Federico Bini

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Lager loses its swagger

There is one reason why alcohol consumption is dropping all around the world: beer. 
Less and less of it is being consumed, and the planet seems to be sobering up.

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Fragile states

If the world feels like it’s getting less and less stable by the day, that might just be because it is. Recent studies back up the feeling with numbers.

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Apocalypse soon

Few hope that it will come sooner rather than later, but that takes nothing away from our fascination with the end of the world. We even have a clock that claims to measure its advent.

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To be or not to be

Crazy is more than just being eccentric. Real insanity is the most blatant expression of mental illness, a phenomenon that is growing more acute as the world’s population ages.

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Shine on you crazy diamond

Deep in the earth are buried some of the most brilliant treasures of the universe. Will we eventually need to explore the universe to sate our hunger for their light?

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Tons and tons of tuna

Long known to American consumers as the “chicken of the sea,” this once ubiquitous fish has become the object of concern for foodies, environmentalists and even financiers. 

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The would-be wall

Relations between Mexico and the United States were originally shaped by territorial disputes and war. Even though the two neighbors are now on friendly terms, it won’t take much to reignite the rhetoric.

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The global village and its backlash

Goods and people have all become globetrotters. For some this is a good thing. For others it is an ominous sign of future chaos.

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Colombian gold

Once a haven for drug gangs and kidnappers, Colombia has undergone a remarkable transformation in recent years. Now it is one of the economic engines of Latin America.

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Help them to help themselves

Whenever there is a major emergency such as war or natural disaster, rich nations are inspired to generosity. But the financial aid entails a host of paradoxes, and in some cases perpetuates chronic poverty. 

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Exoplanets

Astronomers with their sights set on the most distant places have been caught up in an exciting hunt for the past quarter of a century: they are on the lookout for extrasolar planets, otherwise known as exoplanets.

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Roller coasters and dream castles

Fun has become a huge industry. Catering to all ages and cultures, fun parks have evolved into universes unto themselves.

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Hope in the fight against AIDS

Since acquired immune deficiency syndrome, better know as AIDS, swept across the globe, doctors, scientists and governments have struggled to contain it and find a cure. It hasn’t been easy, but there is hope. 

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Teach your children well

Of all the professions in the world, schoolteachers might have the most impact on the future of society. Yet these unsung heroes tend to be underpaid and overlooked.

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The flowing heart of Southeast Asia

The Mekong River flows through six countries in one of the world’s greatest areas of expansion. Its riches, however, have always been a double-edged sword.

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Till debt do us part

The modern global economy is inseparable from debt – taking money from where it is and moving it to where it isn’t. When we measure and keep track of this movement, however, the proportions can be mind-boggling. 

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Good fences make good neighbors

It may not be the most optimistic thought to have, but it’s one that many nations are putting into practice: the wall as a way to stave off the encroachment of the dreaded other. 

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The innovation economy

­In a world like ours, where high technology has become indispensible for daily living, the key to economic competitiveness lies in the ability to innovate.

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Two wheels are better than four

With toxic car emissions threatening to turn our planet into a pressure cooker, the bicycle – muscle-powered vehicle par excellence – can help us pedal away from the brink.

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Who wants to live forever?

The elixir of immortality is not yet available at your nearest pharmacy, but we are moving closer to a milestone in life expectancy.

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Googling all the way to the bank

Less than 20 years ago no one would have understood a request to “google” something. Today we do it many times a day – to the point where the huge tech company has become an appendage of our individual and collective minds.

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Uprooted and looking for a home

As political volatility and conflict increases, so does the number of people whose homes are no longer safe.
The plight of refugees and displaced people is a growing problem worldwide.

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The mysterious realm

Arabia has long been an exotic land that fascinated travelers. Now Saudi Arabia has evolved into an inscrutable political entity that seems to relish in straddling the past and future.

