TIME India

India Stays World’s Top Beef Exporter Despite New Bans on Slaughtering Cows

Handcarts used for transporting meat are seen parked at an abattoir during a strike against a ban on the slaughter of bulls and bullocks in Mumbai
Danish Siddiqui—Reuters Handcarts used for transporting meat are seen parked at an abattoir during a strike against a ban on the slaughter of bulls and bullocks in Mumbai on March 23, 2015

While cows have long been sacred for many in the Hindu-majority nation, exports of buffalo meat remain a huge industry

India’s exports of beef are on the rise even as several states expand their bans on the slaughter of cows and bullocks, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

India has been the largest exporter of beef in the world since last year, and has further widened its lead over second-ranked Brazil with a projected total of 2.4 million tons exported in 2015 against Brazil’s 2 million.

The USDA report, released earlier this month, predicts that global beef exports overall will rise to a record 10.2 million tons, 3% higher than the October 2014 forecast.

Beef has also overtaken basmati rice as India’s largest agricultural food export in terms of value, according to data from the country’s Agricultural and Processed Food Products’ Export Development Authority, cited by the Economic Times newspaper.

Although the slaughter of cows, sacred for the Hindus that make up India’s majority population, has long been banned in several parts of the country, states like Maharashtra — one of its largest — recently expanded the ban to include bulls and bullocks as well. However, since India’s exports are composed entirely of water-buffalo meat or carabeef, the bans will not affect the figures cited in the report.

“It could bring an end to illegal slaughter and raise the price for buffalo meat, thus proving to be beneficial for companies like us who are engaged in legal slaughter and export of buffalo meat,” Priya Sud, a partner at New Delhi–based Al Noor Exports, told the Times.

TIME Chile

Ash Piles Up From Eruption of Chile’s Calbuco Volcano

Residents fear contaminated water, respiratory illnesses and flight disruptions

(ENSENADA, Chile) — Twin blasts from the Calbuco volcano in southern Chile sent vast clouds of ash into the sky, covering this small town with thick soot and raising concerns Thursday that the dust could contaminate water, cause respiratory illnesses and ground more flights.

Ensenada, in the foothills of the volcano, looked like a ghost town but for an occasional horse or dog roaming its only street. Most of the 1,500 residents had evacuated after the initial eruption Wednesday, with only about 30 people refusing to leave out of worry for their homes and animals.

Daniel Patricio Gonzalez left with his wife, 7-year-old son and 4-year-old twins, but he returned to town Thursday night to assess the damage. The roof at the restaurant he manages had caved in from the weight of the mounting ash.

“This hurts a bit, but there’s nothing to do against nature. The important thing is that my family is fine,” Gonzalez said.

The volcano erupted Wednesday afternoon for the first time in more than four decades, spewing out a plume of ash more than 6 miles (10 kilometers) high. Emergency officials were taken by surprise and had only a few minutes to issue an alert.

Calbuco had another spectacular outburst early Thursday with lightning crackling through a dark sky turned reddish orange by the explosion.

As the ash cloud spread Wednesday, “people went into a state of panic,” said Miguel Silva Diaz, an engineer who lives in Puerto Montt, a city about 14 miles (22 kilometers) from the volcano. “Then, at around 1 a.m., I heard a loud noise, as if somebody had detonated an atomic bomb.”

Winds blew ash in a widening arc across to Argentina. No injuries were reported and the only person reported missing since the eruption was located Thursday.

Authorities evacuated 4,000 people as gas and ash continued to spew, and they closed access to the area around the volcano, which lies near the cities of Puerto Varas and Puerto Montt, some 620 miles (1,000 kilometers) south of Santiago.

“I was shocked. I had just arrived home when I looked through the window and saw the column of smoke rising up. We called our families, posted photos,” said Daniel Palma, a psychologist who lives in Puerto Varas.

“We woke up today with a blanket of fog and it hasn’t cleared. We have a layer of smoke above us,” Palma said, adding that many were concerned about the possible effects of the ash on their health.

The Chilean national geology and mining service warned that people should prepare for a third and “even more aggressive eruption.”

President Michelle Bachelet, who visited the area Thursday, declared a state of emergency.

