World News and Trends...UN describes worsening world economic conditions

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World News and Trends...UN describes worsening world economic conditions

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The rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting even poorer, according to this year's United Nations annual human-development report.

The report states that in the last 15 years more than a billion people worldwide saw their income fall. The report characterized this figure as an indicator of increasing widespread economic trouble throughout the world, noting that only 200 million had experienced similar loss of income in the 15 years from 1965 to 1980.

This overall drop in income affects almost 100 countries and nearly a third of the world's population, according to the report. Incomes in 43 countries were lower in 1995 than in 1970, 25 years earlier.

The UN report described these income declines as "unprecedented, far exceeding in duration, and sometimes in depth, the declines of the Great Depression of the 1930s in the industrial countries."

The economic impact of AIDS is huge, said the report. On average, the world lost 1.3 years of development in the last decade because of the devastation in some countries brought about by AIDS. The nation of Zambia was set back more than a decade and Tanzania eight years as a result of AIDS. It is now said to be the leading cause of death for adults under 45, affecting the poor the most, said the report.

The report also described quality of life in the post-Cold War era and noted that the United States' obsession with sex, drugs and television "gives cause for concern." Television consumes 40 percent of the free time of Americans, resulting in "a sharp reduction in voluntary activity."

It also noted that the United States ranks second in drug crimes in developed countries, and its 90,000 rapes a year are four times that of the next-highest industrial country. (Source: Gannett News Service.)