Datablog (the Guardian)

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Asylum requests to rich countries at highest point for almost 25 years

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 16:37

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UNHCR says 850,000 people applied for asylum in wealthy countries in 2014 as hundreds of thousands fled conflicts in Syria and Iraq

The number of people applying for asylum in wealthy countries soared to a 22-year high in 2014, as hundreds of thousands fled conflicts in Syria and Iraq, the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has said.

Humanitarian crises and the threat of human rights violations were also behind the rise last year, when more than 850,000 people applied for asylum in 44 wealthy countries in Asia, Europe and North America, according to the UNHCR.

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Income inequality: poverty falling faster than ever but the 1% are racing ahead

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 15:50

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Is the gap between rich and poor widening? It’s not as simple as that, says Dr Max Roser, from the Institute for New Economic Thinking

How are the benefits of economic growth shared across society? Much of the current discussion assumes that income inequality is rising, painting a gloomy picture of the rich getting richer while the rest of the world lags further and further behind. But is it really all bad news?

The reality is complex, yet by looking at recent empirical data we can get a comprehensive picture of what is happening to the rich and the poor.

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Why David Cameron's victory in the leaders' interviews matters

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 12:45

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Guardian/ICM poll finds prime minister more assured and confident than Ed Miliband in Thursday’s TV event – as does a panel of undecided voters

According to an instant Guardian/ICM poll, David Cameron won Thursday’s leaders’ interviews, with 54% of respondents ranking him more favourably than Ed Miliband. It was a view broadly shared by a panel of undecided voters in five marginal constituencies, brought together by the Guardian and BritainThinks. The panellists’ top line was that Cameron’s performance was more assured and confident than Ed Miliband’s.

Cameron’s victory matters for two reasons.

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Election 2015: could the debates move the polls?

Thu, 03/26/2015 - 18:02

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Despite fluctuations in between the three debates in 2010, the election result wasn’t too dissimilar to polling before the first debate. However, this year, with the polls so close, even a small shift could make a big difference

If any event between now and election day is to break the polling deadlock, it is most likely to be one of the TV debates that will take place over the next four weeks.

Five years ago, the impact of the first debate was substantial, as the shortlived phenomenon known as Cleggmania swept the nation. Britain agreed with Nick. Some people even went as far as asking if Clegg was Britain’s Obama.

Top Ten Most Noticed news stories this week #TTMN | #Budget2015 most noticed news of the week pic.twitter.com/EDUh3gS7tO

Top Ten Most Noticed news stories this week #TTMN | Fracas involving Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson most noticed pic.twitter.com/E3GKEuq5Yq

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Labour expected to gain in northern England, but Ukip lurks in wait

Thu, 03/26/2015 - 17:09

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A rise in support for Nigel Farage’s party is a double-edged sword for Labour but it is likely to help Ed Miliband win back a dozen or more seats in northern England

The Labour party is expected to make substantial gains in the north of England at the general election, polls suggest.

An aggregate of subsamples in recent ICM/Guardian polling shows Labour on 46%, up eight points on its 2010 vote share, when the results for the north-east, north-west, and Yorkshire and the Humber are combined.

YouGov Profiles data reveals the very different characteristics of red and blue UKIP voters http://t.co/2ziDcRge4i pic.twitter.com/rd8GUHWdQ9

Via @Le_Figaro: French local election results since 1992 (http://t.co/fsOI9SKJHW): pic.twitter.com/iAfAHd7mVi

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When were UK political leaders first mentioned in the Guardian?

Wed, 03/25/2015 - 09:36

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‘Suave Old Etonian’ David Cameron appeared at 25, Nick Clegg made his debut reporting on student protests, and Tony Blair spoke of unilateralism

On 2 April it will be 23 years since the UK prime minister, David Cameron, first appeared in the Guardian. Described as a 25-year-old “suave Old Etonian”, Cameron, the then prime minister John Major’s personal adviser, was one of several young staff showing potential during what looked like a farcical election campaign.

Michael White, David Hencke, Alan Travis and Patrick Wintour wrote that the rise of the “unblooded brat pack” in 1992, which also included 22-year-old Steve Hilton, was causing concern among senior party members such as Michael Heseltine and Michael Portillo.

