Finland Named World’s ‘Happiest Country’

A photo of the Old Town Pier in Helsinki, Finland.

The Old Town Pier in Helsinki, Finland.
Photo credit: Shutterstock

What’s the happiest country in the world? Finland, according to the U.N.

Every year the organization measures “subjective well-being” in its annual World Happiness Report. Nordic countries usually top the list, while war-torn nations and sub-Saharan African territories are typically at the bottom.

So what makes Finland so great? Apparently, its attitude towards immigration.

The report shows that the 10 happiest countries also scored the highest on immigrant happiness, suggesting that national contentment is tied to immigrants feeling feel safe and welcome in their new home. But that’s not the only thing that makes Finland special.

According to BBC News, the Finns love their saunas. The country has an estimated 3.3 million of them, meaning that there are enough steam rooms for more than every other person. Could the presence of saunas, known for their relaxing effects, be tied to happiness? Possibly, though the U.N.’s report did not explore the link.

Others attribute Finland’s happiness to other factors, such as infrastructure. Brianna Owens, an American teacher who lives in Finland’s second biggest city Espoo, says it’s the country’s public services that make it great.

“I think everything in this society is set up for people to be successful, starting with university and transportation that works really well,” Owens told Reuters.

On the other side of the equation, it’s important to identify what makes for an unhappy country. Burundi, located in East Africa, made the bottom of the list this year. Why?

Because human rights violations coupled with political corruption, economic instability, and violence have created a general sense of chaos and discontent within the region. Human beings, it turns out, are happiest in environments that are peaceful, prosperous, and transparent.

So how did the U.S. stack up on the list?

Of the 156 countries listed, the U.S. came in at 18, dropping four places from last year. Jeffrey D. Sachs, director of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Solutions Network, said it’s due to health reasons.

“America’s subjective well-being is being systematically undermined by three interrelated epidemic diseases, notably obesity, substance abuse (especially opioid addiction), and depression,” Sachs wrote in the report.

The writing is on the wall: if the U.S. wants to be happier, it will have to address its healthcare crisis.

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KFC Locations in Britain Facing Dangerous Shortage of Chicken

The outside of a KFC restaurant.

Photo credit: Bjoern Wylezich / Shutterstock

Any successful business relies on having a well-oiled supply chain that can get its product into customers’ hands quickly and effectively. When that chain breaks down, there are sure to be problems. Such is the case for KFC, which, according to The New York Times, is dealing with a crisis in Britain. The fried chicken empire is running dangerously low on its signature product: chicken.

The newspaper reported that a “hiccup” in the KFC supply chain has grown into a big enough problem that about half of the U.K.’s 900 locations of KFC have been forced to close. The trouble began when KFC pulled its delivery business from the South African distribution company Bidvest, opting to work with Germany’s DHL instead. DHL ran into “operational issues” trying to keep KFC’s operations running at full speed.

The effects of the chicken shortage have been scattered across Britain. At one location in central London, KFC was forced to serve customers from a “limited menu.” They issued a warning at noon Tuesday that popcorn chicken nuggets and corn were running out fast. At other locations, there was no choice but to close down altogether.

Many KFC customers expressed frustration that the restaurant chain wasn’t able to serve the most basic items on its menu.

“How can you be out of the one thing you are known for selling?” asked Aurie Styla, a comedian from London.

Others were more willing to take the events in stride.

“These things happen,” KFC customer George Adams said. “That’s a lot of chicken that everyone eats every day.” 

In any event, the impact of KFC’s troubles in Britain could be quite serious. Research from Euromonitor International found that Britain is the largest market for fast food chicken in the European region. It’s estimated to be the fifth-biggest market for KFC globally, accounting for about 6 percent of the company’s $24.5 billion in yearly sales worldwide.

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Athletes Gear Up for Olympic Winter Games

World renowned snowboarder Kelly Clark competing in the Mammoth Grand Prix Half Pipe Finals in Mammoth Lake, CA.

World renowned snowboarder Kelly Clark at the Mammoth Grand Prix Half Pipe Finals in Mammoth Lake, CA.
Photo credit: NatalieJean / Shutterstock

Snowboarding isn’t an easy sport, but that hasn’t stopped a plethora of talented athletes from pushing themselves in the hopes of joining the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team in PyeongChang for the Winter Olympics this year.

The team, whose trustees include big names from the financial world like Stifel Financial Corps co-chairs Thomas Weisel and Ron Kruszewski, is looking forward to this year’s competitions in particular: It’s the 20th anniversary of snowboarding being recognized as an official Olympic sport.

Some of the most talented athletes in the country are vying for their chance to display their skills in PyeongChang—no matter what their age. Veteran snowboarder Kelly Clark, who has now qualified for her fifth Olympic Games, has won three medals for the U.S. since 1998—one gold and two bronze. At age 34, Clark is “old” compared to her teammates (many of whom are under 20). Yet she was the first US snowboarder male or female to compete in four Olympics—and now she’ll become the first to compete in five.

