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Nearly carless suburb of Vauban, Germany an example of "smart planning" - separating suburban life from auto use

many residents of Vauban, Germany have carts that attach to bicycles for hauling toddlers and groceries

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VAUBAN, Germany - Residents of this upscale community are suburban pioneers, going where few soccer moms or commuting executives have ever gone before: they have given up their cars.

Street parking, driveways and home garages are generally forbidden in this experimental new district on the outskirts of Freiburg, near the French and Swiss borders. Vauban’s streets are completely “car-free” - except the main thoroughfare, where the tram to downtown Freiburg runs, and a few streets on one edge of the community. Car ownership is allowed, but there are only two places to park — large garages at the edge of the development, where a car-owner buys a space, for $40,000, along with a home. As a result, 70 percent of Vauban’s families do not own cars, and 57 percent sold a car to move here. Vauban, completed in 2006, is an example of a growing trend in Europe, the United States and elsewhere to separate suburban life from auto use, as a component of a movement called “smart planning.”

To make sure that residents can live in Vauban without a car, it is a ‘mixed use’ community: stores, banks and restaurants are sprinkled along the main street of Vauban, and that street is within walking distance of all homes  read more »

Earth must be happy to see world's first heavy traffic road bridge made of wood, non-toxic, sequesters carbon

world’s first heavy traffic road bridge made from Accoya wood

first wooden bridge in the world that can support the heaviest load class of 60 tons

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On Saturday November 29th, the successful transportation and installation of the world’s first heavy traffic road bridge made from Accoya wood took place. The bridge, located in Sneek in the Netherlands, is the first wooden bridge in the world that can support the heaviest load class of 60 tons. Spanning 105 feet and rising more than 50 feet in the air, the structure will serve as a grand entrance to the city of Sneek.

at the end of November 2008, a 360 tonne wooden bridge was positioned over the A7 national trunk road near Akkerwinde in Sneek (the Netherlands), completing the first phase of a unique project  read more »

1st Emperor of United China, QinShiHuang(18Feb259–10Sep210 BC) standardized measurement,currency,Chinese script,built Great Wall



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The First Emperor of United China, Qin Shi Huang (18 February 259 BC – 10 September 210 BC) became the King Zheng of Qin when he was 13, then China's first emperor when he was 38 after the Qin had conquered all of the other Warring States and unified seven warring states of China in 221 BC. His public works projects included the unification of diverse state walls into a single Great Wall of China and a massive new national road system.

Qin Shi Huang and Li Si unified China economically by standardizing the Chinese units of measurements such as weights and measures, currency, and the length of the axles of carts to facilitate transport on the road system.

The emperor also developed an extensive network of roads and canals connecting the provinces to improve trade between them. The currency of the different states were also standardized to the Ban liang coin. Perhaps most importantly, the Chinese script was unified. Under Li Si, the seal script of the state of Qin was standardized through removal of variant forms within the Qin script itself. This newly standardized script was then made official throughout all the conquered regions, thus doing away with all the regional scripts to form one language, one communication system for all of China.

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Image courtesy Wikipedia and psu.edu

Obama takes office, calling to join him "in the work of remaking America." Future history will see: in which way?

Barack Obama, joined by his wife Michelle, takes oath of office from Chief Justice John Roberts to become the 44th president of the United States at the US Capitol in Washington

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WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama was inaugurated yesterday as the 44th president of the United States, seizing the historic moment to invoke the "price and the promise of citizenship" and demand the participation of all Americans in restoring the country to greatness. He took the oath of office on Abraham Lincoln's Bible before a sea of more than 1 million people that stretched from the Capitol building to the Lincoln Memorial. He struck a solemn tone in warning of the challenges and sacrifices that lie ahead. Comparing the economic crisis and fight against terrorism to the trials faced by the Founding Fathers, Obama implored his fellow citizens to join him "in the work of remaking America."

President Barack Obama giving his inaugural address to the millions assembled spectators

"On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord," Obama said, his voice reverberating throughout the National Mall. "Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested, we refused to let this journey end - that we did not turn back, nor did we falter."  read more »

2008's Promise. Obama: "I still think the mission to get out of [Iraq] as soon as possible will be accomplished."

Barack Obama and Joe Biden

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President-elect Barack Obama on Monday announced Sen. Hillary Clinton as his pick for secretary of state, calling her an "American of tremendous stature who will have my complete confidence."

"Hillary's appointment is a sign to friend and foe of the seriousness of my commitment to renew American diplomacy and restore our alliances," Obama said at a news conference in Chicago, Illinois. "I have no doubt that Hillary Clinton is the right person to lead our State Department and to work with me in tackling this ambitious foreign policy agenda."

president-elect Barack Obama announced his nomination of Sen. Hillary Clinton as secretary of state

Obama also confirmed that he is keeping Defense Secretary Robert Gates in his current post. Rounding out his Monday announcements, Obama named retired Marine Gen. Jim Jones as his national security adviser, Eric Holder as attorney general, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano as homeland security secretary and Susan Rice as ambassador to the United Nations.

"I am confident that this team is what we need to make a new beginning for American national security," Obama said.

Clinton said leaving the Senate would be difficult for her, but said she believes that the best way for her to continue to serve the country is by joining Obama's administration. "Mr. President-elect, I am proud to join you on what will be a difficult and exciting adventure in this new century," she said at the news conference. Video Watch what Clinton says about her new role »  read more »

History sees sharp turn: 1st time since WWII, German troops to station in France; France to withdraw from Germany

German troops to be stationed in France

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German troops to be stationed in France

11.27.2008

German soldiers are set to be deployed on French soil for the first time since the end of World War II in 1945, the two countries decided this week. President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed on the deal during a meeting in Paris earlier this week, government spokesman Thomas Steg told a press conference on Wednesday in Berlin.

The two countries share a joint army brigade of some 5,000 soldiers - 2,800 of which are German. Until now, they have been stationed only in south west Germany. "Germany has agreed in principle to transfer members of the Franco-German Brigade to France, that includes German troops," Steg said, calling the move "highly symbolic and historically significant".

A handful of German officers are already based in Strasbourg, east France, directly engaged with the NATO mission Eurocorps. However, no German military unit has been stationed in the country since the end of hostilities in World War II.

French President Jacques Chirac kisses the hand of German Chancellor Angela Merkel upon his arrival at the Chancellery May 3, 2007 in Berlin, Germany  read more »

Newspapers' future: news-paperless, or newspaper-less? Century-old Christian Science Monitor ends daily print, goes online

Mary Baker Eddy was the founder of the Christian Science movement - she advocated Christian Science as a spiritual practical solution to health and moral issues

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The century-old Christian Science Monitor announced Tuesday that it will become the first nationally distributed newspaper to stop publishing a daily print edition, and focus on publishing online, succumbing to the financial pressure squeezing its industry harder than ever. The Boston-based paper is not forsaking print altogether - it will offer a weekly print version in addition to daily e-mail editions - but editors acknowledged shifting the focus to CSMonitor.com will save millions in addition to widening its audience.

The Boston-based general-interest paper, winner of seven Pulitzer Prizes, has long since established an extraordinary reputation for high-quality journalism. It was founded a century ago in 1908 by a religious visionary, Mary Baker Eddy, who "discovered" Christian Science and founded the paper in response to critical coverage of her in the New York World. She declared in the first edition that the role of the paper would be to "injure no man, but bless all mankind."

entrance to the Christian Science Monitor building in Boston. A century after it began publication, the paper is giving up its daily print edition to focus on posting news online  read more »

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