NationMaster Relaunch: Get the Facts the Property Ad Left Out

Today I’m excited to announce the relaunch of NationMaster.

When we launched with international statistics back in 2003, we were loved for bringing stats from all over to one place, into a clear consistent, interface. The next generation of NationMaster continues that tradition.

The market for international stats has intensified and competitors like The CIA World Factbook copied our features while taking the authority as the primary source. The major source, The United

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Nations and its many divisions, also got better at providing the data themselves.

I’d received many requests for a more local view of NationMaster but had always thought that it was too much effort, too fine-grained and well catered for on other sites.

That was until I started looking for a new house to buy. I was staggered by the amount of information that was out there but how much effort it is to bring it altogether into a cohesive picture. It’s the biggest purchasing decision most of us will make, yet our field of view is too narrow, our information sparse. We receive surprises after purchase – not all good. We have little means to accurately price the places.

 

Hyper-local data

Enter NationMaster version 4. We have loads of stats comparing areas but those now areas can get very fine-grained (down to 200 to 800 people). Other sites tell you what the suburb is like. We’ll tell you about your neighbours.

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Scoring: Quantifying the touchy feely

We make your life easier by scoring every property in Australia according to convenience, education, seniors and affluence. These boil down many considerations into a single number between 1 and 10, so you can skip complex  considerations.

 

New Focus

We’ve sharpened our focus in this version to a single vertical, if not use case. We chose international stats because they were interesting and understandable. Now we have a new criteria: does the variable help users buy a property?

 

Maps

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We’ve geospatial. NationMaster tells you now how far things away and how much they affect you. Mouse over a point of interest and it highlights that point on the map. And vice versa!

 

We’re available just for Australia so far. Check it out!

Watch Google Dream of Strange Animals Emerging From The Earth

See amazing pictures of Google dreams of natural forms mutating out of our Mother Earth.

Our blue Earth is a beautiful oasis of nature. Now thanks to Google, we have been able to bring it to life in a new and fascinating way.

These images are not the product of any artist. It’s all machine. Google’s image recognition algorithms were reversed to reveal what it remembers of the photos it’s been fed – clearly it’s seen a lot of animals. When it “dreams”, strange, evocative images emerge. 

So we fed satellite photos and other maps into this engine provided by DreamScopeApp. What you get is an even more powerful reminder that we our planet is alive. And it’s amazing to reflect that it’s our machines that reminded us of this.

Imagine if aliens could look down on our planet from space with a special view that show what kind of life forms evolved here. We guess they’d see something like this.

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Here Italy’s natural topography becomes truly reptilian, as if a giant chameleon was trying to blend in:

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The British Isles is transformed here with seal-like creatures emerging out of the oceans while giant bird heads roost on Scotland:

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Here we see mutant creatures emerging out of Japanese islands. How long until someone can use the neural networks to have these awkward creatures trot around the globe?

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And here we fed it a classic world at night photo. Human imagination is at its richest in the dark and so it seems for neural networks too, with some of the most fully formed heads I’ve seen. South America even has a body and legs like some extinct bird.

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USEFUL: Announcing NationMaster Data Visualisation Search

NationMaster now lets you search the entire web for images that are data visualisations of some kind. This is a first of its kind anywhere on the web. Put in a keyword and you’ll get back pie charts, graphs, infographics, scatterplots and many more.

NationMaster visualisation search engine

We stat geeks here have always found Google Images lacking for stats, however great it is for photos. There are too many amateurish pictures and photos. With NationMaster Graph Search, it’s just the facts.

And we also make it the images nice and large. Google Images thumbnails are tiny and pixelated – once again, fine for photos but not enough detail for graphs.

You can search pretty much any topic you like. We have covered most of the web. The results are in an attractive Pinterest-style format.

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Already we’ve found this tool useful in backing up our face-to-face arguments. We just pull out our phone, put in the keyword and have visual justifications for our views. Very handy and useful!

Try it now!

Why These Ten Dangerously Polluted Cities All Smell Different.


Leo Tolstoy once wrote “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”. The Earth today has hundreds of dangerously polluted cities but the sources of pollution vary widely from city to city, such that badly polluted cities indeed smell different. Here is a selection of some cities with some of the worst air and what’s in it.

