Wednesday, December 7, 2022

International Briefs

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Cancellation Virus

The effect of China’s coronavirus is having a domino effect all over the world as major events planned over the next few weeks have been postponed or cancelled. They include the world’s biggest phone show, Mobile World Congress, scheduled for February 24, which represents over 1,200 companies across the mobile ecosystem. The event, held annually in Barcelona, is where partnerships are forged and new products are launched. It generates business worth millions of euros. Asia is the biggest hit by cancellations. Art Basel and Art Central, two of the biggest Hong Kong art events in Asia, have cancelled this year’s edition which was to be held from March 19-21. Also cancelled is the Singapore Airshow, Asia’s biggest.

Sporting events have also taken a huge hit. The Shanghai F1 race has been postponed while a slew of golf tournaments in Asia have been called off as has the Hong Kong Marathon, the Formula-E Grand Prix and the 2020 World Athletics Indoor Championships which was due to take place in Nanjing. In Japan, there are fears that the world’s biggest sporting event, the Tokyo Olympics, to be held in July, may also be affected unless the outbreak is brought under control by then.

World’s Biggest Building

The Guinness Book of Records lists it as the largest enclosed building in the world. It occupies 472 million cubic feet and is spread over 97.8 acres, an area that can accommodate 15 major league football stadiums.

The facility belongs to Boeing and was acquired when the company was building 747s, then the world’s biggest airliner. Boeing needed to build a factory large enough to build several jumbo jets at the same time. The place they selected was Everett, an area of woodland outside Seattle. The 747s are being phased out but Boeing’s expanding fleet of smaller aircraft still needs the space. Each shift has 10,000 workers, and there are three shifts a day. The facility is so vast that workers make use of the 1,300 bicycles available to help cut travel time. It has its own fire station, hospital, along with cafes and restaurants to feed thousands of workers. One more statistic defines the scale and size of the facility—it uses one million lights.

Future Ready

The annual Auto Expo held in the National Capital Region ended last week with some new launches and upgrades but more importantly, an idea of what we could be driving in a year or so. The future, as every auto enthusiast knows, lies in electric mobility, and almost all the concept cars unveiled at the 2020 edition featured battery-powered vehicles. The two that stood out were the Mahindra Funster, a roadster type convertible with scissor doors. The Funster is a concept vehicle but its design was quite unusual and futuristic which helped the Mahindra corner a lot of eyeballs but it had some stiff competition in the selfie-taking department from Maruti’s sleek concept coupé , the Futuro-e. The stunning SUV configuration also comes with a highly attractive cabin, and Maruti has said that the Futuro-e concept will work as a design study for its future utility vehicles. The roadworthy version is likely to hit showrooms in 2021.

Butting In

Till last week, he was relatively unknown outside America, but in a huge surprise, the man with the unpronounceable surname, Buttigieg, has emerged as an unlikely contender for the Democrat party candidate to take on Donald Trump in the November elections in the US. Paul Montgomery Buttigieg is the first openly gay candidate and his political credentials so far are as mayor of a city in Indiana. His sexual preferences did not seem to have dented his chances against Democrat heavyweights like Bernie Sanders, ex-vice president Joe Biden or Elizabeth Warren in the Iowa primaries. What seems to work for him is his youth (he is 38), charisma and an impressive educational background—he graduated from Harvard and Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar.

He was a consultant at management consulting firm McKinsey and served as a naval intelligence officer in the US Navy which included a tour of Afghanistan. He is not a political tyro either, having worked in a number of political campaigns for Democrat party leaders. Last week, at the Iowa primaries, he made history by becoming the first openly gay candidate to get the backing of primary delegates from a major American political party.

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