in the southern Mexican state of Yucatán are part of a positive change in Mexico's energy mix. But affected communities do not see it in the same way, due to the fact that they are not informed or consulted, and because of how the phenomenon changes their lives.

  4. The Planned US Border Tax Would Most Likely Violate WTO Rules - Part 2

    Friday, February 17, 2017

    PENANG, Feb 17 (IPS) - As American lawmakers and the Trump administration prepare the ground for introducing a border adjustment tax, many controversial issues have emerged, including whether they go against the rules of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

  5. Still in Limbo, Somaliland Banking on Berbera

    Friday, February 17, 2017

    HARGEISA, Somaliland, Feb 17 (IPS) - Crossing African borders by land can be an intimidating process (it's proving an increasingly intimidating process nowadays in Europe and the US also, even in airports). But crossing from Ethiopia to Somaliland at the ramshackle border town of Togo-Wuchale is a surreally pleasant experience.

  6. Beware of the New US Protectionist Plan, the Border Adjustment Tax

    Friday, February 17, 2017

    PENANG, Feb 17 (IPS) - A new and deadly form of protectionism is being considered by Congress leaders and the President of the United States that could have devastating effect on the exports and investments of American trading partners, especially the developing countries.

  7. Washington Rules Change, Again

    Thursday, February 16, 2017

    KUALA LAMPUR, Feb 16 (IPS) - Over the last four decades, the Washington Consensus, promoting economic liberalization, globalization and privatization, reversed four decades of an earlier period of active state intervention to accelerate and stabilize more inclusive economic growth, associated with Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John Maynard Keynes.

  8. Energy Access Builds Inclusive Economies and Resilient Communities

    Thursday, February 16, 2017

    NEW DELHI, Feb 16 (IPS) - Jaipal Hembrum runs three one-man home enterprises - a bicycle repair shop, a tiny food stall and a tailoring unit in Kautuka, a remote village in eastern India. Sewing recycled clothes into mattresses late into the evening, the 38-year-old father of three girls says two light bulbs fed by a solar power system have changed his life.

  9. Corruption Brings Down an Empire: Odebrecht in Brazil

    Thursday, February 16, 2017

    RIO DE JANEIRO, Feb 16 (IPS) - People in Brazil have been overwhelmed by the flood of news stories about the huge web of corruption woven by the country's biggest construction company, Odebrecht, which is active in dozens of fields and countries.

    The business empire built by three generations of the Odebrecht family is falling apart after three years of investigation by the Lava Jato (car wash) operation launched by the Federal Public Prosecutor's office in Brazil, which is investigating the corruption that diverted millions of dollars in bribes in exchange for major public works contracts from the state-run oil giant Petrobras.

    Marcelo Odebrecht, who headed the company from 2008 to 2015, was arrested in June 2015 and was initially sentenced to 19 years in prison.

    In October he and the company reached plea bargain deals to cooperate with the investigation. A total of 77 former and present Odebrecht executives provided over 900 sworn statements to Lava Jato prosecutors, causing a political earthquake in Brazil and throughout Latin America.

    In December, the U.S. Justice Department revealed that Odebrecht allegedly spent 1.04 billion dollars in bribes to politicians and government officials in ten Latin American and two African countries, including Brazil, which accounted for 57.7 per cent of the total.

    The United States is carrying out its own investigation, which could end in criminal convictions, since several Odebrecht subsidiaries, such as the petrochemical company Braskem, operate there, and their shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

    That is also happening in the case of Petrobras, implicated in the corruption scandal and under investigation at the initiative of shareholders in the U.S.

    The U.S. and Switzerland, where banks were allegedly used to funnel bribes or launder money, signed cooperation agreements with legal authorities in Brazil, as part of the ongoing offensive against corruption in Latin America's giant.

    The impacts are overwhelming. In Brazil, the revelations about Odebrecht are expected to provoke a tsunami in the political system. Two hundred parliamentarians and government officials may have received bribes, including senior members of the current administration and legislature.

    The business group had created a specialised bribe department. According to U.S. justice authorities, every dollar "invested" in bribes produced 12 dollars in contracts.

    That estimate is based on more than 100 projects carried out or in progress in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Peru and Venezuela, plus Angola and Mozambique in Africa.

    Part of the Caracas valley seen from the San Agustín Metrocable, one of the many works assigned to Odebrecht in Venezuela during the government of Hugo Chávez (1999-2013), when the Brazilian company became the biggest construction firm in the country. Credit: Raúl Límaco/IPS Part of the Caracas valley seen from the San Agustín Metrocable, one of the many works assigned to Odebrecht in Venezuela during the government of Hugo Chávez (1999-2013), when the Brazilian company became the biggest construction firm in the country. Credit: Raúl Límaco/IPS

    The arrest warrant issued by a court in Peru against former Peruvian president Alejandro Toledo (2001-2006), who has been living in the United States, and allegations implicating current Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela, are just the tip of the iceberg.

    What was revealed by Odebrecht executives and former executives, as well as former directors of different departments, such as external affairs, infrastructure, industrial engineering or logistics, has not yet been made public.

    New figures involving alleged bribes are expected to come out over the next few months, added to those already disclosed in the United States, including 599 million dollars distributed in Brazil, 98 million in Venezuela, 92 million in the Dominican Republic, 59 million in Panama and 50 million in Angola.

    In Peru the total revealed so far is "only" 29 million dollars since 2005. The sum is small, considering that for the Southern Peru pipeline - still under construction – alone, the projected investments amount to seven billion dollars. The Peruvian government has decided to terminate the contract with Odebrecht for the project.

