Amid a clutter of 24-hour arc lights, gigantic cranes and dumper trucks, a behemoth is rising out of a field of churned mud on the outskirts of Chengdu in south-west China. Commuters skirt its vast perimeter fence on their way to the new metro link that cuts under the city. They barely glance at what looks like just another huge construction project in a cityscape that changes every month.
This project, though, is different. When finished later this year, its developers proudly boast, it will be the world’s largest standalone building. The New Century Global Centre is a leisure complex that will house two 1,000-room five-star hotels, an ice rink, a luxury Imax cinema, vast shopping malls and a 20,000-capacity indoor swimming pool with 400 metres of “coastline” and a fake beach the size of 10 football pitches complete with its own seaside village. Alongside will be another massive and futuristic structure, a contemporary arts centre designed by the award-winning Iraqi-born architect, Zaha Hadid.
The scale of the centre is a sign not just of the ambition of Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, but a potential vision of the future. Last week Chinese authorities announced that for the first time more than half of the country’s population were living in cities, 690.79 million, an increase of 21 million, compared to 656.56 million rural dwellers. The new urban-rural balance was a benchmark attained by the UK in the late 19th century and the US in the first decades of the last century – in 1800, only 3% of the world’s people lived in cities. But the scale and speed of urbanisation across the developing world today are unprecedented – throwing up a string of megacities, from Jakarta to Istanbul, São Paulo to Cairo. Poor rural families flooding into the world’s urban population centres bring challenges that have never before been seen – nor met.
Read MORE. (do check out the entire site often. very interesting site)
Visuwords “Look up words in the Visuwords online graphical dictionary and thesaurus to find their meanings and associations with other words and concepts. Produce diagrams reminiscent of a neural net. Learn how words associate.”
The term bachelor in “bachelor’s degree” most likely is from the Medieval Latin term baccalaureate, which is a play on the Latin words bacca lauri or laurel berries. The word is also a re-Latinization of the French word bachelor, which means a “youthful knight” or a “novice in arms.” – Provided by RandomHistory.com
Rep. Barney Frank, who in 1987 became the first openly gay member of Congress, is set to become the first openly gay member of Congress to be legally married while still in office.
According to Frank’s spokesman Harry Gural, the Massachusetts rep. and longtime partner Jim Ready are preparing to tie the knot in their home state. A wedding date has not yet been set.
Frank and Ready first met at a fundraiser in 2005. They entered into a relationship in 2007, following the death of Ready’s partner.
Ready has been a source of some controversy for the Congressmen. He was arrested in 2007 for growing marijuana near his home in Maine. He pled guilty and was fined. Frank, who was in the house at the time, later released a statement saying Ready apologized and promised not to do it again.
71-year-old Frank announced late last year that he would be retiring at the end of his current term.
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and opposition leader Tony Abbott had to be rushed out of a restaurant in Canberra today by Australian Federal Police officers after a throng of angry protesters threatened to harm them both.
The pair were attending an Australia Day ceremony at The Lobby restaurant, when protesters from the nearby Aboriginal Tent Embassy descended on the establishment to demonstrate their displeasure at Abbott’s remark that it was time for the 40-year-old tent city to “move on.”
Abbott’s comments inflamed tensions already heightened by “Invasion Day” protests organized by indigenous leaders throughout the country.
In the midst of the violence, however, another remarkable scene, as PM Gillard is caught on tape inquiring as to the whereabouts and safety of her political rival. “What about Mr Abbott?” Gillard is heard saying. “Where have you got him? We’d better help him through, hadn’t we?”
The commotion quieted down shortly after Gillard and Abbott cleared out. Protesters are now looking into the possibility of suing Abbott for inciting a riot.
His dear leader: Meet North Korea’s secret weapon
Zo took their calls, and seethed inwardly. “I found myself alone in the outside world,” he told me, days before Kim Jong-il’s funeral. “It’s so painful to hear words from people that are so completely ignorant. They broadcast these stupid cartoons of Team America, making a mockery out of the pain of the Korean people. This makes me even more angry and resolute to continue defending his honour.”
