United States: Is its happiness declining?

A comment from the Miami Daily asked on Monday about it: Are Americans less happy?

And then it wrote that, although it seems a sarcasm to many, UN celebrated again “The International Day of Happiness” on Monday.

Theoretical reason? In recognition to the key role that such a feeling plays in the life of people all over the world.

This commemoration was instituted on June 28th, 2012, by the United Nations General Assembly, sponsored by the Kingdom of Bhutan.

In addition, also in the theoretical level and with inevitable diplomatic language, to recognize the importance of its inclusion in official policies.

Even those who think and act like that acknowledge that studying happiness may seem rather frivolous.

However, remarks Miami Daily, “for years renowned academics have been requesting more testing on people’s emotional well-being, especially in the United States”.

In 2013, the National Academy of Sciences of that country suggested that its federal statistics and surveys, focused on income, spending, health and housing, begin to ask questions on happiness.

A new UN report shows that a number of Americans are “increasingly sad”, and “it takes more than just money to be happy”.

According to an Associated Press (AP) study, the average income of many Americans rose over the past decade, “but their happiness is falling”.

U.S. ranks 14th in the latest ranking, dowm #13 in the previous year.

The investigation approaches 155 territories, while economists began ranking countries five years ago.

What are they mainly based on?

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita, life expectancy and four factors from global surveys.

Those polled gave scores from 1 to 10 on how much social support they receive if something goes wrong, their freedom to make life choices, perceived government and corporate corruption and how generous they are.

The long scientific survey was carried out by Happiness Research Institute, headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Another of its comments also draw people’s attention, “most of these countries are happier or try to be, unlike United States where this perception “dropped 5 percent over the past decade”.

The report closed with the following note:

The United Nations invite all people of all ages, as well as schools, businesses, and governments to celebrate the International Day of Happiness.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / Cubasi Translation Staff

Sept. 11 Families Sue Saudi Arabia Over 9/11 Attacks

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Hundreds of relatives of those killed on Sept. 11 have sued Saudi Arabia, joining many others who have tried to hold the kingdom responsible for the attacks.

Like other recent actions, the lawsuit filed Monday capitalizes on last year’s decision by Congress to let victims sue Saudi Arabia.

Eight-hundred 9/11 victims’ families and 1,500 first responders filed the suit accusing the government of Saudi Arabia of knowingly providing material support and resources to al Qaeda in facilitating the attacks.

The lawsuit is the first to take direct legal action against the Saudi government. It seeks unspecified damages.

Earlier attempts to hold Saudi Arabia responsible over the past 15 years have failed. Fifteen of the 19 attackers who hijacked planes to carry out the attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania were Saudis.

The 9/11 Commission report found “no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded” the attacks. But the commission also said there’s a “likelihood” that Saudi-government-sponsored charities did.

Lawyers for Saudi Arabia did not immediately comment.

Last fall, then-President Barack Obama vetoed the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, or JASTA. The law allows terror victims to sue foreign states for any alleged involvement in attacks, which paved the way for this and similar lawsuits.

Obama opposed the law, saying U.S. citizens and corporations could be open to suits.

Congress overrode the veto.

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China promises ‘firm response’ if Japan interferes in South China Sea

China pledged to have a “firm response” if Japan further fans regional tensions and “threatens China’s sovereignty and security.” The statement comes after a Reuters report that Japan will send its largest warship to the disputed South China Sea.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a press briefing on Thursday that based on its own interests, Japan has recently been compromising stability in the South China Sea, “causing strong dissatisfaction and opposition from the Chinese people.”

“If Japan persists in taking wrong actions, and even considers military interventions that threaten China’s sovereignty and security… then China will inevitably take firm responsive measures,” she said.

Hua’s comments come after Reuters reported earlier this week that Japan plans to dispatch its Izumo helicopter carrier to the disputed waters of the South China Sea for a three-month tour starting in May, citing three separate sources.

The anti-submarine Izumo, which measures 249 meters (816 feet) long and can operate up to nine helicopters, will reportedly make stops in Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka before joining the Malabar 2017 trilateral naval exercise with Indian and US naval vessels in the Indian Ocean in July, marking Tokyo’s biggest show of naval force since World War II.

Read More Malabar 2016: Japan, US & India hold joint naval drills

Hua already commented on the report this Tuesday, stating that China was waiting for an official word on whether the report is correct, and why Japan plans to send the warship on the tour through the South China Sea.

Hua did not say on Thursday if China had received any official confirmation of Japan’s plan, but said that the South China Sea issue “did not concern” Japan and warned the country to “reflect deeply” on its “disgraceful” past invasion of the Paracel and Spratly Islands which China claims as its own. 

