The Year In Numbers, 2014

The Year In Numbers, 2014

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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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."


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."


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.


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.


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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What It Means When The Jews Of Germany No Longer Feel Safe

A neo-Nazi has been buried in the former grave of a Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender – not an oversight, but a deliberate provocation. This is just one more example of antisemitism on the rise in Germany, and society's inability to respond.

At a protest against antisemitism in Berlin

Eva Marie Kogel


BERLIN — If you want to check the state of your society, there's a simple test: as the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany, John Jay McCloy, said in 1949, the touchstone for a democracy is the well-being of Jews. This litmus test is still relevant today. And it seems Germany would not pass.

Incidents are piling up. Most recently, groups of neo-Nazis from across the country traveled to a church near Berlin for the funeral of a well-known far-right figure. He was buried in the former grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender, a gravesite chosen deliberately by the right-wing extremists.

The incident at the cemetery

They intentionally chose a Jewish grave as an act of provocation, trying to gain maximum publicity for this act of desecration. And the cemetery authorities at the graveyard in Stahnsdorf fell for it. The church issued an immediate apology, calling it a "terrible mistake" and saying they "must immediately see whether and what we can undo."

There are so many incidents that get little to no media attention.

It's unfathomable that this burial was allowed to take place at all, but now the cemetery authorities need to make a decision quickly about how to put things right. Otherwise, the grave may well become a pilgrimage site for Holocaust deniers and antisemites.

The incident has garnered attention in the international press and it will live long in the memory. Like the case of singer-songwriter Gil Ofarim, who recently claimed he was subjected to antisemitic abuse at a hotel in Leipzig. Details of the crime are still being investigated. But there are so many other incidents that get little to no media attention.

Photo of the grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

The grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

Jens Kalaene/dpa/ZUMA

Crimes against Jews are rising

Across all parts of society, antisemitism is on the rise. Until a few years ago, Jewish life was seen as an accepted part of German society. Since the attack on the synagogue in Halle in 2019, the picture has changed: it was a bitter reminder that right-wing terror against Jewish people has a long, unbroken history in Germany.

Stories have abounded about the coronavirus crisis being a Jewish conspiracy; meanwhile, Muslim antisemitism is becoming louder and more forceful. The anti-Israel boycott movement BDS rears its head in every debate on antisemitism, just as left-wing or post-colonial thinking are part of every discussion.

Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

Since 2015, the number of antisemitic crimes recorded has risen by about a third, to 2,350. But victims only report around 20% of cases. Some choose not to because they've had bad experiences with the police, others because they're afraid of the perpetrators, and still others because they just want to put it behind them. Victims clearly hold out little hope of useful reaction from the state – so crimes go unreported.

And the reality of Jewish life in Germany is a dark one. Sociologists say that Jewish children are living out their "identity under siege." What impact does it have on them when they can only go to nursery under police protection? Or when they hear Holocaust jokes at school?

Germany needs to take its antisemitism seriously

This shows that the country of commemorative services and "stumbling blocks" placed in sidewalks as a memorial to victims of the Nazis has lost its moral compass. To make it point true north again, antisemitism needs to be documented from the perspective of those affected, making it visible to the non-Jewish population. And Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

That is the first thing. The second is that we need to talk about specifically German forms of antisemitism. For example, the fact that in no other EU country are Jewish people so often confronted about the Israeli government's policies (according to a survey, 41% of German Jews have experienced this, while the EU average is 28%). Projecting the old antisemitism onto the state of Israel offers people a more comfortable target for their arguments.

Our society needs to have more conversations about antisemitism. The test of German democracy, as McCloy called it, starts with taking these concerns seriously and talking about them. We need to have these conversations because it affects all of us. It's about saving our democracy. Before it's too late.

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