 

1. Ahvaz, Iran 


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The World Health Organization says Ahvaz is the one of world’s most polluted cities.  Ahvaz is a city known for oil fields, heavy industry with a sugar processing plant and a coal-burning power plant. 

Air pollutants such as nitrogen oxides increase the susceptibility of respiratory infections.

Finally chronic exposure to ozone and certain heavy metals reduce lung function, while the later responsible for asthma, emphysema, and even lung cancer.

 

2. Beijing, China

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Air pollution in Beijing is mainly caused by burning coal in factories, power plants and oil combustion by vehicles. Coal provides not only 80% of China’s electricity, but also generates air pollution, from soot to sulphur dioxide.

Chinese industrial cities, such as Shenyang and Lanzhou, are also known for theirhigh levels of smoke pollution. China, which now has over 120 cities with more than 1 million people, currently burns in excess of 2 billion tonnes tonesof coal per annum (and it is likely to remain its dominant fuel for decades to come).

In 2008, of the twenty most polluted cities in the world, nine were to be found in China. Population of Lanzhou inhales air with average levels of pollution that are more than 100 times the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) guidelines. Located at the bottom of a narrow river valley, Chinese city planners unsuccessfully attempted to solve Lanzhou’s pollution problem by blasting the tops off the surrounding hills to allow the smoke to escape.

As far as the impact on people’s health, the analysis revealed other repercussions from the emissions of its coal-fired plants in 2013, including: approx. 320,000 children and 61,000 adults suffering from asthma, 36,000 babies born with low weight, 340,000 hospital admissions and 2 million doctor visits, and approx. 141 million days of sick leave.

Map of the 257,000 premature deaths annually due to the air pollution from the coal-fired power plants in China

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The WHO’s Global Burden of Disease report estimated that 1.2 million people died prematurely in China in 2010 due to air pollution as a whole which includes emissions from industry and transport as well as the coal power sector. 

In 2012, the WHO estimated that over 1.5 million people of total work population annually were killed by respiratory and other diseases associated with air pollution (the great majority in developing countries).

3. Ulan Bator, Mongolia


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Mongolia’s capital city, Ulan Bator, is a dangerously polluted city but the main cause is not industry but coal ovens in the Mongolian tents that house the majority of the population.

In recent years, Ulan Bator doubled its population of 1.2 million although Mongolia is still world’s least-densely populated country with only three million inhabitants with the territory size three times that of France.

Tens of thousands of nomads who came from the steppes seeking work set up their traditional houses called yurts in the suburbs.

Pollution in Ulan Bator is seasonal. In winter, the temperature drops to minus 30 and pollution in some parts of the city goes up to 2,000 micrograms.

In Mongolia the pollution problem is escalated through poverty. Lower-class residents often use old tires and various waste instead of coal boxes which produces toxic smoke.

Traditional Mongolian Drummer Stove

Both Mongolian government and American donors have incentivised residents to replace the traditional drummers with modern stoves that are more economical, use less coal and emit fewer pollutants into the air in an attempt to reduce pollution.

In addition to the “clean” stoves, the Mongolian government offered assistance with improving yurt isolation as well as through mass planting of trees in neighbourhoods with high yurt density that are built on higher elevations around the city.

One of the worst sources of the pollution is dust. The dust originates from the district of Ger’s heating activity, the desert, the dry ground condition and the ash ponds emanating from the power plants. Strong winds, particularly in spring, also allow dust from the Gobi desert and other arid regions of Mongolia to reach to city.

When breathing, the lungs of Ulan Bator citizens, especially those living in Ger districts act like air filters, catching and storing the harmful dust which scientists call “particulate matter” (PM). PM smaller than 2.5 microns or “PM2.5” can cause severe respiratory illnesses. Air pollution is responsible for one in every ten deaths in Ulan Bator. It is the number one cause of deaths in town and it is free to roam the city looking for new victims. It kills slowly and painfully, and there’s little one can do to protect against it.

Indoor air pollution is typical of countries that heavily use wood, coal and other solid fuels as primary energy use (cooking and heating stoves without chimneys and open campfires in homes as well as inadequate furnaces). A major factor on the health conditions of poor households is the use of fossil fuels and pollution.

4. Lahore, Pakistan

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Lahore has topped the list of most polluted cities with highest air pollution level of PM 10 =198 and PM 2,5= 68 in 2010. 

