Street vendors are the main beneficiaries of micro-loans in Colombia.  Credit: Helda Martínez/IPS

COLOMBIA: Microcredit Growing Steadily at 15 Percent a Year

The more than 1.2 million microenterprises operating in Colombia are responsible for around 50 percent of all employment. And many of these small businesses owe their existence to the microfinance system, according to a report by Visión Económica, a local business research group.

U.S.: New Report Identifies Organisational Nexus of Islamophobia

A small group of inter-connected foundations, think tanks, pundits, and bloggers is behind the 10-year-old campaign to promote fear of Islam and Muslims in the U.S., according to a major investigative report released here Friday by the Center for American Progress (CAP).

U.S.: Analysts Criticise Proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership

Critics of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) gathered here Thursday to voice concerns over the U.S.'s stronghold on intellectual property rights.

Memorial to murdered Judge Patrícia Acioli draws little attention from passersby on the beach in Niteroi.  Credit: Fabiana Frayssinet/IPS

BRAZIL: Organised Crime Raises the Stakes

The assassination of Brazilian Judge Patrícia Acioli, who was investigating militias made up of off-duty police and death squads, points to a new stage of organised crime, which is expanding into the vacuum left by the impunity surrounding 90 percent of murders in the state of Rio de Janeiro.

Palestinians Thirsting for Justice in Water-Starved Occupied Territories

In the strife-stricken Middle East, oil has always been in the realm of politics. But in the Israeli-occupied territories of Gaza and the West Bank, oil has been supplanted by water.

Michael Renner. Credit: Courtesy of Michael Renner

Q&A: NGOs Must Play Key Role in Rio+20 Summit on Sustainable Development

As the United Nations readies for a major international conference on sustainable development next June in Brazil, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are preparing to play a key role in the run-up to the summit meeting and are preparing a plan of action to be adopted by world leaders.

CONGO: Poachers Feel the Long Arm of New Law

Authorities in the Republic of Congo are showing an encouraging new readiness to arrest and prosecute people trading in endangered species.

Another funeral procession of a Hazara killed in an attack. Credit: Altaf Hussain Safdari/IPS.

PAKISTAN: For Shia Hazaras, it’s Funeral After Funeral

Rukhsana Ahmed finds comfort visiting her husband Ahmed Ali Najfi’s grave. "I feel at peace there," says the 60-year-old widow, mother of four and member of the Shia Hazara community.

Global Warming Behind Somali Drought

The severe drought in the Horn of Africa, which has caused the death of at least 30,000 children and is affecting some 12 million people, especially in Somalia, is a direct consequence of weather phenomena associated with climate change and global warming, environmental scientists say.

U.S.: Budget Talks Have Major Defence Contractors on Edge

When an expensive unmanned aircraft built by Lockheed Martin Corporation, a U.S. defence contractor, disappeared during a U.S. military test flight off the Pacific coast earlier this month, the debacle raised eyebrows.

Hunger strikers at a secondary school in Buin, near Santiago.  Credit: Fernando Fiedler/IPS

CHILE: “We Are Prepared to Give Our Lives for Education”

As students and teachers continue their massive protests in the streets of Chile's cities, one of the most extreme methods of demanding higher-quality, free public education is the hunger strike being undertaken by 28 youngsters at secondary schools across the country, four of whom have not taken food for nearly 40 days.

Drought strains Kenyan community

Four years of drought in the Igembe North County is putting a strain on the community. Mary Itumbi reports from Kenya.

Las Positivas performing at the Riviera theatre in Havana.  Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

CULTURE-CUBA: Women Rappers a Vocal Minority

Women are still a small minority on Cuba’s hip hop scene. "If the situation is hard for us nationwide, imagine what it’s like in the eastern region, where this genre has very little recognition," says Yaneidys Tamayo, leader of the group Las Positivas.

Brian Van Slyke, founder of the Toolbox for Education and Social Action (TESA). Credit: Courtesy of TESA

Q&A: ‘Cooperatives Aren’t Charity’

As industrial production penetrates all corners of the planet and transnational capital gains have unfettered access to virtually every country and community, the United Nations has declared 2012 to be the ‘International Year of Cooperatives (IYC)'.

CENTRAL AMERICA: ‘Green Economy’ Not a Panacea

The "green economy" will not solve the problems of poverty and natural disasters in Central America as long as the development model continues to be based on over-consumption and over-production, regional experts say.

Ukrainian and Bulgarian workers trafficked to Iraq. Credit: Rebecca Murray/IPS.

IRAQ: Trafficked to Baghdad’s Green Zone

Ukrainian and Bulgarian workers are currently camped out on a construction site of half-built luxury villas in Baghdad’s elite "Green Zone" – a vast security enclave housing government offices, embassies and international NGOs - demanding their salaries before being shipped back home.

GHANA: Struggle to Prevent Import of Counterfeit Drugs

Counterfeit medicines have flooded the market in Ghana and have even made their way into government hospitals as the country’s drug regulator struggles to control the importation of drugs.

LIBYA: Evidence of ‘Mass Execution’ in Tripoli

Al Jazeera has found evidence of a possible mass execution of political activists in Libya.

BRAZIL: Fight for Gay Rights Making Strides

Brazil is making progress in cracking down on homophobia and upholding the rights of homosexuals. The latest step was the introduction in Congress of a bill on sexual diversity, sponsored by the bar association in consultation with civil society.

Social worker, Ally Lazer (centre), said he sees thousands of youth and young children becoming addicted to drugs.  Credit: Nasseem Ackburally/IPS

MAURITIUS: Drug Use on the Increase among Kids

With drug trafficking rampant in the small Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius, social workers and drug treatment centres are noting an increasing number of children and youth are now becoming addicted to drugs.

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