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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 »

03 Sep 301: Saint Marinus found San Marino, one of the smallest nations and the world's oldest republic still in existence

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Saint Marinus was the founder of a chapel and monastery, in 301, from where the world's oldest surviving republic, San Marino, grew. Tradition holds that he was a stonemason by trade who came from the island of Rab, on the other side of the Adriatic Sea (in what is now part of modern Croatia), fleeing persecution for his Christian beliefs in the Diocletianic Persecution. Still known only by the single name Marinus (lit. of the sea), he became a Deacon, and was ordained by Gaudentius, the Bishop of Rimini; later, he was recognised and accused by an insane woman of being her estranged husband, so he quickly fled to Monte Titano to build a chapel-monastery and live as a hermit. There he built a chapel and monastery. Marinus was canonised as a saint, and later, the State of San Marino grew up from the centre created by the monastery. His feast day/memorial day is 3 September, commemorating the day, in 301, when he founded what became known as San Marino, which is also the state's national holiday. He is venerated solely in the Roman Catholic Church.

According to legend, he died in the winter of 366 and his last words were: "Relinquo vos liberos ab utroque homine" ("I leave you free from both men"). This somewhat mysterious phrase is most likely to refer to the two "men" from whose oppressive power Saint Marinus had decided to separate himself, becoming a hermit on Mount Titano: respectively the Emperor and the Pope. This affirmation of freedom (first and foremost fiscal franchise) from both the Empire and the Papal States, however legendary, has always been the inspiration of the tiny republic.

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Image courtesy Interesting facts about San Marino

20 Aug 1597. Dutch East India Company's first fleet of four ships returns to The Netherlands from the Far East

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The Dutch East India Company: VOC (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie)
In March 1594 some Dutch merchants founded a “Company of Far Lands” at Amsterdam. Their objective was to send two fleets to the East Indies. The first fleet of four ships reached Bantam and returned to the Netherlands in August 1597. Only three ships with a small cargo of pepper returned, but it covered than the costs of the expedition. The next step to this first enterprise was the founding of five different companies (voorcompagniën). In 1598 twenty-two ships left Dutch ports for the East Indies. In 1601 sixty-five ships were bound for the East Indies.

As early as 1598 the Staten Generaal suggested that various companies should amalgamate. On March 20, 1602 finally from a fusion of six small Dutch companies the VOC (Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie) was born. The unification into one company did not happen spontaneously, but was enforced by the Dutch government. The charter (octrooi) was valid for 21 years. The Staten Generaal granted a monopoly on the trade in the East Indies to the Dutch East India Company (Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie or VOC). The area of trade granted to the company was called the octrooigebied (trade zone). Its purpose was not only trade; the Compagnie also had to fight the enemies of the Republic and prevent other European nations to enter the East India trade. During its history of 200 years, the VOC became the largest company of its kind, trading spices (nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and pepper mainly) and other products (tea, silk and chinese porcelain). The VOC was virtually a state within a state.

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Impact of Iraq War: US weakened. EU distracted. Russia’s $18.9 bil trade surplus & troops deeper into Georgia - nations panic

Russian troops arrived in the Khurcha settlement in the breakaway region of Abkhazia in western Georgia

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Fears were raised as Russian troops opened a second front by pushing deep into the west of Georgia. Yesterday other former Soviet bloc countries warned that the Kremlin was becoming ever more aggressive and authoritarian and could try to restore control to more of its former territories.

Georgian refugee cries in Gori, about 50 miles from Tbilisi, Aug. 11, 2008

Czech Republic foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg compared Russia’s incursion into Georgia to the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 to crush the so-called Prague Spring uprising against Communist rule.

Schwarzenberg said the Czech Republic supports Georgia and added that “it is a sad coincidence” that the fighting in Georgia takes place at the moment when the country is marking the 40th anniversary of the invasion of Warsaw Pact troops in August 1968. And the presidents of Poland and three Baltic states, formerly members of the Soviet bloc, labeled Moscow’s approach “imperialist and revisionist.”  read more »

US tied up in Iraq. China focused on Olympics. Russian tanks & troops into Ossetia, part of former Soviet republic of Georgia

a Russian mobile artillery unit fired toward a Georgian position outside Dzhava on Saturday

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Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin of Russia declared that "war has started."