It was also revealed that the high pollution levels were mainly caused by emissions from vehicles, industrial activities and fine natural dust and aerosols. Moreover, the movement of air pollution from neighbouring countries has also worsened the air quality of the city.

Combustion of fossil fuels in transport, power plants, power stations and households all caused health problems with the lungs such as asthma, chronic bronchitis and respiratory tract irritation. There were also an increased number of hospital admissions of patients with heart problems. The mortality rate increases in the days of higher content of CO2 in the air.

5. New Delhi, India

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Even though New Delhi has had a public transportation system for the past three decades, the number of cars has grown from 180,000 to 3.5 million.

New Delhi has other sources of air pollution apart of increasing numbers of vehicles on the road. More than one thousand brick kilns produce vast quantities of smoke while feeding the city’s construction industry. Construction industry also generates its own pollution which is further increased by farmers setting agricultural waste on fire to clear cropland. Road dust comprises 50% of total pollution with industry contributing 23% while vehicles accounted for only 7% of air pollution.

In summer, in addition to the road dust already present on the Delhi roads, dust storms from the desert to the south-west contribute to increased fugitive dust, worsened by the growing number of vehicles. This is exacerbated by the low moisture content in the air, leading to higher suspension of road dust (40% of particulate pollution in summer, compared to 4% in winter). In the winter months, the mix of pollution sources changes dramatically. The use of biomass, primarily for heating, contributes to as much as 30% of air pollution in winter. In summer, biomass accounts for only 9% of particulate pollution.

With one fifth of deaths worldwide, India experiences the worst of outdoor air pollution and on a massive scale. Globally, air pollution-related deaths has increased by 300% since 2000. About 65% of these deaths occur in Asia.

6. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

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Sandstorms contribute to Riyadh’s air pollution. These occur in dry and semi-arid areas and are formed when a strong wind carries sand and dust from a dry surface. Particles are moving,causing soil erosion in one placeand is moved elsewhere.

Wide range of pollutants like dust, soot, fly ash, diesel exhaust particles, wood smoke and sulfate aerosols can be found in the form of tiny particles in the air. Some of these fine particles can become lodged in the lungs and could trigger asthma attacks. Studies have shown that the number of hospitalizations for asthma increases when levels of particulate matter in the air rise.

Sandstorms contribute to Riyadh’s air pollution. These occur in dry and semi-arid areas and are formed when a strong wind carries sand and dust from a dry surface. Particles are moving, causing soil erosion in one place and land elsewhere.

Wide range of pollutants like dust, soot, fly ash, diesel exhaust particles, wood smoke and sulfate aerosols can be found in the form of tiny particles in the air. Some of these fine particles can become lodged in the lungs and could trigger asthma attacks. Studies have shown that the number of hospitalizations for asthma increases when levels of particulate matter in the air rise.

8. Moscow, Russia

Moscow is the capital and the most populated region of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural and scientific region in Russia and in Eurasia.

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There are also smaller regions. Moscow occupies the central area of ​​the European part of Russia. Rich deposits of iron ore and brown coal have been found around Tula, Voronezh and Kursk, and large Podmoskovske basin. In the middle region is Moscow, the capital and the largest city and industrial centre of Russia. Around Moscow, there is a series of satellite cities with heavy industry. Moscow has five airports, harbour canals and navigable rivers linked to the five seas. Major industrial centres in the region are also Jaroslav, Ivanovo, Tula, Vladimir, Smolensk, and many others.

According to data, the content of harmful substances (carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter) in the air exceeded the standard five to eight times over in some regions of Moscow.

Sulfur dioxide is produced when coal and crude oil are burned. Coal-fired power plants, particularly older plants that burn coal without SO2 pollution controls are the worst SO2 polluters. Oil refineries and diesel engines that burn high-sulfur fuel also release large amounts of SO2 into the air.

9. Mexico City

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Mexico City is one of the largest cities in the with a population of 19 million. It is located in a basin and surrounded on three sides by inaccessible mountains. The city still has major problems with the devastating earthquakes and lack of drinking water.

Fast population increase is causing a rapid growth of Mexico City and the authorities are taking a number of measures in order to control the growth. Population growth brought a host of problems such as the lack of housing, increase the number of homeless people, air pollution, etc.

