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Figures & Facts

Inaugural 2008 Asian Beach Games in Bali, Indonesia promote sports & culture: 6000 athletes, 71 events, 19 sports

Andi Edinata of Indonesia comes out of the water during the Men's Triathlon on day nine of the 2008 Asian Beach Games at Mertasari Beach on October 26, 2008


About a month ago in Bali, Indonesia, the inaugural 2008 Asian Beach Games came to its conclusion. Intended to promote sports and culture, the games (held every two years) encourage tourism, support local economies and allow host countries like Indonesia to present a more global face to the world. The 2008 games brought 6,000 athletes to compete in 71 events in 19 sports. Sports included well-known games like beach volleyball and triathlon, and some sports better known to asians, like sepak takraw, kabaddi and pencak silat. The next Asian Beach Games are scheduled to be hosted by Oman in the year 2010.

Indonesian team against Myanmar, Asian Beach Games 2008, Bali, Indonesia

The Indonesian team in action against Myanmar during the men's beach sepaktakraw on day six of the Asian Beach Games at Sanur Beach on October 23, 2008 in Bali, Indonesia.

Dragon Boat Races, 2008 Asian Beach Games, Bali, Indonesia  read more »

Portrait of wondrous Earth: revelatory, awe-inspiring. Nature, staggering in diversity & remarkable in precision

TIME Planet Earth: An Illustrated History - Ice


The residue of an ice storm glazes a beech tree, pushing its branches to a near-breaking point. Ice storms are formed when two layers of cold air (one near the earth's surface, another far above) sandwich between them a tier of warm air. Precipitation from the top layer starts out as snow, but when it falls into the middle, warmer belt, it melts into rain. Then, on its way through the lowest belt, it undergoes a little-understood process known as "supercooling" which causes it to chill well below the freezing point of water, yet still remain liquid. When this unnaturally cold water hits the ground, it instantaneously freezes into a translucent glaze that takes on, in intricate detail, the shape of whatever it surrounds.

TIME Planet Earth: An Illustrated History - Clouds

Water is a shape shifter: familiar in its liquid and frozen forms, it is invisible in its third form, as a vapor, until it coalesces into clouds overhead or shrouds us in ghostly fog. One of nature's everyday wonders, clouds hide in plain sight until they are touched with the sun's glory at sunrise and sunset or pile up to form a lightning-generating, anvil-headed cumulonimbus thundercloud.

TIME Planet Earth: An Illustrated History - The Sun

The Sun  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


German troops to be stationed in France


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 »

Venice hit by the biggest flood in more than 20 years, waters rising quickly to 1.56m (5ft) above normal

the Italian lagoon city of Venice in the Adriatic has suffered its highest flooding in more than 20 years


The city of Venice has suffered its highest flooding in more than 20 years. Many of Venice's streets, including the famous St Mark's Square, were submerged, before the high waters began to retreat.

The lagoon city in the Adriatic suffers some level of flooding for about 200 days every year. The authorities are planning to complete the building of an underwater dam to protect the city by 2011.

raised wooden walkways had to be installed in St Mark's Square - the lowest point in the city - which was nearly one metre under water at one point

Driven by strong winds, the sea level rose to 1.56m above normal on Monday, submerging nearly all of the city and forcing residents and tourists to wade through almost knee-high water, including St Mark's Square, officials said. It was the highest "acqua alta", or high water, since it reached 1.58m in 1986.

sirens and loudspeaker announcements reinforced the flood alert, amid fears that the sea level could rise even higher  read more »

Market economy: correct itself or rescued by bailout? How many trillions are enough? Who shouldn’t be bailed out?

Hey, Fed, prevent another disaster, bail ME out!

“Bailout” fever runs beyond the US, to affect Europe, to affect Asia… Market economy and private ownership - upon such economy systems democracy stands. The bailout tosses out dumb questions - don’t bailouts challenge the fundamentals of market economy? Impact on the ownership of the very top firms, the key performers in world’s major economies? Should market economy adjust itself or can it be rescued by bailouts? How many trillions would be enough in a global financial crisis? Who should not be bailed out?


Has anyone bothered to ask: Why $700 billion? Why not $800 billion to bail out the economy? Or a trillion? Jeez, as long as the dam has burst, why not make it a cool $7 trillion?

Okay, $7 trillion it is, and if you think that's an exaggeration, you're wrong. In this year alone, we have committed an amount that is more than half of our entire annual gross national product to assorted bailouts and guarantees. No, that doesn't mean that we have diverted half our GNP for bailouts; it means that we have created half our gross national product virtually out of nothing.

Bank Bailout cartoon by Mark Hurwitt  read more »

Now it's official: US in recession since 2007, one of the longest downturns since the Great Depression of 1930's

Officially, the U. S. economy refuses to enter a full-scale recession. I’ve enjoyed all the euphemisms – ‘slowdown,’ ‘contraction,’ ’turndown,’ ‘softness,’ ‘pullback,’ and my personal favorite, ‘growth recession.’


The National Bureau of Economic Research said Monday that the U.S. has been in a recession since December 2007, making official what most Americans have already believed about the state of the economy.

The NBER is a private group of leading economists charged with dating the start and end of economic downturns. It typically takes a long time after the start of a recession to declare its start because of the need to look at final readings of various economic measures. The NBER said that the deterioration in the labor market throughout 2008 was one key reason why it decided to state that the recession began last year.

the NBER did not give any reasons or causes of the recession. But it is widely accepted that the housing downturn, which started in 2006. The current recession is one of the longest downturns since the Great Depression of the 1930's.  read more »

Piracy renewed: almost 40 ships seized by Somali pirates & more than $150m(£101m) in ransoms paid so far this year

three British security guards board a helicopter to be transferred to a Royal Navy vessel

Troubled waters & age-old problem renewed: pirates inspired by Johnny Depp’s antics or by oil - the new treasure?


Three escape pirate-hijacked tanker

NAIROBI, Kenya (CNN) -- Three British guards jumped overboard and were rescued from the water after battling in vain to prevent pirates hijacking a chemical tanker off the coast of Somalia. The Liberian-flagged Biscaglia came under "sustained and heavy attack" early Friday morning, Nick Davis, Director of Anti-Piracy Maritime Security Solutions (APMSS), said in a statement. The three APMSS-employed security guards -- all former British servicemen -- mounted "sustained non-lethal resistance" but were unable to stop the attackers seizing control of the ship, Davis said.

The trio were airlifted to safety by a German naval helicopter and flown to a French frigate after the vessel summoned assistance from coalition warships. They were later transferred to a British Royal Navy ship. All three were unhurt, Davis said. "I have spoken with my team leader on the phone and he informs me that the level of violence was significant and forced them reluctantly to leave the vessel after every effort was made to ensure the safety of the ships crew," Davis said. Pirates continued to shoot at the three in the water, Davis said. "The hijacked vessel with pirates in control then attempted to run them down."  read more »

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