Jul 14, 2014 2:01 pm

5 key takeaways on global views of the U.S. and China

As new revelations about America’s electronic surveillance efforts continue to emerge, a new Pew Research Center survey finds widespread opposition around the world to U.S. eavesdropping. Still, America’s overall image remains mostly positive. At the same time, however, people see the global balance of power shifting, with China on the rise, and the U.S. in relative decline.

Here are five key takeaways on how the world views the U.S., China, and the superpower competition between the two major rivals.

In nearly all 43 countries surveyed outside the U.S., majorities say the U.S. shouldn’t intercept communications from foreign leaders or foreign citizens.1People around the world don’t want the U.S. eavesdropping on their leaders or their citizens – or for that matter, on American citizens. In nearly all 43 countries surveyed outside the U.S., majorities say the U.S. shouldn’t intercept communications from foreign leaders or foreign citizens. And most tend to believe the U.S. government shouldn’t listen in on American citizens either. Moreover, the revelations about U.S. spying by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden seem to have had an impact on America’s reputation for respecting individual liberty – in 22 of 36 countries polled this year and last, fewer people now believe the U.S. government respects the personal freedom of its people.

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Topics: Global Balance of Power, Globalization and Trade, National Security, U.S. Global Image and Anti-Americanism

Jul 14, 2014 12:54 pm

5 facts about the French

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Ah, la France. The land of wine, cheese, romance and abundant vacation time… right? As France celebrates the national holiday of Bastille Day, we set the record straight. Here are five common stereotypes about the French, and the facts that prove them right or wrong.

1 The French don’t care about affairs. Extramarital affairs are widely viewed as morally unacceptable around the world, with one notable exception: France. Only 47% of the French said having an extramarital affair was morally unacceptable in our 2013 survey, while four-in-ten thought it was not a moral issue, and 12% said it was actually morally acceptable. France was the only country out of the 40 we surveyed where less than half of respondents described infidelity as unacceptable. This laissez-faire attitude also extends to premarital sex: only 6% of the French view it as morally unacceptable. Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Western Europe

Jul 14, 2014 12:00 pm

Where the U.S. wiretap hotspots are

Four states account for half of the nation’s wiretapping activity, according to a new report from the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts. Nevada leads the nation in the number of wiretaps when population is factored in, according to the annual list of where federal and state judges have authorized law enforcement to monitor phone communications as part of criminal investigations in 2013.

Wiretaps By StateThe report suggests that nearly 90% of the wiretap authorization requests cited criminal drug-related offenses; the rest ranged from smuggling to homicide cases. It found that the wiretaps led to 3,744 persons arrested (about the same as in 2012), and 709 persons convicted of a crime.

As Americans adopt cell phones over landlines, 97% of the total 3,576 authorizations specifically target portable devices including cell phones and digital pagers. Federal and state judges authorized a total of 3,455 wiretaps on portable devices in 2013. The total number of reported wiretaps is up 5% from 2012, but it’s more than doubled since a decade ago, when the number of wiretaps authorized was 1,442.

California, New York, Nevada and Florida lead the nation in the number of mobile wiretap authorizations. California dwarfs the rest of the nation with about 26% of the reported authorizations in 2013, more than doubling New York with 12%, and Nevada and Florida trailing with about 6% each.  Read More

Topics: National Security, Surveillance

Jul 14, 2014 7:00 am

Despite recent shootings, Chicago nowhere near U.S. ‘murder capital’

FT_14.07.14_HighestMurderRatesThe spate of 82 shootings in Chicago over the July 4th holiday weekend, in which at least 16 people were killed, drew national attention to gun violence in the nation’s third-largest city. But that focus risks missing the bigger picture: When adjusted by population, murder rates are far higher in smaller cities than in larger ones, such as Chicago, New York and Los Angeles.

In terms of raw number of murders, Chicago has long been at or near the top of U.S. cities, according to FBI crime statistics. In 2012, it had 500 murders, the most of any city in the country; Chicago has been among the top three cities with the most murders since 1985. (Fair warning: The FBI stats are compiled from reports by local police agencies that serve populations of at least 100,000, and for various reasons — including the fact that not all agencies reported data every year — can be difficult to compare meaningfully across cities or time periods.)

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Topics: Criminal Justice

Jul 11, 2014 11:34 am

Chart of the Week: Where engineering and English majors end up working

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In just six weeks or so, millions of new college students will arrive at their new campuses, where at some point they will have to decide on a major. As they write the first tuition check, parents may wonder which fields of study are most likely to lead to rewarding careers, and which back to the couch in the basement? Read More

Category: Chart of the Week

Topics: Education, Work and Employment

Jul 11, 2014 8:45 am

Which six countries hold half the world’s population?

As of this month, the world’s population is now 7.2 billion, according to the United Nations, which celebrates World Population Day today. According to U.N. data, half of the people around the globe (3.6 billion) live in just a half-dozen countries. China has the world’s largest population (1.4 billion), followed by India (1.3 billion). The next most-populous nations – the United States, Indonesia, Brazil and Pakistan – combined have less than 1 billion people.

