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What can the London Underground tell us about PPPs?

If you’ve ever been to London, then you’ve almost certainly seen the emblematic red circle and blue stripe with the word UNDERGROUND emblazoned on it. The Underground is a huge operation, made up of some 270 stations and 400km of track. So how does London keep this operation running?

Does lightning strike twice? Peter Schiff at IFC

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Peter Schiff, the now well-known author of Crash Proof, visited the IFC earlier this week to talk about the future of the dollar as the reserve currency. Schiff has gotten famous by correctly predicting the financial crisis well before we found ourselves in our present predicament.

Infrastructure takes a hit

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So says the Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility, which just released a note based on new data on private infrastructure projects in developing countries:

From Aug to Nov 2008, 31 PPI [public private infrastructure] projects reached financial closure involving investment commitments...for US$17.2 billion in 21 developing countries...Such [a] level of investment in new projects represents a decline of about 40% compared with the level in the same period in 2007.

Smiley face, you are doomed

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Avid users of instant messaging, beware! Your habit is about to become very expensive. Well, at least if you live in Russia. Apparently, the Russian patent agency has awarded a patent on the ";-)" emoticon to a Russian businessman. (I wonder if they will charge me for this blog post?) Eternal Remont reports:

Russian businessman Oleg Teterin now claims he owns the tradmark to an emoticon:


The real threat to the environment? Your TV!

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Michael Prather, a researcher at University of California, Irvine, warns that flat-screen televisions may be a dire threat to the climate. According to an article in the Guardian:

Manufacturers use a greenhouse gas called nitrogen trifluoride to make the televisions...As a driver of global warming, nitrogen trifluoride is 17,000 times more potent than carbon dioxide.