The Canary

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The Independent Online
Heart of Europe: The Canary has visited Albania to check out the exciting investment opportunities. Beaches are fantastic, mountains like Switzerland, but nobody has picked up the trash in 50 years. Big ticket consumer items may be a problem. On the way into town from Tirana airport the Mercedes, Opel and Volkswagen showrooms are all empty. Nevertheless, there are plenty of cool wheels around. These are purchased at the large open-air car lot next to the British military base south of the port city of Durres. A new Landcruiser (with Geneva plates) was on offer for just $16,000 (pounds 10,000). "If you don't see what you want I am going to Germany tomorrow," said one salesman, offering a steal-to-order service, adding that once purchased, the cars could not normally be taken out of Albania.

Going green: Further to our scoop a couple of weeks ago revealing Reuters' plan to decant three division from London to the sticks, local estate agents in Tiverton in deepest Devon are drooling with anticipation. The metropolitan Reuters folk's pain will be eased by a local housing market in which the proceeds of a crummy flat in Islington can readily be converted to a large farmhouse and 100 acres.

Spaced out: If you have pounds 150m to spare, you can sign up for a one-week ride on the Russian space station Mir. Peter Llewellyn, the controversial entrepreneur and businessman, is doing it. After contesting countless lawsuits, he is expected to show up at the Cosmonaut Training Centre on Friday and is ready to fly, despite being 50kg overweight.

Star chamber: The Financial Services Authority is in a skid. Lawyers have predicted the structure by which it is to operate as prosecutor, judge and jury will be ripped to shreds in Europe. Meanwhile, the core legislation, the Financial Services & Markets Bill, is aground in Parliament. The flagship of New Labour's City reform, the Act is the third attempt in 15 years to regulate the industry.

From Russia too late: The State Duma, Russia's parliament, has passed a bill that defines the rights of Western investors. But the Bill is hardly any different to the 1991 law it is meant to replace. "It is a mess and it will be hard to implement," says one Western lawyer based in Moscow. "So no change there."

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