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Attention shifts from Gaza, but silence won’t make this disaster disappear

Commentary: As aid is diverted to Syria, Gaza is known for little more than terrorists and tunnels.
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Palestinians gather at the site of an Israeli air raid in Gaza City on November 17, 2012. (Mohamed Abed/AFP/Getty Images)
GAZA — In the West, policy-makers tend to only focus on one intractable Middle Eastern conflict at a time. Syria’s vicious sectarian civil war is top of the agenda today. But it doesn’t mean that the others conveniently disappear. Since last November’s explosive escalation of hostilities there, Gaza has been reduced to a political side note. Funds for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency have been cut by $55 million as assistance is diverted to Syria. In Washington, Gaza has become an impolite word, and a topic seemingly best avoided among policy-makers and at Middle East conferences. In the media, Gaza is represented by a combination of terrorists and tunnels.

5 things Rouhani can do to show Iran is serious about rapprochement

Commentary: Despite a show of courtesy, President Hassan Rouhani gives no sign of moderating Iran’s ideology.
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An anti-American poster depicts a US negotiator, sitting at a table with a dog at his side, next to a mosque in Tehran's Palestine square on Oct. 27, 2013. The Tehran municipality has reportedly since removed such displays from the streets of the capital. The move comes as President Hassan Rouhani, a reputed moderate, has made fresh overtures to the West. (BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images)
The US and international news organizations have made much of Iran’s new president’s peace and friendship initiative, but the international community would be well advised to look beyond President Hassan Rouhani’s pleasant words and appealing effort.

Improving nature’s 'living infrastructure' can limit the impact of big storms

Commentary: The increasing threat of catastrophic storms coincides with an era of global austerity. But investment in coastal ecosystems will reduce risks.
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A child walks through damaged fields in Leogane, south of Port-au-Prince, one day after Hurricane Sandy passed through Haiti on October 27, 2012. (Thony Belizaire /AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK — This year was predicted to be an abnormal hurricane season, with higher than average occurrences of Category 3, 4 and 5 storms. After witnessing Hurricane Sandy, we can all imagine the devastating social and economic impacts of similar extreme weather events — stretching the ability of governments to respond and rebuild ravaged communities. Super Typhoon Haiyan may provide yet another tragic example of the devastation that an abnormally strong storm can cause. Yet the twin tropical storms Ingrid and Manuel, which devastated Mexico during September, tragically demonstrate how even relatively weak storms can wreak havoc on vulnerable places.

Food shortage in Zimbabwe: 'We have a crisis here'

JOHANNESBURG — Villagers competing with animals for wild fruits. Neighbors concealing bags of maize from each other. Students dropping out of school to help find food for their families. These are just some of the reports from Zimbabwe that reveal an increasingly severe food shortage, one that the United Nations’ World Food Program (WFP) has warned could leave 2.2 million people — a quarter of the country’s rural population — in need of food assistance.

US prosperity ranked below Canada's and Australia's: Legatum Institute

America may be the richest economy in the world, but is it the most prosperous? Not if you go by the Legatum Institute's latest annual prosperity index, which doesn't even include the United States in the top 10. Considering such factors as the economy, security and personal freedom, the index places the US in 11th place, just below Luxembourg. Our neighbors to the north (we're talking about Canada, of course) ranked third. What's to blame?

Narendra Modi could be India’s next prime minister. So why won’t he talk to his wife?

AHMEDABAD, India — For any world-class politician, an articulate, telegenic or otherwise appealing spouse is an obvious asset. Think Carla Bruni, Peng Liyuanor or even Hillary Clinton. But the man who many believe will become India’s prime minister after the May 2014 elections has an unusual relationship with his wife. They are still married, but decades of silence separate them, her family tells GlobalPost.

A tiny Ethiopian village creates the greatest place on Earth. Or the worst

AWRA AMBA, Ethiopia — For decades, governments and NGOs have been trying to find ways to break the aid dependence that has dominated much of post-colonial Africa. So when the small northern Ethiopian village of Awra Amba, population 460, found its own way to reduce poverty and increase development, officials from the national government to the World Bank sat up and paid attention.

Irish pubs face last call

ATHENRY, Ireland — Inside Ray Glynn’s looks much like any Irish pub you’d find in Thailand, Uganda or Dubai. There’s Guinness on tap, Jameson behind the bar and sports on a flat-screen television. There’s a difference, however: At 7:30 on a recent Sunday evening, when students would once have reliably been crammed inside, Glynn’s was empty but for three patrons.

Spain exits recession, job losses ease: central bank

Spain escaped from its two-year recession in the third quarter of this year with timid growth as job destruction eased, the country's central bank said on Wednesday.

Jury's out on Libya? At least it's not Syria

Analysis: Benghazi bickering is a distraction from real progress to be made with Tripoli.
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Two years on, can Libya still celebrate? (John Moore/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC — The Libyan government, weakened by continued divisions among the regional militia groups that toppled the notorious Muammar Gaddafi, braced this week for downbeat assessments of the country's performance two years after the civil war officially ended.

By any fair assessment, Libya's brave effort to forge a tolerant, relatively open society on the ashes of one of recent history's most venal and reckless dictatorships would be deemed a qualified success.

This should be a moment to take a breath, assess progress made, and rededicate US policy to keeping it all moving in the right direction.

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