Netherlands runs out of criminals, has to shut prisons

The Dutch justice ministry has announced it will close eight prisons and cut 1,200 jobs in the prison system. A decline in crime has left many cells empty.

The Netherlands (where most drugs are legal) has so few criminals that it is now faced with the choice of shutting down its prisons and laying off the staff, or importing criminals from other countries like Belgium on a contract basis:

During the 1990s the Netherlands faced a shortage of prison cells, but a decline in crime has since led to overcapacity in the prison system. The country now has capacity for 14,000 prisoners but only 12,000 detainees.

Deputy justice minister Nebahat Albayrak announced on Tuesday that eight prisons will be closed, resulting in the loss of 1,200 jobs. Natural redundancy and other measures should prevent any forced lay-offs, the minister said.

Netherlands to close prisons for lack of criminals

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Wolfram Alpha: Gives Answers Directly Unlike Google

Wolfram Alpha, a new “Computational Knowledge Engine” developed by British physicist Stephen Wolfram, is all set to revolutionize search with its amazing/innovative ability to give answers to your questions directly – instead of directing you to sources where you “might” get the required information.

The software is still in its initial days of existence and will be available for use later this month. Already touted to be a Google Killer – which most probably it won’t be, the Wolfram Alpha has managed to rake up considerable storm even before its launch. It was showcased earlier this week at Harvard University. Many experts consider this to become the “Internet’s Holy Grail” once fully operational. It will be able to understand and respond to ordinary queries and give answers to queries in ordinary language, similar to how a person would respond when queries. To give you an idea of what this is capable of, let us take a few examples. Suppose you want to compare the height of the Empire State Building with the length of the Golden Gate Bridge, all you need to do is to type in your query and wait for the software to calculate your results derived from various sources. Once the search is over, you will not only get a detailed answer to your query but also a lot of other related information that might be of interest to you.

Many experts believe this to be a part of the natural evolution of the internet. Additionally, the results that you receive are assessed by experts and are made available only after a thorough verification. This is unlike Wikipedia, which thrives on user-generated content. Wolfram Alpha is incidentally based on Stephen Wolfram’s Mathematica software, a standard tool for scientists, engineers and academics for crunching complex maths.

You can learn more about Wolfram Alpha here.