From the Middle East Times:
By Daniel Hoffman ‘09
Iraq in 2009 will continue to resemble a no holds barred political free for all, as forces both in and outside of the country wrangle to put their imprint on the nascent government. In the midst of this power struggle, the actions of no leader will matter more than that of Iraq’s prime minister, Nouri Kamal al-Maliki.
This past January a swarm of political candidates, 14,431 in all, vied for the 440 provincial council seats up for grabs in Iraq’s first provincial elections since 2005.
The results reflected Iraq’s fragmented and shifting identity: Old faces like that of the returning independent Ayad Allawi were common, but new secularist parties gained ground, as did Sunni tribal leaders associated with the Awakening Movements. Despite losses by religious parties such as ISCI, (Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq) Shiite Islamists made up the majority of the elected seats in southern Iraq, and the incumbent Iraqi Islamic Party, a Sunni group, held on to a plurality in Diyala.
With this melting pot of victors there does not seem to be one common trend, except that Maliki topped them all.
From Greater Good magazine:
Nestled in the soaring eastern himalayas between Tibet and India, Bhutan is one of the happiest countries on Earth. How do we know that? Because when researchers at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom pieced together 100 studies to create the first world map of happiness in 2007, Bhutan ranked first in Asia and eighth in the world—which is extraordinary, given that Bhutan’s Gross Domestic Product ranks 137…..
Given Bhutan’s singular circumstances and its differences from a heterogeneous, large-scale, and highly developed country like the U.S., does this Himalayan Buddhist nation have something to teach North Americans about how to cultivate happiness in the face of social and technological change?
Tim Kasser, associate professor of psychology at Knox College in Illinois and the author of the 2002 book The High Price of Materialism, believes it does. He has spent two decades studying people’s values and goals and how they relate to their quality of life, and he has recently turned his attention to exploring how public policy can foster individual happiness. Kasser cites two ways in which Bhutan’s focus on GNH can have such an impact.
First, it offers important cues to the country’s citizens. “By setting up GNH and working hard to establish policies that help achieve it, Bhutan is offering a whole different set of values as to what’s important,” he explains.