The U.S. Water and Wastewater Crisis – How Many Wake-up Calls Are Enough?

Policies, Water

The U.S. Water and Wastewater Crisis – How Many Wake-up Calls Are Enough?

In February, much of Texas plunged into darkness when the state’s electricity grid failed due to extreme cold weather conditions. What started as a foreseeable blackout quickly became a life-threatening calamity. The frigid temperatures cracked pipes and froze wells.  To escape the frigid cold, have drinking water, and flush toilets, Texans were forced to boil snow and icicles. The extreme weather conditions and lack of basic amenities resulted in several fatal cases of hypothermia, frostbite, and carbon monoxide poisoning.

More than 14 million people in Texas were affected, and lost access to clean water at the height of the crisis. At the beginning of March, there were still nearly 390,000 people who did not have water safe enough to drink in their homes

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The global economy’s uneven recovery

Economy, Policies

The global economy’s uneven recovery

The chances for a swift, uniform rebound from the COVID-19 crisis have dimmed, and the world economy now faces sharply divergent growth prospects. Although the latest update of the Brookings-Financial Times Tracking Indexes for the Global Economic Recovery (TIGER) offers some grounds for optimism, it also raises renewed concerns.

Vaccination euphoria has been tempered by slow vaccine rollouts in most countries, while fresh waves of COVID-19 infections are threatening many economies’ growth trajectories.

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The International Far-Right Terrorist Threat Requires a Multilateral Response

Terrorism, Threats

The International Far-Right Terrorist Threat Requires a Multilateral Response

Right-wing violence is a global phenomenon. The United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) illuminated this global challenge in 2020 when it issued an alert that cited “a 320% increase in terrorist attacks by groups or individuals affiliated” with right-wing extremism. A U.S.-only focus to countering far-right terrorism will not curb this growing threat to international peace and stability.

Though there are challenges to organizing a multilateral response, the United States, the United Nations, and other partners have tools available that they can adapt from efforts to disrupt the financing and organization of jihadist terrorist groups.

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Human security

Policies, Security

Human security

Global military spending continued to reach record levels in 2020, rising almost 4 percent in real terms to US$1.83 trillion, even despite the severe economic contractions caused by the pandemic. The United States spends two-fifths of the world’s total, more than the next ten countries combined, and still cannot afford to prevent 50 million of its own citizens suffering from food insecurity.

Most shamefully, the United Kingdom is massively boosting its arms budget – the largest rise in almost 70 years, including a vast increase to its nuclear weapons stockpile – while cutting aid to the world’s poorest by 30 percent.

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Nuclear disarmament: Thinking outside the silo

Proflieration, Threats

Nuclear disarmament: Thinking outside the silo

Every five years since 1970 diplomats and arms control experts have gathered to review progress – or lack of it – in the disarmament process enshrined in the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The latest review conference, which was scheduled for May 2020, was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

This postponement is a silver lining behind a very dark cloud made up of the pandemic and several looming nuclear crises. It has bought time and with that time a new administration in Washington, one that is likely to be more open to multilateral efforts, pragmatic compromise and cooperative solutions.

Extreme poverty isn’t natural, it’s created

Poverty, Threats

Extreme poverty isn’t natural, it’s created

Over the past few years, this graph has become a sensation.  Developed by Our World In Data and promoted widely by Bill Gates and Steven Pinker, the graph gives the impression that virtually all of humanity was in “extreme poverty” as of 1820 (i.e., living on less than $1.90 per day, PPP; less than is required for basic food).

OWID has used this figure to claim that extreme poverty was the natural or baseline condition of humanity, extending far back into the past: “in the thousands of years before the beginning of the industrial era, the vast majority of the world population lived in conditions that we would call extreme poverty today.”

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The UK Defies Nuclear Treaties and Strengthens Atomic Arsenal

Proflieration

The UK Defies Nuclear Treaties and Strengthens Atomic Arsenal

Within three months of the UK’s complete withdrawal from all institutions of the European Union and from the European Atomic Energy Community on January 31, 2020, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has decided to increase by 40 per cent to 260 the country’s nuclear arsenal to “continue to be the leading European Ally within NATO”. Disarmament activists and experts as well as world parliamentarians have criticized the decision.

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International Travel Health Guide

Disease, Threats

International Travel Health Guide

An indispensable resource for anyone concerned with safe international travel, this best-selling book has been completely updated to provide more state-of-the-art guidance than ever before. In clear, accessible prose, authors Stuart Rose, MD and Jay Keystone, MD cover all of the essentials of healthy travel, from pre-travel vaccination and avoiding jet lag and altitude sickness to the treatment of travelers’ diarrhea, malaria prevention, and more.

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