Iceland Named Safest Country in the World for the 11th Year in a Row

iStock
iStock

Each year, an Australian think tank called the Institute for Economics and Peace analyzes the political situation in 163 countries to come up with the Global Peace Index, a ranking of how peaceful different regions of the world are. As Business Insider reports, for the 11th year in a row, Iceland took the top spot in the 2018 rankings, making it officially the most peaceful country on Earth.

According to the institute’s rankings, which take into account factors like government functioning, levels of corruption, violent crime rates, incarceration rates, terrorist attacks, weapons imports and exports, and military expenditures, Europe is the safest region in the world. Six of the top 10 safest countries in the world are located in Europe—Iceland (No. 1), Austria (No. 3), Portugal (No. 4), Denmark (No. 5), the Czech Republic (No. 7), and Ireland (No. 10). New Zealand, Canada, Singapore, and Japan also made the top 10 list.

A ranking of the top-ranking countries on the peace index
Institute for Economics and Peace

A color-coded map showing the state of peace in each country
Institute for Economics and Peace

Overall, the report found that as a whole, global levels of peace have fallen for the fourth year in a row. Ninety-two countries have seen their rankings fall, while 71 countries improved their standing.

The U.S. was one of those 71 countries that moved up in the rankings, but overall, it had a pretty poor showing. Though Americans may see their homeland as a relatively safe place, by the institute’s rankings, it’s not even in the top 100 safest countries in the world. It ranks 121st, up one spot from last year. The report cites increasing political polarization, the presence of nuclear weapons, high rates of incarceration, weapons exports, and involvement in external conflicts as some of the factors that have kept the U.S.’s score low. On the bright side, the report notes that the country’s homicide rates have fallen substantially over the last decade.

Contrast that with our Nordic friend Iceland. While Iceland has a relatively high rate of gun ownership—“access to small arms” is one of the negative factors the index analyzes—it also has some of the lowest rates of violent crime in the world. The country doesn’t have a military force, and police deploy weapons so infrequently that it made international news when, in 2013, Icelandic police shot a man to death for the first time in the country’s history as an independent republic. Most of the police force isn’t even armed. And, of course, the government takes elves' wishes into account while building new roads. (OK, maybe the report didn't include the elf factor in its analysis.)

Sounds like it's time to move to Iceland.

Read the whole report here.

[h/t Business Insider]

Warning: That $75 Costco Coupon Circulating on Facebook Is a Scam

AntonioGuillem/iStock via Getty Images
AntonioGuillem/iStock via Getty Images

The promise of $75 to spend at Costco—especially mere weeks from Thanksgiving—is understandably hard to pass up, so it’s no surprise that a coupon advertising just that has been circulating on Facebook for the past several days.

However, ABC7 reports that Costco took to Facebook to set the record straight: It’s a scam. “While we love our fans and our members,” the company said in a post, “this offer is a SCAM, and in no way affiliated with Costco.”

According to Snopes.com, users who click the link to get the coupon are taken to website pages, which are not operated by Costco, that ask them to share their name, address, email address, date of birth, phone number, complete several surveys, and register for “Reward Offers,” which might entail filling out a credit card application or signing up for a subscription service.

With hindsight bias, the operation definitely seems suspicious—but the information it requires really isn’t much different than what we’re used to sharing on the internet. Plenty of companies offer similar coupons that you can claim through social media, and you’ve probably entered your credit card information for at least a free trial or two. Plus, when you’re accustomed to scrolling through your Facebook feed about as fast as your thumbs can go, it’s not hard to overlook the misspelled words or shoddy logos that should be red flags.

If you’ve already clicked on the fake Costco coupon or think you’ve been targeted by phishing or scamming, the company recommends that you contact costcocare@costco.com or report the attempt to the Federal Trade Commission here.

Worried you might be an easy target for cyber scams? Check out these seven pieces of personal information you should think twice about sharing on social media.

[h/t ABC7]

POW/MIA Military Flag Will Now Fly Permanently at Key Federal Sites Across the Country

Dennis Rogers, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
Dennis Rogers, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

The POW/MIA military flag, which displays a soldier’s silhouette above the words “You Are Not Forgotten,” honors unaccounted-for military members who have either been taken as prisoners of war or gone missing in action. Before now, it was only required to be flown six times each year—Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, Veterans Day, and National POW/MIA Recognition Day.

But that’s changing, thanks to a proposal sponsored by Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and New Hampshire Representative Chris Pappas that was signed into law on Thursday, November 7. According to Military Times, the legislation mandates certain federal buildings and war memorials to keep the flag raised year-round.

Though it doesn’t apply to every federal institution, it does include the White House, the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon, the Department of Veterans Affairs headquarters, every post office and national cemetery, and war memorials such as the World War II Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. It’ll also be raised during every major U.S. military installation.

According to Time magazine, the flag was created in 1972 by illustrator and World War II veteran Newton Heisley, and was originally meant to function as a symbol for the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. Today, considering more than 82,000 soldiers are listed as POW/MIA, the flag has taken on an even broader significance.

“This is a historic victory for every man and woman who courageously defended this nation and remain unaccounted for,” Veterans of Foreign Wars National Commander William Schmitz said in a statement. “The daily display of the POW/MIA flag at all prominent federal properties now serves as a daily reminder that these heroes, and their families, are forever etched in our DNA.”

Keep an eye out for the flag during media coverage of Veterans Day this Monday, and check out these honorable ways to help veterans.

[h/t Military Times]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER