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'Refugees Welcome!' is more than a slogan in Germany
19 September 2014 - As asylum seekers increasingly flock to Germany, a solidarity movement not only demands that immigrants have the right to stay, but provides its own support through language classes, sports, and mentorship programmes. Twenty-six-year-old Gloria Amoruso co-founded kein Abseits! in 2011 to encourage education through sports and mentoring. The organization's name means 'not offside' and invokes soccer terminology as a metaphor for not straying into the margins of society. Last week the organization held its first soccer training for young refugee girls as part of a new project called Heimspiel, another play on words meaning 'home game'. (more)

French group develops mass electric car charging stations
19 September 2014 - A consortium of French companies led by construction firm Bouygues has developed an electric car charging system based on old batteries that helps smooth out power demand when dozens of cars simultaneously recharge. The project, which has a 13 million euro ($16.8 million) budget, has been trialed in two Bouygues and Renault pilot sites and the group aims to sell it to office buildings, parking lots, campuses, and other sites where fleets of electric cars can park. (more)

US: Toyota quietly rolls 2015 fuel cell car into town
19 September 2014 - Toyota quietly rolled into town with the newest addition to its eco-conscious fleet, the 2015 FCV. That stands for Fuel Cell Vehicle and translates to hydrogen power. The quick science low-down here: take hydrogen gas and mix it with oxygen in a fuel cell stack and you get electric current, heat, and water. Toyota's first hydrogen-powered production car -- the result of some seven years of refining the technology and reducing manufacturing costs - joins small lease-only runs of Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell and Honda FCX Clarity vehicles. Other automakers, including Mercedes-Benz and General Motors, also have small fleets of fuel-cell cars on the roads. (more)

US stocks: Dow, S&P 500 at records as Fed-driven rally continues
19 September 2014 - US stocks rose on Thursday, a day after the US Federal Reserve kept intact its pledge to keep interest rates low, providing a backstop for investors that helped lift both the Dow and S&P to record highs. The Fed said Wednesday at the conclusion of a two-day policy meeting it would keep interest rates near zero for a 'considerable time', language supportive of equities which some had expected to be dropped from the statement. (more)

US: Brighter economy driving up holiday hiring plans
19 September 2014 - One after the other, a flurry of major US retail and transportation companies announced sharp increases this week in the number of temporary workers they plan to hire for the holiday season. Collectively, such hiring could reach its highest point this year for stores since 1999, when the economy was roaring and the Great Recession was still eight years away. (more)

US job creation in year through March revised up 7,000
19 September 2014 - The US economy likely created 7,000 more jobs in the 12 months through March than previously estimated, the Labor Department said on Thursday. The reading is a preliminary estimate of the department's annual 'benchmark' revision to closely watched payrolls data. (more)

UK: Why BeeUrban's hives are creating a buzz across the capital
19 September 2014 - Tucked away in a noisy corner of south London is a haven of tranquillity where the constant hum of the capital's traffic is drowned out by the buzzing of bees. Here, in the garden of the old park keepers' lodge at the edge of Kennington Park, a project is taking place that could transform the way we live in cities. BeeUrban moved in six years ago with four hives and big ideas about how to bring the benefits of bees and nature to urban dwellers. (more)

Does Good News 'trend' in South Africa?
19 September 2014 - Mention the words, 'good news' or 'positive news' and you will invariably be accused of sunshine journalism by many sclerotic journalists says Steuart Pennington. Talk of the 'glass half-full vs glass half-empty' and you may well be accused of being naïve. This conundrum really does raise the question of what constitutes 'news', but that debate is for another day. So, what good news is 'trending' in South Africa? (more)

Most Canadians have good mental health, feel positive about life: report
19 September 2014 - A new report on the mental health status of Canadians has found that 77 per cent of people aged 15 or older are considered to be psychologically flourishing -- feeling good about life and functioning well. The Statistics Canada report found less than two per cent of Canadians are classified as languishing, meaning they experience low positive emotions and poor functioning, while almost 22 per cent of Canadians are classified as having moderate mental health. (more)

Organic farming gaining popularity in Saudi Arabia
19 September 2014 - Last week, Saudi Agriculture 2014, the 33rd international agriculture, water, and agro-industry trade show, took place at the International Convention and Exhibition Centre in Riyadh. Organic farming was one of the topics addressed at the exhibition. Under the patronage of the Ministry of Agriculture, the Department of Organic Agriculture (DOA) participated with its own organic farming pavilion, a joint venture with on one side the ministry and the German GIZ International Services' 'Organic Farming Project' and on the other the Saudi Organic Farming Association (SOFA). (more)

Thailand: Celebration of the birth anniversary of King Chulalongkorn on Si Chang Island in Chon Buri
19 September 2014 - Ko Si Chang, or Si Chang Island, off Chon Buri province, is preparing to hold its annual event to celebrate the birth anniversary of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) -- one of the most revered monarchs in Thai history. King Chulalongkorn was born on 20 September 1853. He has the same date of birth as King Ananda Mahidol (Rama VIII), who was born in 1925. The event to celebrate the birth anniversary of King Chulalongkorn is scheduled for 19 and 20 September in the grounds of Chudhadhuj Palace, a royal summer palace of King Chulalongkorn. It gives everyone the chance to experience some genuine village traditions and cultural heritage of the island. (more)

US to train veterans to install solar panels
19 September 2014 - The US is planning to train veterans to become solar panel installers in the next six years, the White House said Thursday. The jobs training programme is among a host of initiatives the White House says will cut carbon dioxide emissions by more than 300 million tonnes through 2030, plus save billions of dollars on energy bills for homeowners and businesses. It will launch this fall at one or more military bases and train a total of at least 50,000, including veterans. (more)

Child poverty rate declines in America for first time since 2000
18 September 2014 - Poverty in America declined in 2013, and the poverty rate went down faster for children than for adults -- which is notable not only because they are children but also because the poverty rate for children has long been higher than for adults. The poverty rate for children fell nearly 2 full percentage points last year, from 21.8 per cent to 19.9 per cent, according to the US Census Bureau. The poverty rate for all Americans also declined, to 14.5 per cent from 15 percent a year before. It was the first meaningful decline in poverty for children since 2000, and for the overall population since 2006. The declines are due largely to an improving job market -- which has lifted the living standards not only for the newly employed but also for their children. (more)

Australia: Efforts to protect the Lake Eyre Basin recognized with a prestigious award
18 September 2014 - The Lake Eyre Basin Partnership has won a national award for their efforts in protecting the internationally renowned river system. The Basin covers about one-sixth of Australia's land mass, taking in Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia, and the Northern Territory. The Riverprize recognizes excellence in protecting and restoring river systems in Australia and this year was the first time it was awarded to a group for protecting a river rather than restoring one. (more)

China: Beijing considers strengthening indoor smoking bans
18 September 2014 - The government of China's capital, Beijing, is considering strengthening its ban on indoor smoking as the rest of the country lags behind under the influence of conflicting interests. Next year, business owners in Beijing may be forced to pay a fine if they do not enforce indoor smoking laws. The comprehensive ban means smoking along corridors and inside elevators will also be illegal. (more)

Education can save lives, help reach sustainable development goals - UN agency
18 September 2014 - If all women in poor countries completed primary education, child mortality would drop by one-sixth saving almost one million lives, the United Nations educational agency reported highlighting the links between schooling and achieving a new set of sustainable development targets. 'The benefits of education permeate all walks of life right from the moment of birth,' said Irina Bokova, Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) which produced the 'Global Monitoring Report.' (more)

US: Good news on economy pushes stocks to record highs
18 September 2014 - More encouraging economic news and friendly signals from the Federal Reserve cheered investors on Thursday, as the stock market climbed to another record high. The gains came a day after the Fed made clear that it's in no hurry to raise a key bank lending rate, easing a major concern for the stock market. Eight of 10 industry groups in the Standard & Poor's 500 index rose, led by financial stocks. (more)

US: White House partners with industry to tackle greenhouse gas
18 September 2014 - The White House on Tuesday announced steps to tackle a potent greenhouse gas used in refrigeration and air conditioning, of which the United States is the world's largest producer, a week ahead of a major UN summit focused on addressing climate change. The Obama administration unveiled a batch of voluntary private sector commitments and executive actions to phase out the use of Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which would result in the equivalent reduction of 700 million tonnes of carbon dioxide through 2025. (more)

US: Wall Street edges higher after Fed; Dow sets record
18 September 2014 - US stocks edged higher in volatile trading on Wednesday after the US Federal Reserve renewed its pledge to keep interest rates near zero for a 'considerable time' and repeated concerns over slack in the labour market, standing firm against calls to overhaul its policy statement. The US dollar jumped against the euro and yen after the statement and data release. Shares in financials, up 0.4 per cent, extended gains to end the session as one of the better performing S&P sectors took the lead on the S&P 500. (more)

UK August retail sales recover
18 September 2014 - British retail sales growth recovered last month after stagnating in July, driven by strong sales of furniture and a rush to buy high-powered vacuum cleaners, official data showed on Thursday. Retail sales volumes rose 0.4 percent on the month, in line with forecasts and the strongest growth since April, after flatlining in July, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Britain's consumers have been the main driver of the country's economic recovery which began last year, helped by record low interest rates and weak inflation that has eased the pressure on their spending power. (more)

Is South Africa the best place to road trip in the world?
18 September 2014 - Last year, South Africa was ranked highly in a number of travel awards and reports, which rated everything from beauty to infrastructure, proving that our country really is one of the best places to take to the open road. In the prestigious Reader's Travel Awards by UK magazine Conde Nast Traveller, South Africa was placed in the top ten travel destinations in the world. (more)

US to begin Ebola hospital equipment lift to Liberia this week
18 September 2014 - The first planeload of hospital equipment in the US military's humanitarian-aid effort to end West Africa's deadly Ebola outbreak will arrive in Liberia on Friday, a senior administration official said on Wednesday. The United States hopes its expanded effort to contain the spread of the virus will help rally other countries in ramping up the global response to the epidemic, US aid official Nancy Lindborg told a US House of Representatives committee. The plane is the first of 13 air shipments headed for Monrovia, carrying equipment for a 25-bed hospital to be built in Liberia's capital. (more)

US jobless claims data point to firming labour market
18 September 2014 - The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week, suggesting that a sharp slowdown in job growth last month was probably an aberration. While other data on Thursday showed housing starts declined in August, upward revisions for groundbreaking in July offered hope that the housing market was continuing to gradually improve. (more)

Netherlands: No more working late -- at the end of each day, this office disappears
18 September 2014 - During the day, the Amsterdam design studio Heldergroen looks like a typical workspace. But at 6 pm, someone turns a key, and all of the desks suddenly lift up into the air, with computers and paperwork attached. The floor clears, and the space turns into something new -- a dance floor, yoga studio, trend session, networking reception, or anything else you can think of. (more)

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