Datablog (the Guardian)

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The crisis in local welfare assistance explained

Sun, 04/20/2014 - 19:00

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A hardship fund designed to protect the poorest was devolved to councils last April. Since then, spending and the number of people being helped have gone down. What has happened?

DATA: Get the full spreadsheet

Local welfare assistance is the social safety net for Britains poorest and most vulnerable citizens, intended to provide them with vital support when they face a short-term emergency or cash crisis.

Introduced in April 2013, it replaced the social fund, the centrally-administered scheme abolished under the 2012 Welfare Reform Act. A portion of the money previously allocated to the social fund (around £178m in 2013-14) was redistributed by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to 150 English councils, and to the Welsh and Scottish national governments.

Government changes to the social fund have created an emergency assistance postcode lottery that risks pushing vast numbers of the poorest families into the hands of high-cost money lenders and deeper into debt.

By denying help to those most in need, many more families will become trapped in a vicious spiral of debt and despair.

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The Guardian's top 100: which articles have been most popular?

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 12:52

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To celebrate theguardian.com breaking through the 100 million monthly unique browser barrier for the first time, we've compiled a list of the top 100 most viewed Guardian pieces of content since 2010

To mark theguardian.com passing 100m monthly unique visitor browsers last month for the first time ever, we've decided to take a look at what Guardian content has proved most popular with our online users.

By the end of March this year, we'd published more than 750,000 pieces of content since the beginning of January 2010. The top 100 we're looking at here is in terms of traffic, namely page views, since 1 January 2010 until the end of March 2014. So, which pieces have been the most popular? When were they published? And which sections have seen the most traffic?

In print and online, the Guardian has always published a dizzying variety of journalism, from breaking news, investigative journalism, feature writing and diverse (and often contrasting) comment pieces, to the kind of pop culture and lighter subjects often found in the Saturday Guardian's Guide and G2's shortcuts. It is this variety that immediately jumps out of the list.

Just as importantly, the list reminds us that the internet, through channels far beyond our own website, puts our work into the hands of a global audience and that, while print journalism communicates in the present, the internet is also an archive.

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Where are the murders of journalists most likely to go unpunished?

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 12:43

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The Impunity Index 2014 published by the Committee to Protect Journalists has named Iraq as the 'worst offender' and included Syria for the first time. See the full list of countries where journalists' murders are most likely to go unpunished

Syria has joined a list - compiled by the Committee to Protect Journalists - of countries where journalists murders are most likely to go unpunished.

The 2014 Impunity Index, published today by the committee, shows that Syria - which topped the world's most dangerous country for journalists index - has been ranked the fifth worst country for where journalists murders are most likely to go unpunished. The CPJ say that Syria's appearance on the list "highlights the rising number of targeted killings".

In a positive development, convictions took place last year in four countries on the Indexyet in only one case were those who ordered the crime apprehended or tried, reflecting a global pattern.

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Glasgow has lowest life expectancy in the UK

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 12:38

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Babies born in the Scottish city of Glasgow, which will host the Commonwealth Games later this year, are expected to have shorter lives than those born anywhere else in the UK

In Summer 2014, athletes at the peak of physical fitness will visit the city of Glasgow to compete in the 2014 Commonwealth Games. However, babies born in the biggest city in Scotland are expected to live the shortest lives of any in the UK, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.

Between 2010 and 2012, newly born baby boys in Glasgow had a life expectancy of 72.6 years while for girls it was 78.5. The UK averages for male and female life expectancy were 78.9 and 82.7 respectively.

Although geographical inequality in life expectancy fell for both sexes, the decrease was more pronounced for females. The difference in male life expectancy between the local areas with the highest and lowest figures fell from 10.6 years in 200002 to 10.3 years in 201012. For females, the comparable difference fell from 9.2 years to 8.1 years over the periods.

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Datablog: Barry O'Farrell's term cut short, but it was longer than the average

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 04:38

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The 43rd premier of NSW lasted 901 days in office, longer than his immediate predecessors and the average

Barry O'Farrell's term may have been cut short, but it's not even close to the shortest NSW premiership.

A quick look at the terms of premiers in NSW shows terms were much shorter in the late 19th and early 20th century, though politicians often had multiple, non-consecutive occasions in office:

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Which spiritual leaders have the biggest following among foreign fighters in Syria?

Tue, 04/15/2014 - 21:30

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An analysis of social media has shown what a selection of foreign fighters in Syria are liking, following and interacting with. What are their key online influences?

Since the start of the Syrian conflict, hundreds of men have left their homes in the west or elsewhere to join the country's civil war. Over the last 12 months, researchers at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Courage (ICSR) have created a database of the social media activity of 114 foreign fighters with Facebook or Twitter accounts.

The researchers were able to give a country-of-origin breakdown for their sample. The UK headed up the list, with 25.4% of fighters emanating from Britain.

The analysis identifies two relatively unknown clerics who have been acting as online cheerleaders for fighters seeking to topple President Bashar al-Assad. It also identifies a new breed of 'disseminators' advising and supporting the men and women who have joined rebel groups.

