Saturday, June 30, 2012

The world's worst natural disasters

Calamities of the 20th and 21st centuries

An Acehnese man walks amid debris of destroyed buildings in Banda Aceh, Dec. 27, 2004. An Acehnese man walks amid debris of destroyed buildings in Banda Aceh, Dec. 27, 2004. (Achmad Ibrahim/Associated Press) The following is a list of some of the worst natural calamities to strike the world since 1900. The list is by definition arguable. Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, cyclones, hurricanes and other storms are all clearly natural phenomena.
But the picture is less clear for disasters like floods and famine. What some people may consider a natural disaster, others may consider more of a political act (for instance, some of the world's deadliest floods and famines were caused, at least in part, by policy decisions taken by hostile, indifferent or negligent regimes).
For our purposes, we have included floods and famines as well as flu pandemics on the assumption that disasters that are not man-made are, by definition, natural.
This list is also limited to disasters since 1900 — an arbitrary cut-off to be sure — but one made to reflect so-called "modern-day" disasters only.
The death tolls from disasters in the long-distant past are, at best, rough estimates. But there can be no doubt that our pre-1900 ancestors endured some appalling calamaties such as the bubonic plague ("The Black Death") that spread through Europe beginning in 1348 and wiped out an estimated one-third of humanity, or about 25 million people.

Earthquakes and tsunamis

Jan. 12, 2010. More than 230,000 people were killed when a 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti.
May 12, 2008. About 70,000 people were killed and 18,000 people were reported missing after a 7.9-magnitude earthquake struck Sichuan, China.
Oct. 8, 2005. At least 80,000 people were killed and three million left homeless after a quake struck the mountaineous Kashmir district in Pakistan.
Dec. 26, 2004. A magnitude 9.0 quake struck off the coast of Sumatra, triggering tsunamis that swept through the coastal regions of a dozen countries bordering the Indian Ocean. The death toll has been estimated at between 225,000 and 275,000.
Dec. 26, 2003. An earthquake devastated the ancient city of Bam, in central Iran, leaving between 31,000 and 43,000 people dead.
Rosa Castillo cries in front of the remains of her house in Choluteca, in southern Honduras, Nov. 9, 1998. Neigbourhood were wiped out by the Choluteca river when the river overflowed due to heavy rains caused by Tropical Storm Mitch. Rosa Castillo cries in front of the remains of her house in Choluteca, in southern Honduras, Nov. 9, 1998. Neigbourhood were wiped out by the Choluteca river when the river overflowed due to heavy rains caused by Tropical Storm Mitch. (Scott Dalton/Associated Press) July 28, 1976. The 20th century's most devastating quake (magnitude 7.8) hit the sleeping city of Tangshan in northeast China. The official death toll was 242,000. Unofficial estimates put the number as high as 655,000.
Oct. 5, 1948 - More than 110,000 were killed when a 7.3 quake rolled through the area around Ashgebat in Turkmenistan.
May 22, 1927. A magnitude 7.9 quake near Xining, China, killed 200,000
Sept. 1, 1923. A third of Tokyo and most of Yokohama were levelled when a magnitude 8.3 earthquake shook Japan. About 143,000 were killed as fires ravaged much of Tokyo.
Dec. 16, 1920. China was also the site for the world's third-deadliest quake of the 20th century. An estimated 200,000 died when a magnitude 8.6 temblor hit Gansu, triggering massive landslides.
Dec. 28, 1908. Southern Italy was ravaged by a 7.2 magnitude quake that triggered a tsunami that hit the Messina-Reggio-Calabria area, killing 123,000.

Volcanic eruptions

July 15, 1991. Mt. Pinatubo on Luzon Island in the Philippines erupted, blanketing 750 square kilometres with volcanic ash. More than 800 died.
Nov. 13-14, 1985. At least 25,000 are killed near Armero, Colombia, when the Nevado del Ruiz volcano erupted, triggering mudslides.
May 8, 1902. Mt. Pelee erupted on the Caribbean island of Martinique, destroying the capital city of St. Pierre. Up to 40,000 were killed. The day before, a volcano had killed 1,600 people on the nearby island of St. Vincent and five months later Mt. Santa Maria erupted in Guatemala, killing another 6,000.
(Two of the most famous eruptions took place before 1900. In 1883, two-thirds of the Indonesian island of Krakatoa was destroyed when a volcano erupted. A resulting series of tsunamis killed more than 36,000. In 79 CE, Mt. Vesuvius erupted in southern Italy, destroying the ancient Roman city of Pompeii and two other communities. Thousands died.)

Hurricanes, cyclones and floods

July-August 2010. Floods triggered by heavier-than-normal monsoon rains hit northwest Pakistan. By the time the waters began to recede in late August, more than 160,000 square kilometres of land — about one-fifth of the country — was under water. More than 1,700 people were killed and 17.2 million people have been affected.
May 3, 2008. Cyclone Nargis, swept along by winds that exceeded 190 kmh and waves six metres high struck the Burmese peninsula and may have left as many as 100,000 dead, according to U.S. estimates.
Oct. 26-Nov. 4, 1998. Hurricane Mitch was the deadliest hurricane to hit the Americas. It killed 11,000 in Honduras and Nicaragua and left 2.5 million homeless.
Aug. 5, 1975. At least 85,000 were killed along the Yangtze River in China when more than 60 dams failed following a series of storms, causing widespread flooding and famine. This disaster was kept secret by the Chinese government for 20 years.
August 1971. An estimated 100,000 died when heavy rains led to severe flooding around Hanoi in what was then North Vietnam.
Nov. 13, 1970. The Bhola cyclone in the Ganges delta killed an estimated 500,000 in Bangladesh. Some put the complete death toll as high as one million.
June, 1938. Nationalist Chinese soldiers, under the direction of Chiang Kai-Shek, blew up dikes around the Yellow River to stop Japanese troops from advancing. More than half a million people died in the resulting flood.
May-August 1931. Massive flooding of China's Yellow and Yangtze rivers led to almost four million deaths from drowning, disease and starvation. The flooding of the Yangtze also killed an estimated 100,000 in 1911 and 140,000 in 1935.

Pandemics and famines

1900 to present. Malaria is one of the leading causes of death in the developing world even though it is curable and largely preventable. According to the World Health Organization, malaria causes severe illness in 500 million people each year and kills more than a million annually.
1984-1985. Famine killed at least one million in Ethiopia as severe drought led to desperate food shortages.
1980 to present. Toll from AIDS worldwide since 1980 is estimated at 25 million, with 40 million others infected with HIV.
1968. The Hong Kong flu became the third flu pandemic of the 20th century.
1965-67. Three years of drought in India resulted in an estimated 1.5 million deaths from starvation and disease. Severe Indian droughts also killed millions in 1900 and 1942.
1959-1961. The "Great Leap Famine" cost an estimated 20 to 40 million lives in China as the policies of Mao Zedong resulted in massive social and economic upheaval. China was also hit by large famines in 1907, 1928-1930, 1936 and 1941-1942.
1957-1958. The Asian flu swept around the world, killing an estimated two million and making it the second biggest flu pandemic of the century.
1932-1933. Failures in Soviet central planning and Stalin's decision to withhold food from the Ukraine led to huge loss of life. At least five million Ukrainians were among the seven million victims of that famine.
1921. A Soviet famine in 1921 began with a drought that caused massive crop failures. The initial death toll was greatly magnified when Lenin refused to acknowledge the famine and sent no aid. The Soviets later estimated that 5.1 million died.
1918-1919. An epidemic of "Spanish Flu" spread around the world. At least 20 million died, although some estimates put the final toll at 50 million. It's estimated that between 20 per cent and 40 per cent of the entire world's population became sick.

Top 10 Asteroid Impacts On Earth

10. Clearwater Lakes

Clearwater Lake Asteroid

The Clearwater lakes are twin lakes that formed at the same exact time in Northern Canada. The asteroids that made them were huge, at 16 miles and 22 miles respectively. The lakes are named after their clear water; that, and the fact that there are 25 lakes in the area also called “Clearwater lake” really says something about Canadian creativity. No one’s sure how two large asteroids managed to hit the same area at the same time. One expert says it may be because asteroids have their own small moons, or it may be that it used to be one big asteroid and split in two in our atmosphere.