Japan controlled the islands during World War II, until it surrendered in 1945.China lays claim to almost all of the South China Sea, which has rich fishing grounds, oil and gas deposits, and through which around $5 trillion of global sea-borne trade passes each year, despite competing claims from Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Brunei.

Japan does not have any claim to the waters, but has a separate maritime dispute with Beijing in the East China Sea. It has also repeatedly angered Beijing by criticizing its actions regarding the South China Sea disputes.

Both Japan and its ally the United States have been concerned with China’s growing military presence in the waterway, which prompted Washington to hold regular air and naval patrols in the region, allegedly to ensure freedom of navigation. China, however, has regularly stated that all local disputes should be resolved without interference from non-claimants.

Earlier this month, China’s ambassador to Japan accused Tokyo and Washington of portraying Beijing as an enemy to strengthen their security alliance. The statement came after the Trump administration vowed to maintain Washington’s long-standing security alliance with Japan, especially when it comes to the East China Sea. Beijing has repeatedly warned Washington and Tokyo against direct interference in the region, either with military drills or freedom of navigation patrols. It has vowed to do everything in its power to protect China’s sovereignty claims.

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Foreign secret services stepping up efforts to destabilize Russia – top security official

The head of Russia’s top consultative security body has said that foreign secret services have intensified their efforts to destabilize Russia, noting that Ukrainian authorities had openly confessed to planning sabotage operations.

The destructive activities of foreign special services that set their goal as destabilizing the Russian social and political situation has intensified,” Security Council chair Nikolai Patrushev told participants at a conference of the heads of security agencies of the Southern Federal District. 

Ukrainian authorities openly declare that they are organizing acts of sabotage,” he said.

The Russian security chief also told his colleagues that the terrorist threat was higher in the Southern Federal District than in other parts of the country. He outlined such threats as various radical and xenophobic groups, internet propaganda of radical ideas and the growth of xenophobia among the younger generation.

Earlier this month, Patrushev held a similar conference in the Urals Federal District in central Russia. There he prioritized the threat from cyberattacks, saying that the main goal of these attacks was the disruption of hardware - including the networks that service the Russian segment of the internet - and obtaining classified information through clandestine deployment of various means of computer surveillance.

According to the head of the Security Council, the overall number of cyberattacks on Russian state bodies and companies was over 52 million in 2016, more than three times the number registered in the previous year.

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Nestle Close to Signing off on Factory Worth Millions in Cuba

The factory, worth US$50 to $60 million, will help cater to a surge in tourism and replace imports with locally made products. 

Swiss firm Nestle (NESN.S) is close to reaching a deal with Cuba on forming a new joint venture to build a $50 million to $60 million factory to produce coffee, biscuits and cooking products, company Vice President Laurent Freixe said on Tuesday in Havana.

Freixe, head of Nestle's Americas division, was visiting the Communist-ruled island to negotiate the new investment in the Mariel special development zone west of Havana as well as to renew for another 20 years an existing joint venture producing ice cream.

Cuba has upped its drive to attract foreign funds in a bid to stimulate the economy in recent years, introducing a new investment law and creating the Mariel zone, which offers companies significant tax and customs breaks.

Nestle has been one of the largest investors in the country since it opened the door to Western capital in the 1990s after the fall of former benefactor the Soviet Union.

"The idea is to create a new joint venture to produce and distribute these products mainly for the Cuban market but also with the idea of exporting some products," Freixe said in an interview.

Nestle's new factory, set to begin operations in the second half of 2019, will cater to growing demand after a surge in tourism and help replace imports with locally made products, Freixe said. It will employ around 300 people.


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USA: Shaky press freedom

Journalists from major US media outlets were blocked from meeting with White House spokesman Sean Spicer.

This unprecedented incident happened last Friday, after they had been summoned to attend the press briefing.

The news was reported from NY by Presenter Carolina M. Adalid, who cited among those media outlets: The New York Times, BBC, Politico, Los Angeles Times and CNN.

According to Adalid, the event takes place in the context of the “war” the Trump administration is waging against press media.

She thinks, like many observers, that this official onslaught is increasing.

Last week’s unsuccessful meeting with spokesman Spicer has an informal character now and replaces the one usually carried out with questions and answers between the president’s press secretary and those “political correspondents”.

Carolina Adalid recalls that the setback of last Friday took place hours later that Trump lashed out again at the press.

According to her, he called them “fake news media”, the enemy of the American people.

Experts recall that this anti-journalistic crusade is not new, because he has carried it out since his stage as republican presidential pre-candidate.

Trump tries to soften the expression “enemies”, by saying it’s aimed at those who produce “fake news”.

