Years ago, I remember being shocked to read a report that large numbers of merchant families in some strife-torn African country [I forget which] were moving to Lebanon, then at the height of its civil war. How can things be so bad there, I wondered, that Beirut would seem secure?
I had the same feeling today reading a sad article in the Financial Times by a reporter who revisited people she knew in Baghdad. The level of violence now shocked her. Traveling even short distances could take hours because of the checkpoints. And one of her former drivers, now working for the UN in Iraq, had decided to move his family and take a UN job in Syria.
That's only an anecdote, not a statistic, but I think it tells a lot about the security situation in Iraq.
A statistical factoid I came across today also says a lot: 70% of the inmates in French prisons are Muslims. This comes from a new book by a British author that depicts a France much different from my current view, and one where the party politics are likely to be strongly influenced by this cultural divide.
My broader point is that we should be alert to these little things that may reflect current situations or portend future trends.