9. Barringer Crater

Barringer Crater
Barringer Crater, also known simply as Meteor crater is a crater in Northern Arizona that was formed something like 50,000 years ago when an iron-metallic asteroid crashed into Earth while texting and driving. Experts estimate that it struck at approximately 45,000 miles per hour and produced an explosion of 10 megatons. Rest assured there weren’t many humansaround at this time, but the woolly mammoth sure had a rough time.

8. Lonar Crater Lake

Lonar Crater
Lonar Crater Lake is the site of meteorite impact in Maharashtra, India. Experts estimate the crater formed sometime in the Pleistocene Epoch. No one is certain how large the asteroid was, or how fast it was coming- but the geological effects on the surrounding area are astounding. While the lake is primarily salt water, there are sweet water pools that form around some its corners.

7. Lake Bosumtwi Crater

Bosumtwi Crater
Around a million years ago, an 11 kilometer wide asteroid decided it hated lush rainforests and hit Ghana, forming a rather large hole in the ground. Over time, the hole filled with rainwater and became the lake it is today. Local legend says that it is the home of a God, which is why it is forbidden to fish unless you use a wooden plank. Also, there is a massive resort there for rich white people.

6. The Cricket Match One

Cricket Match Asteroid
Alas, no good article is complete without the mention of cricket. In July 2010, a perfectly good cricket game was interrupted when a 4.5 billion year old meteorite decided to sneak into the stadium. Unfortunately, it broke in two when it hit the ground. The piece that broke off hit a guy, Jan Marszel, in the chest. In retaliation, he decided to keep the asteroid for “posterity” or as we like to call it “bragging to anyone that’ll listen”. Experts say it’s the first meteorite to hit the UK since 1992.

5. Tunguska, Siberia

Tunguska Asteroid

The Tunguska Event occurred in Krasnoyarsk, Russia in as early as 1908. It is one of the most famous modern asteroid impacts, mostly because it caused a poop-load of destruction and scarred the area for a while… basically nature’s way of saying “asteroids are supposed to suck.”

4. Chiling-Yang

Chiling Yang
Although the Tunguska event is one of the most powerful impacts in modern history, Chiling-Yang was probably the scariest humans ever faced. In 1490, an asteroid making its way over to Earth burst open in the atmosphere. Rather than burn up and give us a nice show, it decided to keep going in the form of hundreds of new meteorites. The people in Chiling-Yang, China understandably began to panic. Its unknown how many people died, but Ming Dynasty records put it at 10,000. Damn.

3. The Moon Formation

Moon Formation Asteroid
Ever wonder how the moon came about? There’s no way it was always just there, right? There are a number of theories, ranging from a massive earthquake that split the Earth in half (yeah, okay hippie) or that the moon has just always been around. But the most agreed upon theory is that when Earth was still forming, an asteroid the size of freaking Mars hit us square and center. The resulting explosion was enough for Earth to give birth to what we call the Moon today. That’s probably why lunar samples show that the moon has the same composition that proto-Earth had.

2. The Dinosaur One

Dinosaur Asteroid
We’ve all heard of this one. One of the most famous theories about the extinction of all dinosaurs is that they were wiped out by an asteroid. Actually, recently, an international panel of 41 experts in the field unanimously agreed that an asteroid  wiped them out. The asteroid, which was 15 kilometers in diameter, hit the Earth at- get this- one billion times the force of the atom bomb. Read that again, we’ll wait. The resulting mess resulted in a hundreds-of-years-long global winter, which in turn killed the dinosaurs.

1. Hermes

Hermes Asteroid
None of the above really matter… they were all so long ago, and we weren’t around then. Just wait for this next one and you’ll see why we should be afraid. Why we should be very afraid. Back in 1937, very few people cared about space. Unfortunately, that’s when we very much should have been. At that time the asteroid Hermes was passing by and came extremely close to hitting the Earth. Although it was relatively small at only 1 kilometer in diameter, given its speed, experts predict that the asteroid could have caused… Well, we’ll put it this way. When an asteroid that size hit Jupiter, the impact zone was  “many time the size of Earth”. You make up your mind.
Back then, no one believed the astronomer that tracked it. So, it returned at the same velocity and distance in 1980 right as scientists were trying to convince everyone that an asteroid can actually hit Earth. Is that irony? We can’t tell.
by Mohammed Shariff, a freelance writer that can be added here and followed here. His social security number is hidden somewhere in this article. The first one to find it gets a prize!

