Globetrotting: news from around the world — March 2015

Greece just might have one of the EU’s best performing economies this year. Plus, an 18-book classic of Sanskrit literature becomes India’s first opus of Twitter fiction.

GREECE

Out of the doldrums at last?

In an unexpected turn, the troubled Greek economy could grow by 2.5% in 2015 and by another 3.6% in 2016, according to the European Commission. This would make it one of the best performing economies in the EU, reports French business daily Les Échos.

Already, Greece’s growth in 2014 — 1% — was quite unexpected. The EC believes the country can continue to perform well because of lower oil prices, higher disposable incomes and a decline in the value of the euro.

But the EC puts a big condition on these rosy predictions: Greece must pay its debts. Moreover, political instability could erode confidence and have a negative impact on investment, says Les Échos.

FICTION

Tweeting the Mahabharata

The Mahabharata, an 18-book classic tale of a mythological war fought 5,000 years ago, has been tweeted through thousands of 140-character bursts, reports the Financial Times.

Chindu Sreedharan, a lecturer at Bournemouth University in the UK, started tweeting the Sanskrit poem in 2009, creating India’s first opus of Twitter fiction. "It’s a platform that’s known for its brevity and my question was whether a story with a longer narrative would work," Sreedharan told the Financial Times. "It allows you to declutter a lot of your thoughts and it allows you to get on with the story."

Other authors obviously like the simplified approach. Since 2012, an annual Twitter Fiction Festival has been held in New York, giving an opportunity for storytellers from around the world to share their creations. At last year’s festival, Random House India writer Meghna Pant reportedly retold the Mahabharata in 100 tweets.

SCIENCE

Of rats and ribbons

 

Paralyzed laboratory rats can now walk again thanks to flexible electrical implants that mimic the elasticity of protective tissue in the brain and spine, reports Sciencenews.org.

The ribbon-like implants deliver chemical stimulation and electrical impulses to the brain and spine, helping the rodents walk. Unlike their predecessors, the new devices are flexible and move with the animals, keeping the stimulation directed at their neural tissue. Another plus: in tests, the implants did not trigger an immune response.

According to Sciencenews.org, such results could eventually lead to better treatment of paralysis and Parkinson’s disease in humans.

US ECONOMY

The gas effect

The US once benefitted from a "wealth effect" because of a bullish stock market; now it’s going through a "gas effect," says Bloomberg, with the price of a gallon (3.8 litres) of gas plunging to less than US$2 from US$3.60.

Since Americans typically save only 5% of their income, that leaves US95¢ of every dollar in gasoline savings to be spent, says Michael Gapen, chief US economist at Barclays Plc. But not everyone is buying in. "I’m afraid [the price is] gonna go back up soon," says a New York lab manager who puts most of his gas savings into his bank account. "This is too good to be true, right?"

About the Author

Yan Barcelo


Yan Barcelo is a journalist in Montreal.

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