These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
Two-Thirds of Obese People Now Live in Developing Countries
We tend to think of obesity as a rich-country problem, but for several years now evidence has been building that the public-health hazard is assailing low- and middle-income countries as well, even as these same countries struggle with high rates of malnutrition. In perhaps the most comprehensive snapshot yet of this phenomenon, a study published in The Lancet on Thursday found that one-third of the world's population is now overweight or obese, and 62 percent of these individuals live in developing countries.
Why Humanitarians Should Pay Attention to Cybersecurity
Most international staff I know who are working in the humanitarian field aren’t paying any attention to cybersecurity. Why is that? For starters, it’s an issue rooted in the security community which humanitarians have traditionally tried to maintain at arm’s length. But also humanitarians see themselves as the good guys; "we’re delivering food and water to needy people," the argument goes, "who would want to launch a cyberattack against us?" While this argument has been undermined by the fact that even well-meaning humanitarians are targeted by armed actors using traditional weapons, there’s still a reluctance to pay attention to cybersecurity. And humanitarian actors are under pressure to keep their overheads low so that they can distribute most of their funds to people in need – not to beefing up their IT departments. Inspired by my colleague Peter Singer’s new book, “Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know,” I humbly suggest four reasons why humanitarians should pay attention to this field.
Hope springs a trap
THE idea that an infusion of hope can make a big difference to the lives of wretchedly poor people sounds like something dreamed up by a well-meaning activist or a tub-thumping politician. Yet this was the central thrust of a lecture at Harvard University on May 3rd by Esther Duflo, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology known for her data-driven analysis of poverty. Ms Duflo argued that the effects of some anti-poverty programmes go beyond the direct impact of the resources they provide. These programmes also make it possible for the very poor to hope for more than mere survival.
The 10 Algorithms That Dominate Our World
The importance of algorithms in our lives today cannot be overstated. They are used virtually everywhere, from financial institutions to dating sites. But some algorithms shape and control our world more than others — and these ten are the most significant. Just a quick refresher before we get started. Though there's no formal definition, computer scientists describe algorithms as a set of rules that define a sequence of operations. They're a series of instructions that tell a computer how it's supposed to solve a problem or achieve a certain goal. A good way to think of algorithms is by visualizing a flowchart.
How Pope Francis Is Tackling Governance and Compliance
The Wall Street Journal
Pope Francis appears to be taking a leaf from the corporate compliance playbook with major reforms of the Vatican’s governance and finances, aimed at guarding the Holy See’s reputation and making its dealings more transparent. On Monday, the Financial Information Authority, the Vatican’s anti-money-laundering unit, released its first annual report, but compliance changes at the Vatican go much further and include establishing three new bodies with jurisdiction over finance and administration. “What we are actually talking about is best practice governance, taking into consideration both risk management and compliance matters,” Joseph F.X. Zahra, deputy coordinator of the new structure’s Council on the Economy, told Risk & Compliance Journal in an interview. The objective is to bring 21st-century governance to an ancient organization whose traditional administration was inadequate to prevent the well-publicized scandals of recent years.
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