Why Denmark dominates the World Happiness Report rankings year after year

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The new World Happiness Report again ranks Denmark among the top three happiest of 155 countries surveyed – a distinction that the country has earned for seven consecutive years. Marie Helweg-Larsen The Conversation The U.S., on the other hand, ranked 18th in this year’s World Happiness Report, a four-spot drop from last year’s report. Denmark’s place among the world’s happiest countries is consistent with many other national surveys of happiness (or, as psychologists call it, “subjective well-being”). Scientists like to ... Read More »

The West’s Unilateral Cold War

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The problem between Russia and the West is really a problem among Westerners themselves. Sergei Karaganov Project Syndicate If there is a new cold war, it is only because established elites have not come to terms with reality: the balance of military, political, economic, and moral power has shifted too far away from the West to be reversed. MOSCOW – Rising tensions between the United Kingdom and Russia are but further proof that Russia and the West, according to no ... Read More »

A history of loneliness

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Is loneliness our modern malaise? Former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy says the most common pathology he saw during his years of service “was not heart disease or diabetes; it was loneliness.” Amelia S. Worsley The Conversation Chronic loneliness, some say, is like “smoking 15 cigarettes a day.” It “kills more people than obesity.” Because loneliness is now considered a public health issue – and even an epidemic – people are exploring its causes and trying to find solutions. While ... Read More »

Saudi Arabia’s Leader Could Tell a Better Story if He’d End His Vicious, No-win War

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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, who arrives in Washington this week, is a man on a mission with a story to tell. Originally published in The Washington Post ICG It’s an appealing if slightly embellished narrative: about his economic vision, desire to promote a more moderate form of Islam, recognition of women’s rights and empowerment of a younger generation. But it’s a narrative that should not silence the other, far less rosy story of Saudi Arabia’s military ... Read More »

The U.S. Alliance With Turkey Is Worth Preserving

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Elephants in the Room Ankara is a difficult friend. That doesn’t mean the United States should cut it loose. By Michael Singh & James F. Jeffrey | FP If the United States didn’t already face enough troubles in Syria, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently threatened American troops with an “Ottoman slap” if they interfered with Turkey’s military incursion into northwestern Syria. The threat, coming two days before a visit to Turkey by then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, underscored just how contentious relations between ... Read More »

What Putin’s Reelection Means for Russia and the World

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Putin is staying—but he is likely to take the initiative to shape both Russia’s domestic politics and its international position to his liking. Nikolas K. Gvosdev The National Interest No one should have been surprised by the results of Sunday’s presidential election in Russia. Official figures maintain that nearly 60 percent of eligible voters cast ballots, with incumbent Vladimir Putin cruising to an easy victory with more than three-quarters of the votes. Even assuming that the figures were massaged—note the ... Read More »

Saudi women should have choice whether to wear abaya robe, crown prince says

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Women in Saudi Arabia need not wear headcover or the black abaya – the loose-fitting, full-length robes symbolic of Islamic piety – as long as their attire is “decent and respectful”, the kingdom’s reform-minded crown prince has said. RIYADH – Reuters Hurriyet With the ascent to power of young Prince Mohammad bin Salman, the kingdom has seen an expansion in women’s rights including a decision to allow women to attend mixed public sporting events and the right to drive cars ... Read More »

Picture a Leader. Is She a Woman?

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Most people will draw a man. Researchers investigate the consequences. Heather Murphy The New York Times This series of images emerged from a simple prompt: “Draw an effective leader.” Tina Kiefer, a professor of organizational behavior at the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom, fell upon the exercise accidentally, while leading a workshop full of executives who did not speak much English. Since then it has been adopted by organizational psychologists across the world. In terms of gender, the ... Read More »

Friday essay: in defence of beauty in art

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Art critics and historians have a difficult time dealing with beauty We are trained from early on that the analysis of a work of art relies on proof, those things that we can point to as evidence. Robert Wellington The Conversation The problem with beauty is that it’s almost impossible to describe. To describe the beauty of an object is like trying to explain why something’s funny — when it’s put into words, the moment is lost. Works of art ... Read More »

Why Britain must not set a deadline for everyone to speak English

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The British government should fix a date by which all residents in the UK should be able to speak English, says Louise Casey, who wrote a report for the government on integration in 2016. Petros Karatsareas The Conversation A common language, she argued, would help to “heal rifts across Britain”. Casey first recommended that the government promote the English language in order to tackle isolation and segregation in her 2016 report. That recommendation received support even from people who otherwise ... Read More »

After the Rohingya crisis, Aung San Suu Kyi will come to the ASEAN summit with her reputation tarnished

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Two years ago, Aung San Suu Kyi led the National League for Democracy (NLD) into government in Myanmar amid a global outpouring of support and goodwill. Authors.. The Conversation When she arrives in Australia for this weekend’s ASEAN-Australia Special Summit, the welcome will be cooler, tempered by her government’s limited progress on a range of political and economic issues. In particular, concerns will be raised over the Myanmar military’s appalling treatment of the Muslim Rohingya, and Suu Kyi’s refusal to ... Read More »

Where have all the women gone? The Tories have a serious gender problem

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The latest findings on the gender imbalance among the rank and file memberships of Britain’s biggest political parties make for worrying reading – particularly for the Conservatives. Authors The Conversation Over-time comparison suggests that there are now fewer women belonging to the Conservative party than there were nearly a quarter of a century ago. The Tories have, in recent years, increased the number of women representing them in the House of Commons to 21% – an achievement that owes something ... Read More »

The Fatal Flaw in China’s Plan for Dominating the World Economy

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Dependence is baked into China’s industrial plans—and will likely fail. Chinese premier Li Keqiang recently delivered a remarkably revealing speech. Milton Ezrati The National Interest Addressing the National People’s Congress for two full hours early in March, he stressed the county’s determination to rely on broad industrial policies as a means to development. The objective, to use Li’s words, is to “speed up work to build China into a leader in manufacturing.” Li doubtless wanted his audience and the world ... Read More »

An American Imam Talks Islam and Money

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Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf came to America as a child, and learned that prosperity presented its own religious riddles. WealthSimple Feisal Abdul Rauf is a longtime Imam, public intellectual and the author of numerous books about Islam’s place in the West, including What’s Right With Islam is What’s Right with America. There’s a passage in the Bible that says it is more difficult for a rich man to enter heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a ... Read More »

End the Weaponisation of Water in Central Asia

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Four Central Asian states – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – have argued over their water resources since the collapse of the Soviet Union. At times these disputes have seemed to threaten war. The forthcoming presidential summit in Astana can help banish that spectre. Alina Dalbaeva ICG On 15-16 March there is a landmark opportunity to promote peace and prosperity in Central Asia when the presidents of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan meet in the Kazakh capital of Astana. It ... Read More »

Rivals for Authority in Tajikistan’s Gorno-Badakhshan

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The prevailing calm in Gorno-Badakhshan in Tajikistan’s remote east does not rule out the prospect of a clash between local powerbrokers and Dushanbe authorities. ICG To mitigate the risks of a local flare-up and regional power rivalry, China and Russia should communicate with each other and nudge President Rahmon toward a smooth transition of power. What’s new? The Tajik government’s control of its eastern territory, Gorno-Badakhshan, is tenuous at best. Irregulars loyal to local powerbrokers known as the Authorities have ... Read More »