Which country gets most of its energy from renewable resources?
A. United States
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In Cuba, there is a genius for fighting automotive obsolescence. Even in 2014, the streets are still lined with 1950s cars, the ones that were there before Fidel Castro came to power in 1959. With some exceptions, imports of new cars were banned since the revolution, but now the ban's lifted and the imports are onsale starting this morning. The BBC's Sarah Rainsford reports from Havana. Click the audio player above to listen.
Today, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced his plan to retire after 10 years in power. BBC business correspondent Sameer Hashmi looks at his complicated complicated legacy. Click the audio player to hear more.
Soon, you will be able to buy a box of Cheerios that is GMO-free. General Mills says it will use corn and sugar that have not been genetically modified.
Companies that use genetically-modified ingredients maintain they are safe, and the federal government has no problem with them. But some Americans are wary.
“They can shop for organic products that are GMO-free, but this is an expansion of that GMO-free market,” says Julie Caswell, an economist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
General Mills says it is responding to what consumers want. But Alberto Alemanno, a food policy expert at NYU Law School, says there is a reason why the company picked Cheerios, instead of Chex or Wheaties.
“Cheerios contain oats,” he explains. “Oats is not a GM crop. So, it is pretty clear they have targeted this product because it is going to be easier for them to deliver.”
In the U.S., most packaged foods contain ingredients that are genetically modified. Recently, Whole Foods announced it is going to stop selling Chobani Greek yogurt, because the company uses milk that’s not organic. Chobani says there just isn’t enough organic milk available to meet consumer demand.
A Chinese icebreaker that helped rescue 52 adventurers from another ship says it may not be able to get back to open waters. An Australian icebreaker — to which the adventurers were evacuated — i staying nearby in case its assistance is needed. So the
With the new year come millions of people who will be newly insured under the Affordable Care Act, and pharmacies are among the many companies competing for their business.
This week several drugstore chains offered temporary supplies of medications for those still sorting out their coverage. Walgreens, CVS, Walmart, and Kroger are among the retailers offering to fill prescriptions for people who enrolled in new health plans but don’t have ID numbers yet. They’ll settle the bill later.
“The key is to drive traffic by any means possible,” says analyst Ross Muken with research firm ISI Group.
Once those customers are in the door, drugstores hope to sell them not only pantyhose and bubble gum, but other health care services, Muken says -- like flu shots and even physicals.
“They want to be the place that you think of first when you think of health care,” says Robert Field, a professor of law and public policy at Drexel University. “If they can be friendly for a 30-day bridge period, it’s a small investment to make in terms of that long-term relationship.”
How long-term? Field says customer loyalty isn’t what it was in the days of the corner drugstore. People tend to go to the closest pharmacy their insurance plan allows.
Twenty years ago, if you calculated what fraction of the world’s poor lived where, 90 percent lived in the poorest countries. But today, three quarters of the world’s poor live in countries that have graduated to middle income status -- like India and China. This has complicated things for aid agencies, like the World Bank, which provide billions of dollars of loans meant to help the poor.
Every three years it’s graduation time at the World Bank and this year is one of them. That means this is the time when countries find out if the bank is going to move them up from poor to middle income. If residents are living on an average of less than a $1.25 a day, the country is considered poor, but if residents have more -- the country moves up to middle income. And that’s when the World Bank cuts off the cheapest aid -- like zero interest loans.
India just graduated to the rank of middle income, but it still has about 300 million poor residents, which Ravi Kanbur, a professor of economics at Cornell, says could pose a problem.
“Take two groups of poor who are equally poor. But one group happens to live in a country which is above this cutoff. And another group which happens to live in a country which is just below this cut off. At least from my perspective, I can’t see how we can make a sharp differentiation between those two groups of poor,” he says.
“The poor,” he says, “are still poor… The poor of course, haven’t moved, it’s just the classification of the countries, in which they live has changed.”
According to the World Bank’s current rules Kanbur says hundreds of millions of poor could be cut off from the cheapest aid. India got a reprieve, but Ghana, Vietnam and Nigeria are heading towards graduation.
Laurence Chandy, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, says the rise of these countries are success stories. The poor living in middle income countries, he says, do have some advantages.
“They’re living in economies that are moving fast. So even if the poor are poor today, there’s probably fairly good prospects that they won’t be poor in five to ten years time, or their children won’t be poor.”
That’s something, Chandy notes, we can’t say about the world’s poorest countries.
“Secondly,” he says, “they’re in countries either are able to access commercial markets for finance, or have large domestic resources already. Or maybe both.”
“The problem however, is not so simple,” says Federico Bonaglia, head of policy dialogue for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris. A newly-labeled middle country may not have the fiscal resources to take care of its poor.
“Taxation in many of these countries is very low,” he said, “it’s not easy to reform the taxation system.”
Joachim von Amsberg, vice president of concessional finance and global partnerships at the World Bank, notes that the World Bank continues to provide assistance for countries in the middle income rank. “It is just a different type of support that’s most useful for those countries,” he says.
The funding the bank provides to middle income countries, says von Amsberg, is a “catalyst” for aid from other sources. And he says the criteria that rank a country’s financial status are working well. “We plan to continue using those criteria,” he says, as the rules are “fair and efficient.”
Laurence Chandy agrees. “What appears to be the problem,” he says, “is that aid won’t go to those people greatest in need, right?”
The unstable climates, says Chandy, political or environmental, in countries like Haiti or the Democratic Republic of Congo, can mean lenders are reluctant to make any loans at all. So he says, while middle income countries may pay more interest that means more aid freed up for the poor in the most fragile states of all.