The Crunch: cherry tree blooms, the cost of booze and AI bias

<span>This week in The Crunch: cherry blossom blooms, Sydney’s housing crisis and a deep dive into Australia’s alcohol tax. </span><span>Composite: Getty images/Alamy</span>
This week in The Crunch: cherry blossom blooms, Sydney’s housing crisis and a deep dive into Australia’s alcohol tax. Composite: Getty images/Alamy

Welcome to the 10th edition of The Crunch! Double digits and going strong.

In this week’s newsletter we have preventive policing in Australia, warmer springs driving earlier cherry blossom blooms in Japan, analysis of racial discrimination in AI hiring algorithms, an illustration of Australia’s “incoherent” alcohol taxes and more.

But first, the destruction of Gaza in 100 lives …

Since the Israel-Gaza conflict began, about 2 million Gazans have been displaced, hundreds of thousands are starving and more than 30,000 have been killed.

For many, thousands of kilometres from the conflict, such huge numbers can become abstractions. Our colleague Mona Chalabi has created this illustration of 100 Gazans to put a face to the statistics.

Four charts from the week


1. A deep dive into preventive policing

New South Wales police stop and search 550 people and vehicles every day, according to data obtained by the ABC. Of those searches, 90% turn up nothing but the number of preventive searches has increased sixfold in the past 20 years. And in some areas, demographics and communities are disproportionately targeted.

This data-driven feature is part of the Stop and Search series from the ABC.


2. Ever earlier cherry tree blooms

The day of peak cherry blossom blooms has been tracked for more than 1,000 years, making it a favourite dataset for data visualisations. Here Our World in Data illustrates the impact that increasingly warm spring temperatures has on the timing of these blooms.


3. Another example of AI bias

Even as some businesses have started using generative AI to screen job applicants, a Bloomberg investigation has found some tools systematically produce biases against some racial groups.


4. Why the cost of your beer and G&T is going up

Australia taxes spirits up to 20 times more than cheap wine as a result of a tax system a government report once called “incoherent”. Originally intended to encourage people to drink less, researchers say it has been systemically eroded by industry lobbying. You can see more in our deep dive into Australia’s alcohol tax.


Spotlight on … cities!

  • Bloomberg has an in-depth analysis of Sydney’s housing crisis, looking at density and affordability.

  • This tool lets you compare the densities of cities by distance from the city centre around the world (we did something similar last year and found out making this comparison is a lot harder than it sounds).

  • Researchers have modelled the kilometres travelled by different modes of transport in more than 800 cities

Off the Charts

Who would you include in a list of notable people throughout history? Here’s one attempt by Jan Willem Tulp, using data from Wikipedia. Scroll through and see notable people by category, how old they were at that time, and scaled by how prevalent they are in Wikipedia.

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