World's population lives in these 6 countries

The demographic future for the U.S. and the world looks very different than the recent past. Growth from 1950 to 2010 was rapid — the global population nearly tripled, and the U.S. population doubled. However, population growth in future decades is projected to be significantly slower and is expected to tilt strongly to the oldest age groups, both globally and in the U.S.

For example, the U.N. projects that during this century, the number of people living to at least age 100 will increase more than 100-fold, from 181,000 in the year 2000 to over 20 million in the year 2100.

Topics: Population Projections, Population Trends

Jul 11, 2014 7:00 am

5 facts about alternative weeklies

This week’s 37th annual convention of the Association of Alternative Newsmedia comes at a time of challenge and turmoil in the “alt weekly” world. In many respects, the   industry has been beset by the disruption affecting the broader newspaper business—including declining circulation, ownership changes and the closing of some notable publications. On a more positive note, some alternative outlets are using digital innovation to tap into new revenue streams.

Here are five things to know about the alternative press today:

1The association’s membership reached a high water mark of about 135 in 2009, a figure now down to 117 publications. (When the organization was created in 1978, it started with 30 members). One of the largest and best-known alternative weeklies, the Boston Phoenix, closed in 2013 after 47 years. The Honolulu Weekly and Urban Tulsa (OK)—both more than 20 years old—also went out of business in 2013. In addition, two rival weeklies, Detroit Metro Times and Real Detroit, merged into one publication in May 2014.

2The combined circulation for the top 20 alternative weeklies in the U.S. declined by 6% in 2013—dropping to 1,600,844 from 1,703,183, according to the latest available data. Only two outlets showed an increase in circulation in 2013: The Chicago Reader, which grew by 5%, and the Miami New Times, which grew 1% after it gained national exposure for an exposé linking baseball star Alex Rodriguez to a performance-enhancing drug ring. The Village Voice—the largest weekly with a circulation of 144, 203—had a modest  drop of 3%. The biggest losers were the LA Weekly, the Philadelphia Weekly and City Pages (Minneapolis), which all suffered 13% circulation drops in 2013.

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Category: 5 Facts

Topics: News Media Sectors, News Media Trends, Newsroom Investment and Resources

Jul 10, 2014 1:01 pm

A look at the damage governments inflict on religious property

Sanjian Church in China
The Sanjian Church in Wenzhou in China’s east coast province of Zhejiang is demolished on April 29, 2014, just before the completion of its construction. The left photo shows the start of demolition on April 28, and the right photo the debris left the following day. (Kyodo via AP Images.)

The Chinese government’s demolition of a large church in the city of Wenzhou in April and recent reports of other, similar demolitions drew attention to fears of persecution among Christians in that country. A new Pew Research Center analysis finds that such incidents are not isolated to China or Christians.

Since 2007, as part of a broader study on global restrictions on religion, we have collected data on religious property damage – including demolition of houses of worship, and the seizure of religious groups’ property and government raids of houses of worship that result in property damage. The data used here are a sub-set from the report, which also includes property restitution issues and seizure of religious literature.  Read More

Topics: Religion and Government, Restrictions on Religion

Jul 10, 2014 10:01 am

5 key takeaways from our census of statehouse reporters

Many important public policy debates are centered in the nation’s state capitols—particularly with gridlock often gripping the U.S. Congress. In fact, nearly half of the state legislatures (24) enacted more laws in 2012 alone than Congress did in 2011 and 2012 combined.

To inform citizens about what is happening in America’s 50 statehouses, there are currently 1,592 journalists assigned to cover their workings, according to a Pew Research report published today that provides a first-ever detailed accounting of the statehouse press corps. After years of cutbacks in the legacy news industry, the shape of that press corps is shifting as nontraditional media outlets try to fill the gap. Here are five key takeaways about who is watching state governments today:

The number of newspaper statehouse reporters has declined 35% since 2003.1Newspapers have more journalists in statehouses than other media do, accounting for 43% of the full-time reporters. But those ranks have been thinning. An examination of comparable newspaper data from 2003 to 2014 finds that the number of full-time statehouse reporters dropped by 35% between 2003 and 2014—a loss of 164 jobs. A number of observers say this has led to diminished coverage.

2Some reporting losses in statehouse news coverage have been made up for by nontraditional players. In total, 126 full-time statehouse reporters work for nontraditional news outlets, which include nonprofit and commercial digital news organizations, ideological outlets and government insider publications that can charge steep subscription fees. This nontraditional sector accounts for 17% of all full-time statehouse reporters in the U.S. In seven states—Connecticut, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas and Vermont—the outlet with the largest number of full-time statehouse reporters is one of these nontraditional organizations.  Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Local News, News Media Sectors, Newspapers

Jul 9, 2014 4:28 pm

Americans, especially young adults, back strong economic ties with China

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As leaders from the U.S. and China meet this week in Beijing to discuss a range of economic and political issues, Americans are more likely to support stronger economic ties with China than a tougher approach.

About half of Americans (51%) say it is more important to build a stronger relationship with China on economic issues, while 41% say it is more important to get tougher with China, according to a poll conducted Feb. 12-26 among 3,337 adults. This data was released in the Pew Research Center’s political typology study on June 26. Read More

Topics: China, Foreign Affairs and Policy