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Nearly carless suburb of Vauban, Germany an example of "smart planning" - separating suburban life from auto use

many residents of Vauban, Germany have carts that attach to bicycles for hauling toddlers and groceries

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VAUBAN, Germany - Residents of this upscale community are suburban pioneers, going where few soccer moms or commuting executives have ever gone before: they have given up their cars.

Street parking, driveways and home garages are generally forbidden in this experimental new district on the outskirts of Freiburg, near the French and Swiss borders. Vauban’s streets are completely “car-free” - except the main thoroughfare, where the tram to downtown Freiburg runs, and a few streets on one edge of the community. Car ownership is allowed, but there are only two places to park — large garages at the edge of the development, where a car-owner buys a space, for $40,000, along with a home. As a result, 70 percent of Vauban’s families do not own cars, and 57 percent sold a car to move here. Vauban, completed in 2006, is an example of a growing trend in Europe, the United States and elsewhere to separate suburban life from auto use, as a component of a movement called “smart planning.”

To make sure that residents can live in Vauban without a car, it is a ‘mixed use’ community: stores, banks and restaurants are sprinkled along the main street of Vauban, and that street is within walking distance of all homes  read more »

The human spirit needs places where nature has not been rearranged by the hand of man. - Author Unknown

The human spirit needs places where nature has not been rearranged by the hand of man.

— Author Unknown

19-year-old MIT freshman invents one-wheeled zero-emissions electric motorcycle to fight pollution & congestion

19-year-old MIT freshman Ben Gulak invented an electric motorcycle with one wheel

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Ben Gulak invented an electric motorcycle that landed the 19-year-old freshman on the cover of Popular Science magazine for developing number one of their top 10 inventions of the year.

Uno electric motorcycle

He calls the bright orange vehicle The Uno and developed it after a family trip to China. “Beijing was covered in a blanket of smog. You hear about pollution, but I wasn’t expecting it to be so bad,” Gulak says, adding he noticed thousands of motorcycles and scooters in that city and thought there must be a more environmentally friendly way to travel. Battery power would avoid pollution, and the small size would allow the cycle to negotiate crowded streets - and even to be carted up to an apartment.

Uno electric motorcycle  read more »

Life is a series of collisions with the future; it is not the sum of what we have been, but what we yearn to be.

Life is a series of collisions with the future; it is not the sum of what we have been, but what we yearn to be.

— Jose Ortega y Gasset

Time to celebrate Cinco De Mayo; time for "good neighbors working together when faced with common challenge" - Obama

Top: Ballet Folclorico Guadalajara, Mexican folk dancing at the Cinco de Mayo fiesta; Bottom: Two people dressed in period costumes commemorate Cinco de Mayo marking the 1862 defeat of the French Army

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Obama marks Mexico's Cinco de Mayo holiday

Cinco de Mayo marks the Mexican army's victory over the French army on May 5, 1862. The holiday has grown in popularity in the United States as an affirmation of not only its Mexican but its Latin American minorities.

President Barack Obama observed Mexico's Cinco de Mayo holiday a day early by hailing the close cooperation between the two countries in the face of swine flu, economic crisis and a drug war.  read more »

Napoleon III declared war on Mexico, attacked on May 5, 1862 - Cinco de Mayo, defeated by General Ignacio Zaragoza

Left: General Ignacio Zaragoza (1829-1862) - born at Bahía del Espíritu Santo, Texas, Zaragoza was educated in Matamoros and the Seminary at Monterrey.  Commanding the Mexican army opposing the French invasion, he defeated French General Count de Lorencez at the battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862; Right: In 1861, Napoleon III plotted to carve out a French empire in Mexico. The French marched on Mexico City, and were defeated at the battle of Puebla (May 5, 1862), setting back Napoleon III’s plans for a year.

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In Mexico, the various factions that fought their civil war had borrowed large sums of money from foreign creditors. The fighting devastated Mexico’s economy, and the country had to suspend payments on its debts. Taking advantage of the relative weakness of the United States during the US Civil War, in December of 1861 the governments of France, Great Britain and Spain landed an allied military force at Vera Cruz to protect their interests in Mexico and to try to collect the debts owed to their citizens. Juárez negotiated with the allies and promised to resume payments, and the British and Spanish troops began to withdraw from Mexico in April, 1862.  read more »

Dedication & devotion - Italy's brain scientist & Nobel laureate Rita Levi-Montalcini wants to forget turning 100

Medicine Nobel Prize Winner Rita Levi-Montalcini honoured with the Legion D'Honneur Medal receives compliments from the French Ambassador Jean-Marc De La Sabliere (C) and the Italian President Giorgio Napolitano (R) at the Villa Medici on December 5, 2008 in Rome, Italy.

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This astonishing woman - who studied medicine, survived Fascism and prejudice, and went on to win the Nobel Prize in 1986, who still takes an active part in politics in the Senate, is planning another book and campaigning for the rights of women in Africa.

In her autobiography she writes that she and her twin sister Paola (an artist who died in 2000 and whose artworks decorate her office walls) were born to Adamo Levi, “an electrical engineer and gifted mathematician”, and Adele Montalcini, “a talented painter and an exquisite human being”. There were two older siblings, Gino and Anna, also both now dead. “The four of us enjoyed a most wonderful family atmosphere,” she writes, “filled with love and reciprocal devotion. Both parents were highly cultured and instilled in us their high appreciation of intellectual pursuit. Her father “was a person of great intellectual and moral value, but he was a Victorian. As a child, I saw him as a person who dominated everything I did.”  read more »

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