Owen Barder on the UK's drop in the Commitment to Development Index (peacekeeping, naval fleets that protect trade, low arms trade, among others) - from 5th to 16th out of 22 in only 5 years. How did that happen? Arms exports. The UK exports more arms than anyone else to poor, undemocratic governments, allows in the fewest unskilled and student migrants, and research focuses on defense and IP rather than development. After the Scandinavian countries come New Zealand and Ireland, then Portugal, Canada, Spain, and the US.
On changes in the HDI (wealth + health + education) over 30 years, Nepal more than doubled its old score. Other large improvers include Tunisia, China, Egypt, Morocco, and India. Rodrik on the unsung development miracles in North Africa, crediting a willingness to experiment, particularly with gender issues.
Oh, and the US for the first time is in the HDI's Top 5 [3rd highest years of schooling, top 5 GDP, life expectancy slightly lower than most] and South Korea broke into the top 25 unexpectedly. Denmark has been losing out in life expectancy (which in the top of the distribution gets nearly all the weight), Iceland's banking crisis and Finland's double-dip recession have hit both of them heavily in GDP and both are heavily dependent on EU trade.
The Economist on corruption: changes corruption perceptions, successes from various actors. Zutt from the WB on Kenyan corruption, casting a bit of doubt on perceptions indices (nothing unusual) and that we may believe there is more corruption in Kenya because there is a free press to tell us about it. He does come around at the end to admit some of the things the government has not done to show its commitment to fighting corruption.
Newsweek credits Utah as a "promised land" and "the new economic Zion" because its ability to bring in new businesss that prosper during the recession. “Utah’s people are, indeed, an employer’s dream," the article said. "They are healthy, hard workers (pouring in 48 hours a week on average), and exceedingly stable, with the highest birthrates in the nation. The large number of young Mormons who spend two years on a conversion mission also means a huge swath of the population earned its sales stripes in hostile terrain.” Alternatively, for those living outside Utah, a ranking of Top 10 Northeastern US cities to raise an LDS family. Ithaca scores quite highly for having an educated populace and its proximity to church history sights ... but no mention of the less-welcoming cultural elements. Personally, I would recommend next door Dryden for a better fit. Nearby Elmira also scores highly.