The World's Most Expensive Places to Live 2012

1. Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo is the most expensive place to live in the world for expatriates and is one of three Japanese cities to make the top 10 list this year. 

The city has risen from the number two spot last year and has been ranked either first or second for the past five years. While the cost of renting in Asia’s most expensive city has remained relatively the same, the cost of other goods like a cup of coffee, fuel and a fast-food meal has gone up over the past year. By comparison, Tokyo is about one-third more expensive than Karachi, which is the least expensive city for expats among the 214 cities surveyed by Mercer. 

As Japan’s most important economic center, Tokyo is the most desirable place for expats to live in. But the city's real estate market is expected to be hit by shrinking demand from expatriates in 2012 due to corporate cost-cutting and downsizing, according to Knight Frank. 

Monthly Rent, Luxury 2 Bedroom: $4,848 
Cup of Coffee: $8.29 
One Gallon of Gasoline: $7.34 
Daily International Newspaper: $6.38 
Fast-Food Meal: $8.29 

2. Luanda, Angola

Photo: Chad Henning/Getty ImagesLuanda, the capital of Africa’s second largest oil producer, has fallen to second place this year from the number one spot it has held since 2010. An oil boom has helped Angola become the third-largest economy in sub-Saharan Africa after South Africa and Nigeria. Crude oil sales account for over 95 percent of its export revenue, and the government expects GDP growth of 12.8 percent in 2012. 

The most costly expense in Luanda is renting property, similar to number 8th ranked N’Djamena. Despite the average monthly cost of renting a luxury two-bedroom apartment falling $500 compared to last year, it still remains high at $6,500. Consumer inflation in Angola was more than 11 percent year-on-year in March. 

The country is the largest recipient of foreign direct investment in sub-Saharan Africa with inflows of nearly $10 billion in 2010, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). Its main overseas investors include China, Portugal, Brazil and the U.S. and expatriates from these countries are sent to oversee local operations in Luanda. 

Monthly Rent, Luxury 2 Bedroom: $6,500 
Cup of Coffee: $3.90 
One Gallon of Gasoline: $2.38 
Daily International Newspaper: $5.46 
Fast-Food Meal: $19.94* 

*Replaced by club sandwich and soda in absence of any comparable fast food outlets. 

3. Osaka, Japan

Osaka, Japan’s second largest city, has moved up three spots this year from sixth in 2011 and 2010.

Known as an important commercial center for Japan, about 1.1 million people commute into the city during the day, according to the Japanese Statistics Bureau. The city has high rental prices because of its dense population, a limited amount of accommodation and high expatriate demand. A relatively strong yen has also heightened the cost of living for expatriates. The cost of buying daily goods like a cup of coffee, fuel, an international newspaper and fast food have all gone up from last year. 

Osaka is also a key industrial hub and home to nearly 44,000 manufacturers, which creates added pressure on resources. But a strong yen and an aging labor pool have hit the once mighty industrial hub in recent decades. The city has seen a decline in manufacturing with three firms closing shop every day since the peak year of 1983.

Monthly Rent, Luxury 2 Bedroom: $3,062 
Cup of Coffee: $7.02 
One Gallon of Gasoline: $6.85 
Daily International Newspaper: $6.38 
Fast-Food Meal: $8.29 

4. Moscow, Russia

Photo: Lars Ruecker/Getty ImagesMoscow is the most expensive city in Europe for expatriates and has ranked fourth globally since 2010. 

Despite widespread concerns over corruption, red tape, pollution and growing traffic congestion, Moscow’s place as Russia’s main political and business capital makes it the top destination for expat workers. The city attracts more investment than other Russian cities and accounts for about a quarter of the country’s $1.5 trillion economy. Daily issues like power outages and safety also drive up the cost of living for foreigners. 