For comfort, Zo drew on memories of the man North Koreans viewed as a father, and who, unlike the vast majority of his countrymen, he had met personally. He recalled the horn-handled hunting knife he had presented Kim, and the tea set he had received in return. The way that Kim seemed to single him out for personal salutes at military parades. “His eyes looking at me, his face smiling at me. I keep this very dear to me,” he said.
Most of all, the way Kim’s words had guided Zo to reach his own improbable life’s goal: of joining the Communist revolution by becoming part of the North Korean government. “My friends would say, ‘We love you, but what you want to do is impossible’,” he said. “But in his speeches and writings, Kim Jong-il taught me that impossible is a word that doesn’t exist in the Korean language.”
Zo, whose name means ‘Korea is one’, had to take the Dear Leader’s word for that, because he doesn’t actually speak Korean. His friends’ scepticism seems well-founded given that he is a Spaniard of aristocratic Catalan heritage, better known as Alejandro Cao de Benos, and that North Korea is possibly the world’s most paranoid and isolated nation, a nuclear-armed rogue state all but closed to outsiders.
Yet despite this, Cao de Benos – or Zo – has managed to achieve the unique distinction of being granted honorary North Korean citizenship and an official role as “honorary special delegate” to its Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries.
Frog Is World’s Smallest Vertebrate
The Brazilian gold frog, Brachycephalus didactylus, and the Monte Iberia Eleuth, Eleutherodactylus iberia, have been unseated as the world’s smallest frogs by the newly discovered Paedophryne amauensis. Just .27 inches (7 mm) long, the tiny frog is also the world’s smallest known vertebrate, a title formerly held by a fish known as Paedocypris progenetica. After hearing what sounded like an insect’s call coming from a pile of leaves on the forest floor in Papua New Guinea, researchers discovered the tiny frog that was the source of the sound. More …
Father of teen involved in infamous beating video turns son in.
Oklahoma City Republican introduces bill to ban use of human fetuses in food products.
Murder responsible for notorious headline denied parole.
The Big Picture: Egyptians gather in Tahrir Square to mark anniversary of uprising.
85-Year-Old Woman Takes on Moose, Saves Husband.
Former smoker Barry Chappell was flying to Europe back in 2006 and couldn’t find a place to toss his Nicorette gum. So, naturally, he decided to begin constructing the world’s largest medicated gumball.
Fast-forward to the present, and Barry’s ball is now 95,200 pieces strong, clocking in at a nauseating 175 pounds.
Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! will be rewarding Mr. Chappell for his important contribution to culture and the betterment of society live on Art & Coin TV — the DirecTV channel he co-owns — tomorrow, Thursday, January 26th, at 8 PM ET.
Learn more above Chappell’s accomplishment here, if you must.
At this point, the people who run America’s private-equity funds must be ruing the day Mitt Romney decided to run for President. His fellow Republican candidates, of all people, have painted a vivid picture of private-equity firms—including Bain Capital, where he worked for fifteen years—as job-destroyingvultures, who scavenge the meat from American companies and leave their carcasses by the side of the road. Not since the days of “Wall Street” and “Barbarians at the Gate” have the masters of leveraged buyouts looked quite so bad.
Given the weak job market, it makes sense that the attacks have focussed on layoffs. But the real problem with leveraged-buyout firms isn’t their impact on jobs, which studies suggest isn’t that substantial one way or the other. A 2008 study of companies bought by private-equity firms found that their job growth was only about one per cent slower than at similar, public companies; there was more job destruction but also more job creation. And, while private-equity firms are not great employers in terms of wage growth, there’s not much evidence that they’re significantly worse than the rest of corporate America, which has been treating workers more stingily for about three decades.
The real reason that we should be concerned about private equity’s expanding power lies in the way these firms have become increasingly adept at using financial gimmicks to line their pockets, deriving enormous wealth not from management or investing skills but, rather, from the way the U.S. tax system works. Indeed, for an industry that’s often held up as an exemplar of free-market capitalism, private equity is surprisingly dependent on government subsidies for its profits. Financial engineering has always been central to leveraged buyouts. In a typical deal, a private-equity firm buys a company, using some of its own money and some borrowed money. It then tries to improve the performance of the acquired company, with an eye toward cashing out by selling it or taking it public. The key to this strategy is debt: the model encourages firms to borrow as much as possible, since, just as with a mortgage, the less money you put down, the bigger your potential return on investment. The rewards can be extraordinary: when Romney was at Bain, it supposedly earned eighty-eight per cent a year for its investors. But piles of debt also increase the risk that companies will go bust.