    Besides Odebrecht, the Inter-Oceanic Highway, which runs across southern Peru from the Brazilian border to Pacific Ocean ports, is being built by three other Brazilian construction firms - Camargo Correa, Andrade Gutierrez and Queiroz Galvão – which are also under investigation for suspicion of corruption.

    During the presidency of Alan Garcia (2006-2011), Peru and Brazil signed an agreement for the construction of five large hydropower plants in Peru, which was cancelled by his successor, Ollanta Humala (2011-2016), who, however, is suspected of receiving three million dollars from Brazil for his election campaign.

    Odebrecht, which has a concession to manage Chaglla, the third biggest hydroelectric plant in Peru, with a capacity of 462 MW, was to be the main construction company in charge of building the new plants.

  10. St Valentine’s Day: Celebrating Healthy Relationships; Challenging Violence

    Tuesday, February 14, 2017

    LA PAZ, Bolivia, Feb 14 (IPS) - Today, many couples, in many countries will be celebrating Saint Valentine's Day – or ‘El día de los enamorados' (‘Day of Lovers') in some Latin American countries. Whilst a chance to celebrate the spectrum of healthy loving relationships; it is also an important opportunity to highlight a crisis affecting women and girls in every corner of the world - 30% of women will experience physical or sexual violence perpetrated by a current or former partner or husband.

  11. More stories…

Climate

  1. Shrinking and Darkening, the Plight of Kashmir's Dying Lakes

    Wednesday, February 22, 2017

    SRINAGAR, Feb 22 (IPS) - Mudasir Ahmad says that two decades ago, his father made a prophecy that the lake would vanish after the fish in its waters started dying. Three years ago, he found dead fish floating on the surface, making him worried about its fate.

  2. Making the Deep Blue Sea Green Again

    Monday, February 20, 2017

    UNITED NATIONS, Feb 20 (IPS) - Kids growing up in the Seychelles think of the ocean as their backyard, says Ronald Jean Jumeau, the Seychelles ambassador to the UN.

  3. Alternative Mining Indaba Makes Its Voice Heard

    Saturday, February 18, 2017

    CAPE TOWN, South Africa, Feb 18 (IPS) - "Comrades, we have arrived. This cherry is eight years awaited. We have made it to this place," Bishop Jo Seoka told the crowd, pausing to allow for the whistles and cheers.

  4. Expansion of Renewable Energies in Mexico Has Victims

    Friday, February 17, 2017

    KIMBILÁ, Mexico, Feb 17 (IPS) - The growing number of wind and solar power projects in the southern Mexican state of Yucatán are part of a positive change in Mexico's energy mix. But affected communities do not see it in the same way, due to the fact that they are not informed or consulted, and because of how the phenomenon changes their lives.

  5. Improved Cookstoves Boost Health and Forest Cover in the Himalayas

    Friday, February 17, 2017

    DARJEELING, India, Feb 17 (IPS) - Mountain communities in the Himalayan region are almost entirely dependent on forests for firewood even though this practice has been identified as one of the most significant causes of forest decline and a major source of indoor air pollution.

  6. Energy Access Builds Inclusive Economies and Resilient Communities

    Thursday, February 16, 2017

    NEW DELHI, Feb 16 (IPS) - Jaipal Hembrum runs three one-man home enterprises - a bicycle repair shop, a tiny food stall and a tailoring unit in Kautuka, a remote village in eastern India. Sewing recycled clothes into mattresses late into the evening, the 38-year-old father of three girls says two light bulbs fed by a solar power system have changed his life.

  7. Worst Drought in Decades Drives Food Price Spike in East Africa

    Wednesday, February 15, 2017

    ROME, Feb 15 (IPS) - The most severe drought in decades, which has struck parts of Ethiopia and is exacerbated by a particularly strong El Niño effect, has led to successive failed harvests and widespread livestock deaths in some areas, and humanitarian needs have tripled since the beginning of 2015, the United Nations warns.

  8. Ravaging Drought Deepens in Kenya

    Monday, February 13, 2017

    NAIROBI, Feb 13 (IPS) - Experts warn that Kenya is in the grip of the worst drought in recent history as government estimates show the number of people who are acutely food insecure has risen to 2.7 million, up from two million in January.

  9. Argentina’s Never-ending Environmental Disaster

    Saturday, February 11, 2017

    BUENOS AIRES, Feb 11 (IPS) - Is it possible to spend 5.2 billion dollars to clean up a river which is just 64-km-long and get practically no results? Argentina is showing that it is.

  10. IFAD 2017 – It’s Women’s Turn in Rural Development

    Monday, February 06, 2017

    BRASILIA, Feb 06 (IPS) - Josefina Stubbs, from the Dominican Republic, may become the first woman to preside over the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), which is dedicated to eradicating rural poverty.

  11. More stories…

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Issues In depth

Latest

Action on climate change is cheaper than inaction

Posted Monday, February 02, 2015.

Many are afraid that tackling climate change is going to be too costly. But increasingly, studies are showing action will not just be cheaper than inaction, but could actually result in economic, environmental and even health benefits, while improving sustainability.

Read “Action on climate change is cheaper than inaction” to learn more.

Climate Change and Global Warming Introduction

Last updated Sunday, February 01, 2015.

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.

COP20—Lima Climate Conference

Posted Saturday, January 24, 2015.

An overview of the Climate Change Conference (also known as COP 20), held in Lima, Peru in December 2014.

While it seemed like it was a successful meeting, because developing nations were committed to drawing up their own plans for emissions reductions for the first time, a number of important issues were left undecided such as how financing would work.

This page is an overview of the Lima Climate conference.

Read “COP20—Lima Climate Conference” to learn more.

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.

More updates

Most Popular

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 Monday, February 02, 2015.

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 Monday, February 02, 2015.

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.

More articles

Topical

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 Monday, February 02, 2015.

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