The effectiveness of official development aid is the subject of heated debate. This column argues that aid affects recipient economies in extremely complex ways and through multiple and changing channels. Moreover, this is a two-way relationship – realities in recipient countries affect the actions of aid agencies. 

The first wave of volunteers from Britain’s National Health Service arrived in Sierra Leone Saturday amid what the World Health Organization has described as an “intense” surge in cases.

“There is no amount of hasbarah or public diplomacy that is going to convince the vast majority of the British public that settlement announcements are a good thing,” [Gould] declared. 

Welcoming international students used to be one of the key ways that Britain developed long-term, soft power relationships to aid trade and wield political influence. (...) A 2011 report by the Home Affairs Select Committee was highly critical of the government’s approach to welcoming international students and expressed concerns that more regulation of visas could have serious unintended consequences.

The state-owned Russian broadcaster is launching the channel at the end of the month on Freeview channel 135 and Sky channel 512. It will broadcast from studios based in London’s Millbank and cover local and national UK stories. RT will air five hours of original programming every day including news, documentaries from local producers and chat shows, supported by programming from its main international channel.

After Thailand's government was toppled by the military, the new leaders of the country began imposing control over the media, preventing the spread of information. Now, one news organization is figuring out a way to do its job. In May, the Thai military junta, the de facto rulers of the nation, began censoring the media. The military enacted a total media blackout, depriving the Thai people of access to news and forcing news channels, including international ones like CNN and BBC, to stop broadcasting, according to Mashable.

The rest of the world feels more positively about the UK than it has for almost a decade, according to the findings of an international survey. The Country Ratings Poll asked more than 24,500 people from 24 nations whether they felt positive or negative about 16 countries and the EU. The UK finished third, with 56 per cent of those surveyed saying they thought it was having a good influence internationally.

The Sudanese woman sentenced to death for apostasy after having married a Christian is to be freed in the next few days, it was reported on Saturday night. Meriam Ibrahim, who gave birth to a daughter on Tuesday while shackled in heavy chains, has been in jail since January. The announcement came on the back of international outrage that turned into a global campaign to save the mother of two – her 20-month-old son has also been forced to stay in prison with her. David Cameron had joined political leaders in condemning the Sudanese government's actions.