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MELBOURNE – Last month, a steer escaped from a slaughterhouse in the New York City borough of Queens. Video of the animal trotting down a busy street was soon featured on many media outlets. For those who care about animals, the story has a happy ending: The steer was captured and taken to a sanctuary, where he will live out the remainder of his natural life.

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LONDON – Business and government leaders worry about a multitude of issues these days. Climate change, weapons of mass destruction, water scarcity, migration, and energy are the greatest threats we face, according to the 750 experts surveyed for the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report 2016. And at the WEF’s annual meeting in Davos this year, the sheer number of unsettled issues – the Middle East meltdown, the European Union’s future (particularly given the possibility of a British exit), America’s presidential election, the refugee crisis, China’s economic slowdown, oil prices, and more – was itself unsettling.

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CAMBRIDGE – Since 2016 began, the prospect of a major devaluation of China’s renminbi has been hanging over global markets like the Sword of Damocles. No other source of policy uncertainty has been as destabilizing. Few observers doubt that China will have to let the renminbi exchange rate float freely sometime over the next decade. The question is how much drama will take place in the interim, as political and economic imperatives collide.

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BERKELEY – Until very recently, one of the biggest challenges facing mankind was making sure there was enough to eat. From the dawn of agriculture until well into the Industrial Age, the common human condition was what nutritionists and public-health experts would describe as severe and damaging nutritional biomedical stress.

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PARIS – Five years ago, when the so-called “Arab Spring” erupted, Turkey’s hour seemed to have arrived. Having been humiliated by the European Union after years of accession negotiations – talks marked by a chain of false promises from the EU – Turkey’s then-prime minister (and now president) Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had the perfect plan for restoring his country’s pride and boosting its credibility: It would help to reshape a Middle East in turmoil. Needless to say, things have not unfolded exactly as planned.

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