TIME youth

The Top 5 Places to Be a Teen (Sorry Kids, the U.S. is #6)

Australian Holiday Makers Celebrate 'Schoolies' Week In Bali
Australian teenagers let their hair down in Bali—a popular destination for school breaks. Aussie teens are top of a newly released list of global youth wellbeing Agung Parameswara—Getty Images

Aussie teens are having a way better time than other kids, according to the Global Youth Wellbeing Index, which looked at indicators including economic opportunity, access to education, health and safety from 30 countries

Despite the never-ending stream of TV shows glorifying teen life in America, kids in the U.S. don’t have it the best, according to a new study.

In fact, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and the International Youth Foundation, said this week that Australia scored the highest on the “Global Youth Wellbeing Index” released this week.

The study vetted 30 countries in total and is based on a smattering of indicators including economic opportunity for youth and access to education, health, information and communications, safety and security.

Here are the top 5 rankings:

  1. Australia
  2. Sweden
  3. South Korea
  4. United Kingdom
  5. Germany

The United States came in at no. 6, followed by Japan, Spain, Saudi Arabia and Thailand.

The bottom five countries were India followed by four African nations: Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Nigeria.


TIME Military

How to Stop the Next Fort Hood Attack

U.S. Army Col. Kathy Platoni holds up her cap at her home in Beaver Creek, Ohio, Nov. 1, 2010.
Kathy Platoni holds up her cap with the names of colleagues killed at Fort Hood in 2009 written inside. Al Behrman—AP

Military mental-health experts argue it’s time for wholesale change—and more money

Fort Hood tore down nondescript Building 42003 a couple of months ago. But razing the building didn’t remove the horrors of that November 2009 day when Army Major Nidal Hasan murdered 13 people inside it. Now Specialist Ivan Lopez’s shooting spree is raising new concerns.

“We’re not real good at recognizing when danger exists,” says retired Army Reserve Colonel Kathy Platoni, who comforted psychiatric nurse Captain John Gaffaney as he lay dying nearly five years ago, shot multiple times in his effort to stop Hasan.

The Army, Platoni says, simply doesn’t have the funds and personnel to do mental health adequately. “If it doesn’t smell right as a mental health professional, you’ve got to look further—but we don’t have the manpower to do it,” Platoni says. “A five-minute interview to fill out a prescription isn’t going to cut it.”

Fort Hood Shooting Building
Building 42003 being demolished at Fort Hood in February. Fort Hood Public Affairs Office / AP

The Army’s top civilian offered additional details about Lopez Thursday. Until he pulled out his Smith & Wesson, he’d had no military record of bad behavior. Like many cases of military suicide, Lopez, who served the last four months of 2011 in Iraq but didn’t see combat, was seeking help. He knew something was wrong. “He was undergoing a variety of treatment and diagnoses for mental health conditions ranging from depression, to anxiety, to some sleep disturbance,” Army Secretary John McHugh said.

Lopez was taking “a number of drugs… including Ambien” to help, and had seen a psychiatrist last month. “We had no indication on the record of that examination that there was any sign of likely violence, either to himself or to others,” McHugh said. “So the plan [going] forward was to just continue to monitor and to treat him as deemed appropriate.”

McHugh added: “We have ordered all possible means of medical and investigatory support, as well as added behavioral health counselors” to Fort Hood.

Could dispatching “added behavioral health counselors” to Fort Hood before the shooting have made a difference?

Experts with years in the military mental-health field say that increased staffing—as well as wholesale changes in how the nation, and the Army, treat mental-health ailments—are needed to stop a third Fort Hood attack.

“We need to focus programs on dangerousness,” says psychiatrist and retired Army brigadier general Stephen Xenakis. “Dangerousness is a community-health issue. Military clinicians should make it routine to ask about guns, drug and alcohol problems, are there mood shifts, and are they explosive? It becomes very apparent when you are sitting with folks who might be dangerous.”

Lopez apparently sent such signals before he exploded. “We have very strong evidence that he had a medical history that indicates an unstable psychiatric or psychological condition,” Lieut. General Mark Milley, the top officer at Fort Hood, said Thursday. “We believe that to be the fundamental underlying causal factor.”

