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Current political and economic issues succinctly explained.
See more in Iraq
The Obama administration says its 2009 stimulus package saved jobs and boosted growth, but Republicans and some economists worry it dampened consumer and business spending and added to long-term debt.
Debating global warming policy has moved to the top of agendas worldwide, but some skeptics still question whether action is necessary or possible.
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Outsourcing remains a contentious political issue as lawmakers, analysts, and business leaders debate its effect on U.S. job creation and the role of corporate tax policy in shipping jobs overseas, explains this Backgrounder.
Peru has avoided the development problems seen in other extraction-dependent economies, but experts say the country faces governance hurdles, especially on the environment.
Buoyed by high oil prices, Russia finds itself embroiled in a number of disputes with foreign firms looking to tap its underdeveloped oil fields and with its neighbors that grew used to subsidized gas.
Financial pressures have weakened al-Qaeda's tactical abilities, but analysts say affiliated networks are finding new ways to raise and spend money, complicating efforts to squeeze a savvy foe.
A profile of the Pakistani militant group India blames for some of the most severe terror attacks it has suffered in recent years, including the Mumbai assault of November 2008.
Interest in nuclear power is increasing, but securing adequate uranium supplies for nuclear fuel faces challenges ranging from a flagging mining sector to fears of nuclear weapons proliferation.
Loss of forests is a major contributor to greenhouse-gas emissions. Plans to devise a policy tool for using trees for carbon dioxide sequestration are now under way.
The UN conference on climate change that begins December 7 in Copenhagen is supposed to produce new targets for emissions reductions, but experts say major countries are at odds on the ultimate goal of a new framework. This backgrounder looks at some of their positions.
Despite concerns over Iran's nuclear program, the Obama administration has assessed that Tehran is years from a developing a long-range missile capable of delivering a nuclear weapon. But past Iranian secrecy and testing bombast have led some experts to remain skeptical of Tehran's capabilities and ambitions.
Pakistan's poor public education system has been exploited by extremist groups and slowed the country's development. Analysts say education reform is an essential element in stabilizing the country.
Myanmar is undergoing significant political changes, but it still faces considerable economic and human rights hurdles.
Leaders attending the Group of 20 summit in Pittsburgh will seek to forge agreements to buoy a global economic recovery and repair financial imbalances that contributed to the recession.
The United States has pursued missile defense technologies for six decades, with mixed results. Changes under the Obama administration, including adjustments to planned defenses in Europe, could portend a new direction.
U.S. missile defense in the twenty-first century is focused on emerging threats from North Korea and Iran, but critics say these systems are too costly and largely unproven.
The African Union succeeded the old Organization for African Unity (OAU) in 2002. Since then, the new institution has struggled to reform governing bodies inherited from the OAU while shouldering challenging new peacekeeping missions.
An overview of Peruvian terrorist groups, Shining Path and Tupac Amaru.
Opposition victory in Japan's 2009 parliamentary election served as a watershed moment in the country's electoral politics. Analysts say political change in Tokyo could result in a possible shift in its close relationship with the United States, especially in security matters.