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World Events 2012

Economic Turmoil Continues

The global economic crisis shows little sign of ending. Stock and bond markets remain volatile, while food and energy prices continue to rise. A real estate bubble is about to burst in China, threatening to plunge the world into further chaos. With protests continuing in many countries, various movements for change are emerging, aided by social media like Twitter and Facebook.

What started as a problem in the US real estate market quickly spread and we now find ourselves several years down the line with a crisis of historic proportions in the Eurozone, questionable growth in China, and uncertainty where it all began – in the US economy. And with a 24 news cycle covering every company going into administration, jobs being off – shored to the Far East and every round of redundancies, it’s little wonder that there is so much fear, uncertainty and doubt among the public at large.

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However, some would argue that the hardship this economic crisis proffers has actually taught society a lesson. First, a society cannot survive on a binge of debt. Second, that individuals need to save for their future.

The Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II

6th February 2012 marked the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s accession to the thrones of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand ( as well as the 60th anniversary of her becoming Head of the Commonwealth ). Celebrations were held in these countries to mark the occasion.

In June, there is an extra public holiday in the UK. An event is staged in London which includes a concert produced by singer – songwriter Gary Barlow, formerly of Take That. A maritime parade of boats and events takes place along the River Thames, in which up to 1,000 boats take part ( the largest flotilla to be seen on the river in 350 years ) and a million people watch from the riverside.* Street parties take place around the country.

Queen Victoria, in 1897, is thus far the only other monarch in the histories of Britain, Canada and a few other Commonwealth realms to have celebrated a Diamond Jubilee.

Euro 2012 is held in Poland and Ukraine

The 2012 UEFA European Football Championship is hosted by Poland and Ukraine.

Alongside Euro 2012 champions Spain, co-hosts Poland and Ukraine have also emerged winners in UEFA’s quadrennial championship showpiece event, held for the first time in states once behind the Iron Curtain, Polish media said on Monday. UEFA boss Michel Platini sang their praises, expressing his “pride” for both countries and their people as “wonderful hosts,” chimed Poland’s broadsheet Rzeczpospolita.

Winning Euro 2012 will result in a great deal of construction investments and enormous financial benefits to both Poland and the Ukraine, with some analysts putting the figures as high as 3 billion US Dollars worth of revenue. The tournament will also help shift the balance of power in football, and bring in resources and prestige to help boost the games of East European countries which have traditionally made little mark in international competitions. Euro 2012 will be the first major footballing event held by a country behind, or formerly behind, the Iron Curtain since Yugoslavia hosted the European Football Championships in 1976. It will be the first major sporting event of any kind hosted by an East European country since Moscow Olympics 1980.

Great news then for this part of the world, and a fantastic chance for Poland and Ukraine to show the world what they’re capable of, both in terms of organising the event and competing in it! Of course, we’ll keep you in the know with all the latest Euro 2012 news, fixtures and results – and, if you’re coming to Warsaw to watch a match, we’ll give you the low down on accommodation for booking hotels and apartments, give you travel information and details on getting to and from the airport, plus provide you with a very handy map for tracking down those stadiums.

London hosts the Olympic Games

London hosts the Olympics for the third time in its history, the only city to have done so on this many occasions. The event takes place amid the largest security operation ever seen in peacetime Europe. London is transformed this decade by a number of massive construction projects. In addition to the Olympic Games venues themselves, there is neighbouring Stratford City, a whole new business district with over 13.5 million square feet of floor space.

Then there is Crossrail – a £15 billion rail connection, linking Heathrow Airport with the central and eastern parts of the city. Several new landmarks dominate the skyline, including the 87 – storey Shard of Glass. This becomes the tallest tower in Europe ( until surpassed by Mercury City Tower in Moscow ) and the first to break the 1000 ft barrier.

The Olympic Games is the world’s foremost sports competition, where almost all the nations ( more than 200 ) participate. The first modern Games was hosted at the Panathenaic stadium in Athens in 1896, where 241 athletes from 14 nations competed in 43 events.

World Wars had affected three cancellations of the Games in 1916, 1940 and 1944. Political turmoils resulting into large boycotts during the Cold War limited the participation in the 1980 and 1984 Olympic Games. The Olympics covers many rituals and symbols, such as the Olympic flag and torch, as well as the opening and closing ceremonies.

The 2012 Olympics is the third summer Games to be held in the city of London. London has hosted summer Olympics twice before in 1908 and 1948 and with this year’s Games the city will become the first to host the modern Games thrice. The 2012 Olympics will take place in London between 27 July – 12 August 2012.

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Mars Science Laboratory explores the Red Planet

Mars Science Laboratory – nicknamed Curiosity – is by far the largest and most powerful rover ever sent to Mars. Among its many instruments is the first video camera taken to another planet. As well as filming the surface, it also records the descent through the atmosphere, in HD quality. The rover also features the first 3D camera on Mars.

The mission has four goals :

  • to determine if life ever arose on Mars
  • to characterise the climate of Mars
  • to characterise the geology of Mars
  • to prepare for human exploration.

Windows 8 is released

Windows 8 features a much faster startup, an App Store, integrated web applications, improved digital media support ( including AVC HD and 3D video ), faster resumes from low – power states, and support for both USB 3.0 and Bluetooth 3.0. It also includes facial recognition ( due to the increasing use of webcams integrated into computers ), which can log a user in automatically. There are major improvements for touch usage.

Quad – core smartphones and tablets

The first quad – core smartphones and tablets are released in 2012, offering a substantial boost in processing power. This new generation includes the Samsung Galaxy S3, iPhone 5, HTC Edge, HTC Zeta, HTC Quattro tablet and the Asus Transformer Prime.

