A Modern Medieval Nightmare

Streets that lack asphalt, houses without water and electricity and whole communities wanting in proper access to schooling and healthcare— while this might sound like a description of a medieval town this is the reality for hundred millions of people in India. The Indian slums are known as prime examples of the economic theory of the poverty traps. What this theory states is that a certain set of factors such as low level of savings, poor education and/or poor healthcare can cause a self-perpet...
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A Bittersweet Livelihood: How Cocoa360 plans to improve cocoa farmers’ standard of life

According to the non-profit Oxfam America, cocoa farmers on average make about three percent of the price of a chocolate bar. Farmer Obini says there’s not much left after what he pays for his kids’ school, so he sells vegetables along with home-brewed alcohol to supplement his income during the low production season. With a population of 27 million, 60% of them living in rural areas, Ghana is troubled by health and wealth inequity. As the world's second leading exporter of cocoa, it earns ab...
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The Forgotten Humanitarian Crisis: Boko Haram

As the political drama of the U.S. presidential election unfolded late in 2016, most television sets in northeastern Nigeria tuned into the action. In the heart of one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world, the food shortage and infrastructural devastation caused by Boko Haram has received little media coverage. Military efforts to combat the region’s terrorist group have reduced wartime violence but left small-scale terror and a humanitarian catastrophe in their wake. National governmen...
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World Health Organization declares Zika virus global health emergency

In May of last year, an outbreak of the Zika virus was discovered in Brazil.  Less than a year later, the virus has spread to over twenty countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, prompting the World Health Organization to declare it an international public health emergency in early February. An increasing body of evidence links the Zika virus, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, to microcephaly, a condition which causes babies to be born with unusually small heads and, consequently, inco...
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Red Alert: China’s Suffocating Smog Problem

Beijing, as well as a vast area from Xian in central to China to Harbin in the frigid north-east are in the midst of a hazardous “red-alert” smog. This is the second alert to be issued in Chin, the first warning was given only a little more than a week ago. Residents in Beijing especially are being advised to omit from going outdoors and are even undergoing restrictions on the use of vehicles, factories and construction work. The health effects are alarming. Long-term exposure to PM2.5—particul...
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Sweden’s experiment with the 6-hour work day

Happier staff.  Increased profits.  Lower turnover rate.  These are just a few of the reported benefits of the six-hour work day, adopted this year by employers across Sweden - from retirement homes to car centers and hospitals. This approach is not entirely new.  Thirteen years ago, Toyota service centers in the coastal city of Gothenburg cut shifts for their mechanics.  The company reported rising profits and increased staff satisfaction as a result, and the concept has been in place ever s...
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U.N. crowdfunding app helps feed Syrian refugees

On Thursday, the United Nations World Food Programme released a new crowdfunding app in order to help feed Syrian children in Jordanian refugee camps. ShareTheMeal, available for iPhone and Android smartphones, encourages users to “share their meals” with these young refugees by donating as little as $0.50, enough to feed a child for one day.  Those who log in to the app through Facebook can even compare their charity efforts to those of their Facebook friends -- a special gamification featur...
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Paris to ban traffic when pollution levels peak

Last week, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo rejoiced as France’s Ecology Minister Ségolène Royal agreed to institute cuts to traffic in Paris when pollution levels peak. Royal had previously called for the bans to be introduced after three consecutive days of high pollution levels, but later conceded that the bans, which will allocate alternate driving days for cars based on odd or even registration plate numbers, will be installed “whenever the region and city authorities demand it.” The move wa...
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Alyne da Silva Pimentel v. Brazil

In November 2002, Alyne, a 28-year-old Afro-Brazilian woman, was admitted into a private clinic complaining of nausea. Although the medical staff considered her to present signs of a high-risk pregnancy, she was discharged from the clinic. She returned to the clinic two days later, and the doctors discovered that her fetus had died and removed it. Alyne’s health continued to decline, and she was later transferred to the Hospital Geral de Nova Igaçu. Medical officials continued to delay her treat...
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Bihar School Lunch Tragedy: One Week Later

  It has been nearly one week since 23 schoolchildren were tragically killed after consuming pesticide-filled food in Gandaman, a village in Bihar. Now that the initial waves of worldwide outrage have slightly subsided, the question remains: How can Bihar—one of the poorest regions in India—even begin to reconfigure its corrupt and ineffective systems so as to prevent future devastation? First, it is important to note that this tragedy was not unforeseeable—or unavoidable. Poison-related ...
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