Bhutanese vote in first-ever national election
Rare misprinted stamp sells for $825,000
Priests clash at the Church of the Nativity
Pollution in Chinese capital hits dangerous levels
KHAO LAK, THAILAND
Paper lanterns mark tsunami anniversary
Russia launches navigation satellites
Winners and Losers: U.S. Population Change
The U.S. population rolled past the 300 million mark in late 2006 and continues to rise, but the growth is uneven. From 2006 to '07, the most populous state, California, grew by more than 300,000, to 36.5 million. Most states had a mild population bump, though a few lost people--like ailing manufacturing giant Michigan, which lost 30,500 inhabitants. Meanwhile, despite the influx of more than 10,000, Wyoming remains the least populated U.S. state, with just 522,000 residents--or roughly 5 people per sq. mi. [This article consists of a complex diagram. Please see hardcopy of magazine.]
Where Crude Heads After Hitting $100
After several near misses, crude-oil prices briefly hit $100 a bbl. on the first day of trading in 2008. The doubling of crude prices over the past year hasn't been fully felt at the pump, but it will be if prices stay high. What's driving the increase?
IT'S THE SUPPLY
The immediate cause of the latest price jump was unrest in oil-rich Nigeria, but the bigger issue is that not enough new supply is coming online to make up for declining production at many existing fields.
IT'S THE DEMAND
Hundreds of millions of new drivers in China, India and elsewhere could put upward pressure on prices for decades to come. But a possible economic slowdown in the U.S. this year would reduce demand.
IT'S THE WEAK DOLLAR
Oil is priced in U.S. dollars, so when the buck loses ground against other currencies, the price of crude generally rises. Speculators betting that this will continue may be driving it up even more.
SO WHAT COMES NEXT?
Today's high prices, unlike those of the 1970s, aren't the product of a passing shock. There's reason to expect more increases over the long haul. What prices do in coming months, though, is anybody's guess.
DEFINITION ag-flay-shun n. The rising cost of food and drink attributed to higher demand for biofuels made from agricultural products.
CONTEXT The alternative-fuel boom has caused a leap in demand for corn. In turn, many farmers looking to jump on the biofuel bandwagon have abandoned staples like barley and hops in favor of energy crops. Exacerbating the trend: last year's droughts, floods and unusual temperatures.
USAGE In 2007 agflation hit everything from cereal and baked products (up 5.2%) to meat, poultry, fish and eggs (up 5.4%) to dairy (up 14%) to alcoholic beverages (up 3.7%). The trend may well continue, since the latest congressional energy bill calls for a fivefold increase in the use of alternative fuels in the U.S. gasoline supply by 2022.
Top Surveillance Societies
A new study from Privacy International and the Electronic Privacy Information Center says Big Brother is getting bigger around the globe. The report ranked 70 countries for 2007: Greece, Romania and Canada had the strongest privacy protections for their citizens, while Malaysia, Russia and China were the most invasive.
WHAT'S DRIVING THE SNOOPING
Fears about immigration and border control led to increased surveillance in many countries, according to the report, with new database and fingerprinting systems. The U.S., where these concerns are high, was the lowest-ranked democracy, with what the report calls "endemic" surveillance.
Highway Fame for Fugitives
WALLS OF SHAME Billboards in 20 cities will now bear the mug shots of the FBI's most wanted. After a test of the strategy led to the arrest of a man suspected of killing a police officer in Philadelphia, the bureau secured a deal with Clear Channel Outdoor to use 150 digital boards, which will also flash security messages and alerts about missing children.
CRIME-FIGHTING TREND Though billboards are a first for the FBI, the 800 posted by local law-enforcement agencies across the U.S. have had some success in catching criminals.