Donald Trump may be the first race-baiting, hate-filled wannabe demagogue to have a serious chance of becoming the Republican nominee for president but in the world of fiction it’s happened already. Philip Roth’s 2004 novel The Plot Against America imagined what would have happened if Nazi sympathiser Charles Lindbergh had run for president in 1940 and beaten Franklin D Roosevelt. President Lindbergh refuses to take part in the Second World War, instead signing non-aggression pacts with Germany and Japan. Jewish children are sent to the American South for “Americanisation”, while Lindbergh stands by as anti-Semitic riots sweep across the nation. Roth’s novel has yet to enjoy a revival – its current Amazon sales rank is 18,000 – but the longer Trump’s candidacy continues, the more relevant it will become.
Buoyed by a strong performance at his first question period in Ottawa this week, Canada’s new prime minister Justin Trudeau is pushing ahead with his ambitious programme to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees by the end of the year (with a further 15,000 set to arrive by March). The move is in stark contrast to the mood within governments in Europe and the US, which are still in search of a response to the attacks in Paris and the shooting in San Bernardino. Trudeau is pinning his political colours to the mast by moving Canada away from the military persona adopted by his predecessor Stephen Harper. “I think the government is reflecting what the popular mood is,” says Hershell Ezrin, senior counsel at the Global Public Affairs consultancy in Toronto. “We have a tradition of welcoming refugees in this country and we’re very proud of that.”
High-speed travel in India could be possible as early as 2023 with the help of Japan. The two countries are poised to sign a deal that will see India adopt Japanese bullet-train technology for a high-speed rail project. The proposed railway will link Mumbai and Ahmedabad, a city 500km to the north. If all goes to plan the project will fall in line with Narendra Modi’s vision for India; he has been set on modernising the country since becoming prime minister. It will also be a welcome soft-power boost for Japan, which lost a high-speed – and high-profile – rail deal with Indonesia to China earlier this year.
While the hustle and bustle of a big city can be mentally taxing, new research indicates that certain aspects of urban living can protect mental wellbeing. Italian researchers have published a study, which looked at residents of Turin and found that those living in population-dense areas with excellent access to public transport were less likely to suffer from depression than those who lived in areas characterised by sprawl. Why? Each factor increases the odds of an active social life, something that has been proven time and again to help prevent depression.
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