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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

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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 »

Troop increases in Afghanistan; soldiers doubt sense of mission: “Politicians need to clarify it more clearly”

soldiers suffer doubts about the sense of their mission in Afghanistan

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German military troops are suffer from a lack of support from their countrymen, the new Protestant bishop for the Bundeswehr said on Tuesday, and soldiers suffer doubts about the sense of their mission there, Dutzmann said. “In Afghanistan the soldiers notice how painstaking the civil reconstruction is. Politicians need to clarify the sense of the mission more clearly,” he said. Chaplains serving the soldiers there are answering more questions about the sense of life from these troops who face life-threatening situations each day, he said.

US Army deserter seeks asylum in Germany

US Army deserter André Lawrence Shepherd has applied for asylum in Germany, his lawyer told reporters on Thursday. Shepherd said he did not want to participate in a war that violates international law. He said he had submitted his asylum request on Wednesday, although the Federal Agency for Migration and Refugees told the DPA news agency it did not have a record of such a document.

Shepherd, 31, has previously served in Iraq where he repaired and maintained Apache helicopters. "I believe that the helicopters are responsible for a substantial number of civilian deaths," he told reporters in Frankfurt. "I am ashamed that I was a part of these horrible acts." Shepherd has appealed to both the Geneva Refugee Convention and EU guidelines that provide protection from persecution for deserters if the military services in question are seen as having violated international law.  read more »

Nothing discernible to the eye of the spirit is more brilliant or obscure than man; ... - Victor Hugo

Nothing discernible to the eye of the spirit is more brilliant or obscure than man; nothing is more formidable, complex, mysterious, and infinite. There is a prospect greater than the sea, and it is the sky; there is a prospect greater than the sky, and it is the human soul.

— Victor Hugo

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

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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 »

Warren Buffett said in Mar. US in recession; now, recession declared by Germany, Italy, 15 Eurozone nations, Japan

Germany declares official recession

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Germany has become the first of the G7 powers to declare an official recession. After Germany and Italy officially declared recession status, it was the turn of the entire 15-nation euro zone to make a similar declaration on Friday, November 14, 2008.

Gross domestic product in the Eurozone fell by 0.2 percent for a second consecutive quarter in the third quarter, according to figures from Eurostat, satisfying the technical definition for a recession. The contraction means that two of the world's three major economies, Japan and the Europe's euro zone, are now in recession.

Frankfurt's Eurotower, which houses the European Central Bank

Germany and Italy logged third quarter declines on their gross domestic products by 0.5 percent for July to September and 0.4 percent for the second quarter. France narrowly missed joining the recession club because it had a 0.1 percent GDP growth rate in the third quarter after it had a minus 0.3 percent growth in the previous quarter.

Like the UK, the group of 15 countries has been hit hard as the crisis that started in the US banking sector feeds through into the wider economy. The worst affected has been Germany, Europe's biggest economy, where GDP fell by 0.5pc in the third quarter after a 0.4pc in the second. Italy suffered falls of the same proportion in both quarters.  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

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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 »

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