December 2015

Humanitarian agencies failing staff

How much responsibility should humanitarian agencies take for their workers? Two recent reports suggest that throughout the industry, organizations are completely failing their staff.

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NGOs: Caveat donor

ProPublica, the public-interest journalism site, is offering a Nonprofit Explorer webapp to check out non-governmental organizations in the U.S. for their spending, expenses, remuneration of officials and other financial details.

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November 2015

COP21: Prospects dim going in

An intern at, the Australian-based subscription news filter site, offers a rundown of the position of big players on the climate scene as the World Summit opens in Paris (30 November-11 December 2015). Sheida Danai, a freelance journalist, points out that China plans to double its emissions while the United States Congres is considered unlikely to approve any treaty.

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October 2015

Security snoopers and social media

Security snoopers vs Wikileakers, who are making more of an impact on media in society? Or is it the collapse of traditional business models with the rise of social media? Swiss journalists came together at the Fourth Journalistic Assizes on 27 October at the Swiss Press Club in Geneva to debate these questions. Peter Hulm reports.

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Red and processed meats -- how dangerous?

You probably read the news that the World Health Organization has ruled that red and processed meats are carcinogenic. What you may not have seen is an assessment of what that means in fact.

Kevin Drum at Mother Jones has analysed the report. He concludes: "If you're really worried about cancer, cut out the smoking, the drinking, the overeating, and the city living. Once you've done that, then it's time to decide if you also want to skip the bacon."

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Is this the new face of philanthropy?

Still in his 30s, Yonathan Parienti is a straggle-haired ex-banker in blue jeans. Now his mission is to bring social activists together via the Internet. For under-35s there's no paradox.

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The higher cost of poverty

It costs the poorest people $1.90 to buy the same as $1.25 in 2005, according to the latest estimates of the World Bank.

That's why the Bank, using figures from 2011, has upped its extreme-poverty line measure by 42%, just after the United Nations set itself the goal of eliminating the worst poverty by 2030.

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Nobel Economics Prize goes to aid critic

The 2015 Nobel Economics Prizewinner Angus Deaton, in case you hadn't noticed, is a sharp critic of foreign aid.

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September 2015

New SDGs: just a publicity exercise?

Edward R. Carr, professor and director of the International Development, Community and Environment Department at Clark University, offers one of the few, desperately needed analytical articles about the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 approved by the United Nations.

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July 2015

Scientists, researchers call for ban on autonomous weapons

Nobel cosmologist Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk (founder of Tesla) and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak are more than 1899 people who gave their support for an open letter on 27 July 2015 calling for a ban on autonomous weapons.

"The key question for humanity today is whether to start a global AI arms race or to prevent it from starting," they declare in the open letter published at the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Buenos Aires.

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Outlook for Great Barrier Reef 'poor'

UNESCO's World Heritage Committee has stopped short of listing Australia's Great Barrier Reef as in danger despite admitting its outlook is poor as a result of pollution and climate change.

A listing as "in danger" would have pressured the Government to take stricter conservation measures.

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French soldiers suspended in Burkina child sex claims

It doesn't seem possible to find on AFP's website, but several news outlets cite the official French news agency as having suspended two soldiers over allegations of sexually assaulting children in Burkina Faso.

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June 2015

Climate Fund lists $500m projects

Developing countries could start receiving cash from the U.N.-supported Green Climate Fund by December, ahead of the climate summit in Paris.

Writing from New York on the website RTCC (Responding to Climate Change), Megan Darby says the fund has received 120 requests for cash totalling US$6 billion. Of these, $500m-worth "look promising", according to Héla Cheikhrouhou, the initiative's chief.

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W.H.O. agency says agent orange is 'possibly carcinogenic', DDT probably, and lindane certainly

The Lyon-based International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a subsidiary of the World Health Organization, has issued classifications for the carcinogenity of three major herbicide/pesticides including 2,4-D, an ingredient of agent orange, used by the U.S. against Viet Cong-controlled territory in Vietnam.

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March 2015

Reporters org restores barred sites

Tibetan and Russian web users should be able to pick up banned websites, thanks to Reporters Without Borders, using major platforms that it will be difficult or embarrassing for the authorities to block.

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