Hobson's choice

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The Independent Culture
Amount lent annually by the World Bank for emergency relief after natural disasters, predominantly to the developing world: $8.8bn

Number of tons of garbage handled daily by Makattam, a so-called "garbage village" of 17,000 inhabitants on the outskirts of Cairo, the main employment in which is to collect and recycle the city's waste: 1,200

Amount Brisbane spent on a lunch for the International Olympic Committee in East Berlin as part of its bid for the 1992 Olympics: $1.9bn

Cost to the British film industries of the decision of the producers of

the Star Wars prequels not to use British post-production facilities: pounds 150m

Number of minutes a day the average Westerner spent laughing in the 1950s: 18

Number of minutes a day the average Westerner spends laughing in the 1990s: 6

Percentage of Americans who get less than 6 hours sleep a night: 32

Percentage of books published in UK each year which are translated from foreign languages: 2

Percentage of books published in France, Germany and the Netherlands each year which are translated from foreign languages: 16

Of the 800,000 Icelanders who have ever lived, percentage whose entire family histories are recorded: 75

Number of information technology jobs waiting to be filled in the member states of the European Union: 500,000

Number of bicycles stolen a month in Amsterdam: 15,000

Number of Japanese teachers taking leave of absence last month because of the stress caused by disruptive students: 1,609

Number of Japanese teachers reprimanded last month for striking students: 414

Compiled by Will Hobson

SOURCES: Geographical, Unesco Courier, Time, Sight and Sound,International Congress of Humour in Therapy, Dutch Foundation for the Production and Translation of Literature, Sunday Times, New Yorker, Unesco Courier, Msafiri, Times Educational Supplement, Independent on Sunday.

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