Current political and economic issues succinctly explained.

The Eurozone in Crisis

Authors: Christopher Alessi and James McBride

The eurozone, once seen as a crowning achievement in the decades-long path toward European integration, continues to struggle with the effects of its sovereign debt crises and their implications for the future of the common currency.

See more in Financial Crises; EU; Eurozone

China in Africa

Authors: Christopher Alessi and Beina Xu

China has increased its economic ties with Africa as it seeks to fulfill its growing energy demands. But China's way of doing business has prompted international criticism, even as its policy of noninterference faces new challenges.

See more in China; Africa (sub-Saharan); Oil; Trade

The Credit Rating Controversy

Author: Staff

The three major credit rating agencies have been accused of contributing to the global financial crisis, drawing increased oversight from regulators in the United States and Europe. Nonetheless, investors continue to rely on the largely unchanged ratings services.

See more in United States; Financial Crises; Europe

Boko Haram

Authors: Mohammed Aly Sergie and Toni Johnson

Nigeria's Islamist group Boko Haram has evolved from a local insurgency to a brutal militant group that the United States has designated a terrorist organization.

See more in Nigeria; Radicalization and Extremism

Closing Guantanamo?

Author: Jonathan Masters

President Obama vowed in January 2009 to close the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay. Two years later, the White House continues to face challenges to that promise, leaving critics to suggest the facility will remain open for the foreseeable future.

See more in Terrorism; United States; International Law

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)

Author: Staff

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has emerged as one of the most dangerous al-Qaeda affiliates, strengthening amid political unrest in Yemen. This Backgrounder examines the group and U.S. counterterrorism operations.

See more in Terrorism; Yemen

State Sponsors: Iran

Author: Greg Bruno

The U.S. government designates Iran as the "most active state sponsor of terrorism," which feeds concerns about Iran's growing nuclear program.

See more in State Sponsors of Terrorism; Iran

Nuclear Power Safety Concerns

Author: Toni Johnson

Damage to Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has reignited debate over the safety of nuclear power and highlighted questions over aging power plants, safety procedures, and waste disposal.

See more in Japan; Disasters

Global Action on Non-Communicable Diseases

Author: Toni Johnson

NCDs such as cancer and heart disease are becoming leading causes of death in the developing world and will be the focus of a September UN meeting. But health experts and others are divided about how much funding should go into a global campaign aimed at preventing NCDs and whether infectious disease programs will suffer as a result.

See more in Diseases, Noncommunicable; Global