“We don’t have any problems with supplies, water or sewage up to now. That’s not the problem,” she said. “Our problem is a respiratory one, from inhaling all of this ash, and the fact that this ash could generate some sort of environmental contamination.”

The short-term dangers related to the ash include eye and skin infections as well as water contamination, said Bernardo Martorell, a physician and the head of the sanitary planning division at Chile’s health ministry.

“That’s why the people in the area need to evacuate,” Martorell said.

The ash continued to fall Thursday in Puerto Montt and other nearby cities. Patricio Vera, director of a local radio station, said that after the initial eruption, hundreds of people rushed to buy gasoline, forcing stations to ration sales, while supermarkets closed early to avoid the risk of looting.

LATAM and other airline companies cancelled flights to and from Puerto Montt because airborne ash can severely damage jet engines.

The 6,500 foot (2,000-meter) Calbuco last erupted in 1972 and is considered one of the top three most potentially dangerous among Chile’s 90 active volcanos.

By Thursday afternoon, ash had made its way to Villa La Angostura, Argentina, a small town about 56 miles (90 kilometers) northeast of Calbuco. Cars and streets were coated with a thin layer of ash, but people were otherwise going about their business.

“We are praying that the volcanic activity will be as short as possible,” said mayor Roberto Cacault.

TIME China

China to Crack Down on Strippers at Rural Funerals

"Such illegal operations have disrupted local entertainment markets and corrupted social mores," Chinese authorities said

(BEIJING) — Chinese officials are launching a campaign to crack down on stripteases and other lewd shows that have become popular at funerals in some rural areas, the Ministry of Culture said Thursday.

The ministry said in a statement that it will tighten control over rural culture, where vulgar performances have been thriving because of a general lack of cultural events.

Such erotic performances at funerals are a relatively new phenomenon. Many rural people believe that a large attendance at funerals is a sign of honor for the deceased, and the shows are used to attract more people and display the family’s prosperity.

The funerals also are a rare occasion for crowds to gather as villagers working as migrant workers in industrial centers return home to bury the deceased.

Performances of traditional opera were once popular at funerals, followed later by movie screenings.

In the last several months, people who have returned to their rural homes for funerals have complained on social media about lewd shows, remarking that troupes hired to play dirges suddenly changed their tune and began to peel off their clothes.

The ministry cited a performance by six strippers at a funeral in the northern province of Hebei and a lewd show by three performers at a funeral in the eastern province of Jiangsu. Those responsible for vulgar acts will be punished, it said.

“Such illegal operations have disrupted local entertainment markets and corrupted social mores,” the ministry said.

Photos and videos of such performances circulating online show children in attendance at shows featuring scantily clad women.

TIME Research

‘A Moratorium on Human Gene Editing to Treat Disease Is Critical’

A leading scientist calls for caution on a promising new technology

Rudolf Jaenisch, MD, is a Founding Member, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, and President, the International Society for Stem Cell Research

It has been just over a half-century since scientists solved the structure of DNA, and since that time, we have been fascinated by what the DNA encodes, how it is passed on from one generation to the next and what makes each of us unique. Technologies to introduce DNA changes have been used to study the function of genes and the proteins they encode, to identify genetic causes of disease and to develop better ways to treat them. Now, new research describes the editing of genes in human embryos—CRISPR-cas9—raising questions about the science, the implications and the ethics.

The research utilizes recent technologies that allow us to make precise, targeted changes to a DNA sequence. These technologies have proved remarkable in their ease-of-use and have become quickly adopted by researchers around the world to introduce or correct changes in gene sequences in a wide range of cell types.

These recent developments have piqued the imagination of scientists and the public alike, and there is much speculation about what comes next. Some have suggested the new technology will allow researchers to “fix” defective genes, so inheritable diseases are not passed to the next generation, while others have raised worries about the creation of “designer” babies.

