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Sudan’s Worsening Food Crisis

South Sudan faces the worst food crisis in the world – and it’s about to dramatically worsen. The need for aid is urgent and growing.

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Before the Zombie Apocalypse – These Four Trade Deals Were Ravaging the World

This time of year, the fabric that separates our world from prowling ghouls is at its thinnest. But what really keeps us at YES! Magazine up at night are the international trade agreements constantly being negotiated by the United States and its partners—each one more terrifying than the last. How can something as pleasant-sounding as “free trade” be more threatening than a zombie apocalypse? The devil’s in the details, and the fine print on some of these agreements is enough to curdle a bucket of blood. Whether it’s blocking a ban on chocolate-flavored cigarettes marketed to kids, or rolling back post-2008 regulations on Wall Street, these deals have a way of favoring corporations over people. They’re not popular, as you might imagine, and in some cases people’s movements have been able to stop them in their tracks. In response, proponents of the deals have attempted to slip under the radar by conducting negotiations in secret. Here are four of the scariest deals—and why they’re so abominable. The World Trade Organization, created in 1995 as a re-imagining of an earlier group called the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, is the mother of all trade bodies and sets the rules for the flow of goods and services between countries. The WTO claims its goal is to “improve the welfare of the peoples of the member countries.” But critics say what it really does is force poor nations to open their markets to wealthier ones, who themselves often bend the WTO’s rules. The WTO also gives companies a place to complain about regulations enacted by democratically elected governments. It has found fault with laws protecting public health, the environment, workers’ rights, and other things that would affect industries’ bottom line. Recent rulings have objected to producers labeling certain kinds of tuna as “dolphin safe;” the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s ban on sweet-flavored cigarettes that entice kids; and labels that inform consumers what country meat products originated in. The WTO says such labels violate the rights of Mexican and Canadian farmers to a level playing field. The United States sometimes refuses to comply—but risks trade sanctions when it does so. Perhaps most frightening of all, the WTO (along with NAFTA) has spawned a whole new brood of bilateral and regional deals that take the same approach to trade and development. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, if approved, would promote trade between the United States and the European Union. The deal has some bright spots—for example, it would universalize the plugs for electric cars. But American negotiators are also pushing hard to overturn Europe’s ban on imports of U.S.-grown genetically modified crops. Meanwhile, European negotiators and bankers are trying to set Wall Street free from regulations passed after the financial crisis of 2008. According to the nonprofit research group Public Citizen, they want to roll back the Volcker Rule, which restricts U.S. banks from the riskiest investments, and to block efforts to limit the size of banks. When President Bill Clinton signed the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada in 1993, he sold it to the people of the United States as a job creator. “NAFTA means jobs,” he said. “American jobs, and good-paying American jobs.” More than 20 years later, the agreement’s dark side is showing. The U.S. government’s own Trade Adjustment Assistance program acknowledges that nearly 900,000 workers in the United States have officially lost their jobs due to the relocation of businesses to Canada or Mexico under NAFTA. Meanwhile, exports of cheap U.S. corn have damaged the livelihoods of Mexican farmers and driven huge waves of migration. Between 1990 and 2000, the number of Mexican-born people living in the United States more than doubled from 4.5 million to 9.8 million. The Trans Pacific Partnership, if approved, would unite 12 Pacific Rim countries into the world’s largest free trade area, comprising 40 percent of the global economy. When he spoke about the TPP in 2011, President Barack Obama, who has made the deal’s passage a major objective of his administration, sounded a lot like Clinton in 1993. Obama said the deal “will boost our economies, lowering barriers to trade and investment, increasing exports, and creating more jobs for our people.” But leaked sections of the agreement’s secret text show the TPP taking more controversial stances—and it has its tentacles on a breathtaking variety of issues. On health care, U.S. negotiators seem to be working at the behest of the pharmaceutical industry, trying to extend the rights of patent-holders to charge more money for medicines. On labor, the TPP makes it easier for companies to move manufacturing to low-wage Vietnam, but offers no enforceable provisions to prevent abuse. On the environment, it preserves the status quo, doing little to prevent the illegal logging and overfishing that are taxing the forests and oceans of the region. Last but not least, advocates of a free Internet are up in arms over sections in the TPP’s intellectual property chapter they say would significantly diminish the free speech rights of web users.

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China’s communist leaders to gather

A key meeting of Chinese Communist Party leaders focusing on the rule of law and fighting corruption is due to begin in Beijing.

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India-Pakistan Head for Nuke War

A crisis is brewing between nuclear armed India and Pakistan that could be their most dangerous ever.

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Share prices continue to slide

Share prices across Europe tumbled on Thursday amid fears of a global economic slowdown and the impact of the Ebola crisis.

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VIDEO: Tear gas fired after Ebola anger

Police in Freetown, Sierra Leone, fire tear gas as people take to the streets to complain about the authorities’ handling of the Ebola virus.

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VIDEO: The UK troops training Kurds in Iraq

The foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, has been holding talks in Baghdad on efforts to combat Islamic State militants, who control significant parts Iraq and Syria.

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Cameron defends Ebola screening

UK Prime Minister David Cameron says the government is right to “take steps to keep our own people safe” from the Ebola virus.

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Would You Sublet This Seminary?

An imposing—and crisis-struck—seminary in Chelsea is among many buildings opening their doors this weekend for the ultimate in New York property gawping.

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Air strikes help Syria town curb IS

The US-led coalition carries out its most sustained air attacks so far on the Turkey-Syria border town of Kobane, helping to curb Islamic State.

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Turkish vote on campaign against IS

The Turkish parliament is voting on a motion to deploy the military in Iraq and Syria and allow foreign troops to use its territory.

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Police in EU in biggest ever sweep

Police forces in Europe have made 1,000 arrests in their biggest-ever coordinated crackdown on organised crime, Europol has announced.

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Sarkozy corruption case ‘suspended’

A French court has suspended a corruption and influence-peddling investigation against former President Nicolas Sarkozy, media say.

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Myanmar activist faces prison term

A Myanmar human rights activist is sentenced to at least 11 years in jail for taking part in an anti-government march.

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Pakistan army ‘kills 910 militants’

Pakistan’s military says it has killed at least 910 suspected militants since launching an offensive in the tribal area of North Waziristan.

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US Drove Iraq Politics to Breaking Point

America’s rush to pressure Iraq’s political process may have backfired, analysts say—contributing to the crisis that threatens to tank the new government before it gets started.

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Republicans Stumble Toward a Border Bill

After they successfully nuked a GOP border proposal Wednesday, conservative Republicans are demanding that protections against deportation be undone before they’ll allocate funds for the crisis.

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