And yet, cutting edge as these processors are, both Nvidia and Qualcomm are as you read this toiling away on the generation after that: the quad – core chip. These next – gen processors are, according to those in the know at Nvidia, headed for smartphones and tablets as early as this year, casting some serious shadow on the current stable of MWC offerings.

Nintendo launches the Wii U

The Wii U is the first of the 8th generation games consoles – the others being the Xbox 720 and PlayStation 4, which are launched in 2013. The Wii U features gameplay in full 1080p resolution, 8GB of flash – based memory for storing game saves, a touch tablet controller with built – in camera, and game discs with 25GB of content using a Nintendo – proprietary format based on that of Blu – ray Discs. It is backward compatible with Wii software.

As for the North American and European Nintendo Directs, both are scheduled for 12PM ET ( 9AM Pacific, 5PM Brit – time ), and both will feature upcoming Wii U and 3DS games. We’ll have all the news for you from all three broadcasts right here on Joystiq.

The world’s first 1 – Gigawatt offshore wind farm

Off the southeastern coast of England, construction of the largest ever offshore wind farm is underway. Known as the London Array, it will supply enough power for 750,000 homes – a quarter of all those in London.With a total of 341 turbines, it will reduce carbon emissions by nearly 2 million tonnes per year, an important milestone in the government’s plan to cut emissions by 80% by 2050.

Offshore wind power is growing rapidly in Britain. Numerous other large – scale wind farms will be constructed in the coming decades – greatly reducing the country’s dependence on foreign energy and creating thousands of new jobs in the green industry.

U.S Election 2012

Amidst high drama over five tense hours of vote – counting on election night, U.S. President Barack Obama won himself four more years to consolidate his legacy as the man who steered America through the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

In securing his place in history, however, he will have to continue to face the challenges of a divided nation and Congress, as the popular vote in the highly divisive election was split evenly between him and his Republican rival, Mitt Romney, at 49 per cent.

After his victory was confirmed, Mr. Obama received a rousing welcome from a packed stadium of supporters in the heart of downtown Chicago. Jubilant but tired after a gritty campaign, the President pledged to build an inclusive, economically secure America for the middle class.

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The Abraj Al – Bait Towers are completed in Mecca

Also known as the Mecca Royal Hotel Clock Tower, this becomes the second tallest building in the world, behind the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. It is made up of seven different towers, with the Hotel Tower, the tallest, soaring to a height of 601m ( 1,972 ft ).

Built by the Saudi Binladin Group, Saudi Arabia’s largest construction company, it has cost over $15 billion and taken almost eight years to complete. Along with its place among the world’s tallest, Abraj Al – Bait now holds the record of largest habitable floor area at 16,150,000 square feet ( 1,500,000 sq m ). The hotel tower and its signature clock also hold the records for tallest hotel, tallest clock tower and largest clock face.

It is built to model the Islamic architecture of the old city and is located adjacent to the mosque Masjid al – Haram, Islam’s most holy site and home to the Kaaba. The Abraj Al – Bait complex serves to accommodate the enormous numbers of pilgrims and worshippers visiting the site. This eases certain stresses on the city during the Hajj when millions of Muslims arrive as part of the pilgrimage. The towers are able to hold up to 100,000 people, with a large prayer room capable of holding up to 10,000. The complex also boasts a five – story shopping mall, heliports, residential areas, conference and business rooms, an Islamic Museum and a lunar observatory used to sight the Moon during holy months.

The tower sparked a global outcry during its development, however. The site was previously occupied by the historic Ajyad Fortress, an Ottoman castle built in 1781, and this was demolished to make way for its construction. The new tower receives further criticism for its dominating stature over the rest of the city and its out of place modern appearance.

Mass hysteria grips the world as the Mayan calendar reaches the end of its current cycle

The Mayans were an ancient people that lived thousands of years ago, in what is now Central America. They are noted for having the only fully – developed written language of the pre – Columbian Americas – as well as its art, architecture, mathematical and astronomical systems. As part of their culture, the Mayans used a Long Count calendar. This identified a particular date by counting the number of days from a starting date, which is calculated to have been 11th August 3114 BCE in the Gregorian calendar. A b’ak’tun was the longest unit of measurement in this system and was equivalent to 144,000 days, or 394 years. When correlated with the modern Western calendar it can be shown that the 13th b’ak’tun ends on 21st December, 2012.

This date has generated enormous publicity, with many predicting the end of the world, or a transformative event of some kind. This is despite no record of the Mayans themselves believing that any such event would occur.

The media plays a huge role here, whipping up a frenzy of speculation. Though mostly tongue – in – cheek, it is enough to influence many gullible and / or vulnerable people. Various threats are debated : from a polar reversal of the Earth, to a global computer crash, runaway climate disaster or other cataclysm. On some talk shows, even the second coming of Christ is predicted. There are numerous hoaxes on the Internet and elsewhere, creating further confusion and paranoia during this time. Some people engage in panic buying of food, or build shutters and barricades around their homes. Others spend their entire life savings to enjoy one “last day” before the end of the world.

A small minority of people become involved in more serious activity. For these troubled individuals, it becomes almost a self-fulfilling prophecy. In their misguided belief that the world will actually end, they resort to extreme or illegal behaviour, putting themselves and others at risk. Consequently, there is a brief spike in the number of murders, rapes, accidents and suicides worldwide.

Of course, for the vast majority of rational people, the date passes without incident – and life continues as normal on 22nd December.

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