Ahmad Musa Jibril and Musa Cerantonio the two other preachers on the list are both based in the west, speak English, and regularly communicate with western Muslim audiences through social media platforms. Their popularity is also reflected on Twitter, where they are followed by 60% and 23% of foreign fighters respectively.

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Manchester City best paid team in global salary survey: how do other teams compare?

Tue, 04/15/2014 - 18:16

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Manchester City have topped a ranking of global sports pay, with an average first team player earning more than £5.3m per year. How do other teams compare and which is the best paying league?

Manchester City have topped a ranking of global sports pay, with an average first-team player earning more than £5.3m per year.

The global sports salaries survey 2014, published by Sporting Intelligence and compiled in association with ESPN The Magazine, has calculated that an average first team salary pay per player comes in at £5.3m, or £102,653 per week. Baseball teams the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers are ranked at second and third place respectively. Real Madrid and Barcelona make up the top five. Paul Campbell writes today:

If Brendan Rodgers can win the Premier League title with Liverpool this season, some of his fellow managers will not be happy. While José Mourinho and Manuel Pellegrini have been bickering over whose club is more like a little horse and Arsène Wenger has been complaining about the way his rivals spend their money, Rodgers has been accelerating past them with a team that is paid less money but wins more matches and scores more goals.

Average pay is important - as opposed to total wage outlay - because two teams spending the same totals on salaries will have starkly different averages if they are paying a significantly different number of players. It happens, and it matters. You can employ a higher number of lower quality players for the same price as a smaller number of higher quality players, and we think its worth exploring which is most effective for performance.

By average, we mean arithmetic mean. All the salaries are added up (and by salaries, we include money for playing sport for that team, not for endorsements or sponsorship or anything else extra-curricular) and divided by the number of players. Thats it. A simple list that provokes complicated arguments but does, at the very least, provide a ball park reckoner of what different sports teams pay.

For the NBA, the NHL and the NFL, the numbers in this report pertain to the 2013-14 seasons. For MLB and MLS, the numbers are as they stood at the start of the 2014 seasons. For the IPL, NPB, AFL, CFL and CSL they come from the end of the 2013 seasons. And for the Premier League, Bundesliga, La Liga, Serie A and SPL, the salaries reflect summer 2013, in effect the end of the 2012-13 season.

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Atlético Madrid will their shrewd transfer policy pay off?

Tue, 04/15/2014 - 11:28

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As a Uefa committee meets to discuss the financial state of Europe's clubs, the team atop La Liga show that money is not always everything when it comes to assembling a winning squad

With victory away at Getafe on Sunday night and Barcelona's slip-up at Granada on Saturday, Atlético Madrid have within their reach an historic La Liga title as well as a place in the semi-finals of the Champions League.

It's the week where the top European clubs' adherence to Uefa's financial fair play rules is being checked out and a brief look at transfer figures seems to show that Atlético's shrewd use of money in the transfer market compares favourably with the rest of Europe's elite.

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Will your generation have a better life than your parents?

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 15:14

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A new survey by Ipsos Mori has found that young people in the west are particularly pessimistic about their future. See how the results break down by country

To what extent, if at all, do you feel that your generation will have had a better or worse life than your parents' generation? That's the question a new Ipsos Mori survey has asked, which finds that young people in the west are particularly pessimistic about their future.

Shiv Malik writes today:

Adults in parts of the developing world are far more optimistic than their counterparts in rich nations, where the majority feel that young people will live a worse life than current generations, according to a major new survey.

An international sample of 16,039 adults aged 18-64 in the US and Canada, and age 16-64 in all other countries, were interviewed. Approximately 1000+ individuals participated on a country by country basis via the Ipsos Online Panel with the exception of Argentina, Belgium, Poland, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden and Turkey, where each have a sample approximately 500+.

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Global Drug Survey findings: more people buying drugs online in the UK

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 06:00

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The latest results reveal that more people are buying drugs online and that almost a third of UK survey respondents aged between 18 and 24 admit to having taken mystery white powders. Read the key findings

The 2014 Global Drug Survey results are in and with a total of 78,820 respondents taking part worldwide, the latest data provides a comprehensive view of global drug use, experiences, attitudes and opinions.

From the number of people buying drugs online to which drugs people thought were the best value for money, the Global Drug Survey conducted in partnership with global media partners including the Guardian, covers a wide range of areas.

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The future of Scotland's currency continues to divide opinion, polls show

Fri, 04/11/2014 - 14:37

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YouGov poll finds 53% of Britons outside Scotland oppose the country keeping the pound and believe it has no viable alternative to sterling should it vote for independence

As currency continues to dominate the independence debate, polls are increasingly showing a divide between Scottish opinion on monetary union and that of the rest of the UK.

A new survey released yesterday shows that Britons outside Scotland believe the country has no back-up plan if it is not allowed to keep the pound. This is in spite of what seems to be overwhelming public opinion in Scotland itself that the currency should be kept if the country goes independent.