It has been all too common to make a direct association between population growth and factors like CO2 emissions, environmental degradation, global warming, and other manifestations of climate change. Indeed, human activities now contribute to a substantial percentage of the accumulation greenhouse gases. However, more people does not necessarily mean more emissions.

Although the air pollution in Mexico has vastly decreased in the last two decades, levels of harmful pollutants such as particulate matter and ozone are still above the World Health Organization’s recommended levels for Mexico City.

Acceptable levels of sulphur dioxide stated by the Norma Oficial Mexicana are 0.130 ppm as a maximum daily average and 0.030 ppm as a yearly average.

Current levels of sulphur dioxide are 0.076 ppm as a maximum daily average and 0.10 ppm as a yearly average. Both levels are acceptable according to the Norma Oficial Mexicana.

However, the standards set by the World Health Organization are 20 µg/m3 as a daily average and 500 µg/m3 as a peak 10 minute average. Against these standards, Mexico City fails with 156 µg/m3 of sulphur dioxide daily and 967 µg/m3 maximum average over 10 minutes.

According to the Norma Oficial Mexicana, Mexico City is above limits of ozone with 0.123 ppm every 8 hours. According to the World Health Organization, who creates guidelines on safe limits at 100 µg/m3, Mexico City pollution in 2011 is PM 10 = 93 and PM 2,5= 25.

One of the main culprits is the transportation sector: the country’s fleet of inefficient trucks and cars consume dirty diesel fuels and emit high levels of black carbon (the second most powerful contributor to climate change behind carbon dioxide) and particulate matter. These contaminants not only impact the environment and worsen climate change but they also have grave effects on people. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified black carbon, particulate matter and outdoor air pollution generally as carcinogens. In 2013, the World Health Organization said that 14,700 people in Mexico died from outdoor air pollution.

The city’s government plans to further reduce vehicle emissions which are the city’s greatest source of pollution. Pemex, the state oil monopoly, plans to build a $9.3 billion plant to produce low-sulfur fuel. Officials plan to add hybrid buses. A suburban train system is to replace hundreds of thousands of vehicles.

10. Dhaka, Bangladesh

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Dhaka is capital of Bangladesh and one of the world’s largest cities.

According to the WHO, old, poorly serviced vehicles, brick kilns (there are currently about 1,000 in and around Dhaka), dust from roads and construction sites, and toxic fumes from industrial sites are major sources of air pollution. 

Air pollution in Dhaka to the World Health Organization in 2013. is PM 10 = 180 and PM 2,5 = 86.

According to the Department of Environment, the density of airborne particulate matter (PM) reaches 463 micrograms per cubic metre (mcm) in the city during the dry season (December-March) which is the highest level in the world.

During the dry season (October to March), vehicular emission, particular motor cycles, diesel trucks and buses (most do of the sources), and open land wind erosion; biomass burning in the brickfields and city incinerators (to the fine mode); are the major sources of PM pollution. The source apportionment study conducted by the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Centre, Dhaka, Bangladesh for fine and coarse particulates at two stations: farm gate and Dhaka University premises.

A study, Environmental Performance Index 2012, conducted by the US universities Yale and Columbia, found Dhaka to be the 31st most polluted city out of 132 cities across the world. The study concluded that an estimated 15,000 premature deaths, as well as several million cases of pulmonary, respiratory neurological illness are attributed to poor air quality in Dhaka.

How to Get a US Visa

Applying for a US visa these days is like embarking on a search for the Holy Grail. Since 9/11, the US has made several amendments to their US Visa application process to uphold and ensure what former Secretary Powell referred to as their policy of “secure borders, open doors.”

The first step in applying for a US Visa is to determine the kind of visa you need; the documents you need to submit and the eligibility standards you have to meet will depend on the kind of visa you are applying for. There are two general types of visas: immigrant and nonimmigrant. Immigrant visas are for foreign nationals who want to relocate to the US permanently; nonimmigrant visas are for temporary visitors like tourists, exchange students, businessmen or those seeking medical treatment. Each kind of visa will have different requirements and eligibility standards. The degree of difficulty and length of time for approval depends on the kind of visa applied for as well. Immigrant visas are the most difficult to obtain; tourist and student visas are the most accessible.

