Nearly half of Chinese say air pollution is a “very big” problem in their country.
The northern Chinese city of Harbin was largely shut down Monday by a thick blanket of smog, underscoring China’s recurring battles with air pollution as it tries to keep its massive population warm, connected and employed.
Concern about air pollution has grown sharply in recent years, according to a Pew Research Center survey from this past spring. In that survey, 47% of Chinese said air pollution was a “very big” problem facing the country, up from 31% in 2008 and 36% last year. Air pollution ranked fourth out of 15 issues in terms of public concern, behind rising prices (which 59% of people cited as a very big problem), corrupt officials (53%) and the gap between rich and poor (52%).
Harbin’s latest bout of smog began last week, but was exacerbated when officials turned on the coal-powered municipal heating system for the winter. The city government reported an air quality index of 500, the highest possible reading; anything above 300 is considered hazardous. Some neighborhoods reported concentrations of PM2.5 (fine particulate matter that is 2.5 microns or less in diameter, which are considered especially harmful) as high as 1,000 micrograms per cubic meter. (By comparison, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s air-quality standards say PM2.5 should not exceed 35 micrograms per cubic meter in any 24-hour period.)
Harbin isn’t alone in struggling with air pollution. Monday’s PM2.5 level was 115 in Beijing, 85 in Guangzhou and 47 in Shanghai, according to China Air Daily (a project of the New York-based Asia Society’s Center on U.S.-China Relations). In contrast, the PM2.5 reading was 9.8 in New York and 10.8 in Phoenix.
Category: Daily Number
Last month’s state court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage in New Jersey, and Gov. Chris Christie’s decision today to drop the state’s challenge to the decision, are the latest in a string of developments that have come in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decisions on same-sex marriage. Indeed, since the high court handed down the rulings in June 2013 – striking down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and effectively overturning California’s same-sex marriage ban – gay rights advocates have stepped up their efforts to end prohibitions on gay marriage in at least 20 states.
Virtually all of the recent court challenges have argued that the state bans on same-sex marriage are incompatible with the Supreme Court’s DOMA decision (U.S. v. Windsor). New Jersey is a good example. Same-sex couples in the state argued that Windsor, which requires the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages, in essence extends this mandate to New Jersey. On Sept. 27, a judge agreed and ordered the state to allow same-sex marriages beginning Oct. 21. Christie’s efforts to get the New Jersey Supreme Court to stay the ruling, pending an appeal, failed when the justices unanimously decided to allow the earlier decision, and the Oct. 21 deadline, to stand.
As if married people don’t have enough to worry about, a new study suggests that the divorce of a friend or close relative dramatically increases the chances that you too will divorce.
A research team headed by Rose McDermott of Brown University analyzed three decades of data on marriage, divorce and remarriage collected from thousands of residents of Framingham, Massachusetts.
McDermott and her colleagues found that study participants were 75% more likely to become divorced if a friend is divorced and 33% more likely to end their marriage if a friend of a friend is divorced.
So divorce is contagious…and you can catch the divorce bug from your friends—even from a friend of a friend?
Category: Social Studies
The IRS was rated less favorably than any of the other federal agencies tested in a new Pew Research survey; 51% had a negative opinion.
While a Pew Research survey conducted this month found public trust in the federal government nearing a record low, most Americans have a favorable view of many government agencies and departments and also regard federal workers positively.
Except for the Internal Revenue Service. Read More →
Category: Daily Number
Winning election as speaker of the House is no way to win a popularity contest, as Rep. John Boehner has discovered. In nearly three years as House speaker, Boehner has seen his unfavorable rating among the public double – from 25% to 50%.
The Pew Research Center’s most recent survey found that 27% view Boehner favorably, 50% view him unfavorably, while 23% are unable to rate him. In December 2010, shortly before he became speaker, 28% had a favorable impression of Boehner, 25% viewed him unfavorably and nearly half (47%) had no opinion.
Now that the White House and Congress have reached an agreement to end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling, much attention is being focused on the group that was a key player in the standoff: conservative Republicans and those aligned with the Tea Party.
Who are those representatives? There’s no formal roster, but this map, produced by The New Yorker using data from the Cook Political Report, highlights the districts of the 80 House members who signed a letter to House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor in August urging that the health-reform law be defunded as part of any appropriations bill.
Category: Chart of the Week
Though the nation is officially four years into economic recovery, a new Pew Research Center analysis of recently released Census data suggests that most Millennials (adults ages 18 to 32) are still not setting out on their own.
As of March 2013, only about one-in-three Millennials (34%) headed up their own household. This rate is unchanged from March 2012 and even lower than the level observed in the depths of the Great Recession ( in 2009, 35% of 18- to 32-year-olds headed their own households). The absence of any increase in household formation among Millennials is significant because it contributes to lackluster apartment and housing demand as well as the demand for household furnishings that goes along with independent living.
What are Millennials doing if they’re not setting up their own households?
More than a year ahead of the 2014 congressional elections, Democrats have a six-point edge when it comes to which party voters would support in their districts.
The 2014 elections for Congress are more than a year off, but at this early juncture, the Democrats hold a slim edge over Republicans on the so-called generic ballot, according to a Pew Research Center poll conducted just before the end of the government shutdown. (A generic poll is one that measures general sentiment on election choices but does not test specific candidate match-ups).
Category: Daily Number
The news that the Turkish government may have revealed the secret identities of 10 Iranian spies who had been meeting inside Turkey with the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad comes against the backdrop of surveys that show a mutual feeling of distrust among these two important regional players.
A Pew Research Center survey from March to April 2013 showed that only 14% of Israelis have a favorable view of Turkey, with 80% holding an unfavorable opinion. Views toward Israel in Turkey are even worse, with only 2% of the Turkish population holding a positive opinion of Israel and 86% viewing their Mediterranean neighbor negatively.
In addition to low marks for their respective nations, the two prime ministers, Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel and Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey, also receive dismal ratings. Only 4% in Turkey have a favorable view of Netanyahu, with 70% voicing an unfavorable rating, including 54% who say that they view the Israeli prime minister very unfavorably. Meanwhile, only 14% of Israelis see Erdogan in a positive light, with 84% seeing him negatively (including 53% who say very unfavorable).
Orthodox Jews are a growing and in many ways distinctive segment of the American Jewish community, according to the new Pew Research Center survey of U.S. Jews.
The survey went to considerable lengths to obtain a representative sample of the Orthodox, including extra interviews in communities where Orthodox Jews are concentrated. No calls were made on the Jewish Sabbath or on Jewish holidays, when observant Jews generally will not pick up a telephone. All together, the survey included more than 500 Orthodox Jewish respondents.
Here are eight interesting facts about the Orthodox from the new survey: