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US drops to ‘alarming’ number 18 on Global Happiness Index while progressive Nordic nations thrive

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Nordic countries with strong social welfare structures fared best, as they have in previous years, on the United Nation’s annual accounting of global happiness—while the United States finished in 18th place, down four spots from 2017.

Finland was ranked number one on the World Happiness Report, compiled by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network. The country was joined by other Scandinavian nations—Norway, Denmark, and Iceland—in the top four, followed by Switzerland, the Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, and Australia.

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“I think there really is a deep and very unsettling signal coming through that U.S. society is in many ways under profound stress, even though the economy by traditional measures is doing fine,” Jeffrey D. Sachs, an editor of the report, told the New York Times. “The trends are not good, and the comparative position of the U.S. relative to other high-income countries is nothing short of alarming.”

The drop followed President Donald Trump’s first year in office, during which the majority of Americans reported disapproval of the country’s top elected official, and hundreds of thousands protested his regressive policies on immigrationwomen’s reproductive rights, and gun control—as well as widespread concerns that the president is blatantly profiting off his position in public office.

The past year also saw reports of America’s widening wealth gap, with the average upper middle-class household holding 75 times more wealth than low-income families.

Trump’s tax law, pushed through Congress despite the disapproval of 53 percent of Americans, only heightened the perception of many people that the government is intent on transferring wealth to the richest Americans while the majority live paycheck to paycheck.

The World Happiness Report ranks countries according to per capita GDP, social support, life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity, and corruption levels.

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Life expectancy in the U.S. dropped for the second year in a row in 2017, with researchers suggesting that the opioid addiction epidemic and inequality are related to the decline.

Reigning political ideologies in the highest-ranking nations contrast sharply with that of the U.S., noted the researchers.

The countries in the top 10 tend to “believe that what makes people happy is solid social support systems, good public services, and even paying a significant amount in taxes for that,” said Sachs.

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Every top-ranking country also ensures that every citizen has access to free or affordable healthcare, while millions of Americans remain uninsured despite the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

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2020 Election

Your guide to the 2020 Democrats: Who’s in, who’s out and WTF is going on anyway?

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With the Iowa caucuses less than two months away, the 2020 Democratic presidential field is finally starting to achieve ... no, forget it. It's definitely not coherent and it's probably not permanent either; we may well see more dropouts and late entries. But with the departure of Sen. Kamala Harris (and the earlier departures of a bunch of guys whose names you don't remember), the field now has a recognizable shape.

There's a frontrunner, who has led almost every national poll since last winter, allowing for a few outlier polls and a brief period around the end of the summer. There are three other leading contenders, two of whom have been near the top of the polls for months, while the third only recently emerged from the pack. There is a pack of dark-horse candidates, whose odds of being elected president now approach zero but who remain in the race for various reasons.  There are some with no shot at all. There are two fringe candidates, likely using this campaign to explore career options. And there's a pair of billionaires who hope to buy their way to the presidency by spending alarming amounts of money on campaign ads. That probably won't work — but you might have heard the same thing about another billionaire in that other party, a few years back.

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Trump fires back at Chris Wray after the FBI Director sharply breaks with the president on IG report

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Donald Trump snarled at his own FBI director on Tuesday morning after the law enforcement official backed the so-called "Horowitz report" -- breaking ranks with the president and Attorney General Bill Barr.

Taking to Twitter, Trump wrote: "I don’t know what report current Director of the FBI Christopher Wray was reading, but it sure wasn’t the one given to me. With that kind of attitude, he will never be able to fix the FBI, which is badly broken despite having some of the greatest men & women working there!"

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Morning Joe panel scorches Barr investigator Durham as a ‘PR hack for a failed reality TV show host’

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An extensive segment on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Tuesday morning discussing Attorney General Bill Barr dismissing his own department's inspector general report showing no "Deep State" conspiracy against Donald Trump, turned to Barr's hand-selected investigator John Durham's intrusive statement late in the day.

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