A trained mental-health professional can sense trouble, Platoni says. “You’ve got to develop trust and rapport with the soldiers so they can tell you what’s eating away at their soul,” she says. “People get really agitated, sometimes their eyes are red, they’re tapping their feet, they feel very uncomfortable within their own bodies,” she says, describing potential red flags. “They can’t focus, and have no tolerance for frustration,” Platoni adds. “These things don’t happen in a vacuum—there are always signs when it’s not quite right.”

But the Army only has the funds Congress—representing the U.S. taxpayer—gives it. “They send us to war, and then they don’t want to treat us,” Platoni says. “It’s another ‘no thanks for your service.’”

Retired general Pete Chiarelli was the Army’s second-ranking officer in 2009 when Nidal Hasan struck, and he championed mental health for soldiers as vice chief of staff. He says the Army—and the civilian world—haven’t made much progress in dealing with mental health in recent decades. The nation needs a mental-health Manhattan Project to study the mind and figure out how to fix it when it’s hurt. Instead, Chiarelli argues, it’s relying on antiquated methods that don’t always work.

Pete Chiarelli retired from the Army as its No. 2 officer in 2012. Army photo

“We have horrible diagnostics, we’ve got 20 questions in DSM-5, the psychiatric manual, based on a numerical score that tells us whether we have post-traumatic stress or not, the drugs that we’re prescribing to these kids are all 30-to-40-year old anti-depressants, they’re all off-label kinds of drugs, genetically, everybody reacts differently to them, and we’re short of health-care providers,” says Chiarelli, who retired in 2012. “So even when we do have some therapies that work, we don’t always have the time to apply them—does it become easier to prescribe something, or put him through 15 to 20 90-minute sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy?”

Too much research funded by the federal government remains locked up by the researchers who did it instead of being widely shared with others who might be able to build on it, Chiarelli says. “I had no idea when I signed the [$50 million suicide-prevention] contract with NIH [the federally-funded National Institutes of Health] that the data they collected wouldn’t be released to all the people who were studying suicide, and only released to those people who were part of the study,” he says. “The Army’s thrown $500 million against PTS [post-traumatic stress] research, and what have they got? They’ve still got DSM-5 and a bunch of anti-depressants—they have no new drugs.” Smarter research would go a long way to helping solve such mental-health woes, Chiarelli says—and not just in the Army.

“Go ahead and complain about this kid who had post-traumatic stress down at Fort Hood, Texas,” he says. “But there are all kinds of other people—as we saw at Newtown—who never served a day in the military who have this problem, and we don’t have what we need to help them. Whether it’s Newtown or the Navy Yard or Fort Hood, you have a gun—but you also had a person who had a severe mental issue,” Chiarelli says. “Now that we have the ability to crunch data and probably find diagnostics, and then treatment, for this stuff, God damn it, why aren’t we doing it?”

TIME Air Pollution

Smoggy Sand: How Deserts Spread Air Pollution

Smog levels are high in London
High levels of air pollution in London were caused in part by Sahara sand Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Sand can blow a long way—as residents in suddenly smoggy London are learning

For the last few days, the skyline of London—so often an indifferent gray—has resembled Los Angeles in the 1960s, or Beijing. A nasty bout of smog has gripped Britain’s capital and much of England, with pollution levels so high that people with health problems and the elderly have been warned to avoid strenuous activity outside.

London’s current smog is nothing compared to the air pollution the city once suffered—the city was choked in coal smoke for much of the 19th century, and the Great Smog of 1952 killed some 4,000 people. But what’s truly unusual is the cause: not just local emissions from cars and power plants, but from dust that has blown in from the Sahara Desert in northern Africa, over 2,000 miles (3,218 km) away. The dust has blown in on northern winds, where it mixes in the air with local pollutants. The dust is brought down to earth by rain, and when that water evaporates, it leaves behind a layer of visible dust.

