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International adoption
As the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs stated, “Intercountry adoption is the process by which you adopt a child from a country other than your own through permanent legal means and then bring that child to your country of residence to live with you permanently.” International adoption has been an apparent phenomenon between countries since World War I and World War II. This type of adoption developed as an aftereffect of war and migration that made orphaned children more visible to U.S. citizens. The subject of international adoption contains insights arising from scenarios of rooted controversy.

5 Facts About International Adoption

  1. Intercountry adoption can grant foreign children the chance to escape poverty. It aids small groups of children worldwide to reduce child poverty nationally. Intercountry adoption is a micro-solution for world poverty that primarily affects the adopted child and their community. It is a requirement that countries’ policies and independent agencies respect children’s best interests in regard to adoption.
  2. International adoption lacks general oversight for children across countries. It exclusively takes place between independent agencies across countries. All agencies have different standards to execute the process of international adoption. Agencies have limited restrictions and additionally do not require accreditation. The lack of efficient governing for this type of adoption opens possibilities including child abuse, homelessness and continued unethical behavior involving a child with adoptive parents.
  3. Rehoming internationally adopted children is a process that is becoming a commonality surging through the U.S. for unwanted children. It leads children open to becoming once again impoverished or without a parent if there are no other means of adoption. It also puts the child at a disadvantage of being in a foreign country with less familiarity with the culture.
  4. Some international adoption practices receive classifications as child trafficking. This is because of the exchange of a child from an impoverished country to a rich country. For instance, there are records of children being adopted abroad and stolen from their birth parents. However, often the parents who fall victim to this crime do not have the money nor means to launch an investigation. Practices of this variety vary based on the validity and policies of specific adoption agencies.
  5. International adoption has declined by over 72% since 2005. Some key reasons are the misrepresentation of impoverished children, child abuse and humiliation. Nearly half of international adoptions happen for parents in the United States. Multiple claims of child abuse and exploitation of impoverished children occur within the United States. As a result, countries have improved ways to execute the process of international adoption. Cost is a significant restriction affecting international adoptions, which reaches at least $20,000 for a child.

What People Know Today

The process of international adoption is currently undergoing a reform that lowers the overall rate of abuse toward those children. More exploitative cases of intercountry adoptions happen where impoverished, kidnapped and orphaned children in their own countries are advertised solely for monetary gain. While the demand for intercountry children is still high, the supply still exists but is significantly more controlled than before 2005.

– Trever Lloyd
Photo: Flickr

Poverty and Inflation
Inflation refers to an increase in the prices of goods and services. Poverty and inflation have a close relationship in that a country with high inflation is likely to have high poverty rates as well. An inflation rate measures how much the prices of goods and services change over a year. Many countries struggle with high inflation rates. Most countries have experienced high inflation at some point in history. The U.S., for example, has maintained an inflation rate of around 0%-3% for over a decade. During World War I, however, the U.S. reached an inflation rate of nearly 20%. Today, some countries have negative inflation rates while others have inflation rates over 100%.

Highest Inflation Rates in the World

As of August 2020, the 10 highest inflation rates in the world ranked as follows:

  1. Venezuela – 2,030%
  2. Zimbabwe – 747%
  3. Lebanon – 388%
  4. Syria – 275%
  5. Sudan – 127%
  6. Iran – 99%
  7. Argentina – 66%
  8. Libya – 47%
  9. Brazil – 40%
  10. Turkmenistan – 35%

*There are varying estimates between experts, as inflation can be difficult to measure at higher rates.

Consequences of High Inflation

Dr. Prince Ellis, a professor of economics at the University of Cincinnati, spoke with The Borgen Project about the relationship between poverty and inflation. He explained that Zimbabwe and Venezuela have some of the highest inflation rates in the world. “These are two extremes,” he notes. “The price of goods and services can increase almost about 200% a day.” He used the example of a gallon of milk. If the milk is $2 one day, the very next day, the same gallon could be $6.

Dr. Ellis shared his own experience with inflation in Ghana, where he grew up. “I remember my mom had a store, like a convenience store at my house… And we used to sell general convenience items – bread, rice and milk and stuff like that… We are changing prices each week… She goes to the wholesaler… They change the price [of the goods] like price goes up by 20%. We have to also change it by 20%.” Unsurprisingly, this upsets consumers. Consumers may go to the market expecting an item to cost the same as it did last week. Of course, this is not the case, and they may find themselves suddenly unable to afford the item.

Causes of Inflation

Economists use the term aggregate demand to describe the total amount of demand in an economy. Sometimes the aggregate demand in a country increases too quickly for the country’s production. Because there is so much demand for goods and a scarcity of goods, prices increase. This type of inflation is called demand-pull inflation. Demand-pull inflation is often the result of central banks rapidly increasing the money supply.

