International News

Information and articles of an international interest

2012’s Ryder Cup showcases Spain’s addiction to golf

In the end it was a stunning victory, but those of a nervous disposition can surely not have enjoyed the 2012 Ryder Cup. Sports fans who could bring themselves to uncover their eyes on the competition’s final day will have witnessed one of the greatest comebacks in the sport’s long history. The Europeans had fared almost comically badly, Rory McIlroy misreading the time on his mobile phone and as a result nearly missing his Sunday tee-off time.

OMG – a car for kids!

Yes, it’s true, the Toyota Camatte is not for adults but kids. Although this concept car with a difference is not a classic scaled-down electric buggy but more like the real thing, functional dashboard and adjustable seats and all, its makers at Toyota see it very much as a driving toy. Meant to introduce younger people to the joys and practicalities of driving, it will therefore be launched, not at the Tokyo Motor Show, but at the Tokyo Toy Show.

¡Hablemos Español! originally launched in 2006 but it wasn’t until the end of 2007 that the American and Chinese co-founders were able to introduce the features that set it apart from its competitors. The site offers its members several different options to maximise their language learning: Language exchanges with native speakers (student to student) via SKYPE, pre-recorded messages or chat so you can help each other – great for learning the intricacies of everyday Spanish rather than the more formal textbook language
Forums where students can post questions and answers for each other about language, culture, traditions, travel and so on
Groups encouraging students learning the same language to work together and help each other by sharing resources, ideas, tips and knowledge

America’s Mars probe is curiously Spanish

The success of the initial stage of NASA’s Mars mission has hit headlines all over the world since the Curiosity rover landed on Monday August 6th in Gale Crater. Over the next two years this strange vehicle (resembling a space age beach buggy) will range 19.3 kilometres over the crater’s surface, including Mount Sharp, which is higher than Mount Rainier, the highest peak in the United States of America. Curiosity’s landing was met with scenes of wild celebration amongst the usually impassive and serious scientists at NASA’s Pasadena Mission Control, many handing out Mars Bars to colleagues to mark the occasion, but in the midst of all this jubilation few stopped to think of Spain’s contribution.

The Hotel that salt built

Living on top of salt that’s several metres thick, surrounded by the world’s largest salt flat is going to call for some ingenuity and imagination. Even though they are high up in the Andes (over 3.5 kilometres above sea level), these salt flats are so flat that they are one of the best places on earth to calibrate the altimetres of satellites orbiting the earth. Varying in height by less than a metre across its whole expanse, this white landscape where the earth seems to join the sky is inherently beautiful.
There is a serious ecological side to this fragile area though, and the co-operative that mines the salt is very careful to keep the extractions within sustainable limits. The salt flats also cover more than 50% of the world’s lithium deposits: hugely significant with the ever-increasing use of lithium batteries in modern day gadgets and phones. Now an even more unusual economic activity has been added: the Hotel Palacio de Sal.

Getting Wet with Google Earth

In a relatively short time, Google Earth has become an invaluable tool for education, aid organisations, corporations and individuals. But until relatively recently, only information pertaining to what rose up from the earth was available. Then came the Google Ocean feature.
Google Ocean opened up a whole new world to those interested in what lay hidden below the surface of the water that covers, after all, more than 71% of the earth. Top scientists and oceanographers were invited to submit information on the bathymetry beneath the ocean waves and major lakes across the globe. Over the last few months, the accuracy and clarity of the underwater images has been improved to such an extent that Google now offers a Seafloor Tour!

Make mine a thin crust with extra anchovies!

A1 Concepts, the Dutch company behind this sacrilegious machine, is at pains to emphasise that its invention can cook a pizza from start to finish in three minutes. Moreover, it’s not just a re-heater warming through pre-made soggy margaritas, the Let’s Pizza vending machine actually makes each of its customers a fresh pizza every time.

New direct flights between Valencia and Moscow

Among the links already established are those that connect the likes of Moscow, St. Petersburg, Madrid and Barcelona, but naturally Spain’s third city, Valencia, could not be absent from this list, so the route was officially inaugurated with the touchdown of the first S7 Airlines jet at the Aeropuerto de Manises in Valencia on 2 June 2012. The moment marked the start of a twice-weekly direct service between Valencia and Moscow, thereby bringing a host of Russian cities within a much more convenient two-stage reach whilst opening up the region of Valencia, Alicante and the Costa Blanca to Russian businesspeople, investors, cultural visitors and tourists.

Victoria Cano exhibits at the International Art Flag Exhibition in Lebanon

This summer sees the beginning of an international arts initiative inspired by UNESCO and the OFAA (Olympic Fine Arts Association). From 21 May to the end of August, 40 artists representing 40 countries will display flag art all along the length of Beirut’s seaside parade – in so doing visually conveying the message behind UNESCO’s declaration of the Day of Cultural Diversity, Dialogue and Development. The latter has as its mission to expand the Olympic spirit, through which international diversity is celebrated and the nations of the world come together to compete on friendly terms in a broad variety of sports. Having extended the principle from sport into the arena of the arts, OFAA now wants to use both mediums to show how the Olympian spirit as an example of how things can – and should – be. As the person chosen to represent Spain on this lofty podium, Victoria Cano receives both artistic and personal satisfaction from an art exhibition with a truly humanist mission.

Tapas King beats President Obama in American poll

It’s a bold statement, but it’s not often that America’s respected Time magazine is wrong; according to their latest Top 100 of influential people, Asturian chef, José Andrés, is the 21st most influential person in America. Barack Obama, America’s current President, fares rather less well, only managing a comparatively lowly 62nd place.

Magnificent jewels to shine at Christie’s Geneva

The upcoming ‘Jewels for Hope’ and the Christies Magnificent Jewels Sale, is set to take place this month at the Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues in Geneva.
The ‘Jewels for Hope’ sale is taking place on 14th May and the jewellery collection of philanthropist Lily Safra, which includes seventy rare pieces, is expected to raise more than $20 million.
The Lily Safra Foundation will donate all the proceeds to twenty charitable institutions, including the Elton John AIDS Foundation and Children Action in Geneva. Any proceeds above $20 million will be given to additional philanthropic organisations chosen by the foundation.

Or the bull kills you

Those of you who know Jason Webster will be familiar with his non-fiction works that sketch Spain – both past and present – with lucid clarity and a passion that adds pace and emotion to the narrative. Webster made his name with highly acclaimed books such as Guerra, Duende and Andalus, each of which delves into a world that is unknown to most of us, but does so without holding back and with an honesty that is refreshing.

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