The second step is to do some research. Going online is the most efficient and cost-effective means of accomplishing this step. The US website will provide the embassy’s location, contact numbers, working hours, the forms you need to accomplish and submit (these forms can actually be filled online, downloaded, and printed out ready for submission), the documents you need to prepare along with the appropriate form, fees and instructions to set up an interview date. Do not rely on hearsay or tips from even seasoned travelers; the website will provide you all the necessary information you need, and if it is not there – you do not need it.

The third step is the all-important interview. The interview area looks like the inside of a bank; the consuls are behind teller-like glass windows and the fate of your application will be determined within a 5-10 minute conversation. The conversations may range from the mundane to something serious. Be observant, polite, friendly and professional. You can second-guess the temperament of the consul based on how he or she conducted the previous interviews and the number of people in queue. Americans are by nature straight forward; do not attempt to flatter, bribe, flirt, gain sympathy or lie. If they ask a question, answer it in a direct and concise manner. If they are not asking about it, do not volunteer information on it. After the conversation, they will tell you whether or not your application has been approved.

Applying for a US visa is similar to applying for a job. You submit your resume for review. You undergo an interview to determine whether or not your skills and competencies meet what the job requires. Your resume must be accurate and there should be no false declarations. If you do not meet its declared eligibility requirements, do not expect to be hired.

Tracking Development: GDP vs Human Development Index

What is progress if we cannot measure it? How do we know we are better off than a year ago if we do not have the standards to quantify our improvement? Do we share a common definition of progress? One person may define progress by the increase in his material wealth. To another, the attainment of a college degree or maintaining a healthy well-being may be more important. These are some of the many questions that emphasize the importance of measuring standard of living.

In the early 1930s, economist Simon Kuznets developed one such measurement – the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This measures the size of an economy by adding up the value of goods and services produced within the country during a period of time. Using the expenditure approach, GDP is equal to Consumption + Gross Investment + Government Spending + (exports – imports), or, GDP = C + I + G + (X-M).

Most countries use GDP to measure standard of living. Economists, policymakers, international development agencies and even the media use it as an indicator of the economic health of a nation. The advantages offered by GDP is that it is widely and frequently used and its data requirements are readily available. Since the definition is common among countries, consistent comparisons can be made between and among them.

Let us have a look at GDP figures for 2006. The figures show that the United States leads nations with a GDP of $13.2 trillion (current U.S. Dollars). Japan follows next with $4.34 trillion, Germany with $2.9 trillion and China with $2.6 trillion.

The countries at the top of the list take the lead in terms of total economic activity taking place within their boundaries. However, it does not necessarily mean that their citizens are better off than the rest of the world in terms of overall well-being. Take for instance, the US – its GDP includes activities considered detrimental to humans and the environment. Of its total GDP in 2006, about $229 billion were for mining-related activities including oil extraction. Another example – China was the world’s number one emitter of toxic carbon dioxide during that year – a result of its high level of manufacturing and industry-related activities. While this contributed to a high GDP for China, many of the Chinese people had to suffer living and working in a polluted environment.

The examples above show some of the limitations and disadvantages of GDP. Certain activities that have a negative impact on the people’s well-being could end up being recorded as positive contributions to the GDP. Take for instance, crime. Rising criminal activities can increase the country’s GDP through greater expenditures toward maintaining law and order (e.g., hiring of additional police members, purchase of guns, prisons, etc). Another example is the consequence of having depleted forests because of logging activities. GDP is increased when trees are cut down for lumber and other uses. The negative impact of deforestation is not taken into consideration. A further example is divorce. As divorce rates increase, so too does the related spending on litigation, lawyers’ fees and the establishment of separate households. The emotional and psychological impact of divorce on the individuals concerned are not considered.

GDP is also criticized because it does not take into consideration other aspects that define human well-being like life expectancy and educational attainment.

It is for these reasons that alternative ways of measuring standard of living have emerged. One of these is the Human Development Index or HDI. Developed by the United Nations, HDI takes into account GDP and adds other factors to measure other aspects of human development: knowledge, longevity and decent standard of living. The main indicators used are life expectancyadult literacy rate and gross enrollment ratio and per capita GDP. HDI index values range from 0 to 1. Those countries with an HDI of over 0.800 are part of the High Human Development group. Those between 0.500 and 0.800, are considered as Medium Human Development countries. And, those that fall below 0.500 are the Low Human Development countries.