The rising cost of renting property is the most substantial increase in living costs for 2012, according to Mercer, with a luxury two-bedroom apartment going up by $200 compared to last year. Demand for luxury property in Moscow is also high because of growing wealth from the country’s oil and commodities boom. Moscow is home to the most billionaires in the world at 79, according to Forbes. 

Monthly Rent, Luxury 2 Bedroom: $4,200 
Cup of Coffee: $8.37 
One Gallon of Gasoline: $3.67 
Daily International Newspaper: $9.78 
Fast-Food Meal: $6.70 

5. Geneva, Switzerland

Photo: Katarina Stefanovic/Getty ImagesGeneva has been ranked as the fifth most expensive place to live in the world for the past three years by Mercer. It is Switzerland’s second-largest city after Zurich. Together, the two cities represent the high cost of living in Switzerland, the only Western European country to make the top 10 list. 

Geneva is the country’s most expensive metropolitan area and like Zurich, the Swiss franc’s appreciation has raised the cost of living for expatriates. The average monthly rent for a luxury two-bedroom apartment in the city has gone up by nearly $300 from last year to around $4,800. 

Geneva is home to 20 international organizations such as the United Nations, World Trade Organization and Red Cross, making it a big draw for expats. Over 44 percent of the city’s population is made up of foreigners. The cosmopolitan hub is also home to the world’s most expensive private schools and is said to have one of the best education systems, further adding to the high cost of living for families. 

Monthly Rent, Luxury 2 Bedroom: $4,818 
Cup of Coffee: $6.57 
One Gallon of Gasoline: $7.46 
Daily International Newspaper: $4.38 
Fast-Food Meal: $12.59 

6. Zurich, Switzerland (Tied)

Photo: José Fuste Raga/Getty ImagesZurich, home to a number of banking giants such as UBS and Credit Suisse, moved one spot higher this year from 7th in 2011 and 9th in 2010. 

Zurich is an attractive location for international firms looking to take advantage of Switzerland’s low tax rates. Expatriates are also drawn to Zurich’s high quality of life. The city ranks third in the world when it comes to education, tax, and security as motives for purchasers to buy luxury property, according to Knight Frank. 

While most European cities have dropped in the rankings, the strength of the local currency, the Swiss franc, has boosted the cost of living in Zurich. While Mercer ranks Zurich as the sixth most expensive city, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) ranks it as number one. EIU’s survey covers 130 cities and takes into account 160 products and services. 

Monthly Rent, Luxury 2 Bedroom: $3,614 
Cup of Coffee: $6.02 
One of Gallon Gasoline: $7.38 
Daily International Newspaper: $4.38 
Fast-Food Meal: $12.59 

6. Singapore (Tied)

Photo: Wsboon Images/Getty ImagesSingapore, like other Asian financial centers, has seen a big inflow of expatriates, which has pushed up the cost of housing and other living costs. 

The city has been moving up Mercer’s most expensive cities list, rising two spots this year from eighth in 2011 and 11 th in 2010. Known for its high property prices and rents compared to the rest of Southeast Asia, Singapore is also an extremely expensive place to own a car. The permit to buy a new car can cost anywhere between $46,000 to over $67,000. Prices of these 10-year permits, known as Certificate of Entitlement (COE), have jumped 40 percent  since the beginning of this year. 

An average Toyota Vios subcompact costs $85,700 including the permit, up from about $60,000 at the beginning of the year, according to motoring website 

Given the steep cost of living in Singapore, expat salaries are also correspondingly high. According to a survey by HSBC  more than half of expats in Singapore earned more than $200,000 in 2011, making it the country with the highest expat salaries in Asia. Expats in Singapore need to have larger incomes than their home countries to maintain their standard of living. About 82 percent of expats surveyed said they were more likely to spend more money on accommodation, while 65 percent said they would spend more on food in 2011 compared to the global average of around 50 percent. 

Monthly Rent, Luxury 2 Bedroom: $3,588 
Cup of Coffee: $5.18 
One Gallon of Gasoline: $6.55 
Daily International Newspaper: $3.59 
Fast-Food Meal: $5.66 

8. N’ Djamena, Chad

Photo: Kanbou Sia/AFP/Getty ImagesN’Djamena, the capital and economic center of the central African country of Chad, fell five spots this year from third place in 2011 and 2010.