Britain isn’t the only place that can have dust-related smog. In East Asia, sand from the Gobi Desert is blown east every spring. The so-called Asian Dust passes over parts of China, North and South Korea and Japan, sometimes so heavy that residents can feel the dust in their eyes and their teeth. The dust can even be carried thousands of miles across the Pacific to North America—a study published in Science last year found that dust in the atmosphere can actually increase rainfall in California.

But what’s worrying is that the Gobi is growing every year, as excessive farming in China and increasingly dry weather converts grassland into desert. The Chinese government has tried to create what it calls a “Green Belt” of millions of trees that it hopes will hold back the spread of desertification, but so far, many of them have died. And climate change seems likely to increase the rate of desertification, as the Gobi gets even hotter and drier. In a changing world, not even deserts can be trusted to stay in the same place—as London is learning.

TIME Ukraine

Ukraine and Russia Demonize Each Other With Claims of Terrorism

Deposed President Viktor Yanukovych at a news conference in Belgrade, Serbia
Deposed President Viktor Yanukovych at a news conference in Belgrade, Serbia, June 6, 2013. Darko Vojinovic—AP

Without presenting much in the way of evidence, Ukraine's spy chief accuses Russian agents of helping plan the massacre of protesters in February, and Russia responds with a claim of terrorism against Ukraine that is no less grave and equally thin on proof

On Feb. 20, no rumor on the streets of Kiev seemed too paranoid and monstrous to believe. Dozens of protesters had been shot down that morning, apparently by snipers, in the center of Ukraine’s capital. No one knew who had given the orders to shoot. No one knew why they were shooting. The only facts were all the bodies, many with just a single bullet wound in their heads or necks, the stunned expressions on their faces suggesting just how quickly death had come. But those facts, stark and undeniable, were enough for much of the city to suspend all doubt.

Most of the demonstrators brave enough to remain on the square that night spent hours trading conspiracy theories in whispers. Most of them were variations on the same theme – the Russian government, specifically Russia’s FSB secret police, was coming to quell the revolution with death squads, or helicopter gunships, or poison gas, or hired goons that had been plied with drugs and told to kill. All of these rumors emerged from the impact of terror, anger, confusion and grief on the human mind, and they were all false. The day after the massacre near Kiev’s Independence Square, the government of President Viktor Yanukovych fell, and the revolutionaries took power. No Russian death squads ever came to stop them.

But on Thursday, the whispered theories from that night reemerged in Kiev in a very different form. Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, the new head of Ukraine’s state security services, accused his Russian counterparts of being involved in the massacre of Feb. 20. He did not seem to have much proof. At the end of December, he said, before Ukraine’s revolution turned violent, 26 agents of the Russia’s Federal Security Service, the agency known as the FSB, visited Ukraine’s secret police in Kiev.

In the middle of January, around the time when the uprising was morphing into a violent insurrection, six Russian FSB agents visited their colleagues in Ukraine again, Nalyvaichenko said. “We have serious reasons to believe that these groups, who were at one of the bases of the SBU [Security Service of Ukraine], took part in the planning and execution of the so-called ‘counter-terrorist operation.’” That is the term that Ukraine’s crumbling regime used to describe last and most violent attempt to crush the revolution, an attempt that culminated with snipers opening fire on protesters on Feb. 20.

At his press conference on Thursday, Nalyvaichenko, who was appointed head of the SBU security service on Feb. 24, asked Russian authorities to investigate what the FSB was doing in Kiev in December and January, and to provide the names and ranks of the FSB officers involved. The answer from Moscow was as brief as it was predictable. “Let these statements be on the conscience of the Ukrainian Security Services,” the FSB said in a statement to the Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

But the real response seemed to come a few hours later, when Russian state television unsheathed their own allegations against Ukraine. In its evening news broadcast, the state-backed network NTV claimed that 25 Ukrainians had been arrested in Russia while planning to carry out a terrorist attack. “All of those detained,” the report said, citing unnamed security sources, “have already confirmed receiving instructions from the Security Service of Ukraine.”

Though the broadcast did not make the connection explicit, its timing made it seem like an eye for an eye. Ukraine had aired one grave set of accusations against Russia, and Russia responded in kind without much delay. Neither side presented much evidence, certainly none that was commensurate with the seriousness of the claims. But both shared at least one intention – to demonize the other side, playing on the enmity that has emerged between these once fraternal nations.