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The three most resilient cities? They're all in Canada

Fri, 04/11/2014 - 11:51

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Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary top a new report measuring the least vulnerable and most adaptive cities on the planet while the high-growth cities of the Bric nations teeter precariously on the edge of danger

The world's 10 riskiest cities

For perhaps the first time, someone has tried to qualify the resilience of cities. Grosvenor, the London-based property company led by the Duke of Westminster, analysed more than 100 independently verified data sets in order to determine two key elements of what makes a city resilient: its "vulnerability" on the one hand, and its "adaptive capacity" on the other.

Vulnerability was measured by looking at climate threats, environmental degradation (including pollution and overconsumption due to sprawl), resources (particularly access to energy), infrastructure and community cohesion. Weakness in any of those areas reduced a city's score.

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Which UK borough has the most deaths from air pollution? - interactive map

Thu, 04/10/2014 - 13:51

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A new study from Public Health England looks at deaths from particulate air pollution by each UK borough. The default view of the map shows the percentage of deaths in 2010 calculated to be caused by fine particulate matter (ambient PM2.5) concentration in each local authority, according to central estimates. You can also switch to see that particulate matter concentration on its own.

Be warned though because of uncertainty of the effect of particulate air pollution, the mortality risk could range from approximately one-sixth to double these figures but this map shows what the official estimates are at the moment Continue reading...

UK seventh worst in EU for cabinet minister gender balance

Wed, 04/09/2014 - 13:20

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Now Maria Miller has left the cabinet and been replaced by a man, just four of the UK's 32 ministers are women. At the last count in January, the UK was already 20th out of the 28 EU countries for female representation in cabinet

When the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) did its latest report on the proportion of women that are cabinet ministers in January, the UK ranked a lowly 20th out of the 28 EU countries (and 54th in the world).

Five of the 32 cabinet ministers were women - or 15.6%. That compared to 56.5% for the top country Sweden and 25.6% for the EU average.

With Maria Miller leaving her post as culture secretary and being replaced by a man - Sajid Javid, just 12.5% of the cabinet is now female.

Sayeeda Warsi attends cabinet and Nicky Morgan, who will now take responsibility for women's affairs, will have the right to attend.

Although there have been cabinet changes in other European countries since January, if the proportions had stayed the same then the UK would now be 22nd out of the 28 countries.

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Maria Miller makes it six cabinet minister resignations under Cameron

Wed, 04/09/2014 - 11:25

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Maria Miller's resignation makes her the sixth cabinet minister in the Coalition government to step down from her duties. How does the stability of David Cameron's government compare to Gordon Brown's?

After weeks of enormous political pressure, culture secretary Maria Miller has finally decided to step down from her post, claiming in a letter written to the prime minister that the controversy over her expenses had "become a distraction from the vital work this government is doing".

That makes her the sixth cabinet minister to have resigned from David Cameron's cabinet since he came to power in 2010. If you include less senior ministers and under secretaries then she becomes the 17th.

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Australians fighting in Syria: how many have joined the conflict?

Wed, 04/09/2014 - 06:44

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Does George Brandis' claim that, per capita, Australia is one of the largest sources of foreign fighters in Syria stack up?

While the prime minister, Tony Abbott, toured Asia on Tuesday spruiking Australian wheat, wine and cheese, the attorney general, George Brandis, was in Washington DC reporting a grimmer national export.

I am sorry to have to tell you that per capita, Australia is one of the largest sources of foreign war fighters to the Syrian conflict from countries outside the region, he told the Centre for Strategic and International Studies.

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Game of Thrones: which world figures would fit into Westeros?

Tue, 04/08/2014 - 10:44

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With Julia Gillard comparing herself to Daenarys Targaryen, let us know which other world figures would fit well into Westeros

Warning: this contains spoilers for seasons 1-3 of Game of Thrones

In her review of the first episode of the new series of Game of Thrones, former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard spoke of her affinity with the character Daenerys Targaryen.

It is understood that Hague is approaching rebels with a twinkle in his eye and saying he needs to speak to them about Lords reform. He pauses and then adds: "There we are. I have spoken to you about Lords reform."

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Nigeria becomes Africa's largest economy get the data

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 13:22

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Nigeria's recalculation of gross domestic product data to include Nollywood nudges country well ahead of South Africa

Nigeria has overtaken South Africa as the continent's largest economy after it overhauled its gross domestic product data for the first time in more than two decades.

Official figures for 2013, released by Nigeria's statistics bureau, put the country's GDP at $503bn (£307bn) nearly double previous estimates and well ahead of South Africa at around $350bn.

Note: figures in millions of naira

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Game of Thrones: how does the TV series compare to the books?

Sun, 04/06/2014 - 16:00

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The Game of Thrones TV series so far covers approximately 1,980 pages of George R.R Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. How does it compare to other famous page-to-screen adaptations?

*This piece contains mild spoilers for the third season of Game of Thrones*

Monday night sees the return of HBOs Game of Thrones to our living rooms and, although the saga is already running in excess of 26.5 hours long, its actually far more economical with its source material than many other famous page-to-screen adaptations.

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