Storm in a Rice Bowl

Rice, a staple of the South Korean diet, is stirring up a bowlful of worry for Seoul. Under a promise to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the government has to make a tough choice on rice imports by June this year.

Kyrgyzstan: Russian ’Information Wars’ Heating Up

Relative to other Central Asian states, Kyrgyzstan has a fairly free and perennially noisy domestic media scene. Even so, Kyrgyz outlets tend to be no match for Russian state-controlled media when it comes to establishing narratives for current events.

U.S. Apache Delivery Highlights Mixed Messaging on Egypt

Last October, the Barack Obama administration suspended the delivery of attack helicopters to Egypt’s interim government following the Jul. 2 military ouster of Egypt’s democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi.

Argentina’s Informal Economy Shrinks, But Not Fast Enough

At the age of 22, Franco finally landed his first job, although he is not on any payroll and receives no labour benefits. He is part of Argentina’s informal economy, where one out of three workers are employed – a proportion the government aims to reduce by means of a new law.

Persecution of Uganda’s Gays Intensifies as Rights Groups Go Underground

As she sits in a Kampala hotel holding a mobile phone that rings frequently, Sandra Ntebi tells IPS: “I’m really exhausted. I don’t know where to start. We have many cases pending.” Ntebi manages a hotline and is helping Uganda’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community find alternative, safe accommodation after they have faced harassment.

Japan Seeks Foreign Workers, Uneasily

Desperate for more workers to support a construction boom, Japan has proposed to expand its controversial foreign trainee programme to permit more unskilled labour from Asia to work in Japanese companies for five years from the current three years.

Weiwei Exhibits His Art in Absentia

Without authorisation to leave China for the US, artist and activist Ai Weiwei has opened the last leg of his touring North-American exhibition in New York.

Culture Increasingly Unaffordable for Cubans

Standing in line for a concert at the Centro Cultural Fábrica de Arte, a cultural centre in the Cuban capital, Alexis Cruz anxiously checks his billfold, where he has the price of the ticket – 50 Cuban pesos (two dollars) - and three CUCs (equivalent to one dollar each) to buy something to drink.

U.N. Makes Development Data Open & Interactive

Every person in the world now has the opportunity to speak up at the United Nations, and already 1.8 million people have submitted their messages.

Bringing the Bridges Home

As foreign forces withdraw slowly from Afghanistan, they leave behind a vulnerable band of people who were their ears and guides on the ground. These people who served as interpreters, face a life of threats and uncertainties. Many have been killed.

U.S.-Russia Sabre Rattling May Undermine Nuke Meeting

The growing tension between the United States and Russia over Ukraine has threatened to unravel one of the primary peace initiatives of the United Nations: nuclear disarmament.

U.S. Urged to Tackle Lead in Aviation Gasoline

Consumer advocates, public health workers and environmental groups here are calling on the federal government to take a formal step towards regulating the use of lead in aviation gasoline, despite a failure to do so for nearly two decades.

Charting a Course for Survival, or Oblivion?

Hopefully, on Earth Day today, high-level ministers from all countries are thinking about what they can bring to the table at a key set of meetings on climate change in early May.

Nigeria – From Sticks and Machetes to Rocket-propelled Grenades

Nigerians are beginning to adjust to the sad reality that they live in a country where suicide bombers and terrorists could be lurking around the next corner thanks to a ready supply of advanced weapons smuggled through the country’s porous borders. 

Weak Laws and Capitalist Economy Deplete Kenya’s Natural Wealth

Each season Peter Gichangi, a vegetable and arrowroot commercial farmer who owns four hectares of land in Nyeri County, Kenya’s Central Province, cultivates his crops near the Nduyi River.

Cuba’s Burgeoning Private Sector Hungry for Flora and Fauna

The lack of markets to supply raw materials for Cuba’s new private sector, along with the poverty in isolated rural communities, is fuelling the poaching of endangered species of flora and fauna.

The Global Trading System Aims to Improve Children’s Lives

Although some people don’t see the connection, the global trading system is aimed at creating some of the essential conditions needed to improve children’s lives and their prospects in the future.

UN Working Group on Biodiversity Makes Cautious Progress

The UN Ad Hoc Open ended Informal Working Group on ‘biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction’ (WG), which was initially convened in 2006, had its first meeting this year in New York from April 1 - 4.

Imprisoning Themselves to Stay Safe

"I don’t dare tell you who the murderers are but their target is just us, Turkmens," says Ahmed Abdulla Muhtaroglu, sitting by the portrait of his brother who was killed last year.

Obama Seeks to Reassure Anxious Asians on “Rebalance”

As he embarks Tuesday on a major trip through East Asia, U.S. President Barack Obama will be focused on reassuring anxious – albeit sometimes annoying – allies that Washington remains determined to deepen its commitment to the region.

Mexico’s Climate Change Law – More Than Just Empty Words?

When Mexico’s climate change law went into effect in October 2012, it drew international praise. But what has happened since then?

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