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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 »

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 »

"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 »

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

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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 »

3rd party candidates - 1860: Lincoln elected; 1992 last heard: Ross Perot; 2008: Bob Barr & Ralph Nader excluded

Abraham Lincoln, Ross Pert, Bob Barr, and Ralph Nader

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In 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected as a 3rd party US presidential candidate.
When Abraham Lincoln ran for office, the two major parties were the Whigs and the Democrats. As a Republican, Lincoln was elected as a third party candidate - even after being left off the ballot in the 11 states that seceded from the Union.

In 1992, for the last time a 3rd party candidate, Ross Perot, was heard in presidential debates.

In 2008, 3rd party’s voices of Bob Barr & Ralph Nader were excluded from debates though
- 55% of likely voters, both Democrat and Republican, said that they would want to see Bob Barr featured in the debates alongside Obama and McCain.
- 59% of independent voters stated that they want to see the debate commission allow Nader into the debates.
- A very important fact is that younger voters were more likely to favor the inclusion of the two independent candidates into the debates, demonstrating a sort of changing of the guard as younger voters are not as content with the status quo two candidate system.  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

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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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