Shortly before dawn on Sunday, Georgia’s Interior Ministry said that Russian bombers had begun striking military facilities adjacent to the civilian airport at Tbilisi. The explosions could be heard in the city, said Shota Utiashvili, a ministry official. He said that Russia had built up large forces in Abkhazia and South Ossetia — breakaway regions that have support from Moscow — including as many as 300 artillery pieces in South Ossetia alone. Russian forces, he said, were also poised just over the border at Larsi, a checkpoint, where they could open a third line of ground attack. As Russia moved more forces into the region and continued aerial bombing, it appeared determined to occupy both South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Georgia’s president, Mikheil Saakashvili, said Russia’s ambitions were even more extensive. He declared that Georgia was in a state of war, and said in an interview that Russia was planning to seize ports and an oil pipeline and to overthrow his government.

Russian air attacks struck two apartment buildings in Gori in what an official at the Georgian Interior Ministry called a ‘major escalation.’  read more »

Electric and fuel-sipping scooters, cute and cool win favors. When market changes, so does a driver's heart

Motorized scooters have emerged as the new transportation of choice for some Americans fed up with gas prices that have surged past $4 a gallon.

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Imagine filling up your gas tank for less than $15. Some Americans are doing it — and they're doing it on two wheels.

Motorized scooters have emerged as the new transportation of choice for some Americans fed up with gas prices that have surged past $4 a gallon. Though the small, zippy vehicles aren't ideal for every purpose, some owners say they're great for short trips and running errands.

Chris Maxwell recently purchased a Yamaha Majesty scooter to ride around the small town of Natchez, Miss. His wife, Emily Maxwell, appreciates how much the couple saves on gas purchases. "It gets 50 to 60 miles a gallon in town and a full tank lasts two to three weeks," she said. "Right now it costs under $12 to fill it up, so we immediately get a $200 a month 'pay raise' from the lower fuel costs."

New York resident Austin Rommett fills his scooter with fuel at a gas station in New York

Shawn Pointer, of Kenosha, Wis., said he often straps in his four-pound Chihuahua, Missy, for rides down to a local river on his 2007 Honda Metropolitan. Pointer bought the blue and white scooter for $1,600 but pays only about $10 a month to fill its 1.2 gallon tank. The scooter gets roughly 100 miles a gallon so he can travel 120 miles for $4. The same trip in the typical car would cost nearly $18.  read more »

Sound familiar? In 80s, massive oil shortage, prices soared; economies into recession; prices flattened out, in 1985, collapsed

Gasoline prices over $5 per gallon are displayed at a Shell station in San Mateo, California, June 23

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The world's thirst for oil is growing so quickly humanity will consume more of it this decade than over the previous hundred years. Production can't possibly keep up. And the consequences will be dire. "This surge of demand will soon begin to send shock waves through the American economy and transportation system," wrote one expert. The American interior secretary agreed.

A massive oil shortage was coming in the 1980s. Everyone knew that. But before the predicted crisis could arrive, the world was hit with one that wasn't predicted: The Iranian revolution of 1979 turned a major American ally into a major American enemy. Oil prices soared. Economies slipped into recession.

Banner: Beer now cheaper than Gas! Drink, don’t drive!

Experts were certain the age of scarcity had arrived ahead of schedule. "The cardinal issue is how vicious the struggle for energy supplies will become," the head of the CIA told a Senate committee. In the summer of 1980, the journal Foreign Affairs captured the dismal mood in an article headlined "Oil and the Decline of the West."

Then a funny thing happened. The price of oil stopped rising. Instead, it fell. And fell some more. High prices had encouraged oil companies to explore like never before and producers to open their spigots. Supply gushed onto the market.

In 1985, the price of oil collapsed.

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