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EUROPE

The European Commission has given the go-ahead to admit 10 new states to the European Union. They include: Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia, Latvia, Estonia, Cyprus and Malta. Turkey was declined yet again, because of its human rights record. These countries will join in early 2004 adding 73 million citizens from poor countries in a gamble that could overload the EU. The final decision will be made by EU prime ministers in December. The EU will become the world's biggest trading group creating fresh export and investment opportunities for companies outside Europe.

ENERGY

Buildings in food related industries in Canada, such as grocery stores, bakeries and restaurants, were on average the biggest energy users in the commercial and institutional sector in 2000, according to first ever data from a survey that provides information on the consumption of electricity, natural gas and heating oil. Public assembly buildings such as galleries, community centres and concert halls had the lowest levels of energy intensity, less than one fifth the level of food retail stores. About 64 per cent of sampled commercial and institutional buildings used natural gas as the main source of energy for heating.

ENERGY

Buildings in food related industries in Canada, such as grocery stores, bakeries and restaurants, were on average the biggest energy users in the commercial and institutional sector in 2000, according to first ever data from a survey that provides information on the consumption of electricity, natural gas and heating oil. Public assembly buildings such as galleries, community centres and concert halls had the lowest levels of energy intensity, less than one fifth the level of food retail stores. About 64 per cent of sampled commercial and institutional buildings used natural gas as the main source of energy for heating.

PLANES

Boeing is planning to build the world's largest aircraft for military use. The Pelican will have a wingspan of more than 500 feet (a 747's wingspan is 195 feet), and a wing area of one acre. Designed to carry 14,000 tons of cargo more than 10,000 miles, the Pelican will be designed to fly 50 feet above the ocean, using the buoyant aerodynamic effect of flying close to the water to provide its maximum economic range.

BUSES

In a test program, commuters in London who are tired of long waits at bus stops can now be informed by mobile phone text messages exactly when the next service is arriving at their nearest stop. Passengers send a message with a six-letter reference found on their bus stop, and within 10 seconds will receive a reply giving the exact time a bus will arrive. The system is using an American military satellite to track every bus on the route.

FUEL

Police in Wales found six vehicles in one day using cooking oil as an alternative fuel. Drivers use the cooking oil as a fuel substitute to make their vehicles go further for less money. Customs officers can impound vehicles if owners are not prepared to pay a $1200 fine. All cars travelling on public roads are required to pay tax on the fuel they use. Supermarkets in the area have seen a rise in the amount of cooking oil sold.

CHINA

Many manufacturing companies moved into China expecting to sell to a billion Chinese. But for many, China has become the place to make products then ship them elsewhere. China has become the world's factory floor, its manufacturing prowess pushing down prices on a growing range of industrial, consumer, and even agricultural products that it sells around the world. U.S imports from China are now consistently outstripping those from Japan. China's hi-tech exports to the U.S. are growing faster than any other export, up 47 per cent in the first seven months of this year over the previous year.

RESTAURANTS

The Italian government has announced plans to certify Italian restaurants around the world, ensuring genuine Italian menus served by Italians. Counterfeit Italian restaurants are thought to make profits of US$27-million a year. A pilot scheme will be launched next year in Belgium.

SHOPPING

Canadian on-line shoppers spent $2-billion in the first half of 2002, and they would have spent more if shipping costs had been lower and websites better designed. For every purchase completed on-line, another one was not completed because of various concerns.

GREEN

Irish stores have cut back their use of plastic bags by 90 per cent since a tax on the bags was introduced six months ago. Faced with paying 10 cents per bag, shoppers are opting to bring their own reusable bags instead. Already a billion fewer bags are in circulation compared to last year.

EGGS

Producers in England have announced that eggs will soon be sold in round boxes of seven. They hope the revamp of traditional boxes of six eggs will encourage consumers to have an egg each day of the week. Eggs are increasing in popularity in Britain. Ten billion were eaten last year, 73 million more than the year before. The reason why eggs have traditionally been sold in multiples of six is unknown.

CARDS

For the first time ever, more American consumers are using debit cards to purchase goods rather than credit cards, according to a Visa survey. During the first six months of the year, there were 3.04 billion Visa debit card transactions compared to 2.96 billion credit card transactions. Whether or not a store accepts debit cards has become important to consumers selecting a supermarket.

FESTIVALS

In 2001, 326 films were shown at the Toronto film Festival. 88 were shown at the Cannes film festival. 3,317 journalists were registered at the Cannes film festival. 750 were registered at the Toronto festival.

TASTE

The government of Newfoundland is experimenting with commercial fishing for jellyfish in the hope it will create much-needed jobs. Jellyfish are known for their umbrella-like shape and stinging tentacles. In many Asian cultures, the fish is considered a delicacy. The government has been tracking jellyfish which sometimes are so plentiful, they form a thick blanket just under the ocean's surface. After catching the jellyfish, they are processed much like cod, kept in salt and then dried.