Based on 2006 HDI figures, Norway has the highest HDI at 0.963, Iceland is second with 0.956, Australia third with 0.955 and Canada, Luxembourg and Sweden tied at fourth with each having an index of 0.949. Niger is dead last in the list with an HDI of only 0.281.

Because HDI is comparatively more comprehensive than GDP, those countries that ranked high in GDP are ranked lower. The U.S. is only ranked no. 10, Japan is no. 11, Germany is no. 20 and China is no. 85. The inclusion of other indicators in HDI allows it to give a better picture of the state of well-being of a country’s populace. For example, people in Norway live a longer life than those in the U.S.Norway’s life expectancy at birth in 2006 was 82.9 years. By comparison, U.S. life expectancy was only at only at 77.7.

The HDI, however, has its share of critics. Some point out that it is difficult to chart a country’s growth using HDI because a country’s rank for a certain year is calculated based on, for example, the life expectancy or adult literacy rate of the other nations in the list. There are also others who say that HDI does not capture the moral and spiritual aspects of human development. For example, the HDI does not penalise countries with a high suicide rate

Do More Guns Mean More Murders?

Gun violence is a major threat to the security in many communities across the globe. No society is unscathed from the deaths caused by guns. Debate about firearm laws flash up every now and then with every tragic episode. Such events compel us to reflect on whether there is a need to reevaluate firearm laws so as to reduce the gun violence.

Gun violence includes intentional crime portrayed as homicide (although not all homicide is considered a crime) and assault with a fatal weapon, as well as unintentional injury and death resulting from the misuse of firearms, sometimes by children and adolescents. Gun violence statistics also may include self-inflicted gunshot wounds (both suicide, attempted suicide and suicide/homicide combinations sometimes seen within families).

The intensity of homicide with firearms varies considerably across the globe, with very high rates in Thailand and South Africa. The level of gun violence is reaching high points in some of the developing countries like; Colombia, Slovakia, Guatemala, and some other developing countries. On the other hand, the rate of gun violence in Singapore, Ukraine, Moldova, and many other countries is very low. Among developed countries, the USA has the highest rate of firearm murders compared to Singapore with the lowest.

A recent United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime “Global Burden of Armed Violence” study by the UN, shows that firearms cause an average 60% of all homicides. The study has provided some answers about the relationship between gun ownership and murder rates. Across the United States, where guns are more available, there are more homicides.

In addition a wide array of indications evince that gun availability is a risk factor for homicide, both in the United States and across high-income countries. Case-controlstudies, time-series and cross-sectional studies point towards homes, cities, states and regions in the US, where there are more guns, both men and women are at higher risk for homicide, particularly firearm homicide.

However, most of the firearms possessors believe that the intent of a gun depends on whose hands the guns are in, which is true to a great extent. Many gun owners want to keep the guns to ensure the safety and protection of their family and kids. According to the U.S. Justice Department, which reports the United States has the largest number of privately owned guns in the world, with an estimated 250 million privately owned firearms nationwide. And this upward trend of keeping firearms at homes is resulting in guns going into the hands of juveniles

Crime: Where It’s Happening and How

Comparative statistics of crime rates around the world draws a surprising, if somewhat amusing, conclusion – the world we now live in is a safer place than before.

Crime in the only remaining superpower is seen to be declining. In US, street crime hovers near historic lows – hence the declaration of certain analysts that life in US has never been safer. And with the apparently downward trend of criminal activities all over the world, the world appears to be a friendlier place – notwithstanding terrorism. This is in sharp contrast to the perception that the world is getting more dangerous everyday.

Though the United States still ranks among the highest in violent crimes among industrialized nations, and also in overall crime, the country is enjoying a decline in crime numbers, nevertheless. In the meantime, crime in many other nations – specifically in Eastern and Western Europe – appear intent on catching up. Low-crime societies like Denmark and Finland are ranking high among street crime rates in the present. Even countries absent from the crime radar are making themselves conspicuous – like another industrialized nation, Japan.

