December 2014

Numbers on the Periphery

Issue ix


In Japan, a new train, which uses magnetic levitation, has successfully completed its first test-run, becoming the fastest passenger train in the world.


In miles per hour, the highest speed that the train reached. [1]


In miles per hour, the average traveling speed of Amtrak’s fastest train. [2]



After the most expensive midterm elections in US history, the Republicans now have a majority of seats in both the US Senate and House of Representatives.


Amount spent in campaigns for the Nov. 4 elections. [3]


Amount spent on the campaign of Rhode Island gubernatorial candidate Bob Healey. [4]


Percent of votes received by Bob Haley. [5]



A 90-year-old man, Arnold Abbott, has been arrested in Florida for violating an ordinance that prohibits people from serving food to the homeless. According to Abbott, “An officer said, 'Drop that plate right now' — like I had a weapon."


Percent of US cities that prohibit sharing food with the homeless. [6]



According to a new study, nearly half a million Iraqis have died due to war-related causes in the eleven years since the US invasion in 2003.


Number of Islamic countries that the US has bombed, occupied, or invaded since 1980. [7]


Number of American citizens killed by Muslim terrorists in the decade following the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. [8]



The European Space Agency’s Philae, the first spacecraft to ever land on a comet,  discovered organic matter containing the carbon atom on a comet more than 4 billion miles from Earth.


Tweets about the spacecraft in the 24 hours following its landing. [9]

307, 782

Tweets about Kim Kardashian’s newly released nude photos in the same 24 hours. [10]



A grand jury in Saint Louis County, Missouri decided that there was not enough evidence to indict Darren Wilson, the police officer who fatally shot the unarmed African American teen, Michael Brown. The grand jury’s decision has been followed by large protests throughout the United States.


Number of Americans killed by the police in the week from November 17–23. [11]


Percent chance that an African American male born in 1991 will spend time in jail at some point in their life. [12]



Begging has been banned in Arendal, a wealthy town in Norway.  


Percent of US cities that prohibit begging in public. [13]


Percent of US cities that prohibit sleeping in public. [14]



Ebola continues to spread intensely in Sierra Leone, as the death toll in West Africa from the disease has eclipsed 5,000.


Amount spent on healthcare in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea in 2011. [15]


Amount lost in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea in 2011 due to corporate tax dodging. [16]



Despite urgent calls for more aid workers in Ebola-stricken West Africa, the number of American health care workers volunteering in the region has significantly declined. Aid agencies credit this drop to policies in New York and New Jersey where returning aid workers have faced mandatory 21-day quarantines.


Amount of emergency funds US government is pledging to fight ebola in West Africa. [17]


Amount of money spent in the US in 2013 on the lottery. [18]



North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un has reportedly had a top aide executed in another purge against internal powers threatening Jong-un’s sovereignty.


Number of pages the Chinese Communist Party’s newspaper committed to a photo spread of North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un after he was awarded The Onion’s “Sexiest Man of the Year” award in 2012. [19]