This past weekend marked the 39th anniversary of the passage of Pakistan’s second constitutional amendment, which defines the country’s Ahmadi community as non-Muslim. Ahmadis, a minority group who see themselves as an Islamic sect, revere their founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmed, as a kind of prophet – a controversial view because he came after Muhammad, whom Sunni Muslims consider the final prophet. Sunnis form the majority of Pakistan’s population, and in recent years, there have been numerous incidents of violence against the Ahmadi community in Pakistan. In 2011, Pakistan earned the highest possible score on Pew Research Center’s social hostilities involving religion index.
To mark the anniversary, several anti-Ahmadi organizations in Pakistan held conferences on Saturday night where speakers called for renewed efforts to isolate Ahmadis from public life, including banning them from working in government or military jobs. Ahmadi organizations such as Jamaat-i-Ahmadiyya advised their members to stay away from public places.
Two-in-three Pakistani Muslims say Ahmadis are not Muslims, according to a Pew Research poll conducted in November 2011. Just 7% accept Ahmadis as fellow Muslims, while 26% do not offer a response or say they don’t know.
The poll also found that a majority of Pakistani Muslims support the country’s blasphemy laws, which predate Pakistan’s independence in 1947 but have since been expanded. The laws, which carry a potential death sentence for insulting Islam, have been frequently invoked against Ahmadis and other religious minorities in Pakistan; although formal criminal prosecutions are rare, social discrimination and harassment of Ahmadis is widespread. Fully 75% of Pakistani Muslims say blasphemy laws are necessary to protect Islam in their country, while 6% say blasphemy laws unfairly target minority communities, and 19% express no opinion on the issue.
Decline in the average selling price of smartphones over past two years.
The ever-increasing ubiquity of smartphones, in both developed and emerging markets, is driving prices for the devices lower and lower, according to technology market-research firm International Data Corp.
The average selling price worldwide for smartphones has fallen from $443 just two years ago to $372 this year, according to IDC. The company projects that by 2017, smartphones will sell for an average $307, driven by customers in emerging markets who are gravitating to 3G and older phones; already IDC expects the average selling price of smartphones in India to fall below $200 by the end of this year. Read More →
Category: Daily Number
Topics: Mobile Devices
The American and French publics, who a decade ago bitterly disagreed over the U.S. invasion of Iraq, now see eye-to-eye on the looming military strike against Syria because of its alleged use of chemical weapons against its own people. In principle they both think there are times when it is necessary to use military force in the pursuit of justice. They both favor United Nations support for any Syrian intervention. But contrary to the plans of U.S. President Barack Obama and French Present Francois Hollande, who appear poised to be allies in an attack on Syria, both the French and American publics would prefer that their countries just sit this one out. Read More →
Some may find it ironic that after a lengthy hiatus, Jon Stewart returned to host “The Daily Show” just days before the Sept. 9 re-launch of CNN’s “Crossfire.” During a memorable October 2004 appearance on “Crossfire,” Stewart said the show’s liberal-vs.-conservative argument format was “hurting America” and accused the hosts of failing to live up to their “responsibility to the public discourse.” Two months later, CNN president Jonathan Klein cancelled the 23-year-old show, saying he agreed “wholeheartedly” with Stewart’s assessment.
Now, under new CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker, “Crossfire” is back at 6:30 p.m., injecting more opinion-driven programming into an evening cable news landscape that, according to a Pew Research Center analysis, is already chock full of ideology and commentary. The ideological combatants on the new “Crossfire” include a conservative team of former House Speaker and presidential candidate Newt Gingrich and columnist and commentator S.E. Cupp. Their liberal opponents are Stephanie Cutter, a former deputy campaign manager for President Obama, and Van Jones, the former special advisor for green jobs in the Obama White House. All of them have made numerous appearances as cable pundits. Read More →
Topics: News Content Analysis
Three-quarters of Americans said in the wake of the Boston bombings that occasional acts of terrorism will be part of U.S. life in the future.
While there has not been an act of terrorism on U.S. soil on the scale of the 9/11 attacks that occurred 12 years ago this week, the attention currently being paid to anti-terrorism efforts because of the debate over government surveillance and incidents like the bombings at this year’s Boston Marathon have been constant reminders of the threat. Read More →
Category: Daily Number
Supporters of a U.S.-led military strike against Syria have largely framed the issue as a matter of protecting global security by enforcing international law. Speaking Friday at the G-20 summit in Russia, President Obama stressed that the international norm against using chemical weapons must be maintained if that and other norms are to have any meaning.
But proponents of taking military action also have sought to cast the move as a moral imperative. “This is not the time to be spectators to a slaughter,” Secretary of State John Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday. “Neither our country nor our conscience can afford the cost of silence.” In his comments on Friday, Obama implicitly compared the debate over Syria to international inaction during the Rwandan genocide. Read More →
Topics: Foreign Affairs and Policy
U.S. births are in the news again, with the release today of 2012 statistics indicating a flattening of the sharp decline in fertility that accompanied the Great Recession. The number of U.S. births in 2012 was not statistically different from 2011, and the birth rate barely declined, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
Here are the preliminary numbers: There were 3,952,937 babies born in the U.S., no different statistically from the 3,953,590 born the year before. The fertility rate was 63.0 births per 1,000 women of childbearing age, only slightly lower than 63.2 in 2011, which itself had been the lowest on record. Read More →
Category: Chart of the Week
American Catholic leaders have pledged to “pull out all the stops” in expressing support of a proposed overhaul of U.S. immigration laws, according to Kevin Appleby, director of migration policy for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As one part of the drive, Catholic bishops and priests in major dioceses plan to preach this Sunday in favor of immigration policy changes.
The measure, which includes the possibility of citizenship for some unauthorized immigrants, has passed the Senate and has President Barack Obama’s support, but it remains stuck in the House.
Black men were more than six times as likely as white men in 2010 to be incarcerated in federal and state prisons, and local jails.
During last month’s 50th anniversary celebration of Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream” speech, much attention was focused on the range of areas where gaps between whites and blacks had widened, narrowed or stayed the same.
One area where the black-white gap has widened is incarceration. Several speakers at the anniversary took note of this, including former President Jimmy Carter who said “I think we all know how Dr. King would have reacted” to the large numbers of African-American men in prison. Read More →
Category: Daily Number
With more than 37 million speakers, Spanish is by far the most spoken non-English language in the U.S. today among people ages 5 and older. It is also one of the fastest-growing, with the number of speakers up 233% since 1980, when there were 11 million Spanish speakers. (The number of Vietnamese speakers grew faster, up 599% over the same period).
As Spanish use has grown, driven primarily by Hispanic immigration and population growth, it has become a part of many aspects of life in the U.S. For example, Spanish is spoken by more non-Hispanics in U.S. homes than any other non-English language and Spanish language television networks frequently beat their English counterparts in television ratings.
But what’s the future of Spanish?