What to expect in 2016 (less mercy from the taxman)

Plus: 2015 in numbers; cities of terror and murder; the origins of the caucus

2 January 2016

9:00 AM

2 January 2016

9:00 AM

In with the new

How the new year is being celebrated around the world. From 1 January…
BRITAIN: Annual Investment Allowance for businesses cut from £500,000 to £200,000. Deposit Guarantee Limit for savers — the sum which the government will refund to savers after a bank collapse — is cut from £85,000 to £75,000. Drink industry workers face a fine unless they sign up with the Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme.
RUSSIA: Food imports from Ukraine banned.
SWITZERLAND: Cost of private language schooling no longer tax-deductible.
SOUTH AFRICA: Carbon tax introduced.

Out with the old

In 2015…
142m people were born and 56m people died, making for population growth of 83m.
2,030m tonnes of grain were harvested.
1,989m tonnes were consumed.
26bn barrels of oil were consumed.
— Atmospheric CO2 concentration grew from 397 parts per million to 400 p.p.m.
Sources:, International Grains Council, Joint Oil Data Initiative, NOAA

Cities of death

Attacks in London and California have forced authorities to question what is the difference between terrorism and ordinary murder. Which are the world’s most dangerous cities in each case?

Murder rate per 100,000 residents
Caracas 110
Guatemala City 109
San Salvador 90
Tegucigalpa, Honduras 75


Terrorism death rate per 100,000
Baghdad 43
Maiduguri 39
Mosul 29
Peshawar 25

Source: Institute for Economics and Peace

Caucus race

The first caucus of the 2016 US presidential election is four weeks away.   But where did the idea of a caucus come from? The first documentation of the word comes from the diary of future US president John Adams in 1763. He referred to attending the Caucus Clubb in the town of Braintree, Massachusetts, where men met to smoke and discuss politics. Suggestions as to how the club got its name include:
— From an Algonquian word for ‘counsel’.
— From the Greek kaukus, ‘drinking cup’.
— From caulkers, the people who tarred the decks of ships, who were leaders of political activism in 18th-century Boston.

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  • Callipygian

    Drink industry workers face a fine unless they sign up with the Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme.
    ‘Scheme’ is an excellent word for it: when do the counter-lawsuits begin?