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Americans unhappier than ever before, UN global report finds

Published: Monday, March 20, 2017 @ 3:25 PM

(Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Happiness in America is on the decline, according to a new report released Monday.

The U.N.’s “World Happiness Report” launched just in time for International Day of Happiness on March 20, a U.N. holiday established in 2012 and celebrated around the world Monday.

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But according to the new report, happiness in America has decreased over the years. Since the U.N.’s first report in 2012, the nation has fallen three spots.

To come up with the happiness rankings, analysts examined answers to a specific question from the 2014-16 Gallup World Poll, a popular, massive survey with respondents from 155 different countries.

Approximately 2,000-3,000 people from each country participated.

>> RELATED: U.S. no longer a top-5 country in the world 

The question (included below) asks respondents to rate their lives on a scale of zero to 10 across six factors: life expectancy, generosity, social support, freedom, corruption and GDP.

Please imagine a ladder with steps numbered from zero at the bottom to 10 at the top. Suppose we say that 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 at this time, assuming that the higher the step the better you feel about your life, and the lower the step the worse you feel about it? Which step comes closest to the way you feel?

According to the report, these happiness measures are often used by governments, organizations and civil society to inform their policy-making decisions.

With an average rank of 7.537, the happiest country in the world is Norway, according to the poll.

The least happy on the list is the Central African Republic, which scored an average happiness rank of 2.693.

As for America, the country fell to No. 14 from No. 11 in 2012 with a current average happiness rank of 6.993. 

According to the World Happiness Report, the reasons for America’s reduced happiness in a nutshell are declining social support and increased corruption.

>> RELATED: Do you live in one of the happiest cities in America? 

Though individual incomes have increased roughly three times since 1960, “measured happiness” has not risen.

America’s problems with rising income inequality, distrust with the government, how the country reacted to the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the nation’s “deteriorating” educational system are some possible factors cited in the report.

“America’s crisis is, in short, a social crisis, not an economic crisis,” the report’s authors wrote.

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‘Angry badger’ forces doors to close at 500-year-old castle tunnel, tourist spot

Published: Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 10:59 AM

FILE PHOTO (ImBooToo/Morguefile license: https://morguefile.com/license)
ImBooToo/Morguefile
FILE PHOTO (ImBooToo/Morguefile license: https://morguefile.com/license)(ImBooToo/Morguefile)

A castle in Scotland has lasted for 500 years but the property is apparently no match for an angry badger. Yes, you’ve read that right. An angry badger shut down tourist access to a tunnel at Craignethan Castle, the BBC reported.  

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Officials allowed the public access to the rest of the 5-century-old building but the tunnel was closed not only for people’s safety, but also for the badger’s, officials told the BBC.

The badger apparently did some damage to the masonry of the castle before it left the building either Friday night or Saturday morning on its own accord.

The animal left after castle staff members tried cat food and honey to coax it out, the Guardian reported.

Castle staff members who run the property’s Twitter account had a little online fun, posting a GIF image of dancing badgers when they announced the tunnel’s closing.

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WATCH: Polar bear cub takes first steps outside zoo

Published: Saturday, April 14, 2018 @ 2:56 PM

Polar bear cub takes first steps outside zoo

A 18-week-old polar bear cub left the birthing box at Gelsenkirchen's zoological garden for the first time together with his mother on Friday, April 13.

The cub was born on Dec. 4, 2017 and now weighs about 20 kilograms (44 pounds.) 

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Gelsenkirchen Mayor Frank Baranowski unveiled the name of the little polar bear. Five proposals were up for election for almost two weeks: Nanook, Mathilda, Lenja, Lore and Baerbel. 

Most polar bear fans voted for Nanook, the animal keepers' proposal, on the zoo's website homepage. Nanook comes from the Inuit language and means polar bear.

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WATCH: Baby elephant born in Belgium

Published: Wednesday, April 11, 2018 @ 4:28 PM

Baby elephant born in Belgium

Belgium's Planckendael Zoo on Wednesday (April 11) welcomed its third baby elephant this year, a boost to the zoo's breeding program of Asian elephants.

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The new arrival, still without a name, became the first male Asian elephant to be born at the zoo this year. 

On his feet within fifteen minutes of his delivery and now walking well, the newborn is perfectly healthy, the zoo said. 

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The elephant arrived on the birthday of his aunt, delighting zookeepers and boosting the herd to ten members.

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Daughter of ex-Russian spy released from hospital after exposure to nerve agent

Published: Tuesday, April 10, 2018 @ 5:25 PM

This is an image of the daughter of former Russian Spy Sergei Skripal, Yulia Skripal taken from Yulia Skipal's Facebook account on Tuesday March 6, 2018. British media report Tuesday April 10, 2018 that Yulia Skripal, one of two Russians poisoned by nerve agent, has been released from the hospital.
Yulia Skripal/Facebook via AP
This is an image of the daughter of former Russian Spy Sergei Skripal, Yulia Skripal taken from Yulia Skipal's Facebook account on Tuesday March 6, 2018. British media report Tuesday April 10, 2018 that Yulia Skripal, one of two Russians poisoned by nerve agent, has been released from the hospital.(Yulia Skripal/Facebook via AP)

The daughter of a former Russian spy has been released from a hospital in the United Kingdom, more than a month after she and her father were exposed to a military-grade nerve agent, doctors said Tuesday.

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Sergei and Yulia Skripal were hospitalized March 4 after they were found slumped on a park bench in Salisbury, according to BBC News. British officials have said they were exposed to the nerve agent Novichok in what has been described as an assassination attempt by the Russian government.

A police officer was also exposed to Novichok and hospitalized, although officials with Salisbury District Hospital said he was released March 22.

Russian officials have denied playing any role in the attack.

>> Related: What is Novichok, the nerve agent used on former Russian spy and his daughter?

“(The Skripals) have responded exceptionally well to the treatment we’ve been providing, but equally, both patients are at different stages in their recovery,” Dr. Christine Blanshard, medical director of Salisbury District Hospital, said Tuesday in a statement.

Yulia Skripal, 33, was discharged Monday and taken to a secure location, the Salisbury Journal reported.

“This is not the end of her treatment, but marks a significant milestone,” Blanshard said.

Sergei Skripal, 66, remained hospitalized Tuesday, though Blanshard said his condition continued to improve.

Facts About the Nerve Agent Novichok

“Although he is recovering more slowly than Yulia, we hope that he too will be able to leave hospital in due course,” she said.

In a statement released last week by London Metropolitan police, Yulia Skripal asked for privacy for her family and they continue to grapple with the aftermath of the March 4 attack.

“I woke up over a week ago now and am glad to say my strength is growing daily,” she said in the statement, released April 5.

The Russian Embassy congratulated Yulia Skripal on her release in a tweet but said pointedly that Russia needs "urgent proof" that "what is being done to her is done on her own free will."

Sergei Skripal is a former Russian military intelligence officer who was convicted in Russia of spying for Britain. He was imprisoned in Russia and eventually settled in England after a "spy swap." 

If Britain is correct that the Russian government is to blame, it is not clear why Sergei Skripal was poisoned last month, some eight years after his swap.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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