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  • Ideas for a better world in 2011

    Ideas for a better world in 2011

    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.

  • Art Attack! Random acts of culture

    Art Attack! Random acts of culture

    Organized 'spontaneous' arts events seek to win over a younger crowd.

  • Top 10 most powerful tweets of 2010: Beyond breakfast babble?

    Top 10 most powerful tweets of 2010: Beyond breakfast babble?

    Twitter announced its top 10 most 'powerful' tweets of 2010. Is this communication tool coming of age?

  • How a college president toppled the ivory tower

    Difference Maker How a college president toppled the ivory tower

    Pine Manor College was once a haven for privileged white women. Now its seeing a surge in low-income and minority students.

  • Lesson for Obama: Don’t give the microphone to Bill Clinton

    The Vote Lesson for Obama: Don’t give the microphone to Bill Clinton

    Obama may be having second thoughts about Bill Clinton's joining him for an impromptu press conference about the tax cut deal with Republicans. The former president talked on ... and on.

  • Photos of the Day Photos of the day 12/09

    Horses stand in a meadow in Gemuenden, Germany, during a heavy snowfall.

  • Photos of the Day Photos of the day 12/08

    Environmental activists from Greenpeace demonstrate in the water by holding images of landmarks during the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico. According to the UN weather agency, 2010 is 'almost certain' to rank among the three hottest years on record, and in a report issued Tuesday, experts said glaciers in southern South America and Alaska's coastal mountains have been losing mass faster and for longer than glaciers elsewhere in the world.

  • In Pictures Get on the bus

    A panda bus runs in Asakusa district in Tokyo, Japan, on Nov. 25. The bus, named Ning Ning, is operated by Asakusa Hanayashiki amusement park.

  • In Pictures Global weather 2010

    A Pakistani villager with his daughter wades in floodwaters near Nowshera, Pakistan, on July 29. Rivers burst their banks during monsoon rains, washing away streets, battering a dam, and killing at least 60 people in the most severe floods in decades in northwest Pakistan. The floods took 2,000 lives and affected 20 million people, of whom 7 million remain homeless.

  • In Pictures Best of Monitor Photography 2010 International

    A Muslim woman walks off a train at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai (formerly Victoria Terminus), site of a deadly terrorist attack in 2008.