The food crisis in the Horn of Africa will continue this year, according to a famine early warning system funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Though the famine early warning system has global forecasts, the Horn of Africa is the only emergency spot forecasted in the near term.
Global health leaders are hopeful that 2012 is the year that Guinea worm, a water-borne parasite, will be eradicated. Infections have fallen from 3.5 million in 1986 to 1,056 during the first 10 months of 2011. Following small pox, Guinea worm would be the second-ever human disease to be eradicated. Polio, another water-borne disease, is next in line. Advocates anticipate a polio-free world in 2013.
Thanks to the payroll tax cut compromise, U.S. President Barack Obama has 60 days to approve or deny a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline. The 2,700-kilometer (1,700-mile) oil conduit from the Canadian tar sands to refineries in Texas would have an initial capacity of 700,000 barrels per day. The president’s decision should come by the end of February.