In the coming weeks and months, both Russia and Ukraine will have to follow up their finger-pointing with action, either through their own courts or international ones, as these are not the kinds of claims that a nation state can just back away from or brush away as a mistake. The security services of both Russia and Ukraine have in effect accused each other of plotting terrorism. Whatever dim hope had remained of restoring civil relations between them is gone, at least until these accusations are resolved. That could take months if not years, but what seems to be clear already is that both countries have sunk to the kind of fear mongering that first afflicted Kiev in the days after the massacre of Feb. 20. The only difference is that they are not whispering these claims in the streets. They are airing them officially and for the world to see, having suspended all reasonable doubt and encouraging their people to do the same.


Senate Panel Votes to Make CIA Report Public

Senator Dianne Feinstein D-CA waits to speak to the media after a closed meeting of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill
California Senator Dianne Feinstein waits to speak to the media after a closed meeting of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on April 3, 2014 Brendan Smialowski—AFP/Getty Images

The Senate Intelligence Committee lifts a blackout on key parts of its report on the CIA's controversial interrogation and detention program, which concludes that the agency inflated the effectiveness of “enhanced” techniques

A Senate panel voted Thursday to declassify key aspects of a controversial report on the CIA’s interrogation program during the George W. Bush Administration.

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report was written by its Democratic staff, and reportedly concludes that the CIA inflated the effectiveness of “enhanced” interrogation and detention practices, misleading the Justice Department, Congress and the public.

The panel voted to make public the 480-page executive summary and 20 findings and conclusions of the five-year study, which involved more than 100 detainees, according to committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein. The panel voted 11 to 3 in favor of declassification, as Republican Senators Marco Rubio of Florida, Dan Coats of Indiana and James Risch of Idaho voted nay. The top Republican on the committee, Saxby Chambliss, and his Republican colleagues Richard Burr of North Carolina and Maine’s Susan Collins voted to declassify the report, while Republican Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn voted present because he was not a member of the committee when it voted to conduct the report.

“The report exposes brutality that stands in stark contrast to our values as a nation,” said Feinstein after the committee met for about 10 minutes to vote. “The report also points to major problems with the CIA’s management of this program, and its interactions with the White House, other parts of the Executive Branch and Congress.”

But it could be weeks before the declassified sections are made available to the public. Feinstein hoped the declassification process could be completed in as “early as 30 days,” but conceded that “may be wishful thinking.” She also expressed hope that the CIA would not drag its feet in opposition to the White House and pushed for as few redactions as possible.

Chambliss was among those who voted with Feinstein, but he disagreed on the purpose and outcome of the report.

“We need to get this behind us,” he said. “I was never in favor of this report being done; I think it was a waste of time. We already had a report done by the Armed Services Committee on this issue.”

“As we point specifically in the minority report, there was information that was gleaned from this program which led not only to the take down of [Osama] bin Laden, but to the interruption and disruption of other terrorist plots over a period of years,” Chambliss said.

Civil rights groups celebrated the announcement as proof that the decision to embrace torture — including waterboarding, sleep deprivation and stress positions — was neither effective in its purpose gaining intelligence nor moral. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Constitution Project pushed President Obama to take the lead to decide what gets redacted instead of the CIA. “The CIA should not be handed a black-out pen to hide its use of torture or the lies it told to keep the torture program going,” wrote Christopher Anders, senior legislative counsel for the ACLU, in a public statement.

The report has become a bone of contention between the CIA and Senate investigators, which erupted into recriminations last month when Feinstein accused the agency of spying on Senate computers used in the investigation. The CIA, in turn, said investigators illegally accessed internal documents.

“It is now abundantly clear that in an effort to prevent further terrorist attacks after 9/11, and bring those responsible to justice, the CIA did make some serious mistakes and that they haunt us to this day,” said Feinstein. “We are acknowledging those mistakes, and we have a continuing responsibility to make sure that nothing like this ever happens again.”