Hungary could soon have the youngest government in European history, Nick Clegg and Nigel Gardner reported 22 years ago.

He is highly pragmatic on the common market – ‘come out if we must, but not as an article of socialist faith’ – but firm on unilateralism. He says the older generation, accustomed to conventional warfare, has not yet awoken to the real nature of the threat, the ‘warfare of the end game’.

The Carnival of Feminists is trying to reach as many women as possible, with the most recent carnival held on the Indian blog, Indianwriting. ‘That was our fourth continent,’ says Bennett, ‘and I’m looking for an African blogger, so that we can reach our fifth.’

Ms Wood, sparky and combative, is running unashamedly on a socialist platform, claiming there is no point the Rhondda boosting the number of New Labour MPs and acting almost as if she’s the favourite. ‘I want to be the Rhondda’s voice in London, not London’s voice in the Rhondda,’ she proclaimed at a public meeting.

Outside she says: “You know, I feel sorry for people in England – they only have a choice of three rightwing parties.”

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Large ship losses at lowest in decade in 2014, report shows

Tue, 03/24/2015 - 07:00

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Only 75 went down at sea during 2014 but losing bigger ships could could cost $1bn each and there is a growing threat of cybersecurity, say insurers

The world is losing fewer ships at sea, with only 75 lost last year – the lowest number in a decade, according to insurers Allianz Global Corporate and Specialty (AGCS).

What we have seen from the Sewol, and what we have so far heard from the Norman Atlantic, is that, in many cases, construction of the vessel is not always the only weak point. Levels of crew experience, training and emergency preparedness can also often be inadequate and this can be crucial, particularly on these types of vessels.

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Spring is 30 seconds shorter every year

Mon, 03/23/2015 - 15:46

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Shortening of spring each year is due to the way Earth’s axis wobbles as it moves – but most of us won’t notice the difference in our lifetime

Every year spring is getting shorter by about 30 seconds, according to researchers.

This is mainly to do with how the Earth’s axis wobbles – very slowly – as it moves, or as LiveScience explains, “like a wobbling top, in a type of motion called precession”.

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Election 2015: is it really just a straight choice between Labour and the Tories?

Mon, 03/23/2015 - 12:54

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Reality check: Ed Miliband says the election is a choice between the two biggest parties but polls suggest neither party will be able to govern alone

Ed Miliband has claimed that there is no way he would lead his party in a coalition with the SNP. As my colleague Andrew Sparrow blogged:

Miliband says there has been a lot of talk of coalitions in recent weeks. But there won’t be a Labour coalition with the SNP.

Miliband said that he is interested in a coalition with the people, and that the election is a choice between a Labour government and a Tory one.

Related: ICM poll: Labour faces wipeout in Scotland after new leader fails to dent SNP support

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General election: lessons from Scotland’s recent political history

Fri, 03/20/2015 - 14:35

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Scotland’s election result is the single factor most likely to shape the next government. No combination of parties would have the required numbers without the votes of the SNP

There is one thing uniting the restless voters of the British Isles ahead of the general election: 77% are dissatisfied with the state of UK democracy, according to research published by the University of Edinburgh this week, and there is little variation between the different parts of the country. But that is where the political similarities between Scotland and the rest of the country end.

When the people of Scotland voted decisively against independence in September 2014 many thought questions about secession would be put to rest for a generation. But since that day, membership of the SNP has risen four-fold to around 100,000 – about one in 50 adults in Scotland are now members of the party. These are mass membership levels not seen in Britain since the 1950s.

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Global weapons trade targets Africa as imports to Algeria and Morocco soar | Mark Anderson and Achilleas Galatsidas

Fri, 03/20/2015 - 13:10

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Sudan, Cameroon and Nigeria also among countries that have fuelled a 45% rise in African weapons imports over past decade

The global arms trade has grown by 16% over the past decade, with military hardware including tanks, missiles and artillery flowing to African countries faster than to any other region, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri).

African governments and rebel groups imported 45% more weapons in 2014 than in 2005, Sipri reported in its latest arms transfers database. Weapons sales to the Asia and Oceania region grew by 37% over the same period, while the Middle East bought 25% more weapons.

