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Mickey Mouse turns 80 - symbol of optimism, fun, sheer zest for life, a little fellow trying to do the best he can

Walt Disney with his most famous creation, Mickey Mouse


You may have missed it, but one of the great inspirational figures of the last century celebrated his 80th birthday a few days ago. Born in Los Angeles in 1928, he has surely brought more pleasure to more people than anyone of his generation. His features are recognizable in almost every city on earth, and he has probably raised a smile from almost everyone whose life he has touched.

And while his name has become a metaphor for anything gimcrack, cheap or childish, he remains the supreme symbol of American optimism, fun and sheer zest for life. He is, of course, Mickey Mouse.

Mickey Mouse in Steamboat Wille, 1928

Oddly, the Disney corporation is not making a big deal of Mickey's birthday, perhaps because it is worried that mentioning his great age will damage his reputation among his youngest fans. So it is up to the rest of us to celebrate for him - and celebrate we should. For while Mickey's first 80 years coincided with some of the darkest moments in history, and while Disney has become a byword for commercialism, the great Mouse reminds us of the best in humanity. Sure, he may not have the muscles of Michelangelo's David, but he has a much better sense of humor.

Mickey serenades Minnie in Hawaiian Holiday, 1937  read more »

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


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 »

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


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 »

"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


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 »

Oldest WWI survivors join commemorations on Remembrance Day, pay tribute to fallen millions in 1st, 2nd World Wars

World War I Veterans Bill Stone, 108, Harry Patch, 110, and Henry Allingham, 112


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 Queen lays her wreath on Remembrance Day

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 »

Sculptures by the Sea - 107 sculptures from 7 countries on display at Australia's largest annual outdoor free exhibition

a visitor to Sydney’s Tamarama Beach enjoys a refreshment near a sculpture titled Soldier Scale 1:1


Every year, peculiar apparitions appear on the cliffs between popular Sydney beaches Bondi and Tamarama, yet not even the gulls take fright at the annual Sculpture by the Sea exhibition - Australia's largest annual outdoor free exhibition of sculpture. This year, more than 100 sculptures from seven countries, including Japan, the US, Iceland and New Caledonia, are on display on the cliff tops or around the rocky foreshore, expecting to attract 500,000 sightseers.

For David Handley, who founded the event 12 years ago, its popularity never ceases to surprise. "I would have needed therapy if you'd told me 12 years ago how big it was going to be," he says. "You wouldn't believe how much work goes on behind the scenes, but once Sydney responded the way it did, you just can't stop."

the free outdoor exhibition, now in its 12th year, stretches for two-kilometres (1.24 miles) along the coastline popular with walkers, joggers and tourists. Visitors view a work by artists Andy Townsend and Suzie Bleach  read more »

Diwali, the Festival of Lights - signifying victory of good over evil and celebrating unity in diversity

Diwali is marked by the lighting of lamps like these being prepared by a laborer in Amritsar


Diwali/Deepavali is a Sanskrit word which means path or array of lights and signifies the victory of good (light) over evil (darkness). members of the All India Anti-Terrorist Front (AIATF) light earthen lamps assembled to form the word peace on the eve of Diwali in the northern Indian city of Chandigarh, Oct. 27, 2008 Many legends are associated with Diwali. Today it is celebrated by Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs across the globe as the "Festival of Lights," where people light deyas (small clay pots filled with coconut oil and a cotton like string(wick)is inserted) to signify victory of good over the evil within an individual. Officially, it fell on Oct. 28 this year.

In India, a land of festivals,Diwali is celebrated with fervor and gaiety. The festival is celebrated by young and old, rich and poor, throughout the country to dispel darkness and light up their lives.

women light lamps in Ahmedabad, Western India, on the eve of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights  read more »

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