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The Year In Numbers, 2014

Looking back on 2014, month by month, summing up the news — by the numbers.



JANUARY

According to a study published in the journal Science, at least 20% of the Neanderthal genome can be found in modern-day Europeans and Asians. Between 1% and 3% percent of human DNA comes from Neanderthals. “Individually, we are a little bit Neanderthal,” Joshua M. Akey, lead author of the study, told the Los Angeles Times.

By putting together these fragments of DNA, collected from 379 European and 286 East Asian subjects who took part in the analysis, they recovered about 20% of the Neanderthal genome, although subjects from East Asia retained more of it than Europeans.



The Brazilian government is giving Cuba more than $500 million a year in credit for it to purchase Brazilian products and services, Folha de S. Paulo reported. More than 300 Brazilian companies are already doing business with Cuba, and a potential lifting of economic sanctions will lead to a further increase in demand in the Communist country.



FEBRUARY

A shocking 11 million homes sit empty across Europe — enough to house all of the continent’s homeless twice over. Exclusive figures gathered by British daily The Guardian show that more than 3.4 million homes are vacant in Spain alone, in addition to 2 million in each of Italy and France, plus 1.8 million in Germany and more than 700,000 in the UK.



Facebook has purchased the messaging app WhatsApp for $19 billion, the social network’s founder Mark Zuckerberg announced in a statement Wednesday. It represents Facebook’s biggest deal to date.

In a tweet, Nieman Lab director Joshua Benton compared the acquisition to other recent major media deals. He noted that WhatsApp is worth 76 Washington Posts, which was bought by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos for $250 million in 2013. It’s also worth 19 Instagrams, which Facebook bought in 2012 for $1 billion, and 271 Boston Globes, acquired by Red Sox owner John Henry for $70 million.



MARCH

Reuters called it “a Soviet-style” referendum, as Crimea voted overwhelmingly to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation. In a referendum that has been condemned as illegal by the U.S. and the European Union, 96.77% of the Crimean population voted to integrate the region into the Russian Federation. Turnout was 83.1%.



Colorado generated $2 million in tax revenue from recreational marijuana sales during the first month it made non-medicinal use and sales legal.



APRIL

History’s largest democratic election saw more than 814 million Indian voters cast ballots that elected Narendra Modi.


Hamburg witnessed the trial of eight crematorium staff members at Öjendorf cemetery, are accused of having stolen dozens of kilos of gold teeth from corpses. The macabre thieves allegedly netted 600,000 euros ($830,000) between Sept. 1, 2005 and Aug. 20, 2010.



MAY

British tabloid News of the World’s royal editor Clive Goodman admitted to hacking into Kate Middleton’s voicemail 155 times between December 2005 and August 2006, when she started dating Prince William.

Goodman, who was jailed in 2007 for eavesdropping on the phones of royal aides, also revealed for the first time that he directly hacked Prince William’s voicemail 35 times and Prince Harry’s nine times.

The Guardian reports that Goodman told jurors he had simply never been asked about this when he was arrested on related charges in 2006 or any time since.



There are more than 2.1 billion obese or overweight people in the world, according to the latest figures published in the Lancet, and not a single country is successfully dealing with the issue.

The number has risen from 875 million in 1980, and the 188-country study showed that the U.S., China and Russia have the highest rates of obesity.



JUNE

According to a Russian poll, 71% of Russians feel "basically bad" or "very bad" about the United States, the highest figure since such polls began in 1990. The poll also shows 60% expressed negative sentiment towards the European Union, outnumbering those with positive feelings for the first time since 2003.



Google has announced that it is receiving one request every seven seconds for its new "right to be forgotten" program, which it began offering Friday as a result of an EU court decision. Applicants accessed the program's online form 12,000 times on the day it was launched, Google representatives said.



JULY

Brazil had a bad case of World Cup hangover. Not only has its humiliating 7-1 defeat in the tournament's semifinal made the seleçao drop to #7 in the FIFA World Ranking — but the country's economy coincidentally sank to no. 7 in the world (by nominal GDP).


A group of French legislators wrote a protest letter to the U.S. pharmaceutical laboratory Gilead criticizing the price of its drug against hepatitis C, Solvadi, the French daily Le Parisien reported. The drug and its three-month long treatment cost 56,000 euros per patient, while the production cost for Gilead is 200 euros, that is, 280 times less expensive.


