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News in the Humanosphere: The happiest place on Earth


Norway has jumped from fourth place in 2016 to first place this year, followed by Denmark, Iceland and Switzerland in a tightly packed bunch. All of the top four countries rank highly on all the main factors found to support happiness: caring, freedom, generosity, honesty, health, income and good governance. Their averages are so close that small changes can re-order the rankings from year to year. Norway moves to the top of the ranking despite weaker oil prices. It is sometimes said that Norway achieves and maintains its high happiness not because of its oil wealth, but in spite of it. By choosing to produce its oil slowly, and investing the proceeds for the future rather than spending them in the present, Norway has insulated itself from the boom and bust cycle of many other resource-rich economies. To do this successfully requires high levels of mutual trust, shared purpose, generosity and good governance, all factors that help to keep Norway and other top countries where they are in the happiness rankings. (World Happiness Report )

Foreign land purchase ban … South Africa has proposed a new law banning foreigners directly buying agricultural land in the country as the government seeks to boost ownership for the black majority. Non-residents will be allowed to take long leases on the properties or the land should be majority owned by a black South African, according to the Regulation of Agricultural Land Holdings Bill, published in the Government Gazette on Friday. The proposal is open for public comment until April 17. (Bloomberg )

Longread of the day … Jill Filipovic with some intense on the ground reporting from Ghana about the consequences of Trump’s new Global Gag Rule to maternal mortality and women’s health. (Foreign Policy )

Top stories

The Zimbabwean government on Monday made an international appeal for $200 million to help its citizens who have been affected by widespread floods. Officials said since December, 271 people had died due to floods. The United Nations said it was important to quickly come into the country with medical aid and control infectious diseases that are spreading. (VOA

Kenyan activist Boniface Mwangi has launched a new political party that he intends to use in the August general elections. (The Nation

Pope Francis asked on Monday for forgiveness for the “sins and failings of the Church and its members” during Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, saying the violence had “disfigured the face” of the Roman Catholic Church. (Reuters

Dry, hot weather last week in several regions of Ivory Coast’s cocoa regions could threaten the approaching mid-crop although good conditions were reported elsewhere in the world’s top producer, farmers said on Monday. (Reuters

Syrian government representatives will attend upcoming peace talks in Geneva, Russia’s state RIA news agency reported on Monday, citing Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov. (AFP

U.S. security officers have begun fingerprinting refugees held on Pacific islands in the final stage of assessing who will find new lives in the United States, asylum-seekers said Monday. (VOA

Hundreds of hard-line Buddhists in a Myanmar state wracked by religious violence protested Sunday against the government’s plan to give citizenship to some members of the persecuted Rohingya Muslim minority community.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has described European lawmakers as “crazies” in a salty-tongued rebuttal of criticism of his deadly drug war, while vowing again that all traffickers will be killed. (Reuters 

An attacker shot a journalist to death Sunday in the Mexican state of Veracruz, adding to the toll in a region plagued by drug gang violence and allegations of government corruption. (AP

Brazilian President Michel Temer called an emergency ministerial meeting for Sunday to deal with a growing scandal over the safety of meat and poultry sold at home and abroad by the world’s leading supplier. (AFP


Can better warnings about dangerous crossings stem the tide of African migrants? (IRIN

These Two New Studies Show that Our Oceans are Basically Doomed (Unless…) (UN Dispatch

Celebrities and the grotesque (Reinventing Peace

The Dutch disease (Africa is a Country

4 steps to transition to a global development career (Devex

South Sudan needs peace as much as food

Paris Discord: Is Trump unraveling the climate change agreement? (IRIN

Sri Lanka and the Born-again Commonwealth (Sri Lanka Times )


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