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Wednesday
Aug152012

Melbourne Tops World’s Most Livable Cities List

iStockpoto/Thinkstock(MELBOURNE, Australia) -- Melbourne, Australia, has hung on to the top spot for the second year in a row in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s ranking of the world’s most livable cities.

Melbourne got a score of 97.5 of 100, just beating out second-place Vienna, Austria, which scored 97.4 and third-place Vancouver, Canada, which scored 97.3.

“Overall it is a remarkable testament to our remarkable city and I think we should be very proud of that,” Lord Mayor Robert Doyle told the Austalian Broadcasting Company. “Too often, even in our own wonderful city, it’s a bit easy to find the things that we think have gone wrong. What this tells us is that on a world scale, that there isn’t a more livable city and I think that’s a great outcome.”

Canada and Australia made a strong showing on the list, with the Canadian cities of Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary coming in third, fourth, and fifth (tied), respectively. The Australian cities of Adelaide, Sydney, and Perth came in fifth (tied), seventh, and tenth, respectively. Helsinki, Finland and Auckland, New Zealand rounded out the list.

Sixteen U.S. cities made the list, which ranked 140 cities in the categories of stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education, and infrastructure.  Honolulu topped the U.S. list, tying with Amsterdam for 26th place.  Next for America was Pittsburgh, which ranked 30th, followed by Washington D.C. at 34th place. Atlanta, Miami, and Chicago tied for 36, followed by Detroit at 40, Boston at 41 and Seattle at 42. Minneapolis tied with Los Angeles for 43 followed by Cleveland and Houston at 45 and 46, respectively. San Francisco, New York, and Lexington came in at the bottom for American cities, at 52, 56, 59.

Although these rankings may seem dismal for the United States, they still put America’s worst-rated city, Lexington, which has an overall score of 85.4, well within the survey’s top tier of 80-100, which indicates that “there are few, if any, challenges to living standards.”

Jon Copestake, the survey’s editor, said in a statement: “The tiny increment between the top ten cities shows just how tight the ranking can be. Canadian cities, like Australia, benefit from good infrastructure and low crime rates. For big US cities a high score for cultural activities can come at the expense of higher congestion and crime rates.”

Bottoming out the list is Dhaka, Bangladesh, with a score of 38.7, but it was not the only city to receive bad news from the survey.

According to a statement released by the EIU “the impact of the Arab Spring and fallout from the Eurozone crisis is still being felt. Many cities in the Middle East and North Africa have seen downward revisions to their scores thanks to civil unrest. The ongoing civil war in Syria saw the capital Damascus fall furthest as violence intensifies, with the city dropping 13 places to 130th out of 140 cities surveyed and into the very bottom tier of livability with a score of 46.3.”

For a full list of the cities ranked see the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Livability report.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep012011

Bones of Legendary Australian Outlaw Ned Kelly Identified

National Archive of Australia(MELBOURNE, Australia) -- A 131-year-old mystery – what happened to one of the world's most famous outlaws – has been solved.

Ned Kelly is something of a folk hero in Australia, that nation's Jesse James: his notoriety built on a two-year spree of daring bank robberies and blazing police shootouts. He was captured, convicted and hanged in 1880, but over the years a question bedeviled historians: What happened to his body?

Using X-rays, CT scans and DNA testing, researchers spent nearly two years trying to determine whether headless remains found in a wooden box in 2009 were Kelly's. A lab in Argentina with expertise in obtaining DNA from war-crime victims was brought in to assist.

Confirmation came when a DNA sample taken from a Melbourne schoolteacher, who is a great grandson of one of Kelly's sister, proved to be a match.

"To think a group of scientists could identify the body of a man who was executed more than 130 years ago, moved and buried in a haphazard fashion among 33 other prisoners, most of whom are not identified, is amazing," said Robert Clark, attorney general of Victoria state in Australia.

The Ned Kelly story has become celebrated in Australia and around the world, retold in books, musical and movies, including a 1970 film starring Mick Jagger. Buses take tourists to the sites of Kelly's notorious shootings in Victoria.

Kelly was a son of an Irishman shipped to Australia by British authorities for the crime of stealing two pigs. After his dad's death, Ned Kelly became a petty criminal himself, but his real troubles began after shooting a policeman, allegedly for harassing his sister.

Kelly and his gang were on the run for two years, robbing the banks and the rich. Although the gang killed a number of policemen, Kelly was celebrated as a champion of Australia's rural Irish, who felt oppressed by the British colonial authorities.

Police eventually cornered Kelly in a hotel. After a nine-hour siege, he emerged in a suit of armor, but was shot in the leg and elbow, and captured. The other members of his gang were killed.

After his conviction, Kelly was hanged, uttering the famous last words, "Such is life."

His body was buried in an unmarked grave at a prison. When the facility closed in 1929, officials exhumed Kelly's body along with the remains of other executed convicts to move them to a nearby prison. But a mob of onlookers descended on the site and stole some of the bones.

For years, Australians wondered what had become of Kelly's remains. Two years ago, a farmer stepped forward to say he had the skull. To determine if it was Kelly's, scientists exhumed and tested the tangle of skeletons at that second Melbourne prison. The bones of Kelly were identified -- but the skull was not a match.

The whereabouts of Kelly's skull remain a mystery.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio