|October 2011 Edition
The destructive forces of climate change are already being felt in the world's biggest wine-producing regions, California, Europe and Australia, as the steady rise in global temperatures scorches vineyards and depletes water supplies. As a heat wave gripped Ontario this summer, warmer temperatures radically changed the dynamics of the industry. Hotter summers can cause heat stress for grapes which threaten whites such as Chardonnay and Riesling. In 2009, Ontario's wine industry was worth C$575-million in sales. But as in B.C., the Niagara industry could also be threatened by pests that are normally killed off in the winter.
The wealth gap between whites and minorities in the U.S. has reached the widest in a quarter century. The median wealth of white households is 20 times greater than that of black households and 18 times that of Hispanics. Plummeting house values are the principal cause. Many Hispanics live in regions hardest hit by the housing bust, Arizona, California, Florida and Nevada.
There are 230,000 Canadians employed in the food manufacturing sector. In 2009, Canada ranked fourth globally in agriculture and agri-food exports. Food now represents 15 per cent of total manufacturing sales, up from 10 per cent a decade ago. Canada is first globally in exports of canola, peas, lentils, mustard seed and linseed.
China plans an ultradeep dive by a manned submersible beneath the Pacific that will propel it past the U.S. in a race to explore potentially vast mineral resources in the deepest parts of the world's oceans. The first dives, between North America and Hawaii will be to a depth of 5,000 metres. There are only four other countries that can explore the ocean below 3,500 metres--Japan, Russia, the U.S. and France. If the current mission is successful, China will attempt a dive next year to 7,000 metres which would allow China access to 99.8 per cent of all the world's seabed.
This country's smart banks, open economy and long lineups of boats at its ports have many comparing it to Singapore on which it models itself. Though Panama is not even one-fifth as rich as its Asian model, from 2005 to 2010 its economy expanded by 8 per cent each year, the fastest in the Americas. The IMF expects it to grow by six per cent each year over the next five years. In 2010, the canal revenues were US$2-billion. Its business-friendly regulations have spawned big insurance, finance and legal industries and Panama's import tariffs are among the lowest in Latin America.
For the first time, cyclists outnumbered motorists on some the United Kingdom's busiest commuter routes during the rush hours. On Cheapside, a street in the City of London, cycles make up more than 50 per cent of commuter traffic and account for 42 per cent on Southwark Bridge across the Thames. In one Bristol suburb, more than one in four people cycle to work.
324 households in Athens declared ownership of swimming pools for tax purposes. Satellite photos have detected 16,974 pools.
India aims to pour US$60-billion into ports by 2020 under a drive to spur the fastest growth in more than two decades and ease bottlenecks. The target is part of a planned $1-trillion revamp of choked transport and power networks. To date there has been insufficient investment in infrastructure which has left the world's most populous democracy trailing a Chinese economy which is now three times larger.
The size of the average British television set has surged to nearly 36" in the past year. The demand for 40" to 47" TVs has increased 93 per cent against the previous year. The average size is now 35.9", up from 32.9" this time last year. The increase is the result of a fall of nearly one third in prices. However, the advent of 3D and internet-ready Smart TVs has got consumers increasingly opting for extra large 42" models and above.
The U.S. trade deficit with China widened 11.8 per cent through June of this year. At the current rate, the trade gap will surpass US$305-billion by the end of the year. The top Chinese exports to the U.S. in this period were: computers; wireless communications equipment; audio and video equipment and games and toys. The top U.S. exports to China in the same period were: waste and scrap; soybeans; automobiles and light-duty motor vehicles; semi-conductors and aircraft engines, equipment and parts.
A new survey reports that more than half of Americans have at least one chronic disease. Some 55 per cent of people in the U.S. said that they were diagnosed with one or more chronic conditions compared to 41 per cent of people in the UK and 52 per cent of Canadians. The international survey which quizzed people in 12 countries also found that more Americans rated their overall health as "excellent" or "good" than any other country.
Apple has applied for a patent on a mobile phone safety feature that would deploy an airbag if the device falls. The patent also suggests using a laser or even radar to determine the distance between the phone and the ground. Other suggestions for protecting a falling phone include springs that would be released from the casing to ensure the phone safely bounced on hitting the ground. The application also suggests that a gyroscope or jets of compressed air could be used to alter the angle of the device in the air.