In my role as president of the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR), a nonprofit group comprised of nearly 4,000 researchers, clinicians and ethicists from over 50 countries, I have been part of a diverse, global and ongoing dialogue about the complex scientific, societal and ethical issues surrounding germline modification technologies in humans. Following these broad discussions, the ISSCR recently issued a statement calling for a pause in attempts at gene editing technologies in early human embryos, or egg and sperm that are brought together with the intent to generate a baby, to allow for more extensive analysis of the potential risks of genome editing and for broad public discussion.

This statement is not intended to dampen excitement about the foundational research or clinical applications underway involving the modification of non-reproductive cells, rather to recognize the important scientific, as well as broad social and ethical considerations that arise when introducing genetic changes that are passed on to the next generation.

The scientific community has an obligation to think about the implications of their work and to engage the public and regulators in discussions around the science, its potential and limitations. We must ask ourselves and others tough questions: Even if we could safely modify the inheritable DNA in an embryo, egg or sperm, should we? In what scenarios might this be justified? How can we be assured that the technologies will not be abused? How do we maintain an openness with the public such that they understand and support the scientific community in their quest to improve public health?

Until we have addressed these complex questions, a moratorium on any clinical application of gene editing in human embryos is critical.

As we deliberate, we need continued laboratory research to enhance basic knowledge and to better understand the safety issues associated with human genome editing technologies. As in other areas of human stem cell research, the ISSCR and other groups advocate strongly for responsible and transparent practices, urging researchers worldwide to open their research to scrutiny.

The details of the most recently published research, which itself highlights serious technical challenges to editing the germline nuclear DNA for medical purposes, are less important than the dialogue it has generated. The scientific community appreciates the public’s interest in stem cell research and the opportunity to discuss openly the scientific, ethical and societal issues we consider each and every day.

TIME europe

U.N. Refugee Chief: Europe’s Response to Mediterranean Crisis Is ‘Lagging Far Behind’

Ship with large number of undocumented migrants runs aground at Rhodes
Loukas Mastis—EPA Illegal migrants arriving at Zefyros beach at Rhodes island, Greece, April 20, 2015.

António Guterres is the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. He is a former Prime Minister of Portugal.

"We can’t deter people fleeing for their lives. They will come. The choice we have is how well we manage their arrival, and how humanely"

The intensifying tragedy on the Mediterranean Sea poses the sternest test to Western humanitarian values in two generations. If we aren’t careful, we risk letting our most fundamental principles slip away, with consequences that could reverberate for decades.

More than 1,700 souls have already been lost at sea this year, fleeing for a safer world. This month alone, twice as many people drowned as during all of 2013. Last week, we witnessed the deadliest shipwreck my organization has recorded in the Mediterranean to date. And the spring has only just begun.

It’s time for Europeans to abandon the delusion that we can isolate ourselves from this crisis. Our region is living through the greatest humanitarian disaster since World War II, but our response is lagging far behind. It’s time to shift gears.

The first thing we must do is be more honest about what is happening. That includes recognizing that this is more than a migrant issue: Many of the people on these boats are refugees, fleeing from conflict and persecution. This means we have an unambiguous legal obligation to protect them. Seeking asylum is not only a universal human right—it’s also a political principle that has guided nations for thousands of years and is at the very foundation of the values upon which modern Europe was built.

Some people argue that letting in refugees and other foreigners poses a threat to our society’s way of life. But it is not by keeping people out that Europeans will protect their identity. On the contrary, it is by giving refugees protection and a future that we preserve what really makes us who we are. To do that, we need to steer a new course.

The conclusions of Thursday’s emergency summit in Brussels show that Europe recognizes the need for collective action to respond to the enormous tragedy that is unfolding on its borders. The E.U. must immediately restart a comprehensive search and rescue operation, along the lines of Mare Nostrum, to save people in distress at sea. The reinforcement of joint naval operations Triton and Poseidon is welcome, and we hope that many more will be rescued as a result.

But we know from experience that border surveillance alone is not an answer to a crisis that involves refugees. This stems from a simple truth: we can’t deter people fleeing for their lives. They will come. The choice we have is how well we manage their arrival, and how humanely.

Western nations must also commit to creating more legal alternatives for refugees to find protection, such as expanded resettlement and humanitarian admission schemes, enhanced family reunification, private sponsorship arrangements, and work and study visas. Without realistic alternative channels for people to reach safety, the much-needed increase in international efforts to crack down on smugglers and traffickers is unlikely to be effective.

