The U.N. Development Program's Poverty Report highlighted the threat posed by rampant global poverty. It's no longer simply an issue of conscience for the wealthy nations: "Poverty creates political instability," says Dowell. "The Russian example shows that political instability makes financial stability impossible. If we don't start to deal with poverty, we could risk global economic collapse." Averting that will take more than the generosity of Danny Glover.
Film stars may be giving generously, but congressional Republicans are still playing Scrooge with the U.N. Thursday's release of the international body's Poverty Report involved a premiere of "Beloved" and large donations by the likes of Danny Glover, but the White House and congressional negotiators failed to agree on paying more than $1 billion in unpaid U.N. dues. "It's becoming an increasing embarrassment," says TIME U.N. correspondent William Dowell. "We're trying to take the lead on a number of foreign policy issues, but not paying our dues undermines our position." Not only that, the U.S. will actually lose money through its delinquency -- many U.N. programs that spend most of their budgets here are set to look elsewhere for their supplies.