Spurred by rising global demand for the metal, miners are destroying invaluable rainforest in Peru’s Amazon basin
It’s a few hours before dawn in the Peruvian rainforest, and five bare light bulbs hang from a wire above a 40-foot-deep pit. Gold miners, operating illegally, have worked in this chasm since 11 a.m. yesterday. Standing waist-deep in muddy water, they chew coca leaves to stave off exhaustion and hunger.
In the pit a minivan-size gasoline engine, set on a wooden cargo pallet, powers a pump, which siphons water from a nearby river. A man holding a flexible ribbed-plastic hose aims the water jet at the walls, tearing away chunks of earth and enlarging the pit every minute until it’s now about the size of six football fields laid side by side. The engine also drives an industrial vacuum pump. Another hose suctions the gold-fleck-laced soil torn loose by the water cannon.
At first light, workers hefting huge Stihl chain saws roar into action, cutting down trees that may be 1,200 years old. Red macaws and brilliant-feathered toucans take off, heading deeper into the rainforest. The chain saw crews also set fires, making way for more pits.
September 18, 1929. “Mr. & Mrs. Lindbergh.” Aviator Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh, four months after they married, at Bolling Field en route to South America. Charles, the pioneering aviator, was probably the most famous person in America at the time; Anne would become an accomplished aviator in her own right, as well as one of the best-selling writers of the 20th century. Some three years after this picture was taken, the tragedy of their child’s murder helped define the modern phenomenon of mass-media super-celebrity. From Anne’s February 2001 obituary in the New York Times: “Nothing, not even Lindbergh’s 1927 landing in Paris, had prepared them for the carnival of reporters, photographers, con artists, curiosity-seekers, vandals and crazy people who invaded their lives after their baby was kidnapped. Americans would not experience a similar flood of publicity until the O. J. Simpson murder trial of the 1990s.
When Adm. Eric Olson, the former leader of U.S. Special Operations Command, wanted to explain where his forces were going, he would show audiences a photo that NASA took, titled “The World at Night.” The lit areas showed the governed, stable, orderly parts of the planet. The areas without lights were the danger zones — the impoverished, the power vacuums, the places overrun with militants that prompted the attention of elite U.S. troops. And few places were darker, in Olson’s eyes, than East Africa.
Quietly, and especially over the last two to three years, special operations forces have focused on that very shadowy spot on NASA’s map (see below). The successful Tuesday night raid to free two humanitarian aid workers from captivity in Somalia is only the most recent and high-profile example. More and more elite forces have transited through a mega-base in Djibouti that’s a staging ground for strikes on al-Qaida allies in the Horn of Africa, especially in Somalia.
It’s not quite the new Pakistan, or even the new Yemen, but it’s close — especially as new bases for the U.S.’s Shadow Wars pop up and expand. The U.S. military sometimes seemed like it was casting about for a reason to set up shop in Africa. Counterterrorism has given it
Why am I here on Earth? It can be a passing thought or a question that launches a full-on existential exploration. Having a sense of meaning and purpose in life is usually a positive motivator, at home and at work. But maybe the questioning itself is where life’s true mission is found…
Research by a team of Sandia chemists could impact worldwide efforts to produce clean, safe nuclear energy and reduce radioactive waste.
The Sandia researchers have used metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) to capture and remove volatile radioactive gas from spent nuclear fuel. “This is one of the first attempts to use a MOF for iodine capture,” said chemist Tina Nenoff of Sandia’s Surface and Interface Sciences Department.
The discovery could be applied to nuclear fuel reprocessing or to clean up nuclear reactor accidents. A characteristic of nuclear energy is that used fuel can be reprocessed to recover fissile materials and provide fresh fuel for nuclear power plants. Countries such as France, Russia and India are reprocessing spent fuel.
The process also reduces the volume of high-level wastes, a key concern of the Sandia researchers. “The goal is to find a methodology for highly selective separations that result in less waste being interred,” Nenoff said.
Google sees profit in tracking users
Experts: Google privacy shift will have greater impact on Android users