“I’m not out here to prove anything to anyone else, but simply to reach my goals and hit my potential as an athlete,” Clark said.

On the men’s side, well-known snowboarder Shaun White is back from a training injury and looking to win gold in South Korea. White earned his stripes in the 2006 Turin Games, where he won the first of his two gold medals and essentially became the face of the sport around the world. Subsequently, however, his performances have been comparatively subpar, and the injury took him out of the game entirely for a while.

Now, however, White is looking forward with optimism to the Olympics. He scored a perfect 100 at the U.S. Grand Prix in Colorado this month, which he sees as a positive sign with respect to his chances at the Olympics after a lot of dedication and practice.

“Getting that 100 was just awesome,” White said. “I felt like I was on the right track, and all this hard work I put in over the holidays was paying off.”

Together with their potential teammates, Clark and White are likely to give the U.S. Team a serious chance of medalling at the Winter Olympics this year.

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New Street Drug is 10,000 Times More Potent Than Morphine 

A photo of gray powder on a white surface. The powder outlines the shape of a coffin.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

A new street drug dubbed “gray death” is so powerful that it can kill users in a single dose. Several overdose cases have already been reported in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, and Ohio. Now, investigators warn that the drug is so potent that it can even be transmitted through skin contact.

“Gray death is one of the scariest combinations that I have ever seen in nearly 20 years of forensic chemistry drug analysis,” said Deneen Kilcrease, who manages the chemistry section at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

The street drug is made from a killer concoction of opioids that includes heroin, the painkiller fentanyl, and the tranquilizer carfentanil (which is used to put tigers and elephants to sleep).

According to the United States Drug Enforcement Agency, gray death is 100 times stronger than fentanyl. Fentanyl on its own is already 50 times more powerful than heroin. Put another way, gray death is like taking 10,000 doses of morphine.

“The Mexican cartels, they don’t tell their supplies what’s in the drugs,” said Nick Ernstes, a deputy at Hancock County Sheriff’s Department in Indiana. “It’s not going to a chemistry lab for them to test it.”

But don’t take it from Ernstes; take it from Richie Webber, who overdosed on fentanyl-laced heroin in 2014.

“You don’t know what you’re getting with these things,” Webber told The Associated Press. “Every time you shoot up, you’re literally playing Russian roulette with your life.”

Another reason gray death is so dangerous? It’s price. Doses can be acquired for as little as $10, making it easily accessible to anyone seeking a cheap thrill.

Thus far, the drug is mostly confined to the southeastern United States. However, all new street drugs carry the potential of becoming worldwide epidemics, which is why authorities are warning about its lethality.

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Head of Kenya’s Election Commission Cannot Guarantee ‘Fair and Credible’ Election

A photo of Uhuru Kenyatta, whose presidential win in August 2017 was nullified by Kenya's Supreme Court.

A photo of Uhuru Kenyatta, whose presidential win in August 2017 was nullified by Kenya’s Supreme Court.
Photo courtesy of Uhuru Kenyatta via Flickr Creative Commons.

Wafula Chebukati, chairman of Kenya’s Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC), has warned voters than he cannot promise the legitimacy of next week’s presidential election. Chebukati told reporters that threats of violence combined with interference from politicians have led to corruption within the IEBC.

“Ironically, the very people, political leaders, who are supposed to build the nation have become the greatest threat to the peace and stability of the nation,” Chebukati stated. “Under such conditions, it is difficult to guarantee a free fair and credible election. We cannot move forward with a divided commission.”

The upcoming vote, which will take place on Oct. 26, is a redo of the election that took place a couple months ago. In August, the Kenyan Supreme Court nullified presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta’s win after opposition candidate Raila Odinga challenged the vote. Odinga claimed that the electronic voting system had been hacked in favor of Kenyatta. The Supreme Court ordered a new election to be held within 60 days.

Odinga has since dropped out of the election, alleging that the IEBC failed to improve its security. He has also encouraged the public to hold daily protests against the election committee.

“Demonstrations will continue,” Odinga asserted. “October 26 will be the biggest demonstration of them all.”

But there’s another side to the story; police said that election staff attending training sessions in Odinga-supported areas were attacked this past week.

“There is growing frustration among Western diplomats that a man who stood for democracy … is essentially in charge of a movement trying to sabotage an election,” a senior Western diplomat told Reuters. “There is thuggery going on … People who incite violence will be held accountable.”

Another IEBC board member, Roselyn Akombe, echoed concerns that the electoral commission had fallen victim to corruption. On Tuesday, Akombe issued a statement in which she asserted, “the commission has become a party to the current crisis” and is “under siege.”

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