Another type of inflation is cost-push inflation. This type of inflation comes from a decrease in aggregate supply. The term aggregate supply describes the total amount of goods or services that people are selling in an economy. When the cost of inputs (resources a producer uses to create the final product they sell) or wages increase rapidly, cost-push inflation may occur. This type of inflation was occurring in Dr. Ellis’s anecdote about his mom’s store. Dr. Ellis said that this type of inflation is common in developing countries because “they rely too much on international markets.” In fact, countries overseas import most of the resources developing countries use for production. If a spike in the prices of international goods occurs, a developing country that relies on the goods will experience a severe drop in aggregate supply.

How Inflation Contributes to Poverty

Poverty and inflation have a connection due to the fact that money has value, and its value can grow or diminish. Poverty is a lack of financial resources, leading to an inability to afford basic needs. In other words, as the cost of basic needs increases, the amount of financial resources necessary to afford those needs also increases. Dr. Ellis described this concept as “purchasing power.” He explained how increasing costs lead to decreasing purchasing power. If a person’s income level does not increase at as high a rate as the inflation increases, they will become poorer.

Poverty and Inflation Inequality

One of the issues regarding poverty and inflation is that high inflation has a disproportionately large negative effect on those struggling with poverty. Inflation inequality describes the disparities between the effects inflation has on middle and upper-class people and lower-class people. There are multiple reasons why inflation affects people with lower incomes more than those with higher incomes. One of the main reasons has to do with the types of jobs these two types of people have. Lower-income people often don’t have much opportunity to negotiate their wages. When prices rise, wages for these individuals tend to stay stagnant for a while. Consequently, their purchasing power plummets. Higher-income people, on the other hand, tend to have jobs with inflation-adjusted benefits. When inflation occurs, these benefits limit the decrease in the individuals’ purchasing powers. This disparity is why during inflationary periods, income gaps widen.

Lessening the Effects of Inflation

There are two important ways entities can decrease the negative effects of inflation.

  1. Using another country’s currency – In countries with extremely high inflation rates, the currency practically loses all value. “What happened to Zimbabwe, for instance, is that the currency is now useless. Now, they are using what the U.S. currency is,” Dr. Ellis explained. Using a foreign currency is a temporary fix. Since different countries have different economic systems and ways that they operate, this method fails to be effective long term.
  2. Inflation-adjusted payments – Dr. Ellis also pointed out that sometimes government payments, like Social Security, undergo adjustment for inflation. Many employers also adjust wages based on inflation. These policies do not decrease inflation, but they increase the amount of money people have, increasing their purchasing power.

Permanent solutions to high inflation require drastic changes to fiscal and monetary policy. Political instability, dependence on foreign nations and unpopular side effects are some of the many reasons countries struggle to curb inflation. However, nations can recover from hyperinflation. One of the most well-known examples of this is Germany after World War I. For 16 months, Germany’s prices quadrupled every month. Now, Germany maintains a yearly inflation rate of just under 2%.

– Jillian Reese
Photo: Flickr

Chemical Attacks
Throughout history, especially in modern warfare, one of the most common ways to kill a mass group of people is through chemical attacks. A chemical attack is any toxic chemical used in the form of a weapon, typically contained in a delivery system- bomb or shell.

Chemical Attacks in World War I

In 1915, three chemical attacks responsible for injuries and deaths during World War I were: chlorine gas, mustard gas and phosgene. They are described as follows:

  • Chlorine gas produces a greenish-yellow cloud containing the smell of bleach and immediately affects the eyes, nose, lungs and throat.
  • Mustard gas, known as the “King of the Battle Gases” holds a potent smell described as garlic, gasoline, rubber or dead horses. Although mustard gas does not have an instant effect, hours after being exposed, the victims’ eyes turn bloodshot red, start watering and become extremely painful. Some victims face temporary blindness and even skin blistering.
  • Phosgene is an irritant that is six times deadlier than chlorine gas. This gas is colorless and smells like moldy hay but doesn’t affect the body until a day or two after an attack. The effect of this chemical attack is a slow suffocating death.

On average, chemical weapon agents (CWA) are the outcome of industrial accidents, military stockpiling, wars and terrorist attacks. These hazardous substances come in a variety, such as nerve agents, vesicating or blistering agents, choking agents or lung toxicants, cyanides, incapacitating agents, lacrimation or riot control agents and vomiting agents.

The last mass usage of chemicals in military operation recorded was when Syrian military used sarin gas against civilians during the Syrian Civil War in 2013, killing hundreds.

Effects of Chemical Attacks

The effects of chemical attacks range from physical to clinical and can have short-term or long-term consequences. Victims can be exposed through the skin, eyes and respiratory tract. The liquid and high vapor concentrations affect the skin, causing rashes, burning and blistering. Liquid and vapor gases affect the eyes, which can lead to severe burning, irritation and blindness. Lastly, vapor inhalation affects the respiratory tract, resulting in choking to death.

