When taxpayer money goes to companies with murky ownership, it may put lives in danger and support shady actors. The watchdog group Global Witness shows what can happen when a government ends up working with anonymous companies.

Why vote?

Tuesday marks the U.S. midterm elections — and political experts predict that Republicans will gain seats in both the House and the Senate. Why should you care, when even American journalists are relatively quiet about this week’s vote? 3 ideas behind the news.

Eric Liu wants to make civics “as sexy as it was during American Revolution.” The key to that: teaching everyone the basic skills of power. Here they are.

The economist Sir Paul Collier has spent his career thinking about how to solve global poverty. So how are we doing? Well, not as badly as you might think. He describes the current state of the world and shares thoughts on where we might usefully focus next.

In today’s Need to Know, a very small folding bike, the suggestion of a new way to tackle climate change, and a happy trip down memory lane to look at a time when drug companies and governments could work together successfully

The entire state of California is now suffering from severe drought. Read a veteran firefighter’s experience of what this means on the ground — and other stories you need to know about today.

Government transparency has entered the national consciousness in a big way since the NSA revelations in 2013 touched off by Edward Snowden. But still, it’s a surprise to hear a military leader advocating a better system of sharing sensitive information. Yet that’s just what Stanley McChrystal has in mind.