TIME social good

Watch: How Haute Couture Can Use the Marketplace for Social Good

Combining a social agenda with good business produces beautiful results


What happens when a social activist and a fashion-industry executive put their heads together in order to create social good? Maiyet, a New York-based luxury fashion brand working with local artisans in the developing world, aims to find out.

Co-founder Paul van Zyl, who came of age during the fight against apartheid in South Africa, believes the firm’s mission is to make sure that “people at the bottom of the pyramid can lead dignified lives.”

His business partner, Kristy Caylor, a career fashion executive, is troubled by the fact that consumers can buy a “one dollar t-shirt that was made half way across the globe and assume that people’s human rights have been respected and that people are being paid properly.”

Rather than rail against injustice, however, the pair set out to change the conversation among the people at the top of the industry by finding people with world-class skills in local markets without access to design direction or infrastructure and work with them to build a brand that give expression to their “raw talent” while at the same time succeeds commercially.

Judging from the response they got at Paris Fashion Week last month, they are off to a good start.

TIME Syria

Syria’s Economy Will Take At Least 30 Years to Recover, Says the U.N.

An elderly Syrian man and a child walk amidst debris in a residential block reportedly hit by an explosives-filled barrel dropped by a government forces helicopter on March 18, 2014 in Aleppo.
An elderly Syrian man and a child walk amidst debris in a residential block reportedly hit by an explosives-filled barrel dropped by a government forces helicopter on March 18, 2014 in Aleppo. Baraa Al-Halabi—AFP/Getty Images

Even if the Syrian conflict were to end today, it would take decades to rebuild the economy to pre-war standards, according to a new report. Some experts say the devastation has reached World War II levels

To many, the cost of war is immeasurable. How is it possible to assess the value of lives lost, of broken health, of destroyed and dislocated families? Assessing the economic impact, however, is an easier undertaking. It is quantified in lost productivity, declining GDP, and, in the case of Syria, a bitter prognosis about the amount of time it will take to recover from a three-year war that has already claimed 150,000 lives. A recent report from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency estimates that it will take decades for Syria to recoup the cost of war. “Even if the conflict ceased now and GDP grew at an average rate of five per cent each year, it is estimated that it would take the Syrian economy 30 years to return to the economic level of 2010,” says the report, calling the situation an “economic catastrophe.” The survey, conducted by UNRWA’s microfinance department, focused mostly on the impact the war has had on the organization’s 8000 client borrowers in Syria, so it tends to skew towards the lower rungs of the country’s economic spectrum. Still, as a window into the financial status of small businesses in a country where accurate polling is hard to come by, it offers a bleak assessment of Syria’s future.

More than two-thirds of UNRWA’s clients had fled their homes by June 2013, according to the survey, and only 13% of their businesses were still functioning. Overall, notes the report, citing the most recent economic data available, Syria’s economy lost a total of $84.4 billion during the first two years of the war alone, and 2.33 million jobs. As a result, half the workforce is unemployed and more than half the population is living in poverty. “The current crisis in Syria is the deepest and most destructive of people’s lives and livelihoods that the program has encountered over the past two decades,” says the report. UNRWA’s micro-finance agency should know: previous projects were based in the economic swamps of Gaza and the West Bank.

Capital flight, de-industrialization, looting and destruction of Syrian factories and businesses both large and small has seen GDP contract more than 30% each quarter of the last fiscal year, an unprecedented economic chute, says Jihad Yazigi, editor the online economic digest The Syria Report. “You can’t even compare the destruction in Syria to Lebanon’s civil war, or Bosnia. This is on the level of World War II. We are seeing a reversal of decades of economic development, and I don’t know how, if ever, Syria will recover.” He says that the UNRWA assessment is optimistic. “It could take 40 to 50 years to recover.”

