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HISPANICS

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the boom in the Hispanic population is spreading beyond traditional areas such as California and Texas to reach every corner of the country, including the Deep South and the Midwest. The report shows the biggest increases in Hispanic population in the past decade were in places such as South Carolina, Alabama, Maryland and South Dakota. Latinos accounted for 16.3 per cent of the population in 2010, up from 12.5 per cent in 2000.

DISENGAGED

Half of all Canadian employees surveyed are disengaged from their work according to a recent poll. Thirty six per cent of the 2,000 workers surveyed said they are seriously considering leaving their organization, up sharply from 26 per cent the last time the survey was done in 2006. Another 22 per cent said they are indifferent about leaving but are increasingly dissatisfied with their employers. On a positive note, employees credit their employers for being better in providing feedback, with 54 per cent saying they had a formal performance appraisal or review in the past 12 months compared with 46 per cent in 2006.

WASTE

During the recent summer heat in Tokyo ordinary consumers were trying to conserve energy offsetting shortages from the nuclear plant outages. Meanwhile, luxury boutiques were snubbing their noses at such practices by propping their doors wide open in the belief that their air-conditioned cool air will increase foot traffic as the frigid air is allowed to stream wastefully onto the sidewalk. Among the companies are many that claim to be "green" and environmentally friendly.

YACHTS

China's seemingly insatiable appetite for luxury is a boon for yacht-builders, and other makers of luxury goods, at a time when traditional markets in Europe and the U.S. are struggling. One UK builder recently sealed a massive deal to supply five yachts worth US$33-million to a mainland Chinese customer. But yacht builders are facing emerging competition from local upstarts keen to get a slice of this potentially lucrative market. However, high taxes, onerous regulation and a lack of suitable marinas and berths may limit the industry's expansion.

REPLICAS

An exact replica of an Austrian town is being built in China's Guangdong province. Chinese architects have already designed a number of fully inhabitable towns in variety of European styles. Near Shanghai, Thames Town looks like a traditional English village, complete with fish and chip shops. Others are modeled on Barcelona and Venice. These towns are, in essence, huge real-estate developments based on an architectural theme.

EMPLOYMENT

In most of the OECD mainly rich member countries, immigrants fare worse than native-born workers in the job market. In Belgium, the unemployment rate for immigrants is two-and-a-half times that for those born in the country. Workers in Spain have a jobless rate of 18 per cent while 30 per cent of immigrants are out of work. In the U.S. where the labour market has been unusually slow, the pain is being shared fairly equally among native-born workers and immigrants.

PHONES

Women in developing countries are 21 per cent less likely to own a cell phone than men. This amounts to about 300-million fewer female subscribers. Closing this gender gap represents a US$13-billion revenue opportunity for cell phone operators, an amount that will increase to $29-billion a year by 2014. It is estimated that 38 per cent of women and 48 per cent of men have cell phones in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

WINE

Whereas counterfeit art has been around for centuries, wine forgery is relatively new. It started in the late 1970s when the prices of the best wines, especially those from Bordeaux, shot up. Today, with demand from China fuelling a remarkable boom, counterfeiting is rife. By some estimates, five per cent of fine wines sold at auction are not what they claim to be on the label. The simplest technique is to slap the label of a prized recent vintage on that of a less-divine year. Another is to bribe the sommelier of a fancy restaurant to pass on empty bottles that once held fine wines to be refilled with inferior wines.

NUCLEAR

France has bucked the anti-nuclear trend following Japan's disaster by pledging US$2-billion of investment in atomic power. The announcement confirming France's commitment to nuclear power came as neighbouring Germany drew up plans to shut all its nuclear stations by 2022. Switzerland has also decided not to replace its five existing nuclear reactors which supply 40 per cent of its energy. All 143 working nuclear power plants in the EU's 27 member countries are facing new safety tests in the wake of the Japanese disaster.

INNOVATION

Canada's Science Council reports that Canada is now a mid-level player in the global innovation race, passed by rising powers China and South Korea in some categories and falling behind long-time rivals such as the U.S., Germany, Norway and Sweden. Canada's performance has slumped on most key measures in the two years since the last report Among other things, the country is spending less per capita on Research and Development, business R&D is down, venture capital relative to GDP is down, government spending on R&D has fallen and the ranking of Canadians in high-school test scores is lower.

FUEL

Dutch airline KLM is using recycled cooking oil as biofuel to power 200 flights between Amsterdam and Paris, in a move aimed at cutting carbon emissions.