Some of the latest E.U. responsibility-sharing proposals, such as better support for the countries receiving the most arrivals, emergency relocation of refugees between member states, and a pilot project for increased resettlement, are a starting point. But much more must be done. We need to distribute responsibility more widely within Europe, because a system in which two E.U. countries—Germany and Sweden—take the majority of all refugees, is simply not sustainable.

We can no longer meet our obligations simply by financing programs in other countries. The communities sheltering refugees in the Middle East and Africa are already overwhelmed. In Lebanon, for example, more than a quarter of the population are now refugees.

It’s clear the crisis in the Mediterranean will not end as long as the root causes pushing people to flee go unaddressed. This means a genuine commitment to solving the conflicts raging around the world, and to preventing new ones. It also requires us to rethink the way we plan and deliver development aid, and ensuring human mobility is a part of the development paradigm. Rather than simply dumping the problem on poorer transit countries such as those in North Africa, Europe must help those governments to protect refugees and others more effectively.

If Western nations continue to respond primarily by shutting their doors, we will keep driving thousands of desperate people into the hands of a growing criminal underworld, making us all less secure.

In the wake of the last crisis of this magnitude, following World War II, world leaders agreed upon a landmark system to share the responsibility of protecting those forced to flee their homes. The 1951 Refugee Convention was not born out of starry-eyed idealism. After years of conflict, and as a new Cold War descended, it was a deeply pragmatic document.

What leaders understood then was that, even in the worst of circumstances, security comes from managing a crisis, not hiding from it. That only solidarity and a genuinely collective response can stop suffering on a massive scale.

We need to heed their lesson. The moment has arrived for us all to step up to the plate, not just those on the front lines. We need to put our values into practice. Because values which we relinquish when the going gets tough are no values at all.

It is for times like these that we created the humanitarian system. We must not abandon it at precisely the moment when it is needed most.

Read next: One Migrant’s Harrowing Journey From Senegal to Italy

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Nigeria

Inside the Search for the Chibok Schoolgirls Abducted by Boko Haram

After more than a year the Nigerian army could be closing in on the forest where the schoolgirls are believed to be held

Nigerian activist and “Bring Back Our Girls” co-founder Obiageli Ezekwesili left a room full of the most influential people in the world speechless this week, in an emotional speech saying they could not possibly move on while 219 schoolgirls were still crying to be rescued. It has been just over a year since Boko Haram abducted 276 schoolgirls in Chibok, in northern Nigeria, and while 57 have escaped, not one of them has done so because of military efforts.

Speaking at Tuesday’s TIME 100 Gala in New York City, Ezekwesili, a former Federal Minister of Education of Nigeria and Vice President of the the African division of the World Bank, took the opportunity to continue her work canvassing for the rescue of the Chibok girls. She called upon President Barack Obama to push for action, saying: “If he could get Osama bin Laden, he could get our girls.”

In the last year there has been much talk about the girls but little success. Below is the story of the search so far. The girls are being held, it is believed, in dense forest in the northeast of Nigeria. Nigerian forces entered the forest in the last week supported by intelligence and surveillance provided by U.S. and other Western states.

April 14-15, 2014 : Boko Haram fighters break into the Government Secondary School in the predominantly Christian town of Chibok in Borno State. They kidnap 276 schoolgirls: several of them jump off trucks carrying them away from the school.

April 23: Nigerian lawyer Ibrahim M. Abdullahi is the first to use the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag in a tweet during a UNESCO address given by Ezekwesili, who goes on to lead the Bring Back Our Girls campaign.

April 30: The #BringBackOurGirls hashtag gains traction, trending in Nigeria with over 100,000 mentions in a single day. It spreads internationally, attracting support from celebrities and prominent public figures, including Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai, American actress and comedian Amy Poehler, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and singer Mary J Blige.

May 2: By now, more than 50 of the schoolgirls have escaped in separate groups.

May 4: Nearly three weeks after the kidnapping and after much criticism over his silence, President Goodluck Jonathan makes his first public statement on national television acknowledging what happened and vows to find the girls.