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Scuse me while I kiss the sky

Ever since the Tower of Babel we have wanted to build into the clouds. Now there is a veritable race going on, in which the rankings of tallest buildings change faster than we can keep track.

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The global killer

In some places on the planet the annoying buzz of a mosquito at night is fraught with lethal menace. Despite deaths in epidemic proportions, we often ignore one of the world’s biggest health problems.

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The Rare Earth Age

Hidden in the rocks and sand of our planet are a host of elements that are both difficult to extract and indispensible to our increasingly high-tech daily lives.

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Milan, very bello!

Expo organizers in Milan are burning extra calories to get this monumental event ready for the opening. They will need all the energy they can get.

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Mending broken hearts, kidneys and livers

Transplanting organs from one body to another has become routine. But what was once considered a miracle of modern science has turned into an industry full of surprises.

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Shiver me timbers

Piracy on the high seas has seen a resurgence in recent decades. But international efforts to control it have led to a constant shift of hotspots around the globe. 

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Sweets to the sweet

We all want sweetness in our life. And a dose of sugar is the quickest way of getting it. No wonder the consumption of sugar has multiplied over the centuries.

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Rwanda reborn

The country that came to be synonymous with genocide in the 1990s has not only recovered, but it has also become one of Africa’s fastest growing economies.

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Something fishy going on

The Neolithic revolution came when people started farming the land instead of hunting and gathering. Now a similar revolution is happening with fishing. Our oceans will never be the same. 

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Pipelines = lifelines

The more we are dependent
on gas and oil, the more the pipelines that carry these indispensible commodities
will crisscross the planet and become a part of the landscape.

Genetics
Of dodos and dinosaurs

Given the means, man would not hesitate at tweaking the evolutionary process. With genetics making progess by leaps and bounds, the dream of reviving long extinct animal species has become a reality.

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Robots on the march

We tend to imagine robots as androids with personalities of their own, but most robots are just very specialized machines. Nevertheless, these machines are taking over the world.

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Making music for outlaws

Computer technology and the internet have revolutionized the recording industry. Illegal downloads have cut into artists’ earnings, but new streaming services and payment structures give hope to those who live to make music.

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All bets are on

Gambling is as old as money ­(if not older). But with increased mobility, including virtual travel, the gambling topography has changed radically.

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Students on the move

Education is by no means impervious to globalization. Students are now studying outside of their country more and more, and their choices are indicative of geopolitical trends.

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The museum fad

Despite the proliferation of easy-access entertainment – or perhaps because of it – the pleasure of going to a museum to see great artworks and well-curated exhibitions is growing.

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Slaves among us

The whips and shackles of the transatlantic slave trade may seem a thing of the past, but slavery is still a scourge that quietly surrounds us. The forms it takes can often be so subtle that they go unnoticed in plain sight.

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With progress comes CO2

As the world develops, the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere increases. Are we anywhere near bringing it under control?

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The train keeps a-rollin’

Some things are good to begin with and get even better with age. The iron horse that led the Industrial Revolution is still a great way to keep us and our wares moving.

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Nigeria’s paradoxes

It’s a rich land and a poor land, a country of amazing variety. Within a few decades it will also be huge, both its population and its economy.

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The super-rich

It might be hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but that hasn’t stopped the majority of us from desiring wealth. Unfortunately for most people, it’s lonely at the top.

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Outlaw economics

Many of the world’s biggest businesses and industries will never appear on any of the world’s stock exchanges. In fact, they do their best not to appear on anybody’s radar – except, of course, those of consumers.

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I’m leaving, on a jet plane

 

The jet set once referred to an exclusive elite. Now everyone is travelling at supersonic speeds. The airline industry, however, is changing – both geographically and economically.

 
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Fleshing out the world’s diet

As more and more people rise out of poverty, the amount of protein consumed per capita will increase steadily. In most cases, this means more meat. The implications, both economically and ecologically, are huge.

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Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a super-spy!