Comparative analysis of crime rate statistics around the world remains complicated. Different definitions of what constitutes a crime make official crime statistics undependable, for one. Still, the United Nation initiative of global crime rates tracking – the World Crime Survey – may offer the most realistic and reliable figures.

Other factors affecting crime levels are:

a. Difference in legal and criminal justice systems
b. Rates of crime report and police recording
c. Differences in the point at which a crime is measured – some countries believes it is the time when the offense is reported; others only do the recording when a suspect in identified and the papers are transferred to the prosecutor
d. Differences in the ruling of which multiple offenses are counted
e. Differences in the lost of offenses to be included in the whole crime figures
f. Differences in data quality

Using the United States as a point of reference, we arrive at the following conclusions:

Burglary – Widely believed as the gravest of property crimes, burglary is lower in US today than in the 80s. As of 2000, US has lower rates than Australia, Canada, Denmark, England, Finland, and Wales. It has higher rates than Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Spain.
Homicide – US had been consistently high in homicide rates than most of the Western countries from 1980 – 2000. Though the rate was cut almost in half in the 90s, it is still higher than all nations without political and social turmoil with the 2000 rate of 5.5 homicides per 100,000 people. Countries entrenched in turmoil like Colombia and South Africa, had 63 homicides per 100,000 and 51, respectively.

Rape – In the 80s and 90s, US rates were higher than most of the Western countries, but by 2000, Canada is leading. Rape reports are lower in Asia and the Middle East.

Robbery – The past 2 decades saw a steady decline in the US. Countries with more reported robberies than US include England, Wales, Portugal, and Spain. Those with fewer are France, Germany, and Italy, and Asian countries plus the Middle East.

In overall crimes (the total of all mentioned crimes), US ranks the highest, followed by Germany, United Kingdom, France, and South Africa.

Are Criminal Women Getting a Free Pass?

If only 12.5 percent of women surveyed think that women have equal rights, they could point to the punishments meted out to women miscreants as proof.

The worldwide total of prisoners as of 2002 is 8,570,051, but only 4.4 percent (377,082) of thoseprisoners are women. The difference shows up just as drastically in prosecutions. Total prosecutionsamong the nations who reported to United Nations was 23,841,769, but women made up only 1,036,710 of that number – less than 5 percent of all prosecutions.

Is this because women are getting a free pass or are they simply less inclined to be criminals? That matter is still being hotly debated among sociologists, psychologists and criminologists. Outside of academia, however, there are a few statistics that you can use to fuel your own theories, or just for fun, disprove those of others.

To begin with, what kinds of crimes do women commit? According to Sex and Crime in our encyclopedia mirror, the crimes that women commit tend to be non-violent, making violent crimes the crimes of men, in great part. But can this be proved with numbers?

A quick search of FactBites turns up a collection of websites that talk about women and crime. One of them, the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, says women only made up 8 percent of the total of violent felons in the U.S. Violent crimes are robbery, murder, assault and rape. At the same time, however, women made up 23 percent of property crime felons, and 17 percent of drug felons, the BJS reported. Another FactBites find commented that the only crime categories in the United Kingdom where women were higher offenders than men were T.V. licensing and prostitution.

The average length of sentences for violent offenders was 105 months, according to the Bureau of Justice report, and sentences for various property crimes, much lower. If women’s crimes tend toward the latter, this, by itself, would contribute to a much lower number of women in prison because they would be released sooner.

One sociologist, Otto Pollack, maintained in his book, the Criminality of Women, that women commit just as many crimes as men, but that they don’t get caught as often. Their crimes, he claimed were simply easier to hide. Based on mostly anecdotal information, he also asserted that the justice system is easier on women than on men.

Whether or not the statistics of Pollack’s time supported that, something has changed in recent years, notably in the United States. According to United Nations Survey of Crime Trends and Operations of Criminal Justice Systems, the number of incarcerated women in the United States leaped drastically, increasing by 44 percent between 2000 and 2002.

This is over twice the rate that male incarcerations increased and has sparked public debate that mandatory sentencing laws are taking their toll on the female population. With few exceptions, nations worldwide reported an increase in female prisoners. Only New Zealand, Chile, Czechoslovakia Portugal, Switzerland and Belarus reported a decrease from 2000 to 2002.

For all of that, the United States still locks up fewer women, as a percentage of the prison population, than eight other nations. Thailand’s prisoner population includes an astounding 20.3 percent women.