May 5: Abubakar Shekau, Boko Haram’s leader, releases a video claiming responsibility for the abduction and promises to sell the girls as slaves.

May 7: Just after #BringBackOurGirls reaches 1 million tweets, U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama tweets a photo of herself with a sign reading #BringBackOurGirls. Four days later, she delivers the presidential address rather than her husband, saying they are both “outraged and heartbroken” about the abduction.

Early May onwards: Teams of military advisors, negotiators and counsellors from the U.S., U.K. and France start providing help with the search efforts. China, Israel, Canada, Iran, and the E.U. all pledge assistance too.

The U.S. has at least 26 officials specifically tasked to the Boko Haram abduction, including three FBI officials and at least 16 military personnel. The U.K. deployed Sentinel and Tornado GR4 aircraft with surveillance capabilities to help in the search, and it continues to provide commercial satellite imagery to the Intelligence Fusion Cell in Abuja, where UK personnel are working alongside Nigerian, US and French colleagues. Ned Price, the Assistant Press Secretary of the National Security Council, says on Thursday: “The U.S. Government has maintained an interdisciplinary team in Abuja consisting of specialists on temporary assignment and personnel assigned to our Embassy in Abuja. Given the regional component to Boko Haram, there are also individuals in other locations including U.S. Embassies in neighboring countries that are part of this effort.”

Nigeria turns off cell phone coverage in the North East area where Boko Haram are operating making it more difficult for militants to coordinate attacks, according to sources. However, it also makes intelligence gathering from phone calls impossible. The Nigerian military strategy also focuses on forcing Boko Haram out of urban areas into forests, further hindering intelligence gathering.

Later that summer, Nigeria requests to purchase American Cobra helicopters for the search but the U.S. declines as Nigeria does not have the infrastructure in place to fly and maintain a fleet of Cobras, which would take several years to develop.

May 12: Boko Haram releases a new video appearing to show about 100 of the missing girls. They boast the girls have converted to Islam and refuse to release them unless the government releases Boko Haram militants from prison.

May 22: The U.S. deploys 80 troops and an unmanned aerial vehicle to Chad to help regional efforts to rescue the schoolgirls.

May 26: Chief of Defense Staff Alex Badeh, Nigeria’s highest ranking military officer, says the army has located the girls but refuses to give any details of their whereabouts, causing doubts about the veracity of the reports. He says the army would not make an attempt to rescue them by force: “We can’t kill our girls in the name of trying to get them back.”

May 27: Reports emerge that Nigeria’s former president Olusegun Obasanjo has met with people close to Boko Haram to broker a deal to release the girls.

July 15: Nigerian police say they arrested Zakaria Mohammed, a high-level Boko Haram member, who was fleeing military operations around the Balmo Forest. It is not clear if he provided any information on the whereabouts of the schoolgirls.

October 17: The Nigerian army announces a ceasefire deal between government forces and Boko Haram, following negotiations mediated in Saudi Arabia by Chadian President Idriss Déby and Cameroonian officials. The announcement raises hopes that the remaining girls might be released, but Mike Omeri, Nigeria’s chief security spokesman, says no deal is in place.

2015

February: After being awarded scholarships, 21 of the Chibok girls who managed to escape are now studying at the American University of Nigeria, in Yola, the capital of neighboring Adamawa state.

March 6: Work begins to rebuild the girls’ school in Chibok, which has been closed since they were abducted.

March 19: Nigeria’s army chief Lieutenant General Kenneth Minimah admits there is “no news for now” about the girls’ fate, despite military successes in recapturing towns held by Boko Haram.

March 25: A 56-year-old woman abducted by Boko Haram in July 2014 is released after 8 months. She tells the International Centre for Investigative Reporting in Nigeria that she was being held in the same house as the Chibok girls in the town of Gwoza in Borno State, under 24-hour-security by armed guards – although she never actually saw the girls herself.

March 27: The town of Gwoza is recaptured by the Nigerian army but, despite earlier reports suggesting otherwise, the kidnapped girls are not found.