Russia is offering agricultural land to Southeast Asian nations to grow crops and help secure reliable food supplies, part of a wider effort to foster trade and investment ties in new markets. In Africa, Mozambique is inviting Brazilian soy, corn and cotton growers to introduce their farming expertise on its savanna. Brazil has been successfully growing crops on its centre-west plains which has similar climatic and soil conditions to Mozambique.
A shortage of chopsticks in China has become so acute that a U.S. company has begun exporting millions of pairs to the country. A Georgia company is producing two million sets of the traditional eating utensils each day. It is operating around the clock to keep up with demand and hopes to be exporting 10-million pairs a day by the end of the year. Amid a shortage of wood in China, the abundant poplar and sweet gum trees in Georgia were found to be perfect.
Parisians can now buy fresh baguettes from coin-operated machines which could sound the death knell for the bakeries Francophiles hold so dear. And, if the quality is compromised, it may kill off the baguette too. The vending machine is described as "the bakery of tomorrow" as the machine heats up a part-cooked loaf and delivers it piping hot.
The Canadian tourism industry is ramping up its efforts to target the blossoming Chinese market. Other countries like the U.S. and New Zealand have been able to capitalize on Chinese outbound tourism for years. It wasn't until June, 2010 that Canada finally received approval destination status from China. There has already been a 26 per cent increase in tourists this year and it is estimated that the Chinese market could generate $300-million a year in revenue by 2015.
The growing desire for glossy, long locks is fuelling a multi-million dollar global trade in human hair, with demand for hair extensions surging by 160 per cent over the previous year in Britain. It is estimated that this industry is worth US$110-million annually. Britain was the third largest buyer of human hair behind the U.S. and China.
Giant posters on Shanghai's subway system now allow commuters to do their weekly shop on the way home simply by taking pictures of the items they desire with their mobile phones. The posters at the commercial capital's busiest stations depict several rows of a supermarket shelf stacked with 80 or so daily groceries with everything from raw meat to juice and diapers. Commuters photograph a barcode beneath each item they wish to purchase. Orders are delivered to their door within hours and are charged by weight.
The Ueshima coffee shops that dot Tokyo seem like any other chain. But if you look closely you see the aisles are wider, the chairs sturdier and the tables lower. The food is mostly mushy rather than crunchy. Helpful staff carry items to the customers' tables. The menus are written in traditional Japanese, rather that Western lettering and are in a large, easy to read font, and it is no coincidence that the chain is full of elderly people. Ueshima is not advertised as a coffee shop for the elderly but it targets them relentlessly. Fully a fifth of the Japanese population is now over 65.
Major U.S. car makers have agreed new fuel efficiency standards proposed by the U.S. Administration in an effort to end the dominance of gas guzzlers. They have agreed that by 2025, cars and light trucks sold in the U.S. will drive on average 54.5 miles per gallon (mpg) of fuel, compared with 27 mpg today. It is estimated that this will lower the country's oil use by 2.2-million barrels a day over the next 15 years and save consumers almost US$2-trillion in fuel costs.
Canadian revenue from the export of wheat in 2010 was C$5.2-billion of which 48 per cent came from Saskatchewan. 90 loaves of whole what bread can be made from a bushel of wheat or 210 servings of spaghetti.
Germans work hard but they also enjoy the most generous holiday time in the European Union taking an average of 40 days annually including paid leave and public holidays. Only Danes are afforded as much time off. In Greece and Portugal the average is 33 days each year and in Romania it is 27 days.
When a container fell off a forklift recently, 462 cases of the top-rated Australian 2010 Mollydooker Velvet Glove Shiraz were smashed. Just one case survived the impact. Each bottle was valued at C$191. The wine had been headed for the U.S. for its formal launch.
In the early 1970s, 25 per cent of Americans were near-sighted; three decades later the rate had risen to 42 per cent, and similar increases have occurred around the world. There is significant evidence that the trait is inherited but the genes are not the only factor. The rapid increase appears to be due to a characteristic of modern life: more and more time spent indoors under artificial light.
A new poll has found that the majority (58 per cent) of consumers prefer organic food to conventional food. This preference is particularly strong with those with higher education and those of a younger demographic. Sixty-three per cent of respondents under age 35 choose organics when possible. Among those preferring organic foods, the primary reasons were: supporting local farms, 36%, avoiding toxins, 34%, environmental health 17% and taste 13%.