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Shucks, Finns: Finland tops 2018 global happiness index

HELSINKI: Fans of skiing, saunas and Santa Claus won’t be surprised to hear Finland is the happiest place to live. The World Happiness Report published Wednesday ranked 156 countries by happiness levels, based on factors such as life expectancy, social support and corruption. Unlike past years, the annual report published …

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Al-Qaida in Syria losing ground in battles with insurgents

BEIRUT: For the first time since its meteoric rise in 2012 amid the chaos of war, al-Qaida’s branch in Syria is in retreat, battling rival militant groups in the north and fighting for survival in a key foothold near the capital, Damascus. Over the past three weeks, the extremist group …

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As Castro steps down, challenges await Cuba’s new leader

As Cuban President Raul Castro prepares to step down next month, ending his family’s six-decade grip on power, his successor will be faced with major challenges, including the implementation of economic reforms vital for the island’s future. On Sunday, Cubans went to the polls to ratify a new National Assembly, …

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Putin hails Crimea annexation in speech ahead of vote

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday thanked residents of Crimea for voting to annex the peninsula from Ukraine in 2014, calling the move “real democracy” in a speech days ahead of Sunday’s presidential election. “With your decision you restored historical justice,” he told the crowd of supporters in the city …

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Undaunted by Trump’s wall, migrants vow to go over it

Eladio Sanchez is unimpressed by the eight border wall prototypes looming over his house in Tijuana, Mexico, almost within spitting distance of where US President Donald Trump will visit Tuesday. At age 30, he has already snuck over the border several times, and doesn’t expect Trump’s wall will have much …

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Pressure grows on Japan’s Abe over scandal as support melts

Pressure mounted Tuesday on Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe over a ballooning cronyism and cover-up scandal, as a new poll showed his support at the lowest level since his re-election in October. Abe and his finance minister Taro Aso have been on the ropes in recent days following revelations that …

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