April 18: President-elect Muhammadu Buhari, who will take office on May 29, writes in the Times that his government will do everything in its power to bring the girls home, but says his administration will begin with a honest assessment as to whether the Chibok girls can be rescued: “Currently their whereabouts remain unknown. We do not know the state of their health or welfare, or whether they are even still together or alive. As much as I wish to, I cannot promise that we can find them.”

April 19: Nigerian ground troops move into the Sambisa forest hoping to find and rescue the Chibok girls after sustained air strikes carried out by the Nigerian Air Force over the past eight weeks.

April 21: Obiageli Ezekwesili tells the Time 100 Gala “If he (President Obama) could get Osama bin Laden, he could get our girls.”

Additional reporting by Aryn Baker and Maya Rhodan

Read next: Boko Haram has fled but no one knows the fate of the Chibok girls one year on

TIME europe

These 5 Facts Explain Europe’s Deadly Migrants Crisis

Ship with large number of undocumented migrants runs aground at Rhodes
Loukas Mastis—EPA Illegal migrants arriving at Zefyros beach at Rhodes island, Greece, April 20, 2015.

Over 1,500 migrants have died trying to reach Europe—and the numbers are only likely to increase unless the EU takes real action

On April 19, more than 600 refugees drowned in the Mediterranean when their boat capsized on its way from Africa to Italy. On April 12, about 400 people died in a separate shipwreck. So far in 2015, 1,600 migrants have lost their lives trying to cross the Mediterranean, and authorities fear that the number will surge as the weather warms. These five stats explain the rising tide of migration problems for Europe and for the desperate migrants of Africa and the Middle East.

1. Political Refugees Fleeing to Europe

EU member states received 216,300 applications for asylum last year. A large number of these asylum seekers are fleeing from Syria (civil war), Eritrea (dictatorship) and Mali (another civil war). Many of them are officially recognized as “refugees” by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, a status that affords certain legal protections. But navigating the red tape takes time. Rather than waiting for a reluctant host country to take them in, many of these refugees entrust their fates to smugglers. As we’ve seen time and again, this can lead to tragic results.

(UNHCR, VOX)

2. Trouble on the Rise

75% of migrant deaths worldwide occur in the Mediterranean Sea. Europe has already seen a 43% increase in migrants through the first two months of 2015, and peak migration season (typically May through September) hasn’t yet begun. In 2014, the top countries of origin of people attempting to enter Europe by sea were Syria (67,000), Eritrea (34,000), Afghanistan (13,000) and Mali (10,000). Currently, an estimated 600,000 people are waiting in Libya to emigrate, according to Vox. These people represent three years worth of migration to Europe at the present rate.

(Guardian, BBC, Economist, VOX)

3. The Insufficient European Response

Even for those migrants who safely reach European shores, their troubles are far from over. The EU requires that asylum petitions be processed by the country in which migrants first arrive. As a result, southern countries such as Malta, Italy and Greece have found themselves overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of incoming migrants, while richer northern countries receive relatively few. Until last year, Italy had a program in place to find and rescue migrant ships, potentially saving hundreds of thousands of lives. Italy had to spend $9.7 million a month to fund the program, and so turned to the rest of Europe for help. The United Kingdom and others made it clear that they would not offer support for rescue operations, for fear doing so would encourage more people to attempt to make the dangerous sea crossing. This past fall, the EU’s border patrol agency Frontex took over responsibility from Italian authorities—with a budget that is about a seventh of what Italy was spending on its own.

(FiveThirtyEight, VOX, Economist)

4. Turkey Stands Apart

While Italy and the rest of the EU struggle, neighboring Turkey has been busy hosting 1.6 million displaced Syrians within its borders, or about half the people who have fled that country since the fighting began there nearly four years ago. Taking in refugees is not cheap; the total cost to Turkey is estimated to be $4.5 billion and rising. Turkey has introduced new regulations to give the Syrians a more robust legal status in the country, which includes access to basic services like health care and education. But Istanbul has stopped short of granting these migrants official refugee status, which would provide them with additional social services.

