Comparing nations’ capitals: Washington, D.C. vs. Amsterdam

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Possession of marijuana has been legal in D.C. since last Thursday. Coffee shops have been selling pot in Amsterdam since the 1970s. But within the past couple of years, Dutch authorities have been working on laws to allow the sale of weed only to residents of the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. And in D.C. sales aren’t legal at all.

So, overall, Amsterdam has D.C. beat in every regard. (I’m biased, because Amsterdam is my favorite city in the world.) Oh, the chart was put together by the Dutch Embassy.

For more information, click here.

In the wake of Charlie Hebdo

TMW2015-01-14colorOK, so how will the psychopaths on the right turn this into an anti-Obama screed?

Several leading Republicans criticized the Obama administration for not having a more prominent presence at the rally.

“The absence is symbolic of the lack of American leadership on the world stage, and it is dangerous. The attack on Paris, just like previous assaults on Israel and other allies, is an attack on our shared values,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) wrote in a Time op-ed.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said on “CBS This Morning” that it was a “mistake” not to send a higher-ranking U.S. official to the Paris rally.

“I understand that when the president travels, he brings with him a security and communications package which is intense. And I understand you drop that into the middle of something like this, it could be disruptive,” Rubio said. “There’s a plethora of people they could have sent. I think in hindsight I hope that they would have done it differently.”

Yeah, because we all know how much the right wing loves to support everything about France. This past summer, I was at a national monument where I heard a true American tell his kids to eat their “Freedom Fries.” (I’m really not kidding.)

I’m sure the French are upset that Obama didn’t join the rally:

During the rally, most French hardly seemed to notice the absence of a prominent U.S. representative. And many had felt ambivalent about the presence of global leaders in the first place, given the dubious human rights records of some who attended and the desire of participants to make the march about the unity of the French people, rather than about politics.

“I consider these heads of state to be taking part in my march,” said Thierry, a 56-year-old painter, who declined to give his last name because of fears of terrorism. “I’m not taking part in theirs.”

 

Want to understand economics? Don’t watch CNBC.

Here’s an excerpt from a CNBC interview with IDA Ireland chief executive Martin Shanahan, of IDA Ireland, Irelland’s industrial development agency. CNBC allegedly understands global economics.  (Via the Irish Times):

CNBC: What has the weaker euro meant in terms of tourism?

Shanahan: So, I think, em, Ireland is a very globalised economy so we look to what is happening here as much as we do to what is happening in Europe and we look to what is happening in…

CNBC: You have pounds anyway don’t you still?

Shanahan: We have euros.

CNBC: You have euros in Ireland?

Shanahan: Yes. We have euros, which is eh…

CNBC: Why do you have euros in Ireland?

Shanahan: A strong recovery….

CNBC: Why do use euros in Ireland?

Shanhan: Why wouldn’t we have euros in Ireland?

CNBC: Huh. I’d use the pound.

Shanahan: We use euro.

CNBC: What about Scotland? I was using Scottish eh…

Shanahan: Scottish pounds.

CNBC: Scottish pounds.

Shanahan: They use Sterling.

CNBC: They use sterling?

Shanahan: They use sterling. But we use euro.

CNBC: What? Why would you do that?

Shanahan: Why wouldn’t we do that.

CNBC: Why didn’t Scotland? No wonder they wanted to break away.

Shanahan: They are part of the UK we are not.

CNBC: Aren’t you right next to er?

Shanahan: We are very close but entirely separate.

CNBC: It is sort of the same, same island isn’t it?

Shanhan: And in the North of Ireland they have sterling.

CNBC: They do?

Shanhan: And in the North of Ireland they use sterling.

CNBC: It is just too confusing…

Let’s begin with the first problem: The CNBC interviewer doesn’t know that Ireland is its own country. He thinks it’s part of the United Kingdom. Go to Dublin (or if you don’t want to travel that far, go to an Irish-American bar in Boston) and say the Irish are really Brits, and see if you don’t get your ass stomped. Something about potatoes and famine.

The second problem: The CNBC interviewer doesn’t know that Ireland is part of the eurozone. That’s the 18 countries that use the euro as their currency.

The third problem: The CNBC interviewer doesn’t know that Scotland uses the British pound. He thinks it has it’s own currency. Scotland is part of the U.K. It’s like asking if residents of Louisville use the Kentucky dollar.

The fourth problem: The CNBC interviewer doesn’t know that Northern Ireland isn’t in Ireland. It uses the pound because it’s part of the U.K. Being part of Britain is why people were getting blown up during “the Troubles.”

I realize the other interviewers on the set know their cohort is an idiot, but they let him go on, which makes them look stupid for not saying, “Dude. It’s another country. Like Canada isn’t part of the United States.”

(To which he probably would have responded, “But Canada uses the dollar.”)

Oh, and just to be clear. This isn’t confusing.

These are the people who go on TV every day and tell you how you should invest your money. You’d get better advice from a mattress.

The Earth, and its wealth, at night

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If it were night everywhere at the same time, this is what the Earth would look like (click to enlarge). But that strange statement doesn’t explain the importance of this view. What this image shows us is a representation of global wealth. As Vox puts it:

What you see is that in rich countries, light is largely a proxy for population density. Observe the thick cluster of the US Northeastern Megalopolis and the even bigger cluster in northwestern Europe. In poorer regions, however, the map represents not just population density but also the actual availability of electrical lighting. Huge swathes of Africa are barely illuminated at night, and densely populated India looks rather dim.

But of course, if it were night everywhere, that would mean the sun would be gone and we’d all be dead. Money can’t fix that.

Cops aren’t trigger happy … in the rest of the world

A few things to consider:

1114The above is what happens in America. But are the situations the same in the rest of the world?

BvbGmKdIQAAqYSWOK. Maybe that’s an unfair comparison. How about this?

In 2012, 409 people were shot and killed by American police in what were termed justifiable shootings. In that same year, British police officers fired their weapons just once. No one was killed.

In 2013, British police officers fired their weapons all of three times. No one died. According to The Economist, “British citizens are around 100 times less likely to be shot by a police officer than Americans. Between 2010 and 2014, the police force of one small American city — Albuquerque in New Mexico — shot and killed 23 civilians; seven times more than the number of Brits killed by all of England and Wales’s 43 forces during the same period.

Think about that. In 2013, cops in the U.K. fired their guns three times. Last week, in Ferguson, Mo., a cop shot an 18-year-old twice as many times as every cop in Britain fired off a round in 2013. And the Ferguson cop got of six times as many shots in one encounter with an unarmed black teen as every cop in Britain fired in 2012.

One day, someone is going to give a racial breakdown of all of the U.S. shootings. I suspect the above German photo pretty much gives the answer on what to expect.