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Which politician is on Question Time the most? It's not Nigel Farage

Thu, 03/19/2015 - 12:21

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The Labour MP who has been on Question Time the most since the last election may surprise you

Question Time is the BBC’s flagship political panel show. It allows an audience made up of members of the public local to the area from where the episode is being broadcast, to grill representatives of the main parties as well as notable folks from other spheres of society.

So, who has taken to that mesh chair behind the iconic purple desk the most since the last election other than longtime host David Dimbleby, who has only missed one episode since becoming host in 1994? The episode Dimbleby missed was in 2009 after being struck by a bullock.

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Budgets, polls and their impact on elections: a brief history

Thu, 03/19/2015 - 06:00

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George Osborne’s 2012 and 2013 budgets moved the polls, but his latest performance at the dispatch box is unlikely to change the political landscape

Very few events move public opinion. The budget can be an exception.

Wednesday’s budget was George Osborne’s sixth, including the emergency budget of June 2010. Looking back at Ipsos Mori polling around each one reveals a mixed scorecard for the chancellor’s impact on voting intention figures for his party.

Ken Clarke: "budgets never affect elections, but was the right budget"... Sky panel united in saying "not a game changer" for poll deadlock

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Budget 2015: are people really better off now than they were in 2010?

Wed, 03/18/2015 - 17:57

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Part of Chancellor’s speech claims living standards have completely recovered over course of parliament but metric he is using is not so clean cut

In a sharp rebuttal to Labour accusations that living standards have been squeezed over the course of this parliament, George Osborne said the following during his budget speech:

“You can use the most up-to-date and comprehensive measure of living standards which is real household disposable income (RHDI) per capita. In other words, how much money families have to spend after inflation and tax.

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Israel election: why were the exit polls wrong?

Wed, 03/18/2015 - 12:15

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It was not a good night for Israel’s pollsters, but with so many factors in play the job of forecasting is both complicated and formidable

It wasn’t a good night for Israel’s pollsters. The average of pre-election polls showed Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud party on 21 seats, trailing the centre-left Zionist Union led by Isaac Herzog by four seats.

Exit polls didn’t do much better. Once voting ended, these had the two blocs tied on 27 seats each.

My #analysis of Israel's election results pic.twitter.com/Jm8h749ssl

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Israel’s election is too close to call, but here are some possible scenarios

Tue, 03/17/2015 - 11:19

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Momentum is with Herzog, but the coalition arithmetic remains on Netanyahu’s side. Here are some numbers to help navigate an extremely close election

If you think coalition negotiations after the UK general election in May are going to be complicated or that Congress agreeing on a budget is messy, you should check out the Israeli elections.

Israelis voting on Tuesday to elect representatives to the 120-seat Knesset. These will be the 20th elections Israel has held since 1949. The country has a history of unstable coalitions, none more so than the alliance put together in January 2013 which lasted less than two years.

Related: Israel's election – the Guardian briefing

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Databog: Germany’s financial prudence stretches to its preferred toilet paper

Tue, 03/17/2015 - 10:38

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Thrifty Germans prefer economy loo roll while Italians are cutting down on luxury tissue. What does toilet paper use tell us about economic behaviour?

Germany’s economic strength – premised on savings, financial prudence and staying well clear of excessive consumption – extends to the nation’s preferred choice of toilet paper.

Germans practice what they preach, according to data from consumer research brand Euromonitor. It reveals that the majority of toilet tissue sales in Germany during 2014 were of the economy type (the typically thinner, cheaper kind with no frills such as added softness).

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Running costs: what are the world's most expensive marathons?

Tue, 03/17/2015 - 07:00

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Running in the big races can be a costly business. Enter the New York City marathon and you have to fork out a hefty sum. But how does its entry cost compare to other 26.2 mile races? And how does that break down per mile?

When you stop and think about it, it actually just seems daft. We pay for the privilege of running 26.2 miles? They should pay us.

So why do marathons (and other races) cost so much?

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The numbers behind the worldwide trade in drones

Mon, 03/16/2015 - 10:18

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UK has become largest importer of drones in the world, now receiving over a third of global deliveries. Israel is the largest exporter, accounting for the majority of sales since 1985

There are more unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) - or drones - being transferred between countries than ever before, according to data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri).

Between 2010 and 2014, there were 439 drones exchanged compared to 322 in the five years previous to that.

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