(New York Times, World Bulletin)

5. Rise in Xenophobia

The cost of taking in migrants is not measured only in dollars or euros. As Europe’s economy has struggled to rebound, anti-immigrant attitudes have risen across the continent. In a Pew Research Center study conducted in 2014, a median of 55% of Europeans surveyed wanted to limit immigration. The percentages were much higher in struggling countries like Greece (86%) and Italy (80%). The rise in xenophobia has propelled new far-right parties to the political forefront, and older parties like Marine Le Pen’s National Front in France are looking to play a much larger role in their countries’ politics in years to come. As long as high-unemployment persists in the Euro region, rising xenophobia in EU countries will be an important driver in shaping EU migrant policy.

(New York Times, Pew Research Center)

TIME Switzerland

This Country Has the World’s Happiest People

530021581
Dale Reubin—Getty Images/Cultura RF View of mountains and lakeside village, Switzerland

Life expectancy, social connections, personal freedom and the economy all play a role in happiness

The happiest people in the world live in Switzerland, a new study found.

The third World Happiness Report, released by the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Solutions Network on Thursday, ranked 158 countries based on Gallup surveys from 2012-15 and analyzed the key factors contributing to happiness levels.

Switzerland, Iceland, Denmark, Norway and Canada were the top five happiest countries, while the West African nation of Togo was the least happy.

The report aims to provide policymakers around the world with new metrics that place a higher emphasis on subjective well-being. While income appeared to play a significant role in boosting happiness—the GDP per capita is 25 times higher in the 10 happiest countries than in the 10 least happy—it was far from the only factor. Life expectancy, social connections, personal freedom, generosity and corruption levels also helped explain the happiness scores, according to the report.

The U.S., for example, ranked 15th in the world, one below Mexico and three below Costa Rica, where per capita GDP is roughly a fifth of that in the U.S.

“This report gives evidence on how to achieve societal well-being,” Jeffrey Sachs, the director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, said in a statement. “It’s not by money alone, but also by fairness, honesty, trust, and good health.”

But sharp economic changes in a country can play a role in people’s happiness, the report found. Greece, where the global recession triggered prolonged economic turmoil, saw its happiness levels fall the most since 2005-07, compared to 125 other countries where data was available.

Still, the report warned policymakers against overemphasizing income levels.

“When countries pursue GDP in a lopsided manner, forgetting about social and environmental objectives, the results can be adverse for human well-being,” the report said. “Many countries in recent years have achieved economic growth at the cost of the sharply rising inequalities of income and grave damage to the natural environment.”

TIME Google

Take a Google Tour of Nelson Mandela’s Island Prison

Google

See the place Mandela was held for nearly two decades

All online tourists are welcome: Google has launched a virtual tour of the island prison where Nelson Mandela was held for 18 years.

As part of Google’s tour of Robben Island prison colony off the coast of Cape Town, online visitors can roam the cells and explore guard towers from a computer or smartphone, Mashable reports.

Robben Island, which has served over time as a leper colony, a mental hospital, and a maximum security prison built to hold civil dissidents like Mandela, is now a United Nations World Heritage site. Mandela spent 18 years there for opposing Apartheid.

Google also features historical exhibits like the theater where Abraham Lincoln was shot, Aushwitz concentration camp, and the site of the D-Day invasion of Normandy.

[Mashable]

TIME France

France Has Foiled Five Terrorist Attacks as Security Tightens

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls makes a statement following the weekly cabinet meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris on April 22, 2015.
Christian Liewig—Corbis French Prime Minister Manuel Valls makes a statement following the weekly cabinet meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris on April 22, 2015.

This week French police arrested a man, who is believed to have planned to attack churches in Paris, after he shot himself by accident

French authorities have halted five terrorist attacks in recent months, the country’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Thursday.

The latest was an attack on churches in Villejuif outside Paris, which stalled when an Algerian man was arrested on Saturday after apparently shooting himself accidentally in the leg.

“The threat has never been so high,” Valls told France Inter radio. “We have never had to face this kind of terrorism in our history.”

Following January’s attacks on Charlie Hebdo magazine and a Jewish supermarket in which 17 people died, France is stepping up security. More than 1,500 French citizens or residents have been tied to “terror networks,” including 442 believed to be in Syria.

[BBC]

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