The World

5 minute read
Harriet Barovick, Ishaan Tharoor, Alexandra Silver, Claire Suddath, Frances Romero, Kayla Webley and Josh Sanburn

1 | New York City

Revisiting Antipoverty Aims

With just five years left before the target date for the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals, world leaders assessed the situation at a three-day summit ahead of the General Assembly’s annual meeting. The U.N. says the world is on track to halve extreme poverty by 2015. But progress has not been uniform, and given current circumstances, many goals–such as reducing maternal and child mortality–are unlikely to be accomplished on schedule.

[The following text appears within a chart. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual chart.]

Halving extreme poverty by 2015

NO PROGRESS/DETERIORATION

PROGRESS INSUFFICIENT

PROGRESS SUFFICIENT

CLOSE TO OR COMPLETED

North Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa

East Asia

Southeast Asia

South Asia

West Asia

Latin Am./Carib.

SOURCE: U.N.

2 | Mexico

A Plea to Drug Lords

Following the killing of two of its reporters in the past two years, Ciudad Juárez’s leading newspaper published a front-page editorial asking drug gangs to explain “what we should try to publish or not publish.” El Diario de Juárez went on to blame the government for failing to protect its citizens against drug cartels. At least 22 reporters have been killed in Mexico since President Felipe Calderón announced his 2006 war on drugs, and many newspapers now censor their coverage of drug violence for fear of retribution. Last month Calderón reaffirmed his commitment to the drug war, which has seen 28,000 slain in more than four years.

3 | Tajikistan

A Massacre in the Mountains

Militants ambushed a convoy of Tajik troops on Sept. 19, killing at least 25 soldiers as they traveled through the Rasht Valley, a mountainous area long plied by extremists and drug traffickers. The attack, allegedly carried out by insurgents trained in nearby Pakistan and Afghanistan, came after more than two dozen inmates linked to al-Qaeda escaped prison last month. Tajikistan’s authoritarian government waged a bloody civil war against Islamists in the 1990s.

4 | Afghanistan

Fraud, Threats Hamper Vote

Braving bombings, kidnapping and threats from the Taliban, 4.3 million Afghans cast ballots Sept. 18 in the country’s parliamentary elections. The turnout, the smallest of any elections since the 2001 toppling of the Taliban, was kept low by security fears, which prevented about 1 in 5 polling stations from opening. Allegations of widespread ballot fraud plagued those that did open; some stations were missing ballots and ballot boxes altogether. Nearly 4,000 complaints have been filed.

5 | Italy

Vatican Bank Under Investigation

In what Italian authorities called a preventive measure, $30 million was seized from the Vatican bank as the private institution and its two top officials were placed under investigation for alleged money laundering. The inquiry was launched after the bank failed to adequately explain the origin of funds transferred from one of its accounts to two others it holds. Led by chairman Ettore Gotti Tedeschi (above) and director general Paolo Cipriani, the Vatican bank–which manages money for charitable activities–has not been investigated since the 1980s. The Vatican expressed “perplexity and surprise” at the action but said it remained confident that no charges would be brought in the coming months.

6 | Iraq

FOREVER WAR

Political paralysis and spiraling instability have followed the declared end of U.S. combat operations in Iraq in August. Two bombings in the capital killed 29 people on Sept. 19. A separate car bomb, targeting an Iraqi military patrol in Fallujah, killed at least four. Some speculated that the attacks were triggered by a controversial raid launched by Iraqi and U.S. special forces against a suspected insurgent hideout, which left six people dead.

7 | Sweden

Far Right Gains Seats

An anti-immigration party won seats in the Swedish Parliament for the first time and now holds the balance of power after an election that appeared to give center-right Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt (below) a second term. The results could signal the decline of the left-wing Social Democrats, architects of Sweden’s social-welfare state.

8 | Boston

Recession? What Recession?

Brows furrowed after the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), a private, nonpartisan organization, announced Sept. 21 that the recession in the U.S. ended 15 months ago, in June 2009. Citing high unemployment, job scarcity and a hobbled housing market, many called the conclusion misguided. One member of the NBER, however, explained that “we are only saying that things started to get better in June 2009, not that times are good.” Now that the country is officially out of the longest recession since World War II, President Obama is pressing for tax relief for the hard-hit middle class.

Longest U.S. recessions since World War II

1973–75

16 MONTHS

1981–82

16 MONTHS

2007–09

18 MONTHS

9 | Yemen

Battling Al-Qaeda

Targeting suspected al-Qaeda militants, Yemeni troops laid siege to the southern town of Hawta. While thousands of residents were able to flee, the government said al-Qaeda was using civilians as human shields. Yemen is home to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the terrorist branch that claimed responsibility for the failed plot to blow up a Detroit-bound passenger flight last December.

10 | China

Tensions with Tokyo Spike

Relations between historical rivals Japan and China deteriorated further after Chinese officials said their Premier Wen Jiabao would not meet with his Japanese counterpart while both were in New York City for the U.N. General Assembly. As anti-Japanese sentiment rose in China, Japan called for talks to end the row over a trawler that Tokyo says rammed into its naval vessels while in waters claimed by both sides. The boat’s captain was still being held, which prompted China to suspend senior-level ties on Sept. 19.

* What They’re Dropping in Guam: Since they were introduced to the island by World War II–era military transports, brown tree snakes have nearly eliminated Guam’s indigenous bird population. To combat the invasive species, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has begun to air-drop dead mice stuffed with the generic equivalent of Tylenol (which is deadly to the reptiles) into the forests surrounding Naval Base Guam. The mice are attached to two pieces of cardboard and a streamer; scientists hope the rodents will get caught in tree branches, where the snakes can easily find and eat them.

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