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Global financial summit from G7 to G20; new strong voice of BRIC nations: Brazil, Russia, India and China

Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy

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Western nations began to cede some control as countries including Brazil, India and China – which with Russia form the so-called BRIC nations – managed to guarantee a greater presence on the international stage.

All three will now join the board of the Financial Stability Forum – the global economic policy powerhouse that to date has been the bastion of the G8.

an overall view of world leaders attending the first Plenary Session at the G20 Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy at the National Building Museum in Washington, November 15, 2008

Each is likely to play a stronger role in the reform of major institutions such as the International Monetary Fund than might previously have been witnessed under the old economic order.

The final summit communiqué also gave particular reference to emerging and developing economies, urging them to undertake commitments consistent with their capacities and roles in the global economy – a clear admission of their increased importance.  read more »

Europe loves bikes; biggest facility in Europe started production, to make one million bikes in 2009

a customer of Bicing, Barcelona’s bicycle-sharing program. For a yearly fee of about $30, each user receives an electronic card that can be used to check out and return bicycles from 375 stands scattered about the city

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SERZEDO, Portugal – Recently the biggest bike facility in Europe started its production. That facility is located in Portugal; is operated by a company called RTE and is to produce one million bikes in 2009.

RTE is the parent company of Portuguese bike producer Decanor

RTE’s assembly lines have an average output of 3000 bikes per day, depending on the season and the model. When a new collection is being launched or there is an urgent need for big quantities, RTE can produce 3400 units per day. Otherwise the assembly line only needs to work one 8-hour shift per day. Normally, the total daily production is shipped on the same day to a Decathlon centre of distribution.

In addition to Paris' Velib bike rental program, Barcelona, Seville and Stockholm all have bike rentals available.

Europe loves bikes  read more »

World's first biofuel-powered flying car - Parajet Skycar drives like a car and flies like a plane

Gilo Cardozo’s flying car

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To Timbuktu by flying car: it sounds the most unlikely journey on earth; a sci-fi voyage from the pages of Jules Verne. But this is no fantasy. The car really flies. And the journey will become reality early in the new year when two explorers set off from London in a propeller-powered dune buggy heading for the Sahara.

The seed of this improbable adventure was sown four years ago when Gilo Cardozo, a paramotor manufacturer, had a eureka moment. For those not familiar with paramotors, picture a parachutist with a giant industrial fan strapped to his back, which provides forward motion and boosts lift for the parachute - or wing - during takeoff. Cardozo’s brainwave was to attach a car to the fan. “I started making a paramotor on wheels that you sit on and take off and it suddenly occurred to me, ‘Why not just have a car that does everything?’” recalls Cardozo, whose Wiltshire-based company Parajet built the paramotor that the adventurer Bear Grylls used to fly near Everest last year.

world’s first bio-fuelled flying car  read more »

Extreme adventure & challenge: 23k-mile Vendée Globe, non-stop no-assist round-the-world single-handed yacht race

Marc Thiercelin had to pull out of the Vendée Globe race because of damage to his yacht’s mast

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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.

all aboard: Ellen MacArthur onboard her BT sponsored boat is anticipating the best Vendee race ever

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.

Vendee Globe route  read more »

World’s first, most ambitious, working wave farm, now generating electricity for 1,500 homes: Pelamis in Portugal

moored a few miles offshore, four of these floating plants from Ocean Power Delivery power a town in northern Portugal. The Pelamis converts wave motion into pneumatic pressure to drive a set of turbines

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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.

Pelamis Wave Power Generator  read more »

"Maintain the Gross National Happiness", vows 28-year old Oxford graduate newly crowned the fifth King of Bhutan

Bhutan's fourth King Jigme Singye Wangchuck crowns his son Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck as the fifth King

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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.

His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck  read more »

Travel: Berlin in Pictures

Potsdamer Platz: the centerpiece of Berlin

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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.

Bode Museum and Fernsehturm

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.

inside the Reichstag dome, designed by Norman Foster

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 »

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