WEALTH

The number of millionaires worldwide grew to 10.9-million in 2010 despite a slowdown following the financial crisis. Canada remained in seventh place in the ranking of rich people by country and the U.S. held on to the top spot. Men made up 73 per cent of the wealthy worldwide and 83 per cent were more than 45 years old. For the first time, Asia was home to more millionaires than Europe. This tiny percentage of the world's population controls US$42.7-trillion of global resources, $2-trillion more than before the 2008 crash.

SHIPS

The Vale Brazil, biggest iron-ore carrier ever built, is capable of hauling 400,000 tonne cargoes. This is enough iron ore to make about 261,000 tonnes of steel, three and a half times that used to build the Golden Gate Bridge. The Vale Brazil is the first in a fleet of 19 such vessels planned by the world's largest iron-ore producer to transport freight between Brazil and China. The ship spans the length of five Airbus 380s. It is estimated the new fleet will cut freight costs by 20-25 per cent.

LABOUR

Germany hopes to attract doctors and mechanical and electrical engineers from abroad by scrapping restrictions that made it more difficult for them to find work, as part of a plan to increase the nation's skilled labour force. The government has agreed with industry and union leaders to a long-term concept that includes changing immigration laws to allow companies to more easily hire from abroad.

FONTS

Ford Motor Co. plans to use larger and bolder fonts for the text on many of its interior vehicle controls in order to make the characters easier to read, especially for aging baby boomers. Starting in 2012, Ford will use fonts 40 per cent larger. This results from a study Ford did showing that even small changes can make the words in its interior graphics easier for everyone to read, regardless of their age.

AEROSPACE

Montreal ranks third globally as an aerospace centre, after Seattle and Toulouse, France. Those employed in the 200 Montreal-based companies total 40,000 with annual sales of C$11-billion. Quebec's aerospace industry accounts for 70 per cent of total Canadian R&D spending.

LOGGING

It is estimated that there are an estimated US$1-2-billion worth of dead trees on land flooded during the construction of Ghana's Akosombo hydroelectric dam in 1965. A new sawmill has been built on the shores of Volta Lake and will soon be cutting logs of valuable odum, ebony and mahogany from some 36 tropical hardwood species native to the region. They will use floating, chainsaw-equipped harvesters that combine the technology of forestry and deep-sea oil drilling, to reach up to 100 feet below the surface. Nearly eight years in the making, the massive salvage operation will take 25 years and harvest 350,000 hectares of forest.

LOADS

A UK company has developed an innovative Load Weight Monitor system to maximize the safety and efficiency of loading operations. According to statistics from the Transport Research Laboratory, more than 500 commercial vehicles roll over each year in the UK, resulting in 40 per cent of all fatalities in the trucking industry. The system is currently undergoing trials with a UK supermarket chain.

INDIA

Major big-box retailers have been lobbying the government of India for years to allow them into the country to sell products to India's 1.2-billion people. Now, a panel is recommending allowing foreign companies to own up to 51 per cent in multi-brand stores with a minimum investment of US$100-million. This may pave the way for stores like Wal-Mart, Paris-based Carrefore and Tesco in the UK to open supermarkets. Retail sales in India are expected to almost double to $785-billion in 2115 from $396-billion in 2011.

BEEF

Cattle futures are expected to rise in the next few months because of dwindling U.S. herd sizes, now at their lowest level since the 1950s. There were 4.3-million head of cattle in Canada in January of this year on 83,000 cattle farms and ranches. The industry contributes C$20-billion to the economy.

DEMOGRAPHICS

Many emerging economies are in a favourable position with respect to their demographic transition, where the share of population in their working years is rising, boosting economic growth. The East Asian economies have reaped the most dramatic dividends. The share of the working-age population has soared from 47 per cent in 1975 to 64 per cent in 2010. The working-age population in East Asia will peak this decade and fall to 57 per cent by 2050. In South Asia, in contrast, the working age population will continue to rise until 2040.

TOYS

The European Union has introduced tighter safety measures for children's toys, which could hurt Chinese imports which account for 80 per cent of all EU toy imports. The new rules target toys that contain phthalates, a plastic softening chemical linked to hormone disruption in children. They are also targeting flame retardants in some toys that may hinder child growth. Surveillance at EU borders and within the 27 member states will be tightened but manufacturers, importers and distributors will also be responsible for identifying these hazards.

DOGS

Plagued with pets that do their business, a Florida condo development is making residents supply mouth swabs of DNA samples for their dogs. Any droppings found will be sent to a laboratory and if the poop matches a registered dog, the owner may be fined US$1,000.

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