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FUEL

Although ships use less fuel than planes or trucks, the industry is so big that it accounts for up to 4.5 per cent of global emissions of carbon dioxide, the most prominent greenhouse gas. If vessels slowed down they would have greater fuel efficiency. The world's biggest car shipper has already asked customers to accept slower deliveries. Dropping average speeds of 18 to 19 knots by just two knots could save five per cent of fuel use and emissions alone.

NIGERIA

The Nigerian government is going on a spending spree with US$10-billion from its windfall from the rising price of oil. It will spend $5-billion fixing the country's woeful power supply which has become the administration's priority. The rest will be shared among the 36 state governments. It is believed that the total reserve is $18-billion, up from $5.1-billion in 2004.

KIOSKS

Transactions at self-serve kiosks in North America will surpass US$607-billion this year, and this amount will more than triple by 2012 to over $1.7-trillion. Consumers are showing a preference for self-service kiosk activity of all kinds. The devices are also a hedge against increasing expenses during tough economic times. The survey examines increasing use of six types of self-service kiosks where payment is accepted; self-checkout systems, ticketing kiosks, check-in kiosks, food ordering, postal systems and other retail kiosks.

PHONES

Traditional land-line phones, once the bedrock of U.S. communications, are quickly going the way of eight-track tapes as consumers go wireless or choose Internet-based phone calling. During the latter part of last year, nearly one out of every six homes in the U.S., 15.8 per cent, had only wireless telephones, up from 6.1 per cent during the same period in 2004. In New York, land lines have plummeted 55 per cent since 2000 and New Jersey is close behind. The trend is strongest among young adults.

COMMERCE

According to an index of 75 cities compiled by MasterCard, London and New York remain the top two centres for global commerce. The cities were rated according to how they perform in seven main areas, such as ease of doing business, livability, and the legal and political framework. Tokyo and Singapore were 3rd and 4th. Toronto was 13th.

PATENTS

Delays in Europe of up to 10 years have left somewhere between five and ten million inventions globally queuing for approval. These delays are bad for business and have created uncertainty for innovators. There are increasing calls for a single European patent and even a unified global system where a patent granted in one part of the world would be valid everywhere. Currently, inventors have to file for patents in different countries which is costly and time-consuming.

MOWERS

This summer has seen a surge in the sales of push mowers in the U.S., in some areas they are up by as much as 70 per cent. This has been attributed to increased environmental concerns, the faltering economy and the US$4 a gallon gasoline. It is estimated that around 300,000 push mowers are usually purchased in the U.S. each year, about the same as the number of electric mowers. These figures are dwarfed by the roughly 6-million gas-powered mowers purchased each year.

PAKISTAN

The costs of food imports to this country are about US$3.3-billion annually. Fertilizer imports cost over $820-million annually and fuel imports are over $8.6-billion each year. However, Pakistan attracted over $5-billion in foreign direct investment in 2007, ten times the figure in 2001. Government debt has fallen from 68 per cent of GDP in 2004 to less than 55 per cent in 2007 and foreign exchange reserves have reached $16.4-billion.

BREAKFAST

Honey has replaced marmalade as the most popular spread on British breakfast tables in the UK after health gurus labelled honey as a superfood. Sales of honey in Britain have risen 11 per cent in the past year to over US$155-million. Jam is still the nation's favourite with sales of $195-million annually. Diet conscious Britons are viewing honey as a healthier, organic option. It is also selling well as an alternative to sugar on cereals.

PENS

Arguably the most important invention for the written word since the printing press, the humble biro pen is 70 years old this year, named after Hungarian Laszlo Biro. The first bulk order for the ballpoint pens was during the Second World War when the RAF asked for 30,000 biros so that navigators could write at high altitude where fountain pens tended to leak. Patented in 1938, the biro uses a pressurised tube rather than gravity which was used in earlier ballpoint pens. An estimated 15-million ballpoint pens are sold daily worldwide.

MUSIC

Experts forecast that the compact disc has less than three years left in its reign atop the music industry in Canada with new data on music sales indicating the download will officially be king by 2011. A new report suggests that physical music sales in Canada will fall to US$275-million in 2011, from about $572-million last year. By that time, downloaded digital sales are expected to reach $366-million.

ARTS

Total operating revenues for the performing arts industry in Canada reached C$1.2-billion in 2006. These revenues were split almost equally between the for-profit and the not-for-profit sectors. The operating profit margin overall rose to 5.7 per cent in 2006, up from 4.3 per cent a year earlier. The top 20 performing arts companies accounted for nearly two-thirds of all revenues. For every $100 in revenue the industry earned, ticket sales and merchandise generated $42 and royalties and rentals another $9. Grants, subsidies and donations yielded $26 and the private sector provided the remaining $23.

