In many ways, 2010 is a year you may want to relegate to the filing cabinet quickly. It began with a massive earthquake in Haiti and wound down with North Korea once again being an enfant terrible – bizarrely trying to conduct diplomacy through brinkmanship. In between came Toyota recalls and egg scares, pat downs at airports and unyielding unemployment numbers, too little money in the Irish treasury and too many bedbugs in American sheets. Oil gushed from the floor of the Gulf of Mexico for three months, mocking the best intentions of man and technology to stop it, while ash from a volcano in Iceland darkened Europe temporarily as much as its balance sheets. Yet not all was gloomy. The winter Olympics in Canada and the World Cup in South Africa dazzled with their displays of athletic prowess and national pride, becoming hearths around which the world gathered. In Switzerland, the world's largest atom smasher hurled two protons into each other at unfathomable speeds. Then came the year's most poignant moment – the heroic and improbable rescue of 33 miners from the clutches of the Chilean earth. There were many transitions, too – the return of the Republicans in Washington and the Tories in Britain, the scaling back of one war (Iraq) and the escalation of another (Afghanistan), the fall of some powers (Greece) and rise of others (China, Germany, Lady Gaga). To get the new year off to the right start, we decided to ask various thinkers for one idea each to make the world a better place in 2011. We plumbed poets and political figures, physicists and financiers, theologians and novelists. Some of the ideas are provocative, others quixotic. Some you will agree with, others you won't. But in the modest quest to stir a discussion – from academic salons to living rooms to government corridors – we offer these 25 ideas.
How are are Africa’s religions faring in the 21st century? Nobel laureate V.S. Naipaul visits to find out.
The philosophy that appears to drive WikiLeaks' Julian Assange lies in a deep-seated distrust of governments – something that bridges any left-right divide.
China has gone to extraordinarily lengths to stop any of political prisoner Liu Xiaobo's friends or family from attending Friday’s Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo.
China tries to outflank this year's Nobel Peace Prize with its own Confucius Peace Prize. As I learned as a judge at Japan's Miss International beauty contest, rising Asian nations aren't always good at besting the West.
Jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiabao will be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize this Friday in absentia. As a Nobel laureate himself, President Obama must take a clear stand on China's human rights abuses. On Friday, he should host a 'freedom summit' with other Nobel laureates.
President Obama's deficit commission says the national debt requires urgent action. But economists are split on that basic premise.
Let's agree on the facts, regardless of the politics: the Bowles-Simpson plan and Rivlin-Domenici plan will raise taxes on the rich. Not marginal tax rates, but average tax rates.
How the Giving Pledge, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett's quest to get billionaires to donate half their wealth to charity, will impact philanthropy and the world's needy.