All agents have a more intense effect when used in an enclosed area. “All I know is I had to get my helmet on the first time because it felt like death the minute I walked in there,” Kori Holmes told the Borgen Project in an interview while describing his training experience in military boot camp for the army.

In preparation for the army, soldiers have to be able to walk in the room clouded with gas and put our gas masks on without any assistance. Kori stated that the gas was so strong, his eyes started burning instantly and his throat felt like he had strep. He managed to finally get his gas mask on and escape.

Clinical effects of chemical attacks are contingent upon the amount of exposure, which also means the effects can be sudden or delayed. For example, inhalation of nerve agents (mustard gas) can kill victims immediately. The smallest amount of exposure on the skin to a nerve agent can be deadly, with delayed effects.

Treatment of Chemical Attacks Victims

In an attempt to medically manage the effects of chemical attacks, emergency workers wear protective equipment in order to decontaminate victims and provide antidotes. The first responders to chemical attacks are at risk of being chemically contaminated when coming in direct contact with vapor or handling the skin and clothing of victims.

Even with treatment, long-term effects of chemical attacks are primarily mental, including anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress. Physically, permanent brain damage and other disorders of the nervous system can happen.

The effects of chemical attacks can be deadly and are certainly and represent a step back in building a modern society. As of today, the possession and use of chemical weapons are prohibited under international law, yet there are still nations that continue to have active chemical weapon programs.

The United States has five incinerators in operation, with hopes of keeping citizens safe along with maintaining public health and the environment as the top priority.

– Kayla Sellers
Photo: Flickr

Less than 100 years ago, millions of innocent Greeks were killed or deported in what is known as the Greek Genocide. In the Asia Minor region of Turkey, the Ottoman Empire felt it was being threatened by the indigenous Greek people. As a result, the Empire enacted a systematic genocide to rid the nation-state of the Greek contaminants. During the nine-year genocidal period, the Turks and the Ottoman government set out to exterminate the Christian Greek population that resided in the Ottoman Empire. These are ten facts about the Greek Genocide that set the pace for the future of the Ottoman Empire.

  1. The Balkan War, from 1912 to 1913, was the true initial marker for the Christian Greeks’ bleak future. Between these two years, four territories in the Balkans (Serbia, Bugaria, Montenegro and Greece) were successfully freed from Ottoman rule. After the war, the Ottoman Empire feared it would lose more power. The Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), an ultranationalist group of Young Turks, ultimately took over the Ottoman Empire with the goal of completing total Turkification throughout the Empire, or a full cultural shift to Turkic culture.
  2. The indigenous Greek people were seen as a threat to the Ottoman Empire before and during World War I. The Ottoman Empire feared that the Christian Greek population would attempt to aid the Empire’s enemies during the war, causing its defeat. Additionally, the Empire believed the Christian Greeks were tainting the population and would ruin the integrity of the current Muslim-majority nation-state. Therefore, the Empire opted for a solution to this problem: genocide.
  3. The Ottoman Empire began to target the indigenous Greek population in order to accomplish its goal of full Turkification. The Greek Genocide took place from 1914 to 1923, beginning a year after the Balkan War and aligning with the events of World War I.
  4. Ottoman Greek men of ages 21 to 45 were sent to concentration camps to work for the Turks. Working around the clock with little to no food, hundreds perished in the camps.
  5. Greek children were kidnapped and forced to conform to Turkish society. Villages were pillaged and burned to the ground.
  6. Deportations were issued in the Dardanelles and Gallipolli regions of Asia Minor. The Greek inhabitants of the western coastline of Asia Minor were sent to Muslim villages, where they had to either convert to Islam or be killed. The rest of the Christian Greek population was sent to the interior lands, where they would be exposed to harsh winter weather, starvation and illness.
  7. Approximately 3.5 million Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians died during this nine-year period.
  8. The Ottoman Empire was among the four Central Powers to lose in World War I. After the loss, leaders of the CUP Party were sentenced to death for their role in the organized Greek genocide.
  9. In 1922, the Ottoman Empire collapsed and became the New Republic of Turkey. A year later, the Greek Genocide ended.
  10. There are three remembrance days for the Greek Genocide: April 6 for the Eastern Thrace region, May 19 for the Pontus region and September 14 for Asia Minor.

Nine long years and 3.5 million lost souls later, the Ottoman Empire had officially ended its bloody crusade. Though its efforts to continue the massacres were passed on to the next leadership, the Empire was unable to strongly execute its plans. Many poor decisions led to the collapse of the five-century Ottoman rule, and while the Empire will not be remembered fondly, the lives of those lost in the Greek Genocide will be.

– Brianna Summ

Photo: Flickr