The Margin – International News in Brief

5 November 2009

Arts

Canadian writer Yann Martel, author of the very successful novel Life of Pi, has publicly released information about his next book, Beatrice and Virgil. The novel is supposed to be an allegory centred on the Holocaust, and will be published in June 2010. The publisher claims that it is a “wildly imaginative and multi-layered story”.

Health

African scientists have started the largest clinical trials ever in the continent, on a malaria vaccine called Mosquirix, or RDS,S. The trials involve seven countries and approximately 16,000 children. The vaccine itself is the first malarial shot to reach final-stage trials, and is expected to “have a tremendous effect”, according to deputy chief researcher Dr. Kariuki. Earlier data suggests that the vaccine is up to 50% effective.

Business

Russian PM Vladimir Putin has warned that delayed payments for gas supplies between Russia and Ukraine may lead to problems of delivery and supply. Ukraine’s chief gas importer, Naftogaz, is supposed to pay Gazprom, a Russian energy group, $500 million by this weekend in order to compensate for gas consumed in October. Approximately one-fifth of EU gas is piped through Ukraine.

Technology

Internet regulation body Icann has confirmed that it plans to allow websites with non-Latin scripts in their web addresses. This move permits domain names in Chinese and Arabic, among other languages. These Internationalised Domain Names (IDNs) could be up on the net by “mid-2010”, and are being touted as the greatest technical change to the Internet since its establishment.

Science

A group of 12 European companies has announced a long-term sustainable energy initiative called The Desertec Industrial Initiative. The aim is to produce electricity for Europe using solar sources along with a network of power plants in North Africa and the Middle East. The project starts with the construction of vast solar energy fields across Sahara Desert.