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A Year in Numbers:

Accounting for some of 2004

By Kasia Kubin
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As a global community, we experienced a great deal last year. Many of the most prominent issues in 2004 revolved around the U.S.A. The war in Iraq , Guantanamo Bay and the November elections were capable of captivating a worldwide audience as nations and people reacted to the growing international involvement of the wealthiest and among the most powerful countries of our times. Other events, nevertheless, also succeeded in transforming the international community into a global village; the outpouring of support after the catastrophic tsunami in Asia is a prime example. One of the many donors of relief aid to the tsunami victims was the town of Beslan , which just several months earlier had experienced its own tragedy of a violent school siege.

The following list of statistics highlights some important, interesting, encouraging, as well as devastating developments of 2004. You might wonder why some abundantly significant events were not included in the list, while other, seemingly haphazard or trivial details made the cut. The aim of this list was not to repeat the countless other lists that appear at the end of each year, but rather to draw attention to some events and statistics that you may have forgotten about or that might reveal a wealth of information if you choose to pursue the specific detail cited. Above all, the list was compiled with an eye to spanning a diverse range of events, regions, interests, and peoples throughout the world.

A final note of explanation: The decision whether something qualified as an up- or downside or in the category of uncertainty was largely subjective, though for some events it would indeed be difficult to argue with their placement. For example, there is little chance for a positive side to the fact that in the fall of 2004, 50% of Mauritanian crops were destroyed by clouds of locusts. Within each category, the first entries refer to a specific event while later entries are more concerned with the statistic itself. As many of the entries as possible are contained in the year 2004; it is specified if statistics span a different period.

As usual, the bad news first/The Downside >>




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