TRENDS

The Los Angeles Times reports that sales of athletic shoes costing more than US$150 plunged more than 40 per cent in the first six months of 2002. Some companies that make and sell hot youth brands say customers are no longer willing to shell out $85 for a pair of shoes for skateboarding. After a decade of shoes laden with lights, flaps, air bags and shock absorbers, many consumers now want sneakers that look downright old-fashioned.

TOOTHPASTE

A new toothpaste made from crab shell could reduce trips to the dentists by fighting infection in the mouth. The paste contains tiny polymer particles each enclosing a speck of bacteria-killing agent. Because they are sticky, the particles lodge in areas of the teeth and gums vulnerable to infection. The polymer is derived from chitosan, the main component of crab shells.

WATER

Health Canada is asking for public input concerning new regulations for bottled water. The current rules are 30 years old. Canadians bought an average of 27.7 litres of bottled water in 2001, with 850 million litres of bottled water produced in the country. There are no provisions concerning how bottled water is collected, bottled and sold.

LETTUCE

Prepackaged bagged salads have become a staple for many Canadians. Market research shows that bagged salad was among the fastest growing grocery products in 2000, the most recent year for which statistics are available. That year, sales jumped 22 per cent to more than C$123-million.

HOTELS

U.S. hotel development is at its lowest level in eight years because of a lack of financing brought on by a drop in occupancy and room rates. The U.S. hotel industry is having its slowest recovery in 30 years after last year's recession and terrorist attacks prompted companies to cut travel budgets.

MAIL

The Royal Mail has admitted that an estimated 500,000 letters or parcels are lost or delayed every week in Britain. Thousands of letters are delivered to the wrong house by mistake, research shows. Thousands more go astray because they are badly addressed. Overall, 82 million letters are handled each day. Deutsche Post of Germany has just been awarded a one year contract to deliver bulk mail in Britain.

TV

For the first time, cable television distributors lost costumers in urban Canada as direct-to-home satellite and wireless television distributers continue to gobble up the market. Cable TV's subscriber base slipped 1.4 per cent to 7.9 million subscribers as of August 2001. In contrast, new wireless operators reported growth of 66 per cent with customers climbing to 1.6 million from 970,000 in 2000.

AGING

A major British study has found that advertisers are wasting hundreds of millions of pounds every year by targeting a growing "grey" market, when many people hardly change their spending habits at all once they start to approach middle age.

FARMS

In 1930 there were roughly 575,000 farms on the Great Plains of the United States. The number has dropped steadily over the years until in 1997 there were only 231,000 farms. But the number of farms over 1,000 acres has increased from 45,000 in 1930 to more than 77,000 in 1997. Between 1930 and 1990, the rural population has dropped from more than four million to around 2.6 million.

FURNITURE

Despite booming house sales in the U.S., the domestic furniture industry is not enjoying a similar boom. Furniture imports to the U.S. have jumped 71 per cent since 1999 and now comprise between 40 and 50 per cent of all sales. For wood and metal furniture--mainly tables, bedroom furniture, chairs and cabinets--imports have grown even faster. They now amount to 80 per cent of sales compared to 20 per cent a decade ago. However, U.S. makers of upholstered furniture have retained a strong edge.

FURNITURE

Despite booming house sales in the U.S., the domestic furniture industry is not enjoying a similar boom. Furniture imports to the U.S. have jumped 71 per cent since 1999 and now comprise between 40 and 50 per cent of all sales. For wood and metal furniture--mainly tables, bedroom furniture, chairs and cabinets--imports have grown even faster. They now amount to 80 per cent of sales compared to 20 per cent a decade ago. However, U.S. makers of upholstered furniture have retained a strong edge.

ACCESS

Only a small percentage of the Chinese population have access to computers and the Internet but the absolute numbers are still huge. China added 12 million new Internet users in the first half of this year for a total of 45 million. The official Chinese newspaper China Daily, has said that viruses have infected 80 per cent of China's computers, highlighting the vulnerability of one of the world's biggest PC and Internet markets.

BARCODES

Retailers are pouring millions of dollars into readying their scanners for changes being called for by 2005. The reason is the lowly barcode which is found on everything from chewing gum to chairs and identifies products as they move through check-out scanners. Starting January 2005, global commerce groups are recommending that retailers' scanners be able to read up to 14 digit bar codes in a bid to bring universal standards to databases. In North America, goods carry a 12-digit Universal Product Code, elsewhere barcodes generally have 13-digits (though 14 digits appear on shipping containers.

ALLERGIES

Scientists have discovered that the new European Euros release 320 times more nickel than is allowed under European Union rules controlling the amounts of nickel used in jewellery and other items. A study claims that skin contact with one- and two euro coins can cause allergic reactions, including eczema.

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