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Weekly wire: The global forum

Roxanne Bauer's picture

World of NewsThese are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
Freedom of the Press 2015
Freedom House
Freedom of the Press 2015, the latest edition of an annual report published by Freedom House since 1980, found that global press freedom declined in 2014 to its lowest point in more than 10 years. The rate of decline also accelerated drastically, with the global average score suffering its largest one-year drop in a decade. The share of the world’s population that enjoys a Free press stood at 14 percent, meaning only one in seven people live in countries where coverage of political news is robust, the safety of journalists is guaranteed, state intrusion in media affairs is minimal, and the press is not subject to onerous legal or economic pressures.  The steepest declines worldwide relate to two factors: the passage and use of restrictive laws against the press—often on national security grounds—and the ability of local and foreign journalists to physically access and report freely from a given country, including protest sites and conflict areas. Paradoxically, in a time of seemingly unlimited access to information

The Path to Happiness: Lessons From the 2015 World Happiness Report
Huffington Post
Getting richer but not happier: It's a familiar story, for people and for nations. The purpose of the World Happiness Report, now in its third edition for 2015, is to remind governments, civil society, and individuals that income alone cannot secure our well-being. True happiness depends on social capital, not just financial capital. The evidence is straightforward. Around the world Gallup International asks people about their satisfaction with life. "Imagine a ladder with steps numbered from zero at the bottom to 10 at the top. The top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you and the bottom of the ladder represents the worst possible life for you. On which step of the ladder would you say you personally feel you stand?" Countries differ widely, and systematically, in their average scores. Using these scores, it is then possible to determine, statistically, the causes of life satisfaction around the world.

The development agency of the future. Fit for protracted crises?
Humanitarian crises, today and in the future, will continue to pose complex, costly and persistent problems that will not be solved through short-term or incremental measures or approaches that fail to question the structures, sectors and silos in place in donor aid agencies. Donors, in particular, need to re-examine their structures, policies and approaches and create a shared space where both humanitarian and development actors can co-exist and apply different approaches and tools to address the range of problems protracted crises entail. This report identifies the numerous conceptual, architectural and political divides that prevent effective linkages between humanitarian and development aid, and offers options for donor aid agencies to better understand and reconcile these differences within their own institutions and beyond.
Attacks on the Press: Journalism on the World's Front Lines, 2015 Edition
Committee to Protect Journalists
Attacks on the Press is the world's most comprehensive guide to international press freedom. Compiled by the Committee to Protect Journalists, this informative guide features analytical essays from CPJ and other experts and provides a platform for direct advocacy with governments and the diplomatic community to give voice to journalists worldwide. Reporters and photographers face a myriad of risks, from highly publicized murder to imprisonment, cyberattacks, harassment, frivolous lawsuits, and censorship. The risks are increasing due to widespread unrest and in response to the broad dissemination of critical information through social media and the Internet.
Aid agencies launch global relief effort for Nepal earthquake
Los Angeles Times
The massive earthquake in Nepal and its frightening aftershocks have unleashed another force almost as overwhelming: an international relief effort that already is involving governments, charity groups and private volunteers from all corners of the globe.  The stricken nation of 27.8 million people faced shortages of shelter, electricity, food and clean drinking water after Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake, which killed more than 3,700 people, and the death toll was expected to rise.  Aid workers were streaming in Sunday, along with cargo jets laden with supplies.  But destroyed roads, overwhelmed hospitals and damaged communications networks will hinder the arrival of help.  Reliable information is scarce, plaguing aid agencies that must figure out where to send resources. 
Good-Government Authoritarianism?
Project Syndicate
Many of the eulogies to Lee Kuan Yew, the long-time prime minister of Singapore who died in March, singled out his successful battle against corruption. Often implicit in this analysis (when not made explicit) was the suggestion that Lee’s accomplishments were made possible by his authoritarian style of governing.  Aside from this supposition’s profoundly anti-democratic implications, it also happens to be empirically false. Yes, Singapore ranked seventh out of more than 170 countries on Transparency International’s corruption survey last year. But a look at the other countries in the top 15 is much more revealing: every one of them is a thriving democracy.  Freedom House, a watchdog group that rates countries on a seven-point scale according to political rights and civil liberties, gave Singapore a grade of 4 in both categories. Every other country in Transparency International’s top 15 received the best possible score of 1 in each. Indeed, there’s nothing inherently authoritarian about the anti-corruption measures that made Lee’s efforts a success. With some modifications, they could by applied in most democracies.

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