He includes several sources, whose journalists were banned from covering the briefing with the presidential spokesman last Friday.

When did the head of state, who has been increasingly cornering the activity of his press men and women, speak like that?

Thus Carolina Adalid wrote, before an audience “that applauded his comments on the outlets”, which do not represent the people.

Other reports highlighted the attendance at the press briefing with Spicer of journalists from outlets with less scope and with more conservative style.

Also allowed to access the meeting were TV networks such as NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox News, as well as British Agency Reuters.

However, another official spokeswoman, Stephani Grisham, dared to deny there was a blockade on certain media outlets.

But, according to The Hill, a publication headquartered in Washington, also barred from attending, the White House handpicked the journalists.

Spokespeople from several organizations stated that some received invitations for the meeting, but others didn’t.

Carolina Adalid denounced that members of the Secret Service “asked” the journalists from the excluded news outlets to leave the area.

Two entities, The Associated Press (AP) and Times Magazine, decided not to participate at the briefing in solidarity with the barred outlets.

In addition, the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) issued its rejection for the incident.

Jeff Mason, its president, told CNN: “We are not satisfied” how the meeting has been handled.

Dean Baquet, The New York Times executive editor, recalled that nothing like this has “ever” happened in his long history covering news under different governments”.

Washington’s propaganda has referred to freedom of the press and prosecuted other countries severely for many years.

But now, as a sample button, United States rigorously selects those who attend or not a meeting with the president’s spokesperson.

And this happens, when its links with the media are plunged into deep chaos, hence how a shaky democracy works.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / Cubasi Translation Staff

Putin Plans Asian Tour with Trade and Political Agenda

Moscow, Feb 24 (Prensa Latina) Russian president, Vladimir Putin, will start Asian tour next Monday to Tadzhikistan, Kirguiztan and Kazakhstan with an economic and political agenda in bilateral talks, reported the Kremlin.

Putin will start tour in Dushambe, where he will discuss with his tadzhik peer, Emomali Rajmon, the strengthening of strategic cooperation, stop the reduction of trade and labour migration, indicated the presidential press service.

Twenty-seven percent of the economic activity of Tadzhikistan is related with Russia, largest foreign investor, in particjlar the Enterprise RAO EEC, with 500 million dollars in the construction of the hydroelectric plant of Sangtudinsk.

Both parts will look for solutions to reinforce trade after 2016 when it contracted by 15.5 percent, to total 688 million dollars.

Labour migration, with 870 thousand Tadzhiks in Russia, will be another issue to debate in the official talks. From that migration Tadzhikistan receives remittances for 1.9 billion dollars, one third of the Gross Domestic Product of the Asian country.

Another topic will be the permanence of base 201 of the Russian Armed Forces in Tadzhikistan.

Putin will then go to Kirguiztan, where he will analyze with his peer, Almazbek Atambayev, the economic cooperation after a reduction of the commercial exchange by 13 percent and the Kirguiz exports to Russia by 138 points.

From 2012 to 2016, Russia gave financial support to Kirguizstan for 225 million dollars, highlights the Kremlin's communique, to which Prensa Latina had access.

There is a development operating between both nations, to which Moscow has contributed 500 million dollars.

The same as Tadzhikistan, Kirguiztan will analyze with Russia the cooperation in the sphere of labour migration, as in this nation and Kazakhstan live 620 thousand Kirguiz citizens.

Putin's tour will conclude next Wednesday in Kazakhstan, second country after Belarus in the post-Soviet era with which Russia has the largest trade output. In 2016, it reached 13 billion dollars, despite dropping by 16.3 percent, compared to 2015.

The drop in oil prices and fluctuation of the currencies of the mentioned countries, impacted the volume of trade.

Russia and Kazakhstan, besides the energy sector and the aerospatial branch (rent of the Baikonur cosmodrome) , they cooperate in manufacturing the new helicopter KA-226T.

Also, Astana served as see of two rounds of talks sponsored by Russia, Turkey and Iran, among leaders of armed groups and the Syrian government.

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Former Uruguayan President Mujica Warns of Trade Wars

Mujica was called "the world's poorest president" by his followers.

Former President Jose "Pepe" Mujica, who governed Uruguay from 2010 to 2015, warned Monday of the possibility of global trade wars erupting.

"The Uruguayan government must deal with an international situation full of uncertainties, and we don't know whether this situation will lead to a trade war. Hopefully not, but it's a latent danger," Mujica said after a meeting of his Broad Front coalition.

The 81-year-old former president of Uruguay, who has been involved in politics his whole life, has previously said he thinks U.S. President Donald Trump has “powerful enemies” and won't be around for long.

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