SCIENCE

Worries that America is losing its edge in science and technology are ill-founded. It is still the world's powerhouse accounting for 40 per cent of total world spending on research and development, and produces 63 per cent of the most frequently cited publications. It is home to 30 of the world's 40 leading universities and employs 70 per cent of the world's living Nobel laureates.

NOISE

Being woken in the dead of night by noisy neighbour's blasting out music could be a thing of the past. Scientists have shown a blueprint for an "acoustic cloak" which could make objects impervious to sound waves. The technology could be use to build sound-proof homes. The key is "sonic crystals" that can be engineered to produce specific acoustical effects. They would be used to channel sounds around a specific object like water flowing around a rock, effectively shielding an object from sound.

EMPLOYMENT

According to the most recent U.S. census, more Americans identify their primary occupation as artists than as lawyers, doctor, police officer or farm worker. In 2005, two million Americans said their primary employment was in jobs defined by the census as artists' occupations, including architects, interior designers and window dressers. Their combined income was about US$70-billion, a median of $34,800 each. Another 300,000 said artist was their second job.

PAPER

For the first time in North America, a glossy magazine has been published on paper made from the pulp of wheat straw, a development that could herald the birth of a new industry that would alleviate some of the pressure on Canadian forests. The paper, known as the wheat sheet, is the product of 10 years of research by scientists in Alberta. However, the difficulty is that pulp processors don't have the equipment to deal with wheat straw and it would take an investment of up to $200-million to upgrade existing Canadian facilities.

DRINKS

Following an influx of Poles into Britain, vodka has now overtaken blended Scotch to become Britain's favourite spirit. Last year, US$1.5-billion was spent on vodka, a rise of 11 per cent in one year. Sales of blended Scotch increased by only one per cent to $1.48-billion. Vodka has a trendy image in the UK, also, the country's Polish population is raising sales. About 230,000 Poles registered for work in Britain between 2004 and 2006. The first mention of whisky in UK tax records was in 1494 and vodka was first mentioned in 1751.

AIRPORTS

Canada's airports handled 107-million passengers in 2007. Canada's largest airport is Toronto Pearson which handled 31-million passengers last year. Airports provide 200,000 direct jobs with an annual payroll of C$8-billion. Airports contribute about $45-billion a year to the Canadian economy. A single Airbus A340 arrival a day contributes 660 jobs and labour income of $28-million. Most of Canada's airports are operated by not-for-profit local authorities.

WEDDINGS

It is estimated that same-sex weddings could create hundreds of new jobs and pump hundreds of millions of dollars into California's economy. Gay couples are projected to spend $684-million on flowers, cakes, hotels, photographers and other wedding services over the next three years. Researchers project that half of the state's more than 100,0000 same- sex couple will get married and another 68,000 out-of-state couples will travel to California.

FEES

A 240-metre long U.S.-owned cruise ship recently paid a record US$331,200 to cross the Panama Canal as vessels fight for space in the increasingly congested waterway. Three containers ships have also recently paid more than $313,000. Non-reserved slots for crossing the canal are sold at auction to the highest bidder, with yachts, cruise lines and container vessels all competing for limited space on the 80-kilometre waterway. Last year, the U.S.-built canal started a $5.25-billion expansion to be completed in 2014.

DEVELOPMENT

Saudi Arabia has a vision which could soon transform the Kingdom's economy and society. Six major developments will be built across the Kingdom over the next 15 years. The centrepiece will be King Abdullah Economic City, 100K north of Jeddah. When complete it will stretch over 388 sq km. The developers say that by 2020 more than one million jobs will have been created in a city that will be home to two million. The Economic City will include one of the largest ports in the world, an education zone, a resort zone and will be the size of Washington DC.

SNACKS

Americans are becoming more health conscious when it comes to their kids' snacks according to a recent survey. New data shows that cookies, which held top spot the last time snack data was collected in 1987, are now ranked number two behind fruit. Carbonated soft drinks held the number six spot in 1987 but didn't make the top 10 this year. Cake has also dropped off the list. Meanwhile popcorn, which did not appear on the list last time is now ranked number six. Popcorn is considered a whole-grain snack.

SUCCESS

A British airline has been voted by 70,000 passengers as the third best airline in the world, ahead of Virgin and British Airways. However, Palmair has only one plane, a 36 year old Boeing 737 which flies twice a day. Palmair has a member of staff who greets every single passenger and draws up seating plans from her kitchen table the night before departures.

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