Nurith Aizenman

It's a policy battle that has been playing out over three decades.

In 1984, then-President Ronald Reagan imposed an anti-abortion rule — known as the "Mexico City policy" after the city where he announced it. The rule blocked federal funding for international family planning charities unless they agreed not to "promote" abortion by, among other actions, providing patients with information about the procedure or referrals to providers who perform it.

It's the fifth annual #Giving Tuesday — a holiday marketing tradition inspired by Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, but with a twist. Today thousands of charities are asking us to open our wallets. But how can we be sure the group we donate to is effective — that we're getting the most bang for our charity buck?

"I would like to know more about microloans, and if they are in fact helping women start businesses in the developing world."

That's the question our readers wanted us to look into.

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Should the United States aspire to the kind of fast-paced economic growth China and India enjoy?

That's what Donald Trump seemed to say at this week's presidential debate: "I just left some high representatives in India. They're growing at 8 percent. China is growing at 7 percent, and that for them is a catastrophically low number. We are growing, our last report came out, it's right over from the 1 percent level. And I think it's going down."

But are comparisons like this meaningful?

On Friday the United Nations is set to appoint Wonder Woman its honorary ambassador for the empowerment of women and girls. The cartoon character, turning 75 this year, will be the face of a social media campaign that the U.N., will launch at a star-studded ceremony in New York. The actress Gal Gadot — who plays Wonder Woman in the movies these days — is scheduled to be there. So is Lynda Carter, who portrayed the superhero in the 1970s television show.

It sounds like a typical melodrama of a movie — a saga about a big family with issues galore. There's the widowed grandfather who desperately misses his wife. The sensitive younger son who dreams of being a musician. And the daughter who's dipping into the family's stash of cash to pay a con artist who pretends to be a faith healer.

It had all the trappings of a typical beauty contest: Contestants in evening gowns strutting before the judges, a talent portion, and of course, a sparkly tiara for the winning lady.

It's almost a year to the day since world leaders committed to meeting 17 "Sustainable Development Goals" by 2030, from wiping out extreme poverty to fighting disease and inequality.

Perhaps they should have added an 18th goal — compiling all the data needed to achieve the other goals.

This data gap has been the talk among advocates for the poor this week as the U.N. General Assembly's current session got underway. It was at last year's General Assembly that the 17 goals were set.

Can a country have a split personality?

When it comes to Colombia, there's the upper-middle-income nation of gorgeous cities: Think gleaming skyscrapers, landscaped parks and smooth bike lanes all set against stunning mountains.

Then there's the other Colombia, a vast stretch of rural territory that's desperately poor and at best, effectively lawless. At worst, many of these areas are still dominated by some combination of guerrilla forces, paramilitary groups and drug-trafficking gangs that have flourished over 50-plus years of civil war.

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It was one of the worst moments of Durga's life: the morning her father suddenly announced that in about a week's time she would have to get married.

She was 15 years old. Her husband-to-be was in his 40s, had barely been to school and had a reputation as a heavy drinker. Even by the standards of their village in Northern India — where child marriages are still commonplace — this was a singularly bad match.

Georgina Mamba wasn't blind. Yet when she was in the fourth grade she was kept for months in a class for kids who couldn't see.

Then she was transferred to a class for the hearing impaired — even though Mamba wasn't deaf either.

Mamba's problem: At age 2, she contracted polio and essentially lost the use of her lower limbs. And in Zambia, where she's from, the educational options for physically disabled people are extremely limited.

What do Kyrgyzstan, Vietnam, Albania, Germany and Ethiopia have in common?

Turns out all five countries do better than average when it comes to turning their national wealth into a better life for their citizens.

There's also a list of countries that do worse than average. Spoiler alert: The United States is one of them.

This unusual gauge of national success is the brainchild of analysts at the Boston Consulting Group.

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