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Figures & Facts
Extreme adventure & challenge: 23k-mile Vendée Globe, non-stop no-assist round-the-world single-handed yacht race
The French do not lack for creativity, and some of it has been expended over the years to develop sports events. The French were the driving force behind the modern revival of the Olympics. They played a vital role in starting soccer’s World Cup and European Cup, which is now better known as the Champions League, and in Alpine skiing’s World Cup. They also dreamed up the Tour de France and the Vendée Globe yacht race.
That last event is surely the most obscure. But in France, the Vendée Globe is a major happening - a quadrennial opportunity for Gallic sea dogs and landlubbers alike to reacquaint themselves with the iceberg-infested dangers of the southern oceans and man’s (and woman’s) capacity for salt-stained, sleep-starved solitude. The concept is brutal if attractively simple: competitors race alone around the South Pole and back in 60-foot monohulls without stopping. There are strict limits on outside assistance once the sailors leave Les Sables d’Olonne on the west coast of France.
World’s first, most ambitious, working wave farm, now generating electricity for 1,500 homes: Pelamis in Portugal
Three red snakelike devices bobbing in the waves three miles (4.8 kilometers) off the coast of Agucadoura, Portugal, represent the first swell of what developers hope will be a rising tide of wave power projects. These big metallic sea snakes bobbing in the ever-restless waves of the North Atlantic are generating electricity for over a thousand homes on shore. The world’s most ambitious, working wave farm for generating electricity, it is part of Portugal’s national effort to become energy self-sufficient as Denmark has done since the 1970s oil crisis. Portugal is not a wealthy nation and has no coal or petroleum. So wind and water and sunshine are their favored sources of energy. Portugal is also one nation encouraging local cities to become zero emission communities.
"Maintain the Gross National Happiness", vows 28-year old Oxford graduate newly crowned the fifth King of Bhutan
The United States was not the only country to name a new leader last week. In Bhutan, an insular nation of about 600,000 people located high in the Himalayas, a new king was crowned. 28-year-old Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, an Oxford-educated bachelor, was crowned as Bhutan's fifth king - now the world's youngest reigning monarch. Bhutan also has the distinction of being the world's youngest democracy - having held parliamentary elections last March for the first time ever. The young ruler vows to maintain a stance of protection against the worst aspects of globalization, maintaining the "Gross National Happiness", a measurement of national progress that places a high value on spiritual development. Gross National Happiness is a term invented by, and proudly embraced by Bhutanese since 1972.
Above: Bhutan's fourth King Jigme Singye Wangchuck (right) crowns his son Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck as the fifth King of Bhutan, in the Throne room of the Tashichhodzong Palace during the coronation ceremony in Thimphu, Bhutan on November 6, 2008. With medieval tradition and Buddhist spirituality, a 28-year-old with an Oxford education assumed the Raven Crown of Bhutan on Thursday, to guide the world's newest democracy as it emerges into the modern world.
Berlin is the capital city and one of sixteen states of Germany. With a population of 3.4 million within its city limits, Berlin is the country's largest city. It is the second most populous city and the ninth most populous urban area in the European Union. Located in northeastern Germany, it is the center of the Berlin-Brandenburg metropolitan area, comprising 5 million people from over 190 nations.
Potsdamer Platz, the centerpiece of Berlin, is a collection of futuristic high-rise office buildings and a pedestrianised forum with shops, cinemas, cafes and restaurants designed by some of the world's most celebrated architects.
The Bode Museum belongs to the group of museums on Museum Island in Berlin and is a historically preserved building. The museum was designed by architect Ernst von Ihne and completed in 1904. Originally called the Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum after Emperor Frederick III, the museum was renamed in honor of its first curator, Wilhelm von Bode, in 1956.
The current Reichstag dome is an iconic glass dome constructed on top of the rebuilt Reichstag building in Berlin. It was designed by architect Norman Foster and built to symbolize the reunification of Germany. The distinctive appearance of the dome has made it a prominent landmark in Berlin. read more »
Oldest WWI survivors join commemorations on Remembrance Day, pay tribute to fallen millions in 1st, 2nd World Wars
This year’s Armistice Day anniversary, com- memorating the millions of lives lost in the so-called War to End All Wars, comes 90 years after the guns fell silent in 1918. Anyone who was a part of it would have to be at least 108 by now. Astonishingly, there are still three men who fit the bill, three survivors who were in uniform 90 years ago as the First World War drew to a close. Yesterday, this trio marked Remembrance Sunday to the best of their abilities.
The men - all well into their 100s - will attend a service at the Cenotaph in central London. Harry Patch, 110, a veteran of the horrors of Passchendaele, is the only survivor of the trenches. He ignored the rain and attended a parade at Wells, near his Somerset home. Allingham, Britain's oldest man at the age of 112, was an aircraft mechanic who saw action at sea, in the Battle of Jutland, and ashore on the Western Front. Bill Stone, a young pup of 108, ended up fighting two World Wars for the Royal Navy. Today, at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, all three men will be on parade in London at the Cenotaph to mark the exact moment when the guns fell silent. Of the five million men and women who served in Britain's armed forces in the war, only four are still alive. The other surviving veteran, Claude Choules, 107, lives in Australia and will mark the 90th anniversary at local events there. read more »
Prefab, high-concept and green: an eco-house that’s low-maintenance, small-carbon-footprint and also a work of art
Thomas Small is an accomplished cook, so it’s important for him to try new and exotic ingredients every now and then. When it came to the construction of his eco-friendly house, that’s exactly what his architects gave him. After all, crushed sunflower husks and shredded blue jeans don’t sound like typical building blocks. But in the world of green design, such ingredients are not rare. So now, Mr. Small and his wife, Joanna Brody, along with their two very young children and a pair of large French Briard dogs, share a prefabricated urban building that has become an example for others looking for creative ways to go green.
3rd party candidates - 1860: Lincoln elected; 1992 last heard: Ross Perot; 2008: Bob Barr & Ralph Nader excluded
In 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected as a 3rd party US presidential candidate.
When Abraham Lincoln ran for office, the two major parties were the Whigs and the Democrats. As a Republican, Lincoln was elected as a third party candidate - even after being left off the ballot in the 11 states that seceded from the Union.
In 1992, for the last time a 3rd party candidate, Ross Perot, was heard in presidential debates.
In 2008, 3rd party’s voices of Bob Barr & Ralph Nader were excluded from debates though
- 55% of likely voters, both Democrat and Republican, said that they would want to see Bob Barr featured in the debates alongside Obama and McCain.
- 59% of independent voters stated that they want to see the debate commission allow Nader into the debates.
- A very important fact is that younger voters were more likely to favor the inclusion of the two independent candidates into the debates, demonstrating a sort of changing of the guard as younger voters are not as content with the status quo two candidate system. read more »