Drones are the weapon of the future. But these vehicles are far more than just flying missile launchers. They are the spies of the future: either hovering through the stratosphere, or simply another fly on the wall.

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Not just a mirage

There’s something sinister looming over those sand dunes. The vast Sahara desert has now become a base of operations for fundamentalist Islamic fighters.

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Smoke gets in your eyes

There’s crusade under way against the evils of cigarette smoking. But business is as brisk as ever in the developing world. And where smoking has diminished, Big Tobacco has found a way to diversify.

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Move over Gutenberg

The printed word may have seen better days, but the word itself is thriving in a new dimension – the electronic dimension. More and more people are catering to their reading needs with e-readers.

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Cutting the red tape

Making a country more business friendly is, in theory, quite simple: speed up the process of doing business by eliminating unnecessary bureaucracy. So which countries have been successful?

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Many is good, but more is better

India is the land of gods with thousands of hands, heads and eyes, where a single bicycle rickshaw can ride over a dozen children to their school, and where the rule is simple: there is always room for one more.

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Golden years

As the world’s population gets longer in the tooth, the change in demography will have an impact on society. If once the eldery were considered over the hill, they will soon be a force to be reckoned with.

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A farewell to handwriting

The feel of ink flowing across paper has become a quaint sensation associated with bygone times. As the use of computers increases, penmanship may soon become a lost art.

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And the highest bidder is…

It’s no secret that art is more than just an aesthetic pursuit. It is a viable form of investment. And as once dormant economies emerge, so does their taste for artworks.

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Nips and tucks

The number of people undergoing plastic surgery is steadily increasing, as are the types of procedures. What they redo often depends on cultural and geopolitical factors, as some are trying make their ethnic origins less visible.

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Aliens

We are constantly being invaded by aliens. Most come from other parts of the world, but some are literally extraterrestrial. Will there come a time when we can converse with beings from outer space?

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The Tower of Babel

­­The more you get out into the world the more you realize how many different languages and dialects there are, and how much possibility for misunderstanding. 

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Blessed are the peacemakers

In a multipolar world, peacekeeping operations are growing in importance. The United Nations’ blue helmets have in the past 64 years become a mainstay in situations requiring experienced conflict resolution.

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In the Land of the Dear Leader

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, more commonly referred to as North Korea, is arguably the most anomalous country in the world. Its numbers only confirm its peculiarities.

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Gazillions and gazillions of bytes

Too much information? Or still not enough? Whatever the case may be, the amount keeps growing, and in order to keep up with it we’ll need to expand our vocabulary.

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Not so lonely planet

The world is literally on the move. Once the prerogative of the privileged classes or religious pilgrims, tourism is now a massive industry.

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Woe unto women

Women have come a long way over the last few centuries, but numbers show that they still have further to go – in some places more than others.

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Getting the message across

Once there were smoke signals, carrier pigeons, distant lights and even pieces of paper in a bottle. We’ve come a long way in terms of telecoms.

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An alien in Europe

The uniqueness of Norway’s population is in many ways a result of the land on which they live – as well as what’s under it.

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Planetary traffic jam

The extraordinary growth in the number of cars over the last one hundred years, while remarkable, has largely gone unnoticed.

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The high price of getting high

Technological progress has given us synthetic recreational drugs. Globalization has made them available almost everywhere. And their interdiction has resulted in extreme profitability for those willing to risk.

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Bright lights, big city

It’s an ancient story: country bumpkin looks for a better life in the big town. But now the towns have grown and spread into each other to such an extent they form vast megacities that defy borders.

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Food for thought

Most people believe that as the population grows, food resources will become scarcer. In fact, the opposite is true. So there is no excuse for endemic hunger.

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The forest for the trees
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Fever and chills
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People and the Earth
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In the shadow of HAL

The day is arriving when machines will be able to think better than humans. This formerly sci-fi scenario is becoming a reality more quickly than many would like to believe.