AUGUST

The United Nations estimate for urgent rebuilding in Gaza was estimated to cost at least $367 million, following weeks of bombings by Israeli forces.


About 23 million of Twitter’s 271 million active monthly users are actually bots, business news website Quartz revealed. In a report for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the San Francisco-based social networking and microblogging service admitted that "up to approximately 8.5%” of the accounts it considers active are automatically updated "without any discernible additional user-initiated action."



SEPTEMBER

Non-whites are expected to outnumber whites among the nation’s public school students for the first time. While whites will still outnumber any other single racial or ethnic group, their overall share of the nation’s 50 million public school students is projected to drop to 49.7%, the Pew Research Center reports.


French actor Gérard Depardieu declared in an interview with the French magazine So Film that he could drink up to 14 bottles of booze in a single day.

Explaining he sometimes drinks "out of boredom," he said it all "starts at home, with champagne and red wine, before 10 a.m. Then more champagne. Then pastis, maybe half a bottle. Then two bottles of wine with lunch."

It goes on: "In the afternoon, champagne, beer, and more pastis around 5 p.m., to finish the bottle. Later, vodka and/or whisky," he told the magazine. "I can drink 12, 13, 14 bottles a day."


OCTOBER

The number of rat complaints in the Big Apple shot up by more than 2,200 to reach 24,586, an audit by the city's comptroller's office revealed.

The report highlights the worrying fact that the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene did not adequately follow procedures for addressing complaints, failing to inspect 24% of the reported cases in the target time of 10 days, AP reported.



A donor conference in Cairo to raise money to aid the Gaza Strip ended with pledges of $5.4 billion. Half of the money will go to rebuild the area, and the rest will be used as unspecified aid to the Palestinians.


NOVEMBER

Apple became the first company to top $700 billion in value with shares worth $702 billion. That’s 1.7 times the value of second biggest company, Exxon Mobil Corp, which has lost about $43 billion during the five-month oil rout, with a current capitalization of $401 billion.

With the release of the larger-screened iPhone 6 and slimmer and faster iPads this fall, consumer passion for Apple continues to grow, consolidating its position as the world’s largest company by market capitalization.

The four so-called "Internet giants," also known as GAFA (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple), now have a total revenue equivalent to Denmark’s entire GDP at around $316 billion.


According to Leslie Amoroso, a UN nutrition expert, 805 million people across the globe are undernourished. Almost every country in the world is grappling with some form of malnutrition, and nearly half are dealing with undernutrition and obesity at the same time.


DECEMBER

At least 4,272 migrants trying to flee from poverty and war have died crossing seas in 2014, a new United Nations report reveals.

Compiling data from coastal authorities around the world, the report found that 348,000 have risked their lives to find sanctuary by sea since the beginning of the year — a significant increase in the number of boat people from previous years.


South Korean singer Psy's song "Gangnam Style" has been viewed so many times that it forced YouTube to upgrade its view counter.

The song, released two years ago, was getting dangerously close to 2,147,483,647 views, the platform's former limit. So YouTube's engineers revised their view counter to expand the limit to 9,223,372,036,854,775,808, or 9 quintillion, views.

For this new limit to be reached, each person on the planet would have to watch the video more than a million times.

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Geopolitics

The West Must Face Reality: Iran's Nuclear Program Can't Be Stopped

The West is insisting on reviving a nuclear pact with Iran. However, this will only postpone the inevitable moment when the regime declares it has a nuclear bomb. The only solution is regime change.

Talks to renew the 2015 pact have lasted for 16 months but some crucial sticking points remain.

Hamed Mohammadi

-OpEd-

Rafael Grossi, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN's nuclear inspectorate, declared on Sept. 7 that Iran already had more than enough uranium for an atomic bomb. He said the IAEA could no longer confirm that the Islamic Republic has a strictly peaceful nuclear program as it has always claimed because the agency could not properly inspect sites inside Iran.

The Islamic Republic may have shown flexibility in some of its demands in the talks to renew the 2015 nuclear pact with world powers, a preliminary framework reached between Iran and the P5+1 (the U.S., the U.K., China, Russia, France and Germany). For example, it no longer insists that the West delist its Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization. But it has kept its crucial promise that unless Western powers lift all economic sanctions, the regime will boost its uranium reserves and their level of enrichment, as well as restrict the IAEA's access to installations.

Talks to renew the 2015 pact have been going on for 16 months. European diplomacy has resolved most differences between the sides, but some crucial sticking points remain.

Keep reading...Show less

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