Either way, the economic toll will not be limited to Syria alone. There are more than 2.5 million Syrian refugees in neighboring Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey, and even though international aid agencies help host countries, it is rarely enough to make up for the infrastructural burdens. And the refugees are likely to remain in place until they have something worthwhile to go back to, which could take years. “How are we going to get these people back to their villages in Syria, to rebuild what has been destroyed?” asks Sami Nader, an economist and professor at Lebanon’s St. Joseph University. “All the factories are destroyed; where will they work?” According to the United Nations, there are now more than one million Syrian refugees registered in Lebanon, making up a quarter of the country’s population. Lebanon’s own economy, beset by insecurity and political volatility, was already on the verge of bankruptcy, says Nader. “This Syria situation could just push us over the edge.” The cost of war isn’t just immeasurable. It doesn’t know borders, either.


Turkey Lifts Twitter Ban After Court Ruling

The move comes one day after the nation's highest court categorized the ban as unconstitutional. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government blocked access to the social network because of a series of damaging leaks that surfaced on the site

Turkey lifted its ban on Twitter Thursday, a day after the nation’s highest court struck down a government prohibition, an official in Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s office told Reuters.

The country’s constitutional court ruled Wednesday that the ban violated free expression, but Erdogan’s government, which imposed the ban two weeks earlier ahead of last Sunday’s municipal elections, did not immediately act.

Erdogan has crusaded against several social media sites—last week his government blocked YouTube–amid a series of damaging leaks that have been shared across the Internet.

The bans have drawn widespread criticism domestically and abroad. Opposition politician Sezgin Tanrikulu petitioned the court to overturn the ban and threatened to file a legal complaint against the government for “abuse of power,” the Associated Press reports. Twitter had proposed its own lawsuit against the government.

Despite the criticism, Turkey’s voters partially exonerated Erdogan for his crackdown: his Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party overwhelmingly won in local elections on Sunday.


TIME Pope Francis

Pope Francis Greets Queen Elizabeth In Vatican

The Queen And Duke Of Edinburgh Visit Rome And The Vatican City
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, have an audience with Pope Francis, during their one-day visit to Rome on April 3, 2014 in Vatican City, Vatican. Oli Scarff—Getty Images

Last week, Obama gave the Pope seeds. Today, the Queen gave him whiskey

A highly anticipated meeting between Pope Francis and Queen Elizabeth was held on Thursday afternoon in the Vatican, where the two world leaders exchanged words and gifts in person for the first time. The pair met for half an hour, including 17 minutes in private.

Last week, President Obama gave Francis a chest filled with seeds from fruits and vegetables used in the White House garden. But the Queen one-upped the American leader during her visit, presenting the Pope with whiskey and venison. Francis was the fifth Pope with whom Queen Elizabeth has met during her fifty-year reign. This trip marks the first foreign trip for the British monarch in three years.


Senate Committee Votes To Declassify CIA Report

Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein speaking on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 27, 2014.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein speaking on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 27, 2014. J. Scott Applewhite—AP

The Senate Intelligence Committee voted to lift a blackout on its report on the CIA’s controversial interrogation and detention program

Updated 3.00pm ET

The Senate Intelligence Committee voted Thursday to declassify its 6,300-page report detailing the CIA’s controversial interrogation and detention program.

The report is still expected to remain largely unseen, and it could take weeks before even some sections, including the executive summary, findings, and conclusions, are released to the public.

Recent leaks reported by the Washington Post suggest the document provides a scathing review of CIA practices after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. The report, says the Post, claims the CIA adopted brutal interrogation tactics that walked a fine line between approved and illegal techniques and exaggerated the importance of the information obtained from the program.

The vote to declassify the report, until recently opposed by Senate Republicans, received a boost Wednesday when committee members and Maine Sens. Susan Collins (R) and Angus King (I), issued a joint statement backing the release of the report because “its findings lead us to conclude that some detainees were subjected to techniques that constituted torture.”

The report has become a bone of contention between the CIA and senate investigators, which erupted into recriminations last month when Committee Chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein accused the agency of spying on Senate computers used in the investigation. The CIA, in turn, said investigators illegally accessed internal documents.

But the report has also drawn accusations of bias and factual errors from officials. When the document was approved in 2012, ranking Republican committee member Sen. Saxby Chambliss said that “a number of significant errors, omissions, assumptions, and ambiguities–as well as a lot of cherry-picking–were found that call the conclusions into question.”

This story was updated to reflect Senate vote in favor of declassification


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