Only four nations report no female prisoners: Sudan, Liechtestein, Seychelles, and Tuvalu. Of those,Sudan reports no prisoners at all and 7 executions, so take those figures with a bit of caution.

Clearly, statistics alone are not going to tell the whole story any more than unsupported anecdotal material would. Put them together, though, and you might yet get a conclusive answer to these tricky questions.

How To Choose The Right College For You

Ah college! What almost every high school student aspires to accomplish. How does one prepare for college? It’s such a different world that one needs to know everything he can so that the decision, once made, will not be something that he’ll regret later on.

You need to ask yourself these questions: What subjects do I excel in and did I enjoy them? It is best to evaluate your skill levels in school, even when you’re still a Junior, because you probably already know which classes you’re comfortable with. If you find that you have never really been interested in the sciences, then it’s most likely that you won’t be inclined to study them in college too.

You also have to take your personality into consideration. You might have gotten good grades in Math but you didn’t necessarily consider it an achievement, then your choice of college will not be dependent on whether or not they have a good Mathematics department.

Schools usually give career aptitude tests to help students decide on the possible courses that they can pursue. Just remember that you know yourself better and it’s a simple question between pursuing the arts and pursuing the sciences. Most people are a combination of both and there is a possibility that you might change your major once or twice while in college. Your choice of college will either help you move forward or restrain you from fulfilling your potential. That’s how important it is. So choose wisely.

Criteria for choosing
There are several criteria that you should think about when selecting the college that’s right for you. You need to evaluate each and every one based on your personal preference, which means that you’ll most likely be well-adjusted and better suited to such academic and social environments, and therefore, be able to do better and ultimately make the most of your college education.

1. Type of School – Aside from the two (2) general types of institutions – public, and private, in which public schools are usually funded primarily by the state and are governed by a group of publicly-elected officials and private schools are the opposite of public schools, with most of their funding coming from private sources and are run by private individuals or organizations, colleges are also categorized into research and teaching schools. The difference when choosing between the two lies in your plans after you finish college.

Research-oriented schools, as their name implies, focus more on the research-side of education. Professors in these schools are more intent on getting their papers published because this will further their career, and in the process, teaching almost becomes secondary. The presence of apprenticeship in these schools while you are an undergraduate will increase your chances in getting to better schools for your post-graduate studies. Teaching institutions, on the other hand, place more emphasis on the teaching side of education. More resources and instructional materials are devoted to the students and professors advance their career based on how well they teach.

2. Campus setting/environment – The campus setting is an important factor because it will have a bearing on how well you respond to certain campus conditions. Some people find that a rural feel to the college is more conducive to learning as opposed to an urban setting.

3. Size of student body – Colleges may range in size from small (less than 2,000) to very large (more than 10,000). You just have to be careful when considering the size because the number of undergraduates (as the size refers to) may not be indicative of the class size or the number of departments or faculties in the schools. It will just be a gauge for you to determine whether you’ll be overwhelmed by the number of students or whether you’ll feel more challenged to excel in such an environment.

3. Single sex or coed – Studying in college almost always requires living quarters, mostly dormitories within the campus. In this case, you have to know that college dorms are set-up with either single-sex or co-ed arrangements. Some house men in a different wing or in a different floor from the women, but it all depends on how the people themselves behave. If this is a special consideration for you, then it will be easy to short-list those colleges with only single-sex accommodations.

4. Diversity – In a country where a lot of cultures and races mix together, some consider it important to evaluate the racial mix in colleges. Usually, the minority ethnic races include Asians, Hispanics and African-Americans.

5. Religious affiliation – Most colleges impose no religious restrictions on its undergraduates and in fact provide houses of worship within the campuses. Even though a religion or religious organization may be the founder of such college, it sometimes doesn’t follow that its teachings or practices are forced onto its students. However, if you feel that you will be more comfortable in an environment where you at least share your religious beliefs with a majority of the residents, then by all means select a college with the same religious affiliations as yourself.

6. Financial aid – A perceived stumbling block in applying for college is the tuition. What you need to know is most colleges offer a variety of scholarship packages to majority of its students provided they at least show a need for it. A lot of the time, the full tuition is alleviated by the scholarship at least partially and even that in itself is already a big help.