The key reason behind the high cost of living in N’Djamena is the difficulty in finding suitable and safe accommodations for expatriates, making the few available places extremely expensive. Companies must also take into account the personal safety of employees in the violence-mired city, further adding to costs. 

The influx of expatriates working in Chad’s oil industry has pushed up the cost of living, with a fast-food meal costing as much as $25. Chad’s oil fields have attracted a number of international energy giants such as China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), Exxon Mobil, Chevron and Malaysia’s state-run Petronas. Chad saw investments of more than $8 billion in 2011 by Chinese firms keen to cash in on the country’s energy industry. 

Monthly Rent, Luxury 2 Bedroom: N/A 
Cup of Coffee: $3.32 
One Gallon of Gasoline: $6.55 
Daily International Newspaper: $6.85 
Fast-Food Meal: $25.18 

9. Hong Kong

Photo: Joe Chen Photography/Getty ImagesHong Kong, the only Chinese city or territory to make the top 10 list, has been ranked the ninth most expensive place to live for the past two years, falling from the eighth spot in 2010. 

One of the most substantial increases in the cost of living in Hong Kong has been in renting property. The average monthly rent for a luxury two-bedroom apartment jumped around $1,300 from $5,800 in 2011 to almost $7,100 this year. As one of the most densely populated cities in the world with limited housing supply, average house prices have skyrocketed over 93 percent between 2006 and 2011 — making Hong Kong the world’s second-hottest property market, according to real estate consultancy Knight Frank. 

Hong Kong’s reputation as a major global financial center remains a big draw for international businesses and expatriates, which in turn pushes up the cost of living. The cost of food and fuel has also gone up from last year with headline inflation jumping nearly 5 percent in April. 

Monthly Rent, Luxury 2 Bedroom: $7,092 
Cup of Coffee: $6.83 
One Gallon of Gasoline: $8.36 
Daily International Newspaper: $3.61 
Fast-Food Meal: $3.54 

10. Nagoya, Japan

Photo: Jantelagen/Mark McDonald/Getty ImagesThe cost of living in Nagoya has risen rapidly in the past few years, with the city breaking into the top 10 for the first time in 2012 from 11th in 2011 and 19th in 2010. 

Nagoya is Japan’s auto manufacturing hub, and an important place of business for some of the world’s leading carmakers like Toyota, Honda, General Motors and Volkswagen. 

Expats are generally drawn to the city because of its large industrial sector. Demand for housing in the densely populated area, which is the third-largest in Japan, has driven up the cost of housing. 

Still, the cost of renting a luxury two-bedroom apartment in Nagoya is around half the cost of renting in Tokyo. But Nagoya is as expensive as Tokyo when it comes to the cost of a cup of coffee, fuel or a fast-food meal. To top it off, a surging yen has resulted in higher prices in general for expats living in Japan. 

Monthly Rent, Luxury 2 Bedroom: $2,551 
Cup of Coffee: $6.38 
One Gallon of Gasoline: $6.70 
Daily International Newspaper: $6.38 
Fast-Food Meal: $8.42 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Top 10 most powerful celebrities in the world

Rank Name Pay Money Rank TV/Radio Rank Press Rank Web Rank Social Rank
1 Jennifer Lopez

Jennifer Lopez

$52.0 M 30 10 22 13 19
2 Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey

$165.0 M 1 1 13 19 18
3 Justin Bieber

Justin Bieber

$55.0 M 24 4 9 9 3
4 Rihanna


$53.0 M 27 23 11 5 2
5 Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga

$52.0 M 30 3 1 8 1
6 Britney Spears

Britney Spears

$58.0 M 20 26 34 15 11
7 Kim Kardashian

Kim Kardashian

$18.0 M 77 5 35 6 16
8 Katy Perry

Katy Perry

$45.0 M 36 21 18 7 4
9 Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise

$75.0 M 13 22 26 32 42
10 Steven Spielberg

Steven Spielberg

$130.0 M 3